White Sands National Monument Economic Case Study 2011

White Sands National Monument
What It Means to Our Economy

White Sands National Monument Economic Impact Study 2011 (Creative Commons photo by Flicr user Pinchof 2.0)Rising out of the Tularosa Basin, the magical White Sands National Monument is more than just one of the world’s great natural wonders, it also is an economic pillar of south-central New Mexico, creating jobs and attracting visitors. Tourists the world over come to New Mexico to see the 275 square miles of the world’s largest gypsum dune field. The monument designation preserves this dune field, along with the plants and animals that have adapted to this constantly changing environment.


White Sands was granted national monument designation under the Antiquities Act by President Herbert Hoover in 1933.


Educational programs for classroom visits, full-moon nights, hikes, tours of Lake Lucero, biological studies and workshops focused on the animals and plants that have uniquely adapted to the area.

Economic Impact

In 2008, 438,511 visitors to White Sands National Monument spent $15.7 million in the local economy supporting 308 jobs.

“Here in Alamogordo, we love Holloman Air Force Base and the impact it has on our community. But too often we forget the positive impact White Sands National Monument has had on our economy day in and day out. Antiquities Act protections for White Sands has meant hundreds of jobs in Otero County. It has helped draw hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country to our state. That type of economic impact cannot be ignored.”
Marianne Schweers, Heart of the Desert Pistachios & Wines

“Don’t let anyone tell you the designation of a national monument is bad for a community. White Sands has been a blessing for Alamogordo, Las Cruces, and the surrounding area and as someone who employs local residents, I am incredibly thankful White Sands is protected and will be able to provide steady tourist income for our community in perpetuity.”
Denis Tafoya, SunDance

“We are incredibly lucky to have a national monument in our community. National Monument designation for White Sands means an untold amount of free advertising for our community as outdoors enthusiasts come from all over to explore the dunes. These are people who eat at our restaurants, sleep in our hotels and help provide our small businesses with a solid foundation that will never go away.”
Joyce Zimmer, Cafe De Mesilla

The New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce is a non-partisan association with more than 1,200 business members dedicated to advocating on behalf of clean energy, seizing the green-business advantage, and supporting local economies. NM Green Chamber of Commerce members believe that responsible businesses invest in people; protect air, land and water; and create long-term sustainable profits.

Download a PDF of this study here.