Las Cruces Sun-News
April 10, 2012
MESILLA — Nathan Small and Jeff Steinborn, supporters of efforts to have the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks designated as a national monument, preached to the choir Monday.
In the end, the “choir” sang back, as the Mesilla board of trustees unanimously adopted a resolution that now includes the town as supporters of the initiative. Mesilla becomes the first municipality in southern New Mexico to officially endorse the efforts, although Las Cruces and Doña Ana County are soon expected to follow.
“You could just as easily call this the Mesilla National Monument,” Small said. “Mesilla has long been a champion of preservation initiatives.”
Small told trustees that efforts to get the monument designation are focused on history, culture and education. But while the designation would protect natural resources, it would also enhance southern New Mexico’s economy.
“The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks has been centered not only to our region but our nation as well,” Small said.
He added the monument would have strong ties to Mesilla. Small pointed out that the Butterfield Stagecoach Trail traveled directly through Mesilla, and the town’s most infamous detainee, legendary outlaw Billy the Kid, also hid out at “Outlaw Rock,” which also would be included within the proposed monument.
“Billy the Kid left inscriptions not only here in Mesilla, but at Outlaw Rock as well,” Small said.
Steinborn said it was fitting that Mesilla became the first community in southern New to formally support efforts for the national designation.
“Mesilla has a lot of history tied to the monument,” Steinborn said. “They’ve proven they’re already ahead of the game when it comes to preserving history.”
Mayor Nora Barraza said it was important that Mesilla get behind the proposal.
“Once this is destroyed it can never come back,” said Barraza, of what could happen if the national monument designation doesn’t occur. “As our communities grow on all sides this area will be destroyed.
“Plus, this gives us the opportunities to share these treasured natural resources with our grandchildren and other generations to come. …We’re honored to be a part of this.”
Trustee Jesus Caro Jr. agreed.
“I fully support all the efforts,” Caro said. “It’s in the best interest of New Mexico and its citizens.”
Mesilla resident Jerry Garcia also embraced the resolution.
“I like this idea,” Garcia said. “The sooner they make it happen, the better.”
Steve Ramirez can be reached at (575) 541-5452. Also follow him on Twitter: @SteveRamirez6.