Steve Ramirez / Las Cruces Sun-News
With the afternoon sun creating all kinds of hues and shadows, the Organ Mountains served as the backdrop of a news conference of southern New Mexico leaders urging President Barack Obama to designate the mountain range as a national monument.
“It’s time to get it done, it’s time it happened,” said Billy Garrett, Doña Ana County commissioner, and retired deputy general superintendent of the Gateway National Recreation Area, in the port of New York and New Jersey.
Garrett was the master of ceremonies at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Museum, where politicians, as well as business, education, and civic leaders, representing 175 entities, gathered to endorse the proposal. Together, they submitted a letter Tuesday to the president asking that the Organ Mountains be designated a national monument. White Sands National Monument is the nearest U.S. monument to Las Cruces and the Organs.
“As historians, archeologists, geographers, and cultural preservation experts, we write to express our strong support of protecting the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region as a new Bureau of Land Management national monument,” said a portion of the consortium’s letter to Obama. “Possessing such nationally unique resources as the Butterfield Trail, Billy The Kid’s Outlaw Rock, Geronimo’s Cave, Kilbourne Hole, and Aden Lava Flow, the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region is an international treasure, characterized by unique and irreplaceable natural and cultural resources.
“We are confident that supporting the conservation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks assets will protect our rich cultural heritage for generations to come, and be a beacon for those eager to explore one of the most beautiful and historically rich regions of the American Southwest.”
Supporters said the benefits of the designation are numerous. In addition to the preservation of historical, cultural, and natural resources, they said declaring the mountain range a national monument would also have a strong economic impact on southern New Mexico.
“We’re thrilled and excited to talk about this new protection strategy,” said Renee Frank, president of the board of directors of the Green Chamber of Commerce of Las Cruces. “It cannot be overstated just how much this new national monument would impact us. … Simply, there’s no question the Desert Peaks National Monument will create jobs. It fits with what the Green Chamber calls the “Triple Bottom line,’ it would be good for people, good for the planet, and good for prosperity.”
Mayor Ken Miyagishima said he believes in the initiative.
“What better way to promote Las Cruces and southern New Mexico than by establishing this monument,” Miyagishima said. “… This is good for the community, good for jobs, good for the environment, and good for preserving history.”