SECRETARY JEWELL TOURS PROPOSED NATIONAL MONUMENT AREA. The AP (1/26) reports that Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Friday “toured Broad Canyon outside of Las Cruces before headlining a public meeting centered on federal legislation for protecting the Organ Mountains and other scenic areas in Dona Ana County.” Jewell said “the area has a rich history as well as many opportunities for enjoying the outdoors through hiking and hunting.” Jewell said, “Over the past few years, we’ve seen a groundswell of support from many in the community to ensure that these landscapes are celebrated and passed on to the generations of New Mexicans to come. Those efforts also have the potential to drive significant economic benefits to the region through a boost in tourism and outdoor recreation.” AP coverage was also picked up by the Washington Times (1/24, 417K), the Houston Chronicle (1/24), and the San Francisco Chronicle (1/26).

In a separate story, the AP (1/26) reports that “several hundred people were expected to join Jewell, officials with the Bureau of Land Management and New Mexico’s two US senators for a public hearing Friday afternoon in Las Cruces to talk about the proposed Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.”

The El Paso (TX) Times (1/26, Soular) reports that “supporters speculated” the visit “meant the Obama administration was at least considering a proposal to create the monument via a sometimes-controversial 1906 law that gives US presidents the power to grant monument status to public lands without approval from Congress.” Also, “many opponents to the proposed Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument interpreted Jewell’s visit in the same light, saying they worried Obama may be on track to declare the lands a national monument.” Opponents “argued that the president should allow the national monument issue to be decided via the legislative route.” The story also appeared at the Las Cruces (NM) Sun-News (1/26) and the Silver City (NM) Sun-News (1/27).

The El Paso (TX) Times (1/26, Soular) reports that “some 750 people packed into a ballroom at the Ramada Palms Hotel in Las Cruces to express their views to Jewell and to US Democratic Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, who are sponsoring a congressional bill to create the half-million-acre monument. Some people were turned away at the door because the building was at capacity.” According to the article, “attendees had wide-ranging reasons for supporting the measure, such as preserving wildlands for future generations, providing places for recreation and keeping it from development.” However, “there was also diversity among opponents. Some criticized the national monument measure, contending it would hurt future growth, negatively impact ranching and result in more federal governmental control in the area.” The story also appeared at the Las Cruces (NM) Sun-News (1/26).

The Albuquerque (NM) Journal (1/26, 288K) reports that “cheers and jeers erupted at a packed public meeting Friday in which US Interior Secretary Sally Jewell heard opinions for and against proposals to designate a ribbon of land in southern New Mexico a national monument.” According to the article, “applause and shouts accompanied nearly every comment, both for and against the broader monument footprint.” The article notes that “to close the two-hour meeting, Jewell asked for a show of hands in the somewhat thinned crowd: who supported no monument at all, a smaller monument or a larger monument – and the last show of hands won by far.”

Also covering the story are the Albuquerque (NM) Journal (1/26, 288K), KDBC-TV El Paso, TX (1/26) KTSM-TV El Paso, TX (1/26, 970), and KFOX-TV El Paso, TX (1/26).