Las Cruces Organ Mountains are officially a National Monument
POSTED: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 - 7:19pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, May 27, 2014 - 1:58pm
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — With the stroke of President Barack Obama's pen, the Organ Mountains in Las Cruces are now a national monument.
The region includes, among other attractions, Billy the Kid's Outlaw Rock, Apache Chief Geronimo's Cave, and the Butterfield Stagecoach Trail.
The president used his executive authority to sign this proclamation.
In a speech he gave early Wednesday he said, “I’m using my executive authority to protect more of our pristine landscapes by designating the organ mountains desert peaks region a national monument.”
One strong advocate is happy see the 10 year battle finally won and protecting the landmark from being developed.
“It will always be public land,” said Lucas Herndon, Executive Director of Friends of Organ Mountains- Desert Peaks. “From here on out, we can always count on the lands included in this monument as being public and open to the public.”
He's not the only one to show support.
One local business owner said this new designation is going to drive tourism back to the region.
“The tour industry of that kind has kind of evaporated for the southern New Mexico region we'd like to see it come back this might be that catalyst,” said owner of the food truck Happy Dog, Russ Smith.
In fact, New Mexico Senator Tom Udall said more than 7 million dollars are expected to be generated.
“People will be coming in from all over the world,” he said. “It’s going to help tourism it’s going to help local people who like to go out and like to hike and hunt."
Just a few miles away you’ll find another national monument.
Officials said the tourist attraction, White sands National Monument tourist attraction has brought in millions of dollars to the economy over the years.
“They were able to generate economically $21.8 million for the local region within a 60 mile radius," said Superintendent of the White Sands National Monument Marie Sauter.
But some people are still not convinced; one man said he could be out of a job.
“That will block me off from being able to collect most of the stones I carry. About 25 percent of what I have comes from Las Uvas and Kilbourne Hole," said Dodds Cupit, owner of Naturally Found New Mexico.
Aside from not being able to collect and sale rocks, Sheriff Todd Garrison said safety is also an issue.
“When we take so much land so close to the border that's been proven in other areas to be used for illegal and criminal activity, for who know who to come across,” he said. “I believe that is putting our country at risk, it’s putting our county at risk and its putting our state at risk.”
But Udall insists that will not happen.
“All of the law enforcement people, the sheriff, the border patrol can do everything they've been doing in the past we didn't make any changes on that and any future legislation will work with them,” said Udall.
Herndon welcomes the public to contact their organization for any questions you may have regarding the Organ Mountains.
You can reach them at 575-323-1423 or on their website www.organmtnfriends.org