Local businesses use proposed monument name in marketing efforts
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Las Cruces vendors and merchants have begun using the branding opportunities of the proposed Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.
Beck's Coffee, El Luchador, Milagro Coffee and Happy Dog are using the monument name to market special coffee roasts and food.
"My little business becomes a bigger business," said Happy Dog Owner Russ Smith.
Smith stressed the economic benefits the monument would bring to the area.
He said he's experience more traffic at the Las Cruces Farmers and Crafts Market's after different advertising efforts and the monument would essentially advertise itself drawing in more visitors to Dona Ana County.
A study by the Green Chamber of Commerce found the monument could bring about 90 new jobs and about $7.5 million dollars to the local economy.
In late January, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell toured parts of the nearly 500,000 acres in the monument and held a public listening session.
She could make a recommendation to the president who would be able to use his power under the Antiquities Act to designate the land a national monument.
"We're really hoping we see something positive coming out very soon," said Lucas Herndon, executive director of Friends of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks.
The group as well as others throughout the area gathered more than 15,000 signatures in a petition that will be sent to President Obama.
Herndon said they hope their message is clear the monument is important to the area and the majority of the community supports it.
"It's going to be good for our economy and the stakeholders that use public lands in various ways," he said. "It's absolutely critical we get these voices directly to the president."
But the National Association of Conservation Districts has also sent a letter to President Obama and Secretary Jewell stating the monument would threaten the ability to implement and and maintain conservation initiatives to improve watershed function – which could ultimately jeopardize public health and the natural resource base.
“We respectfully request that you consider the ramifications of restricting natural resource management on nearly a half-million acres of land resources, including its impact on current users, natural resources, wildlife habitat and surrounding communities,” wrote NCAD President Earl Garber in a news release.
There is not timeline as to when President Obama could make a decision but proponents are hopeful after the president established Point Arena-Stornetta Unit of California Coastal National Monument Wednesday.