POSTED: Thursday, December 13, 2012 - 11:57pm
UPDATED: Friday, December 14, 2012 - 1:16pm
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Las Cruces business owners voiced their support for the proposed Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument at a discussion Thursday afternoon about the potential economic impacts the monument would bring.
Business owner said preserving almost 600,000 acres of land in three units would help keep attracting people looking to retire and those hoping to use the land for recreational opportunities.
"Preserving our history in the area is very vital and important," said Victor Gallegos, owner of Nopalitos Restaurants and Galeria. "I think it's great and it brings people in."
Gallegos has seen how preserving history can attract people to the area.
He converted an old adobe home next to his restaurant into an art gallery, where he displays cultural art and shares the history of the Camino Real with his patrons.
"Out of all the crowds that I get, 30 percent of them are not from Las Cruces," Gallegos said.
Ben Alexander with Headwaters Economics said regions with at least 100,000 acres of federally protected land, provide jobs four times faster than those without protected lands.
A lot of the growth stems from people moving to the area to enjoy the amenities protected lands provide.
More people means more money is spent in the community, which in turn adds more jobs and raises the per capita income of the region.
Wayne Suggs, co-owner of Classic NM Homes, said he markets the landscape and scenery of the Organ Mountains to potential customers looking to build a home in the area.
"We send them a book and other publications from our area," Suggs said.
Suggs put the book together himself highlighting the different landscapes in the region and the various hiking and mountain biking opportunities through photos.
He said all of his customers are looking for those type of landscapes and he could better market the area if he could assure potential customers those areas would be there for generations to come.
"They want to make sure that they are going to stay pristine and they want to keep the desert views and make sure that all the flora and the fauna is preserved around them," Suggs said.
Having federally protected land would do that and still provide home builders like Suggs with plenty of land to build on.
Suggs said there's an abundance of land that is not protected that will provide hundreds of years of being able to build on.
There is not timeline on when President Obama will make a decision on the proposed monument.
Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument: