The Las Cruces City Council has unanimously endorsed a new national monument protecting the Organ Mountains and surrounding lands. The monument would have to be designated by the President. The monument proposal is separate from legislation pending in Congress to protect the area.
07.17.12 (LAS CRUCES) -- Groups and individuals sitting on both sides of the debate over the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument proposal presented their views to the mayor and the members of the Las Cruces City Council.
Dozens of concerned citizens came to the Las Cruces City Council chambers to express their opinions.
“I’m so proud of our organization was supportive of our board and our leaders and are being good stewards of the Organ Mountains and the Desert Peaks Region. We ask that you do the same,” said Sarah Nolan of CAFÉ.
“It’s in sane and the people that are pushing this are making money off of it and I’m totally against it,” said a Las Cruces woman.
“We’re not taking land, we’re preserving public land and it’s a fact, ranching will continue,” said Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces.
“I am against this proposal. I think it’s beyond your scope as the city council to do, to decide what happens in the county,“ said a Las Cruces woman.
Steve Wilmeth is a local rancher and says the proposal for added protection to 600,000 acres of federal land in Dona Ana County will impact him directly.
“Our private property is involved. Our future in terms of our ability to continue to ranch is in jeopardy and there’s a great deal of costumes and cultures as well as the value of history is in involved,” said Wilmeth.
Many concerned citizens say they found out about the proposal through the media and only wish to be a part of the discussion.
“We deserve that, to be there. Our history is long, my family has been here for 132 years and we think there’s a lot of future in our future and we’re able to ranch competitively,” he said.
Others say supporting the proposal would hurt the economy and compromise border security.
“Ranchers have tried to work with the environmentalist for six years and they have not worked with us a bit,” said a local woman in the crowd.
Currently, there are two bills pending in congress, which offers protection for all or part of land. One bill was introduced by representative Steve Pearce and the other by senator Jeff Bingaman.
“How much pride would it be for me to be able to tell my grandkids that I was able to be here when we made the Organ Mountains and Desert Peaks National Monument a national monument,” said Mary Jane Taylor-Ratje of Las Cruces.