New Wilderness Plan Addresses Border Security

Las Cruces – Concerns about border security in southern New Mexico have prompted members of the state's congressional delegation to revamp a proposal for setting aside more than 560 square miles as wilderness and a national conservation area.

The legislation would protect the Organ Mountains east of Las Cruces and other scenic areas in Dona Ana County. The measure would create a 259,000-acre wilderness area and a 100,000-acre conservation area.

The new proposal includes a non-wilderness buffer of nearly three miles and a two-mile restricted-use area that would allow U.S. Border Patrol agents to conduct routine patrols and surveillance operations in the area.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., says the proposal is a good resolution that will enhance border security and protect one of New Mexico's iconic landscapes.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.