New Mexico Land Commissioner Ray Powell is throwing his support behind a proposal that would protect scenic areas in Dona Ana County.
New Mexico's two U.S. senators have introduced legislation that calls for designating about 780 square miles near Las Cruces as the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. The effort has been more than a decade in the making.
The area would include eight new wilderness areas and would be overseen by the Bureau of Land Management. It would also include about 125 square miles of state trust land.
Powell says his office is working to identify lands suitable for an exchange. He says a land swap will allow the area to be protected while the state can receive working lands that can provide income for trust beneficiaries.
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