The state of New Mexico is celebrating a protected natural treasure after President Obama established America’s newest National Monument last week.
The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument will permanently preserve nearly 500,000 acres of an ecologically, historically and culturally significant landscape. The historic designation was broadly supported by local businesses, environmental groups, local elected officials and tribal leaders. National Monument designation was also backed by New Mexico’s hunting and fishing community, which sought protection for the lands that are so important to carrying on rich outdoor traditions. Because National Monument designation is place-specific, the New Mexico congressional delegation was able to work with a wide variety of stakeholder groups to protect this special area, while ensuring continued access for special uses including hunting, wildlife management and cattle grazing.
Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks is the 11th National Monument designated by President Obama, by use of the Antiquities Act. The Antiquities Act has been used by both Republican and Democratic presidents to preserve special places, especially when congress fails to pass conservation legislation. Although the current House of Representatives has passed several bills to strip existing protections from federal public lands, few conservation measures have achieved final passage since 2010.
“This designation is a clear win for sportsmen and women who have been working to protect the Organ Mountains for years. It is an excellent example of how the Antiquities Act can be used to ensure the landscape America’s sporting families depend on is protected for the long-term, where Congress has failed to act,” Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Executive Director Land Tawney said in a press release.