Advocating for Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument, New Mexico

Dripping Springs Trail Head

I won’t be shy about advocating, from time to time, for specific public lands: for protection, for appreciation, for raising a voice.  As many know, there are currently 27 National Monuments under review by the Dept of the Interior.

The Organ Mountains Desert Peaks Natl Monument designation conferred in 2014, was based on years of community involvement, including the business community and affected federal agencies, such as the Border Patrol.  This Monument meets the DoI criterion of preserving historic landmarks that are part of this nation’s founding, such as the Butterfield Trail; there are indigenous archaeological and historical sites throughout the almost 500,000 acres.  There are sites that memorialize our scientific history, where Apollo astronauts trained in a mile-wide crater.  Perhaps more to the point of DoI’s criteria, the Monument  has stimulated a dramatic increase in visitation to the city of Las Cruces and the surrounding area.  It is proving to be a significant draw to tourists, who come to visit and while here, spend their vacation dollars.  The small business people have seen the economics of the community increase significantly.  The City of Las Cruces and the Dona Ana County Commissioners have recently voted to support the existing Monument, with no reduction in size.

Here are links to the BLM website for the Monument and to a website set up by friends and advocates for this National Monument.  Deadline for comments is July 10, 2017.


Mommas and Babies

Driving the back roads — and I mean seriously back roads — and hiking in the Gila National Forest last week.  The elk herds have moved down off the high mesas to raise their young near water and new grass.  What a treat to see 100 or more mommas and babies in 4 separate herds.

On the other side of the predator-prey scale, we found wolf tracks and old scat up on the mesas.  This is the area of the reintroduced Mexican Gray Wolf so we were tickled to see their presence.

I took the long way home with a good view of the Mogollons just as the afternoon cumulus began to build.  That’s Mogollon Baldy peaking up under the clouds; at 10,700 ft it’s one of the tallest mountains in the Mogollon range of the Gila Wilderness.


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