Please Sign In

Please enter a valid username and password
  • Log in with Facebook
» Not a member? Take a moment to register
» Forgot Username or Password

New Bill would designate Organ Peaks National Monument

December 13, 2013
New Bill would designate Organ Peaks National Monument - 0

Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico yesterday introduced a revamped bill to designate the Organ Mountains-Desert Peak National Monument.

The bill, backed by local stakeholders, hunting groups, veteran's organizations, and a host of businesses and historic groups would designate around 500,000 acres as the Organ Mountains—Desert Peaks National Monument. Included within that monument designation would be roughly 241,000 acres of new wilderness.

Senator Martin Heinrich, an avowed public-land hunter and sponsor of the HUNT Act, had this to say in a press release:

"The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region offers outstanding cultural resources, tourism and recreational opportunities like hunting, hiking, and camping, and links us strongly to our past. For years, diverse coalitions in New Mexico have worked tirelessly for its permanent protection. By designating this natural treasure a national monument, a critical piece of our shared outdoor heritage will be protected for us now and for future generations of Americans to enjoy," Heinrich said.

The senators, after working closely with local communities and other stakeholders, revamped an older version of this bill that was sponsored by senators Udall and Bingaman. The new bill does a number of things that seek to protect both traditional uses like livestock grazing and motorized use as well as protect valuable archeological sites, hunting opportunities, and historic areas like the Apollo 11 training site and Geronimo's Cave.

According to Senator Heinrich, the bills would do the following:

  • Boosts the economy and creates jobs. A recent study found that new visitors would generate $7.4 million in new economic activity and create new jobs.
  • Conserves wildlife habitat and enhances hunting opportunities for generations to come.
  • Protects some of southern New Mexico's most iconic vistas and preserves important landmarks and archeological and cultural resources.
  • Increases flexibility for Border Patrol to conduct operations.
  • Directs the completion of a watershed restoration assessment that will support flood prevention.
  • Maintains existing grazing allotments under the current rangeland management guidelines.

You can view the text of the bill and get more information at Senator Martin Heinrich's website.

I've read the bill. It's pretty basic but it does some things that stand out beyond the basic concept of a National Monument and Wilderness Designation. The bill clearly states that livestock grazing will continue where it currently is allowed, and it very clearly establishes that motorized routes that are open today would be open after designation.

It also clearly defines that the New Mexico Game & Fish Commission is in charge of managing wildlife. That means the hunting in the monument will remain unchanged unless the monument collaborates with the Commission to put certain areas off limits (like fragile archeological sites, etc).

In fact, recreation, which hunting falls under, is expressly authorized under this act. While protecting the rights of hunters is not as explicitly spelled out as it is for motorized users or livestock producers, the message is clear: Hunting will always have a place in the Organ Mountains—Desert Peaks National Monument.

I hear a lot from folks who are frustrated with how public lands are managed that local voices are too often drowned out by large national organizations. To a certain extent, I think that's very true. However, when it comes to this effort, it's clear that both of the senators have done tremendous leg work with folks who live in the area to make sure that this conservation measure works for everyone.

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

ADVERTISEMENT

About Open Country

Hunters and anglers across the nation consistently list one challenge as their primary obstacle to spending more time in the field: Access.

Outdoor Life's Open Country program aims to tackle that issue head on and with boots on the ground. The program highlights volunteer-driven efforts to improve access along with habitat improvements to make existing public lands even better places to hunt and fish. The program's goal is to substantially increase sportsman's access across the country by promoting events that make a difference.

Here on Open Country's blog page, contributors take a close look at access issues across the country. Some are public-policy discussions, where we investigate the nuances of public access. In other blogs, we shine a light on attempts to turn public recreation opportunities into private hunting and fishing domains. In still other blogs, we interview decision makers about access issues. Together, we fight for the ability of America's hunters and anglers to have a place to swing a gun or wet a line.

We promise the discussion is always lively, interesting, and fresh, so visit this page frequently to tune into the latest access issue.

The Open Country program culminates in grants and awards with top projects and participants being honored.

Submit a project for the Open Country Grant Award.
Nominate an individual for the Open Country Award.

Open Country

  


 


Event Calendar

  • June 1: Red Oak Planting in Gwinn Forest Management Unit
  • June 7: Pinegrass Restoration, Willamette River (Eugene, OR REMF Chapter). Contact.
  • June 7-8: Lower Deschutes River Thistle Cut (OR Foundation for North American Wild Sheep and OR Fish and Wildlife). Contact.
  • June 13-15: Prairie City Aspen Habitat Enhancement (Oregon Hunters Association, Capitol Chapter) Contact: 503-399-1234
  • June 21: Smith Ridge Meadows (Eugene, OR Chapter RMEF). Contact.