A New National Monument: Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks

On May 21, President Obama announced the creation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.  The designation provides permanent protection for almost 500,000 acres of pristine, scenic lands in south-central New Mexico. 

“Anyone who’s ever seen the Organ Mountains that overlook Las Cruces, New Mexico, will tell you that they are a spectacular sight,” the President said in a short speech just before signing the proclamation.  ”You get massive rocks that jut up 9,000 feet in the air and stretch for 20 miles, like the organ pipes of a giant.  And they’re home to many of God’s smaller creatures as well.  Deer and antelope roam–falcons, mountain lions.”

Indeed, our nation’s newest monument is a rare American landscape.  Its features include extinct volcanoes, black lava fields, miles and miles of high desert grassland, even a series of hidden water pools.

The monument is also a haven for wildlife, including golden eagles, owls, several species of hawk and quail, desert mule deer, mountain lions, bobcats, pronghorn, javelina, coyotes, bats, rock squirrels, and many other animals.  The rugged mountain landscape is also home to certain plants that exist nowhere else in the world.

Visitors to Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks will find, in addition to hiking and other recreation opportunities, some fascinating earth history.  The vast national monument encompasses the already-established Prehistoric Trackways National Monument, which is a major deposit of fossilized animal prints, dating back about 280 million years.  These prints of ancient land animals, sea creatures, and insects abound, and fossilized plants and petrified wood can also be found there.

The new monument is also rich in human history.  Three groups of native peoples left their marks in various locations in the forms of pictographs–symbols painted on rocks, and petroglyphs–symbols carved into rock.  Much more recent visitors to the area are said to include Billy the Kid and Geronimo.

The new national monument will be a boon to the economy of south-central New Mexico.  According to a recent, independent study, the monument could generate as much as $7.4 million in new economic activity each year from visitors and business opportunities.  And local support for the monument designation has been strong.  In one survey, 83% of local citizens expressed support for the monument designation.

I can’t wait to visit!–April Moore 

 

 

3 Responses to “A New National Monument: Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks”

  1. Todd Says:

    Wow – me too!

  2. judy Says:

    Come visit me, April and we’ll go together.

  3. Tanya Says:

    What wonderful news! And the photograph is magnificent.

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