Increased Protections Would Conserve Indigenous Cultural and Historical Resources and Boost Local Economy
Ray Trejo, Luna County Commissioner, (575) 494-5507
Wes Light, Friends of the Floridas, (917) 273-5174
Patrick Nolan, Friends of Organ Mountains Desert Peaks, (575) 520-8817
DEMING, NM (December 6, 2023) — A collaborative effort calling for national monument protections for lands overseen by the Bureau of Land Management in Luna County New Mexico was announced today. Elected leaders, business owners, economic development advocates, hunters, youth leaders, conservationists, and students shared a proposal that would conserve Indigenous cultural and historical resources while also boosting the recreation economy through the creation of Mimbres Peaks National Monument near Deming.
Approximately 245,000 acres in the Mimbres Peaks - the Florida Mountains, Cookes Range, Good Sight Mountains, and Tres Hermanas - have been identified for permanent protection. These lands are home to documented cultural and historic sites, are important to modern day tribes and pueblos, and provide critical water resources and room for wildlife to migrate. These same places provide visitors diverse recreation opportunities including hunting, hiking, equestrian use, biking, camping, exploring dirt roads, camping, picnicking, and photography.
“It’s a really big day for Southern New Mexico,” said Luna County Commissioner Ray Trejo. “The lands surrounding Deming hold stories and a history that have shaped our community for generations. They also hold opportunities for the future. We need to look no further than neighboring counties to know that protected public lands are good for our local economies and the people who call New Mexico home. That’s why over the past year the city and county have been looking at the opportunities, the process, and the concept of a new national monument. This hard work has culminated in today’s announcement which opens the door for everyone to get involved and help shape the future of public lands in Luna County.”
County and city leaders have recognized the immense value that public lands provide for the community and have witnessed the positive impact protected lands in neighboring Doña Ana County - home to Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument (OMDP) - have had on the region. Southern New Mexico’s economy has seen strong and steady growth over the past decade, no doubt in part to the increased visibility of OMDP. Over the fall of 2023 the idea of establishing Mimbres Peaks National Monument in Luna County began to blossom and stakeholders are working collectively to strategize and plan for the future of the public lands management and the economy.
“Many of us have been fighting to protect places like the Florida Mountains from ongoing threats - especially mining - so it is rewarding to see the community come together to find a long term solution for protection,” said Wes Light, President of the Friends of the Floridas. “The future holds incredible uncertainty for these lands and the wildlife that inhabit them. Establishing a national monument will hopefully put an end to disagreements over the best uses of these lands while also creating new opportunities for visitors and our local businesses.”
Restaurants, motels, gas stations, outfitters, and so many other businesses have benefited from protected public lands in the region. Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Prehistoric Trackways National Monuments and White Sands National Park provide visitors the opportunity to visit multiple protected areas in one visit while offering opportunities to patronize local businesses for supplies, services, lodging, and entertainment.
“Southern New Mexico’s public lands have been the gateway to my business and continues to serve as an economic driver for my own restaurant as well as others,” said Van Jacobson, owner of the Adobe Deli in Deming. “I love the Mimbres culture and the land it ecompasses. Protecting this culture and our public lands is good for future generations of people and businesses.”
Southern New Mexico’s way of life and the local economy are built around public lands. Not only have public lands in the region served as a key economic driver, the arid valleys and mountains surrounding Deming also hold a deep spiritual connection for Native people, and provide solitude for those who heal and are refreshed by being in nature. These lands also filter and hold critical water resources and are important for breeding, foraging, and migration of the region’s rich wildlife. Prominent species include the Persian Ibex, pronghorn, mountain lion, mule deer, Coues deer, black bear, elk, javelina, fox, badger, eagles and other raptors, and quail.
"There are many reasons for protecting our natural resources. But throughout Southern New Mexico there is a recognition that our natural landscape contributes to the identity and shape of our communities,” said Kyla Navarro, outreach coordinator with the Friends of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. “That is why protecting these outdoor spaces is essential. It is moving to see Luna County come together to advocate for the conservation of their landscape, especially with the hopes that their youth and future generations can continue to benefit from their public spaces."
The effort announced today is led by a coalition of stakeholders who are asking Tribes, local leaders, and the federal Congressional delegation to work with President Joe Biden to ensure protections are put in place at once.
A new website, www.protectmimbrespeaks.org , hosts information about the national monument proposal. Community members can learn more, share feedback, and add their name to the growing list of supporters calling for action.