Victor Gallegos, owner of Nopalitos Restaurant and Nopalitos Galeria, added, "As a family-owned business located along the Camino Real del Adentro Historic Trail, we know firsthand how historical preservation can help a local economy and strengthen cultural identity. We strongly believe protecting the proposed Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks national monument will be good for business, drawing more people to Las Cruces and our surrounding region."
John Cornell, president of Dona Ana County Associated Sportsmen, said Obama's formal designation Monday is encouraging for many outdoors enthusiasts.
"With today's action, the president brings hope to southern New Mexico sportsmen who have worked for decades to protect the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Region, like our prized public lands in the Sierra de Las Uvas and Potrillo Mountains," Connell said.
Heinrich said he and Sen. Tom Udall, both New Mexico democrats, will continue to encourage Obama to consider using his authority through the Antiquities Act. But they also intend to pursue federal legislation to enhance the chances of a national monument designation for Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks.
"It's very much a legislative priority," said Heinrich, of efforts to obtain that designation. "Senator Udall and I are still engaged to introduce legislation. It will help build support. We have to be diligent."
Marissa Padilla, Udall's spokeswoman, said legislation from New Mexico's two senators would likely be reintroduced in the U.S. Senate by this summer. The past two years, Udall and Bingaman co-authored legislation for the Organ Mountains.
"There is very broad support for this proposal, extensive support," said Padilla, referring to southern New Mexico residents who would like to see the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks proposal become reality. "The Department of Interior is aware of that, and that is very important. It's a huge sign of strength when the local community can show it is behind a proposal like that. Senators Udall and Heinrich will continue their efforts to support this designation."
But there has been some opposition, or disagreement, about the national monument proposal. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., has introduced federal legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that reduces the size of the land that would be protected, from the approximately 600,000 acres supporters of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peak proposal want.
Also, in recent weeks, the Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces, has demanded that its name be stricken among supporters of the monument proposal. Hispano Chamber officials have said the legislation now being considered is substantially different than what was initially proposed.
Steve Ramirez can be reached at 575-541-5452. Follow him on Twitter @SteveRamirez6
-- President Obama signed a proclamation Monday to establish the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument in northern New Mexico.
-- The monument was among five that Obama designated as national monuments through his authority to use the Antiquities Act.
-- Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument becomes the 11th national monument in New Mexico.
-- In southern New Mexico, there are three national monuments: Gila Cliff Dwellings (established in 1907), Carlsbad Caverns (1923), and White Sands (1933)
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