History runs deep here in New Mexico, and intertwined with the land and culture. The proposed Organ Mountains–Desert Peaks National Monument, near Las Cruces, is an exceptional example of history held in the land. From Geronimo’s Cave and Billy the Kid’s Outlaw Rock to thousands of ancient Native American petroglyphs, the area contains many unique American and pre-American treasures, including an estimated 5,000 archaeological sites. The Organ Mountains are mentioned in the earliest Spanish journals dating back to the late 1500s.
These stunning peaks and the nearby Doña Ana Mountains rise from a desert landscape that hosts golden eagles, Montezuma quail, and mountain lions, as well as rare plants like the Organ Mountain pincushion cactus. The region is rich in recreational opportunities — horseback riding, mountain biking, climbing, and hunting. The Headwater Economics 2012 Study of Doña Ana County stated that protection of this area could “safeguard important natural assets and cultural landmarks, stimulate tourism and recreation jobs, and attract new people and businesses.” In 2005 local religious, veterans, and conservation and sportsmen’s groups launched a coalition to win protection for the area and fend off ongoing threats from urban development and proposed mining and energy development.
UPDATE: On May 21, 2014 President Obama designated Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks as national monument! The designation follows years of effort by local communities and lawmakers to see the area protected. It's a recognition that like the cultural and historic sites already protected by President Obama our country’s wide open spaces and large natural areas are an important part of the American story.