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May 21st, 2014
Statement on President Obama’s Designation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument

Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus today released the following statement in response to President Obama’s announcement that he will use his authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act to establish the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. The monument, located in Las Cruces, New Mexico, will help tell the story of Latinos in American history and protect unique natural resources for the nation’s benefit.

The designation is expected to promote economic growth in the local community through tourism and outdoor recreation.

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, the ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation, congratulated President Obama on the announcement and highlighted its importance for everyone interested in Hispanic American history.

“The Organ Mountains tell the story of centuries of conflict, boundary disputes and reconciliations with Mexico,” Grijalva said. “Many Latino families in the Southwest trace their roots to the region, and its natural beauty continues to draw people today. Designating this sensitive area as a national monument means the Organ Mountains will inspire and be enjoyed by generations of Americans to come, and I couldn’t be happier to support President Obama’s decision.”

“New Mexico is blessed with majestic lands and the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks are a tremendous example of the beauty of our great state,” said Rep. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico.  “The people of New Mexico have a special connection with these precious lands and the monument designation will ensure that not only the land but our culture and way of life will be protected for years to come.  Thanks to the efforts of so many stakeholders in southern New Mexico who have worked hard to advocate for this designation, the Organ Mountains will attract more visitors, provide a boost to tourism, and strengthen the local economy.”

“I am very pleased with the designation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks as a national monument. This national treasure is not only central in preserving the region’s biodiversity, but it is also key in protecting New Mexico’s rich history and diverse culture for future generations,” said Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “Preserving this land will protect New Mexico’s tourism and outdoor economy, while also spurring economic development and job growth in the state. This new monument is an investment in New Mexico’s communities and future generations.”

According to a 2013 economic studyby BBC Research & Consulting, protecting the Organ Mountains would generate $7.4 million in new economic activity annually and double the number of jobs supported by outdoor recreation and tourism in the area. Furthermore, a 2006 study by the National Parks and Conservation Association revealed each federal dollar invested in national parks generates at least four dollars of economic value to the public.

President Obama has previously designated monuments honoring the contributions of Latinos to American society using the Antiquities Act. This includes the César E. Chávez National Monument in California, Chávez’ home and the headquarters of the United Farm Workers of America since the early 1970s when Chávez was its president. 

Raúl M. Grijalva, who also serves as a co-chair of the National Landscape Conservation System Caucus, sent a letter to President Obama thanking him for the significant contribution to the National Conservation Lands. 

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