Pearce introduces Organ Mountains protection bill

The Organ Mountains (Photo by Heath Haussamen)

The Organ Mountains (Photo by Heath Haussamen)

U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., has introduced a bill that would protect the Organ Mountains in Doña Ana County by establishing 58,500 acres as a national monument.

From the Albuquerque Journal:

“Pearce told the Journal his bill represents a compromise between those who prefer more restrictive federal wilderness designation for the mountains and those who prefer fewer restrictions on development and use.

“‘We’ve always supported the idea that the Organs should not be built on — it’s one of the signatures of our district,’ Pearce said. ‘We’ve just had a disagreement on how to get there.’”

U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., and others have pushed for the protection of hundreds of thousands of acres in Doña Ana County by designating them as wilderness but they haven’t been able to get such a bill passed by Congress.

This year, the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance and others are taking a different approach – seeking creation of a national monument, like Pearce, but proposing it encompass land in several areas throughout the county, including the Organs. Bingaman has sponsored a bill proposing just that.

Bingaman was quoted by the Journal as saying he welcomed Pearce’s bill as a starting point for negotiations between the House and Senate.

20 thoughts on “Pearce introduces Organ Mountains protection bill

  1. Qosdisks–You support an all or nothing position–then you are just continuing a stalemate.  What I’m supporting is a positive position of doing something rather than nothing.  The lockup group has always been-Wilderness or nothing and now they want a bigger piece of the pie.  The 58,500 acres is what the late Rep. Joe Skeen tried to legislative protect as a National Conservation Area and the BLM has been protecting as the Organ Mt. Franklin Mt ACEC (Area of Environmental Concern) the 1980’s and the core mountain area has been protected as Wilderness Study Area ( WSA).  Your group seems to imply that there is not any protection for the Organ Mts and other areas and that is not the facts.  The Wilderness Alliance group has always pushed Wilderness as the Gold Standard and has not wanted to compromise.

    I support stopping the stalemate and legislatively protecting the Organ Mountains as a National Monument with a purpose of protect, conserve and enhance the cultural, traditional, archaeological, natural, ecological, geological, historical, wildlife, livestock, watershed, educational, recreational, and scenic resources for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations (Sec. 5 Purposes HR 4334).  This has a clear purpose for legislative protection, not a warm and fuzzy proposal to protect everything without a clear and written proposal. 

  2. Walleaner,  Non-agreement on the degree of protection is the singular obstacle protecting our wilderness now.  If that is the only way for or dysfunctional system to provide that protection, then I am all for never coming to an agreement.  As long as the wilderness status is uncertain then then risk adverse looters will be held back.  Pathetic that our children’s heritage should be weighed on such a precarious balance.  
    The amount of land to be set aside should be based on scientific data that explicitly shows what is best for preserving New Mexico’s wildlife including ranges for mountain lion and ungulates.  The specified protected regions must also aim to preserve rare and humble species as well.  In that light, 58,500 acres is paltry indeed.
    “Otis and Hemingway–Your backing of a proposal that wants to lockup over 600,000 acres when locking up 240,000 acres seems to be a dead issue, why not focus on getting the Organs protected first and then begin to work toward other area that most people can agree on.” 

  3. The El Malpais National Monument closed the 144,277 acres to hunting and grazing in 1997.  The Singleton and Bell ranches are privately owned and the can do as they please.  Vermejo Park was private until Shell Oil made a deal and gave title to the Forest Service. 

  4. It should be remembered that Grants, New Mexico residents  supported and lobbied for Congressional establishment of the BLM El Malpais National Conservation Area including the West Malpais and Cebolla Wilderness Areas –  231,230 acres. This was established as a National Monument signed into law by President Reagan.  As a result, the economy of Grants, New Mexico has greatly benefited from visitors to the area. It was a great success.

    Then there  are 20 ranches in New Mexico that are larger than Congressman Pearce’s tiny national monument of a mere 58,500 acres. For instance, Singleton Ranches owns 1.1 million acres in New Mexico; TheVermejo Park Ranchis a 590,823-acre; and The Bell Ranch stands at 290,100 acres.

  5. Otis and Hemingway–Your backing of a proposal that wants to lockup over 600,000 acres when locking up 240,000 acres seems to be a dead issue, why not focus on getting the Organs protected first and then begin to work toward other area that most people can agree on.

  6. Hemingway, it’s the myopic attitude you display here that derailed getting the Organ Mountains designated as a wilderness area three years ago.  Rather than address the issues, you choose to stick with what I suspect you think is clever commentary, and endless links, which we always ignore. 

    Your criticism is both transparently partisan and  incredibly immature..  Progress for New Mexico won’t ever take place with the type of successes you seek.  Rather than celebrate the elevation of a New Mexico treasure you just find fault.

  7. Walleaner talks of the trash of illegals in Arizona national parks.  Legal residents litter the Arizona highways with 1.6 million ton of trash costing Arizona taxpayers $19 million per year. It has nothing to do with national parks.

  8. In 2005 former U.S. Senator Pete Domenici supported wilderness for over 200,000 acres –  just for the Organ Mountains. Then you have Congressman Pearce’s mini monument proposal – a grand total of 58,500 acres. 
    Like Mini Me maybe Congressman Pearce can designate his small puny proposal  as the Mini-Pearce national monument in honor of himself.

  9. Mr. Hemingway, lets not confuse the facts of switching your facts from National Monuments to Wilderness.  Arizona has more wilderness, but also has major problems with Border Security and trash in the Wilderness.  Just last week, it was reported from Arizona that they picked up over 5 tons of trash left by illegals in the wilderness and estimated that illegals leave over 200 tons of trash each year in protected areas in Arizona.

    Instead of bad mouthing Representative Pearce’s proposal, why not support his bill as a compromise or negotiating position like Senator Bingaman has done.  

  10. Wilderness is a sad story in New Mexico.  According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, our neighbor Arizona has 4,528,913 acres of designated wilderness areas while New Mexico has only 1,623,843 acres. This is a disgrace to New Mexicans.  In addition, wilderness will be a boost to tourism and will help our local economy. It will be a big job creator in Southern New Mexico. The Republicans for Environmental Protection support the wilderness designation for the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks area.

    It was President Ronald Reagan, who signed 43 wilderness bills into law designating a net total of 10.6 million acres who  said it best after signing legislation establishing the El Malpais National Monument in New MexicoI just have to believe that with love for our natural heritage and a firm resolve to preserve it with wisdom and care, we can and will give the American land to our children, not impaired, but enhanced”. It is time to designate the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks area as a National Monument.  Then you have Congressman Pearce designating a lilliputian, minuscule, paltry, and itsy-bitsy 58,000 acres as a national monument – unbelievable. 

  11. Mr. Hemmingway, since you like to quote facts, if you would look up the list of National Monuments, of which New Mexico ranks second in the nation with 12 National Monuments, you would find that the  proposed Organ National Monument would rank third behind White Sands (143,734 acres) and El Malpais (114,277 acres ).  Only Arizona has more National Monuments than New Mexico with 18.  Looks to me to be a very reasonable and valued addition.  

  12. Walleaner said: ” I thought the issue was protection for the Organ Mountains. ”
    Really? The legislation is for : 

    Organ Mountains
    Potrillo Volcanic Field
    Kilbourne Hole & Aden Lava Flow
    Robledo Mountains
    Sierra de Las Uvas Mountains
    Fragile Chihuahuan Desert Grasslands

      The legislation includes much, much more than just the Organ Mountains. That’s why the title is “Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks”.  Pearce’s proposed legislation is a ham-handed attempt to smother the baby in the crib. If he doesn’t support what about 71% of New Mexicans do there is a very, very good chance the President will simply use the Antiquities Act to get the job done. Pearce is between a rock and a hard place. If he does what the citizens want done he alienates his money guys. If he does what his money-guys want he looks weak when the President goes ahead and acts without him.

  13. If Congressman Pearce has his way the Organ Mountains will rank with the smallest National Monuments in America. I guess tiny is better to Mr. Pearce.

  14. I thought the issue was protection for the Organ Mountains.  However the (non-political ) Wilderness Alliance supporters tried to get 240,000 acres into wilderness in S.1024 and dropped that as a dead issue going nowhere and now have the grand idea of the Organ Mountains and other areas to be locked up in a National Monument of over 600,000 acres.  Who know what the purpose of that many acres being proposed except politics as usual.

  15.    Walleaner said: ” Thanks to Rep. Pearce, Dona Ana citizens will have a sensible bill being proposed to protect the Organs.  This is what most people care about and should be a slam dunk for passage by Congress. ”
        Most people??? Perhaps Walleaner hasn’t read the polls. “Most” people hardly support a 58,500 acre monument since it was only announced this morning.  If Walleaner should care to read the polls they are available at which has the only definitive poll on the subject done by a reputable organization using standard and verifiable polling techniques. But, don’t let science and facts of what “most” citizens of Dona Ana county and the entire state get in the way of a biased opinion.

  16. By the way to track Mr. Pearce’s tiny monument bill – it is H.R. 4334. The tiny monument bill has not been printed yet!

  17. Thanks to Rep. Pearce, Dona Ana citizens will have a sensible bill being proposed to protect the Organs.  This is what most people care about and should be a slam dunk for passage by Congress.

  18. Maybe if Congressman Pearce really supports National Monument status  for our Organ MountainsDesert Peak area, we could erect a giant brass statue of Mr. Pearce at the entrance to Dripping Springs. Of course he would have his foot crushing a Dunes Sagebrush Lizard.
    Of course Pearce’s tiny monument bill would protect a meager 58,500 acres of the Organ Mountains from development. By contrast, the Organ Mountain Desert Peak bill would designate  400,000 acres acres in and around the Organs as federally protected wilderness. What are Mr. Pearce’s motives here? Politics as usual?