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.