May 15, 2015
Las Cruces Sun-News
POSTED: 05/15/2015 01:00:00 AM MDT
There was so much bitter debate leading up to the decision, that it seems hard to believe a full year has passed since President Barack Obama used his powers under the Antiquities Act to designate the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument on May 21, 2014.
The year since then has not brought the calamity monument opponents had warned that it would. The Potrillo Mountains have not been turned into a corridor for illegal drug smuggling. Nor has the year brought us much in terms of tourism growth or enhanced economic development, as had been promised by supporters. Those benefits will come in time, we believe.
There has been some work done on the monument in the past year. New signs were erected by the Bureau of Land Management to designate the new national monument. But, we won’t fully know about the monument’s impacts and benefits until the BLM completes its land use plan, and that is still expected to be years away.
In the meantime, a number of celebrations have been planned for next week to mark the monument’s anniversary. This Saturday and Sunday, the BLM will waive day-use fees at Aguirre Spring Campground and all fees, excluding the group site fee, at Dripping Springs Natural Area/La Cueva. The $7 campsite fee will remain in effect.
Tonight, a celebration will be held at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum with a tribal blessing and the unveiling of the OMDP Achievement badge for Girl Scouts. On Saturday, a hike will be held at the Dripping Springs Natural Area, followed by a big game cookout at the Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park. An interfaith service is planned for Sunday at Dripping Springs.
The Las Cruces City Council is expected to declare today through May 22 as OMDP Celebration Week at its meeting Monday. Other events include a safety talk Tuesday, fiesta at the Mesilla Plaza on Wednesday, art show Thursday at the West End Art Depot and OMDP Monumental Opening Night next Friday for the opening game of the season for the Las Cruces Vaqueros baseball team.
There will also be a focus throughout the week on the potential economic opportunities the new national monument may bring for local businesses, said Carrie Hamblen of the Green Chamber of Commerce.
It took a lengthy effort to persuade the president to declare the monument, and the process was often quite contentious. We appreciate that not everybody in our community will be celebrating next week.
But the monument has been declared. The goal now should be to make the most of it.