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(12/14/12) LAS CRUCES, N.M. – It’s better in the West – the economy, that is. 

An in-depth study of Western job growth was presented yesterday (Thursday) in Las Cruces. It showed that from 2000 to 2011, New Mexico’s real personal income grew by 31 percent. 

Wayne Suggs is the co-founder of Classic New Mexico Homes. He developed a website and a book to feature his homes, area art and the natural beauty of southern New Mexico. And his experience is that a public lands backdrop is valuable. 

“I just got a call from someone who lives on the edge of the Chesapeake Bay and he’s tired of the cold. I sent him the book and he said that that view of the Organs (Organ Mountains) – it’s the Tetons of the desert. That’s the kind of reaction that people have. And that’s something that we have to preserve.”

At the information session about how protected lands are increasing economic growth in the West, Suggs was one of the local business owners who cited the study as one more reason to approve the proposed Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument outside of Las Cruces.

Ben Alexander is an economist and the associate director of Headwaters Economics, the Montana-based think tank that published the report . He says for years, he and his colleagues noticed that the Western states with protected public lands within their borders were outperforming the U.S. economy. They wanted to know what makes the West competitive. They discovered that service industries are at the forefront of that new growth, and many service companies are not constrained by location.

“When we talked to the CEOs who are running many of these companies, we found that the workers they’re competing for are attracted by quality of place. Places that offer access for recreation, have scenic backdrops, are able to compete more successfully than the rest of the country.”

Economists believe protected federal lands are an important factor in driving the economic growth of the region. Alexander says Headwaters crunched some numbers.

“Our statistical analysis showed that for every 10,000 acres of protected federal lands there is an increase of $436 per capita income. So we would expect to see in a county with 100,000 acres of protected federal land, an increase of $4,360 per capita income.”

Alexander says that makes a pretty compelling case that counties with scenic and protected federal lands are attracting more people and creating more and better-paying jobs. The Headwaters study shows that non-metro counties in the West that feature more than 30 percent of federally protected lands, increased employment by 345 percent.

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Wilderness Protection Campaigns

  • Rio Grande del Norte

    Rio Grande del Norte The Rio Grande del Norte has shaped the lives of the people who have lived and visited the area for so many generations. Read More
  • Organ Mountains

    Organ Mountains The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument protects a New Mexico legacy spanning Pre-American, New Mexican, and American history. Read More
  • Pecos Wilderness

    The Pecos Wilderness, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, encompasses 223,637 acres spanning the Carson and Santa Fe national forests in northeastern New Mexico, and is the source of the Read More
  • Gila Campaign

    Gila Campaign The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance has been busy working on many fronts in and around the Gila Wilderness, the birthplace of the wilderness protection movement and our state’s largest wilderness. Read More
  • Victories

    Victories The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance has had several major victories since the organization was founded in 1997. Read more about our conservation victories below. Read More
  • Outreach and Education

    Outreach and Education In 2013, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance launched a pilot Wilderness Education project to test a model of environmental education. We tested a three-tiered approach for environmental education that begins in Read More
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News About the Organ Mountains - Desert Peaks Campaign

  • OMDP turns 3 — is it bringing visitors, money to the area! +

    LAS CRUCES - Three years ago, President Barack Obama declared the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument  after decades of grassroots efforts

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  • NM Mayors: Wilderness designation preserves important lands +

    NM Mayors: Wilderness designation needed

    Printed in the El Paso Times and Las Cruces Sun News

    Ken Miyagishima, Nora Barraza,

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  • Diverse coalition praises effort to preserve special lands in the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument (2) +

    Legislation introduced by Sens. Udall and Heinrich would protect wilderness within the national monument

    Las Cruces, New Mexico (June 10,

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  • Help Us Protect the Organ Mountains +

    2015 10 22 15 15 27

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  • Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Testimonial – Angel Pena +

    Testimonial – Angel Pena 

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