New Mexico

Reports: No boundary change for Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument

New Mexico politicians react to...

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke does not recommend shrinking the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, according to a leaked memo obtained by several news organizations, including ABC-7.

The Secretary of the Interior did recommend downsizing four monuments in the western United States, but the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument was not one of them.

Instead, Zinke did write that "border security is a concern" resulting from the monument's proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border, the Washington Post reports.

He also asked President Trump urge Congress to “enable tribal co-management of designated cultural resources" for OMDPN, according to that report.

Zinke's recommendations were revealed in a leaked memo intended for the White House. The Associated Press reports the memo also raises concerns about restrictions that have limited historic uses, such as grazing by Hispanic ranchers in the north, and urges federal agencies to work together to assess border safety issues in the south.

On Monday, Several New Mexico community and political leaders defended the size of the monument in Mesilla, including Mesilla Mayor Nora Barraza, State Rep. Bill McCamley and County Commissioner Billy Garrett. 

"(We would just like) for the Trump administration to just leave the monument as it is," Barraza told ABC-7. "It is our economic driver to the community."

Trump originally ordered a review of OMDPNM in an executive order from late April, concerning some visitors. In the months that followed, there was an outpouring of support for the current size of the monument.

In late June, hundreds gathered to voice their opposition to any reduction at the Doña Ana County Government Center. Ultimately, Doña Ana County Commissioners approved a resolution opposing the Trump Administration's efforts to downsize the monument.

In early July, numerous local government leaders urged the public to submit their comments for the Trump administration as the deadline for public input approached.

“You’re also going to see thousands and thousands of local residents from Las Cruces, all over southern New Mexico, and throughout New Mexico for that matter, saying to please keep this," said Ken Miyagishima, mayor of Las Cruces.

In late July, Secretary Zinke visited the monument.

However, not all New Mexico government officials support the current size of the monument.

In the past, Congressman Steve Pearce has called for reducing the size of the monument from more than 496,000 acres to 60,000 acres. On Monday, Pearce expressed his frustration with the leaked memo.

"Secretary Zinke's recommendation fails to provide the solutions New Mexico needs," Pearce said, in a statement. "By designating this monument under the Antiquities Act, the Obama Administration ignored this work and created an overly burdensome and harmful footprint – roughly 500,000 acres extending roughly 59 miles from corner to corner. The size and complexity of the Organ Mountains raises serious economic, security, and access concerns that cannot be appropriately addressed without resizing the monument’s footprint."