New Mexico

Trump's Executive order has some concerned about status of Organ Mountains National Monument

Organ Mountains Monument is up for...

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - President Donald Trump's executive order to review some national monuments, including two in New Mexico, has some residents, tourists and local leaders concerned.

"My initial thought is I'm very upset and I'm very worried," Kathy Lambrow, who was visiting the Dripping Springs Recreational area, told ABC-7 Thursday.

Under the order signed Wednesday, the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in Las Cruces and the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument near Taos are subject to review.

The order raises some questions about the future of the monuments. After signing the order Wednesday, President Trump said the order would end "another egregious abuse of federal power" and "give that power back to the states and to the people where it belongs."

President Trump also accused the Obama administration of using the Antiquities Act to "unilaterally put millions of acres of land and water under strict federal control" - a practice Trump derided as "a massive federal land grab."

It's still unclear exactly what will happen after the 120 day review.

Representative Jeff Steinborn (D) tells ABC-7 it's possible if the Organ Mountains lose its national monument status, portions of the land could be sold to commercial businesses.

"By putting it out of protective status as a national monument you really take away that administrative mandate of protecting it and promoting it as a national monument and expose it to all kinds of development," Steinborn said. "And the fact is some federal land is then sold off, it's traded. So you put it on a precarious path that you could lose the lands all together."

The Organ Mountains were just designated a national monument in 2014 under the Obama Administration. Steinborn says the designation has brought an increase in tourism to Dona Ana County.

"This is a shining bright spot in our economy and branding and success as a community," Steinborn said.

In a statement, Congressman Steve Pearce (R) said: "We all share the common goal of preserving the beauty of our lands for generations to come, but responsible conservation efforts must consider input from surrounding communities and the local economies that are affected.  I support today's action to review our national monument designations and look forward to working with the Administration to ensure that the beauty of New Mexico is preserved."


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