Bill Introduced to Protect Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in New Mexico

New Mexico sportsmen today thank our U.S. Senate delegation, Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, for reintroducing legislation that would permanently protect the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region in southern New Mexico.

Their bill, the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Conservation Act, would ensure that sportsmen have good opportunity to hunt and enjoy the scenic beauty of some 500,000 acres near the state’s second-largest city, Las Cruces.

“This legislation will permanently protect important areas like the Sierra de Las Uvas, the Potrillos and the Robledos mountains where southern New Mexicans have hunted for decades,” said John Cornell, president of Doña Ana County Associated Sportsmen. “We need to make sure areas like these remain open to hunting and hiking so we can always have places to pass on our outdoor traditions to the next generation.”

Sportsman-oriented businesses also applaud the reintroduction of the bill. Jacob Ellis, owner of the Archery Hut and Borderland Taxidermy in Las Cruces, said the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks legislation would make certain that his customers have places to hunt near the city. “Protecting these important public hunting areas also protects my business,” Ellis said.

A report produced earlier this year confirmed substantial economic benefit to the region will occur when the senators’ Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks legislation is enacted, including as much as $7.4 million a year in additional economic activity and an increase in permanent jobs.

The Act also will protect watersheds, the increasingly rare grasslands of the Potrillo Mountains and the area’s many cinder cones and lava flows, all of which provide critical habitat to a range of wildlife including mule deer, javelina, cougars, quail and dove.

“As a longtime resident of this area and as a biology professor, I have real concerns about the future of our native rangeland without some sort of permanent protection,” said Sanford Schemnitz, a retired NMSU professor, wildlife professional and chairman of Southwest Consolidated Sportsmen. “We need this protection so that as Las Cruces develops, future generations will have abundant, healthy natural areas to enjoy close to town.”

Oscar Simpson, who has hunted and explored most of New Mexico over the past 60 years and is now Chairman of the New Mexico Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, applauded the legislation. “This bill will preserve some of New Mexico’s most wild and majestic Sonoran Desert landscapes and wildlife habitat, and will protect numerous cultural, archaeological, historical and geological areas for all to enjoy,” he said.

For more information, contact:

John Cornell, Doña Ana County Associated Sportsmen, (575) 895-5090

Jacob Ellis, Archery Hut and Borderline Taxidermy, (575) 522-7468

Jim Bates, Southwest Consolidated Sportsmen, (575) 644-7751

Oscar Simpson, NM Chapter Backcountry Hunters, (505) 345-0112

Joel Gay, New Mexico Wildlife Federation, (505) 573-4191

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