Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Dona Ana County Commission supports keeping OMDP intact

Diana Alba Soular 

As President Donald Trump's administration is carrying out a review of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument and other monuments across the country, Doña Ana County commissioners reiterated support for the public lands designation Tuesday. After five hours of debate, the County Commission, in a 4-1 vote, passed a measure expressing continued support for the three-year-old monument and opposing any reductions in its size. County Commissioner Ben Rawson was the dissenting vote. The measure and a second monument-related item drew roughly 300 people, one of the largest crowds at a County Commission meeting in the past decade. County Commissioner Billy Garrett proposed the measure that passed. "To me, it's a clear statement of support for where we are with the monument," he said after the meeting. "It's been designated by a president. The way forward is through the management plan. We really don't want to go backward." Most of Tuesday's attendees were supporters, for wide-ranging reasons, of the national monument and backed Garrett's resolution. A contingent of opponents to Garrett's resolution mostly expressed support for a second monument-related item proposed by Rawson. Representatives from U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, both D-N.M., stated support for Garrett's proposal. A representative for U.S.Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., reiterated support for a much-smaller national monument that would cover the Organ Mountains only, not four other mountain ranges now included in the boundaries. Tuesday, the second monument-related item, proposed by Rawson, sought for the Interior Department to also review private lands that are surrounded by monument territory for possible effects to them. That measure died for lack of a second to Rawson's motion. Several ranchers, including 39-year-old Wes Eaton, who have grazing allotments on public lands in the monument and own private acreage, addressed county commissioners. Eaton said he has a parcel of private land that's enveloped by national monument land in the south county. The heart of his concern is that the national monument — though it does allow for existing rights-of-way — doesn't allow for new ones. So, if he wanted to extend electrical utilities to his private parcel from the nearest El Paso Electric Co. line, he wouldn't be able to get the right-of-way approved. "We don't have any way to get utilities to it anymore," he said. Eaton said he's not opposed to a national monument, but prefers that it cover the Organ Mountains only. And he backs the federal review of the monument "to look at it from a different set of eyes."...more


Anonymous said...

This monument takes in thousands and thousands of acres that have nothing to do with the Organ Mts. Many of those acres are in a relatively flat arid area to the West of Las Cruces and the Organ Mts. are Eaat of town. Reducing the size to enclose only the Organ Mts. seems very logical.

Anonymous said...

I heard there were over 150 people at the Commissioners Meeting that supported the vast acreage of the Organ Mt. Monmumet as it is. I also heard that they Jeered at the land owners who voiced concerns about how the value of their private property is negatively impacted by the excessively and needlessly large size of the Organ Mt. Monument.

I wonder how those same 150 people would feel if the value of their homes was needlessly devalued by an Executive Order?? Would they appreciate being Jeered at for voicing their misfortune??

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I wonder if all 150 of the YEAS were from Dona Ana county or if they commuted from Silver City and Albuquerque??