Las Cruces Bulletin The Friends of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks ( OMDP) National Monument and the Las Cruces Green Chamber are hosting a celebration of national lands marking the one-year anniversary of the creation of the OMDP as a national monument. “On May 21, 2014, President Obama designated 496,000 acres,” Ben Gabriel, director of the Friends of OMDP group, said. “Events will be held from May 15 to 22.” Gabriel said much of the local community supported the National Monument designation. “I am really looking forward to the future of what this has to offer,” he said. “This protects the land for my family and my children. It’s truly one of the benefits that adds to the quality of life.” In New Mexico, Gabriel said, there is a lot of public land and the people have a strong connection to place. “We have a spiritual connection to the environment,” Gabriel said. “It is important we protect it.” Also playing large parts in the celebration, the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, New Mexico Wildlife Federation, the Bureau of Land Management and numerous local businesses have prepared events for the community to participate in. The kickoff event is at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum Friday, bringing together a lot of those individuals who were instrumental in the push for the monument designation. The evening begins at 5:50 p.m. and features a Native American blessing and the unveiling of an OMDP Achievement badge for the Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest. On Saturday, BLM hosts hikes and talks at the Dripping Springs Natural Area all morning, starting at 8 a.m.; at noon the National Conservation Alliance celebrates its own 15 year anniversary at Dripping Springs with a birthday party. Saturday evening, the New Mexico Wildlife Federation hosts a big game cookout at Bosque State Park. Elk tacos will be served. Sen. Martin Heinrich is the keynote speaker. Sunday features an interfaith service held at Dripping Springs. On Monday, Mayor Ken Miyagishima will read an OMDP Proclamation at Las Cruces City Hall declaring May 15 to 22 OMDP Celebration Week. Tuesday a free talk about safety in the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Community Enterprise Center Classroom, 125 N. Main St. Wednesday, the community is invited to Mesilla for a fiesta beginning at 5 p.m. Starting to wind down, on Thursday, the Green Chamber hosts OMDP Green Drinks and Art Show at the West End Art Depot. The gallery is featuring different art works by local talent, all depicting the Organ Mountains, Gabriel said. And Friday, the actual day of the anniversary, features OMDP Monumental Opening Night for the Las Cruces Vaqueros Baseball Team at Apodaca Park. Las Cruces Green Chamber director Carrie Hamblen said she is excited to be throwing in the first pitch. Hamblen also said many local businesses will be offering OMDPrelated discounts and special offers throughouttheweek. Moreinformation about events can be found at http:// locallascruces.com/omdpweek. ‘We have a spiritual connection to the environment. It is important we protect it.’ BEN GABRIEL Director of the Friends of Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks National Monument Dripping Springs Natural Area will be the location for hikes and talks Saturday, May 16, as part of a week of activities to commemorate the Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks National Monument status granted a year ago by President Barack Obama.
By Elva K. Österreich