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Las Cruces state senator: Everyone should enjoy, benefit from city’s, county’s world-class outdoor opportunities


“Getting outdoors is healthy; it’s a medically established fact,” said state Sen. Jeff Steinborn, a Las Cruces Democrat, environmentalist and avid outdoorsman.

Steinborn is also a champion for the Rio Grande Trail Project.

Steinborn’s 2015 legislation created the Rio Grande Trail Commission to oversee the development of a 500-mile recreational trail that stretches across the north-south length of Doña Ana County and the entire state. The trail corridor includes six state parks, three national wildlife refuges and six national monuments and touches on 10 New Mexico counties and about two dozen towns and cities.

The trail includes “some incredibly beautiful spots” that embrace the state’s “very rich history and culture,” Steinborn said.  

Steinborn was on hand as the 4.5-mile La Llorona Trail along the Rio Grande in Las Cruces was designated as the first segment of the Rio Grande Trail in October 2016.

And trail development continues to move forward, he said.

Eighty miles of the trail have been designated to date and more designations are on the way, Steinborn said. State funds will pay for full-time trail planning and infrastructure, and $250,000 has been allocated for a campground in Hatch.

The trail will continue to “grow and become more celebrated over time,” Steinborn said, and the addition of campgrounds, shelters, water-access points and other infrastructure along the way will enhance the “economic power of being a trail town,” he said.

That boosts the appeal of Hatch, Las Cruces, Sunland Park and other communities along the trail to visitors and it makes them more attractive to business owners looking for sites that offer quality of life for their employees.

“I am so excited to see communities around the county embracing (the trail) and the state funding it,” Steinborn said. “It’s all coming together.”

 The trail, nearby Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, Las Cruces’ 6.2-mile dam trail and many other outdoor recreation opportunities in and around the city and county help “create a sense of wellbeing,” he said.

The 496,000-acre monument includes 22 miles of the Butterfield Stage Trail, the hiding places of Billy the Kid and Geronimo, training grounds for World War II pilots and Apollo astronauts and countless species of birds and animals. There are also many miles of trails for hikers and bikers.

Steinborn also sponsored legislation that created the New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Division (ORD) within the state’s Economic Development Department.

“Outdoor recreation touches all corners of the state, and it goes beyond partisanship,” Steinborn said when Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the bill creating ORD in 2019. “There’s a high sense of enthusiasm about the opportunity we have to really grow these jobs and teach stewardship to our next generations.”

Visiting the outdoors and enjoying its fresh air and natural beauty releases beneficial chemicals in the brain and is “a powerful and affordable tool” for healthy living for children and adults, Steinborn said.

“We are so blessed in this community,” Steinborn said, to be surrounded by world-class outdoor amenities.

And it’s welcoming not only to visitors from all over the world, he said, but to the people who live here.

“It’s right in our back yard,” Steinborn said. “Take advantage of it.”

Visit www.emnrd.nm.gov/riograndetrailcommission, www.blm.gov (enter Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in the search box), www.lascrucescvb.org/outdoor and www.nmoutside.com.