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More than nine years after its designation as a national monument, the federal government has started the process to develop a resource management plan for the Organ Mountains/Desert Peaks National Monument.
Scoping meetings will be held throughout the area, including from 6 to 8 p.m. July 12 at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum and 5 to 7 p.m. July 13 at the Village of Hatch Community Center.
People can also comment through the BLM website at eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/92170/510; by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; or by mail at BLM District Office, Attention Mara Weisenberger; 1800 Marques St., Las Cruces, NM, 88005.
Documents are available for public inspection at the BLM Office from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each Monday through Friday except for holidays.
The resource management plan that comes from the scoping process will provide long-range rules and regulations to govern future land-use allocations. All plans must, “ensure that objects and values are conserved, protected and restored,” according to the BLM website.
That site notes that the monument was created to, “preserve its cultural, prehistoric and historic legacy and maintain its diverse array of natural and scientific resources.” The new plan must not lose sight of that original vision.
It’s been so long now it’s easy to forget the objections raised by those who opposed the monument. There were two primary concerns raised at the time.
The first came from law enforcement … or, more specifically, from former Sheriff Todd Garrison, who said the monument would create a lawless corridor where drug smugglers and other criminals could roam freely without fear of pursuit from law enforcement.
The second came from ranchers who said restrictions on motorized vehicles would prevent them from mending fences, replenishing water tanks and doing other chores needed to manage a ranch.
Nine years later, I don’t know how much validity there was to either of those claims. If either group has been harmed, this would be the time for them to come forward and show their evidence.
Any management plan will have to address competing interests from agriculture, hikers, campers, anglers, nature lovers and conservationists. No plan will make every group happy. But the top priority has to be preservation of the area for future generations. That should be something all sides can agree on.
Walter Rubel can be reached at email@example.com