Major Conservation Bill Moves a Key Step Closer to Passage

Jul 21, 2010

Committee Approves Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Bill, Sends to Senate Floor

Bipartisan support for protecting more than 259,000 acres of some of New Mexico’s most beloved and prized wild lands helped move conservation legislation an important step closer to becoming law today, as the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act and sent it to the full Senate for action. The vote was hailed by community leaders, business leaders, sportsmen and others who have worked for years to build community support for the legislation, which will also create a 100,000+-acre National Conservation Area around the Organ and Robledo Mountains and parts of Broad Canyon.

“Today’s vote shows that collaboration and consensus building pays off,” said Gill Sorg of the Las Cruces City Council. “Senator Bingaman should be commended for reaching out, listening to concerns, and making changes to his legislation to make it as strong as possible. “

Senator Jeff Bingaman and cosponsor Senator Tom Udall have modified the wilderness boundaries in the original bill to ensure that the legislation compliments law enforcement activities along the U.S.-Mexico border. In a letter to the Senators sent earlier this year, the Commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Alan Bersin, endorsed the new legislation, stating that the bill will enhance their law-enforcement efforts.

“By adjusting boundaries, accepting recommendations from Border Security experts, and making tough decisions, Senator Bingaman and Senator Udall worked to enhance national security, while also achieving broad community support and desired conservation goals with the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act," said Lynn Scarlett, former Deputy Secretary of the Interior under President George W. Bush.

“With so much security stakeholder input, this bill is the best example of how to preserve both the security on the border and preserve our pristine land,” said Dr. Paul Deason of Las Cruces, who sits on the U.S. Justice Department’s Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council.

“Protecting our spectacular natural areas – like the Organs and the Robledos – is vital to protecting the quality of life that we enjoy here, and that is key to a thriving business climate,” said Gilbert Apodaca, President of the Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces. “Our incredible open spaces and wild mountains are the reasons many people and businesses move to Las Cruces to make their livelihoods and raise their families."

“The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act has the strong support of more than three hundred local businesses and organizations, along with local elected governments in Las Cruces, Mesilla, Doña Ana County and El Paso,” said Sorg. “The legislation will ensure that the magnificent Organs will forever remain the backdrop of Las Cruces and our special wild places that provide amazing opportunities for hiking, hunting, camping and wildlife watching will always be around for those who will come after us to enjoy.”

DOJ Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council Member Dr. Paul Deason—575-644-8427
Former Deputy Secretary of Interior Lynn Scarlett—805-895-7057
Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces President Gilbert Apodaca—575-635-9513
Las Cruces City Councilor Gill Sorg—575-644-0660