Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks: Work We Are Doing

Organ Mountains Wilderness Study Area.
flickr, Bob Wick (Bureau of Land Management)
The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks area in southern New Mexico is one of a kind.

The Wilderness Society and local partners are working together to permanently protect this area either through Congressional legislation or by presidential designation.

Why protect the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks?

The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks is home to incredible wildlife diversity and extraordinary natural and cultural history. It is loved for its natural wonders, such as the peaks of the Organ Needles and the southwestern Chihuahuan Desert.

The pristine and rugged qualities of many of its areas provide opportunities for soul-filling solitude and outdoor recreation including hunting, horseback riding, hiking, birding and camping. Protecting the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks will preserve natural treasures and bring jobs and economic development to southern New Mexico.

The Wilderness Society supports local efforts on the ground to protect the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks.

Protection through legislation

The Organ Mountains-Dona Ana County Conservation and Protection Act (S. 1024) was introduced into Congress in spring 2011. The joint bill proposed by New Mexico Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall would protect over 241,000 acres as wilderness and 159,550 acres as a National Conservation Area.

This bill reflects many years of efforts between The Wilderness Society and its partners. We have worked to protect precious wild places in the southern part of this state, some of which are located on critical border areas. Adjustments to the protected areas were made to ensure both border security and the sustenance of desert habitats that are home to a number of threatened and endangered species.

Protection through presidential designation

President Obama can use the Antiquities Act to protect the Organ Mountain-Desert Peaks as a national monument. The Antiquities Act is a law from 1906 that allows the president of the United States to protect historical, natural and cultural treasures. The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks meet all three criteria.

The Las Cruces community and beyond have come together to call on President Obama to designate Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks as a national monument. The monument proposal was developed by the local community and would allow many of the activities already enjoyed in the area, including:

  • Hunting and horseback riding
  • Camping and backpacking
  • Riding motorized vehicles on designated roads
  • Hiking and biking
  • Law enforcement and border security
  • Livestock grazing
  • Firefighting and fuels reduction

The Wilderness Society strongly supports a monument designation from President Obama. Given that Congressional action moves slowly at times, protection through the use of the Antiquities Act is much faster. It also has the strong support from locals.

See also:

Monument designation FAQs

Organ Mountains

Our partners

Stories from New Mexico

Helpful links

  • Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument:

  • New Mexico Wilderness Alliance:

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