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Fri April 20, 2012
Report Touts Economic Benefits Of Protecting The Organ Mountains
LAS CRUCES, New Mexico – A new report states that protected public lands are a competitive economic advantage in southern New Mexico and Doña Ana County. The analysis contends that protecting public lands surrounding Las Cruces, by designating the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, will aid the region’s economic development strategy.
“Permanently protecting the iconic Organ Mountains and the surrounding natural treasures will boost our economy and benefit Doña Ana County. This Headwaters report explains how stimulating tourism, attracting new residents, and creating jobs goes hand in hand with permanently protecting public lands”, said Richard Majestic from the High Tech Consortium of Southern New Mexico.
The report, Doña Ana County’s Public Lands and Economic Prosperity, (available at http://headwaterseconomics.org/wphw/wp-content/uploads/DonaAna_County_Report.pdf) was conducted by Headwaters Economics, a non-profit research group based in Bozeman, Montana that works with local officials, business leaders, and the public to help improve land management and community development decisions.
The report reviews Doña Ana County’s regional economy—along with that of southern New Mexico and the West—and the county’s success in attracting economic growth and rising salaries and wages. It discusses economic trends and the potential forDoña Ana County’s public lands to support a growing travel and tourism sector, and also attract new residents, businesses and industries.
“Southern New Mexico’s competitive strengths and mix of economic activities have evolved in recent years,” noted report author Ben Alexander. “People are moving to the region because of its high quality of life. Services industries that employ a wide range of people—from doctors and engineers to teachers and accountants—are driving economic growth and make up the large majority of jobs today. These industries are raising wages and, along with rapid increases in non-labor income from investment and retirement sources, are helping to elevate per capita income.”
“Even with the difficult economic times, people are moving to Las Cruces,” said Victor Gallegos, owner of Nopalitos Galeria and Nopalitos Restaurant in the Mesquite Historic District. “The Organ Mountains and our other unique natural areas are on every top 10 ‘best places to live’ list that we make. It’s time we do the smart thing and permanently protect these natural areas so that Las Cruces and Doña Ana County will continue to draw new residents and new businesses far into the future.”
“In these economic times, Las Cruces and Doña Ana County needs to look seriously at any opportunity that will help positively brand this community and increase interest in visiting, moving to, or starting a business here. Protecting our world class southwestern vistas and lands can an incredible opportunity for the future of this whole region,” added Renee Frank, President of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce.
The Doña Ana County case study is part of a series of research by Headwaters Economics on the economic role of protected federal lands in the West looking at both past performance and several perspective case studies.
For example, Headwaters Economics recently completed a study of the economic performance of communities adjacent to large national monuments in the West created in the last generation (a total of 17 monuments), finding that nearby economies grew, adding new jobs, and per capita income increased, in real terms, in every case after the creation of these national monuments (see: http://headwaterseconomics.org/land/reports/national-monuments/).
Nearby National Monuments like White Sands receive between 500,000 and 600,000 visitors every year, making large economic impacts that could only grow in Las Cruces.