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Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument provides boost to local economy, study finds

A newly released study shows that the designation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks as a national monument has driven economic development over the past decade in Southern New Mexico.

The study, conducted by BBC Research and Consulting, said that including direct and secondary impacts, the monument had a total estimated economic impact of about $35 million per year driven by non-local visitors, operation expenditures, and grazing gross revenues. Additionally, the study estimated that activity generated by the mountains supports 305 jobs per year in Doña Ana and Luna County.

During a press conference, Dr. Michael Verdone, Director of BBC Research and Consulting, said that the economic impact exceeded previous estimates by over 50 percent.

"We found that visitation has more than tripled from 183,900 visitors in 2012, prior to the monument’s designation, to more than 612,000 visitors in 2022,” he said, “It’s very important to highlight the role that visit Las Cruces has had by elevating awareness of the monument and capitalizing on that national monument value to attract visitors from outside the two-county area.”

Pablo Lopez, Manager of Outdoor Adventures in Las Cruces, said that he has felt an economic shift since the Organ Mountains were designated as a national monument.

“2016 was the first year we actually cleared $1 million of our business. And are they related? You could argue the numbers, I would say definitely, because I saw the people coming in,” he said.

According to Dr. Verdone, the data show that the popularity of the monument will continue to grow as the outdoor recreation economy in New Mexico expands.

Jonny Coker is a Multimedia Journalist for KRWG Public Media. He has lived in Southern New Mexico for most of his life, growing up in the small Village of Cloudcroft, and earning a degree in Journalism and Media Studies at New Mexico State University.