© 2024 KRWG
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

New campaign encourages visitors to be better stewards of public lands

Kyla Navarro is Policy and Community Coordinator for Friends of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks.
Courtesy photo.
Kyla Navarro is Policy and Community Coordinator for Friends of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks.

Conservation Lands Foundation has partnered with the BLM on a new campaign called "Respect. Connect. Protect" that aims to help visitors respect nature and public lands.

The Conservation Lands Foundation connected KRWG Public Media with Kyla Navarro, Policy and Community Coordinator for Friends of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, to get some helpful tips for those who are considering venturing out to public lands. The Las Cruces nonprofit works to connect communities to the national monument.


Kienna Rodriguez: Kyla, thank you for joining us.

Kyla Navarro: Thanks for having me, Kienna.

Kienna Rodriguez: Why does your department feel this campaign is needed?

Kyla Navarro: So, we were initially founded to establish a National Monument or a national conservation lands, but we have been working to just connecting our community, a very diverse community to public lands because not everybody was aware that they can just go out there and recreate and enjoy and as we. You know, continue to do this and publicize it on social media. I believe that we also inspire people to use our public lands more and not everybody is aware of the best practices when it comes to recreating on public lands of just simply making sure that everything you take in you take out with you as well as staying on trails and just to minimize the damage in areas and also the fact that you can turn back if things get a little too difficult for you hiking up and the trail wasn't as what you expected so it's totally fine to double back.

Kienna Rodriguez: Your organization states that over 3 million people visited BLM lands last year. How is your department adapting to that many visitors?

Kyla Navarro: We do encourage visitors to come. We recently held a bike packing summit that had 150 bike packers right across our National Monument and so those are sort of the visitors that we invite, but we do not handle tourists that naturally come to the national monument, we have asked the Bureau of Land Management, our local district, to keep in mind something called the resource management plan. It basically reflects the community's values on how they would like our National Monument to be managed and we have mentioned, and I'm sure others have as well, to manage the lands in a balanced way, taking into account that it is a tourist destination as well as originally protected to conserve these these areas. And so keeping those two in mind.

Kienna Rodriguez: What are some things that first time visitors should be aware of in regards to national monuments and BLM lands?

Kyla Navarro: Something to keep in mind is that every national monument was established for different reasons and as much as I would say that national monuments do have more resources to be maintained by rangers and the Bureau of Land Management, BLM lands do not have that same resource. So, I think a great example locally is if you go up to Dripping Springs, it is very maintained and you will, you know, run into a monument ranger up there. But I think if you just go down the street to Tortugas Mountain it is not so well kept as much as so many people use it. They’re just very different in terms of like what you'll find there. So Dripping Springs is again like kept as very well maintained for tourists, but other parts of the National Monument (OMDP) may not be the same type of easy access as that can people.

Kienna Rodriguez: How can people prepare and be aware of elements, sacred land, how they should dress, shoes, sunscreen. How can they prepare better for those instances?

Kyla Navarro: Looking them up on the BLM website, wherever you're located, there are resources also different platforms about like how difficult a trail is for regular hikers as well as how long. Always keep in mind the weather I know in southern New Mexico it is very hard to do, to gage what the weather will be. Like. We are pretty warm and sunny all the time, so make sure to always bring their own water and bring sunscreen and hat and some shade. So those are usually the advice we give wherever they go. Sacred spaces or historical sites, you don't post them online on exact locations. So, if you run into one, it's cool. Take pictures, but don't post the location at all because that may attract more people. But those people might not know how to be respectful. Or to not degrade the artifact by like touching it, or maybe taking it.

Kienna Rodriguez: Where can people learn more about what is available?

Kyla Navarro: Respectconnectprotect.org is the bulk of this campaign is can be mostly found in terms of resources. Conservation Lands Foundation, their social media pages is very up to date with a lot of the pushes for this campaign. So also check out their social media platforms.

Kienna Rodriguez: Kyla, thank you for joining us.

Kyla Navarro: Thanks for having me, Kienna.

This post was last updated on 11/17.

Kienna Rodriguez is a KRWG Public Media student employee. She has produced interviews that covered fair wages, poverty, higher education, and literacy.
KRWG Wildfire Updates. Visit the Community Resource Page to learn how to help.
Do you have Voting or Election Questions? Fill out the form below and we will help you answer them!