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Trump Administration Could Overturn National Monument Designations

Courtesy: NMFO

President Obama has used the Antiquities Act to designate 27 National Monuments, more than any other President. Now, Congressman Rob Bishop, a Republican from Utah wants President-Elect Trump to overturn those designations, including one for Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in Las Cruces.

Coffee Blends, Cupcakes, and Tour Businesses have all been created in Las Cruces since the designation of Organ Mountain- Desert Peaks National Monument. Carrie Hamblen, President and CEO of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce, says the community has come together to embrace the monument.

“What we’ve seen is really just a unique situation that is serving as an example for places across the country,” Hamblen said. “Of businesses, of health and wellness providers, community organizers, groups, non-profits, who are coming together and saying this is my monument, and I want to protect it, and I want to make sure it continues for generations to come.”

In a statement, Congressman Steve Pearce says he would support a review of the Organ Mountains designation by President Trump, saying he introduced legislation that would have protected 60,000 acres, instead of the almost 500,000 acres preserved now.

“By doing do, I am confident his Administration will ultimately reduce the Obama footprint to an acreage supported by existing federal law…. Additionally Congress should work with President Trump in the years to come on changing the designation process - so that no future President may unilaterally restrict lands from the people.”

Pearce says these decisions should be made by congress.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell highlighted the monument designations made by the Obama administration during a hike at Organ Mountains- Desert Peaks and says protecting public lands has benefits for the community as a whole.

“Outdoor recreation and tourism drives a quality of life that draws businesses to a community like Las Cruces,” Jewell said. “I think any administration would be crazy to undo the Organ Mountains- Desert Peaks National Monument for the reasons that will become very clear as the community speaks out about it’s important.”

Jewell says community members can take steps to prevent that.

“You know we live in a representative democracy,” Jewell said. “And that means the voices of citizens in this country matter, so my recommendation is people need to make their voices known. Make sure that your elected officials, Congressman Pearce, Senator Udall, Senator Heinrich know how important it is to you, and I think that’s true across the country for places that people feel are special.”

Carrie Hamblen, President and CEO of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce says undoing the designation would be problematic for environmental and cultural protections, as well as economic development.

“To reduce that when the community has already embraced it,” Hamblen said. “And said this is a value to our community in Las Cruces is not listening to the community voice. And what it is, is listening to outside voices that have nothing to do with Las Cruces, NM.”

Samantha Sonner was a multimedia reporter for KRWG- TV/FM.