Multi-million-dollar impact of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument continues growing


Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument (OMDPNM) has generated more than $234 million in economic impact since the monument was designated May 21, 2014, including $35 million in 2022. And visitation to the monument has tripled from about 184,000 in 2012 to almost 613,000 in 2022.

“The data exemplifies what we have been witnessing – the designation of OMDPNM is fueling our local businesses and has provided our community an opportunity to diversity our economy and bring in new revenue we would not have seen otherwise,” said Carrie Hamblen, CEO and president of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce.

Hamblen, a Las Cruces state senator, was an early advocate for the monument designation.

The nearly half-million OMDPNM “is a success story that will likely help us sustain a strong and vibrant local economy for decades to come,” said Hamblen, one of more than a half-dozen speakers at a Sept. 13 Zoom news conference about the monument’s economic impact.

By 2022, the monument had created 305 jobs in Doña Ana and Luna counties, said Michael Verdone, Ph.D., who authored a 2013 impact study about the monument and is director of BBC Research and Consulting. The monument has generated $13 million in tax revenue in the last 10 years, including $1.9 million in 2022. Monument revenues have exceed 2013 projections by 51 percent, Verdone said.

“The community has acted on the opportunities created by the monument designation,” Verdone said.

OMDPNM “provides a great model for other communities on how to protect their treasured areas, which creating economic prosperity,” said Outdoor New Mexico Executive Director Jeff Steinborn, who is also a Las Cruces state senator.

“The people I meet at my business always have a story to share about their adventures within the monument,” said Outdoor Adventures Manager Pablo Lopez. “They are creating lasting memories with their families and friends while they are financially supporting local businesses at the same time.”

“While Hatch is known for our delicious green chile, we are excited to also become an outdoor recreation destination,” said Hatch Mayor Slim Whitlock. OMDPNM “has become a crucial part of this opportunity. These lands taught me everything I know about the outdoors, and because we’ve protected them, I love knowing they will be there for my grandchildren to enjoy and learn the same life lessons.”

“The tripling of visitors to OMDPNM has helped create hundreds of jobs in Doña Ana County and raise million in revenue for vital community services,” said Doña Ana County Commission Chair Susana Chaparro.

"The economic report really tells us definitively what our community has always known: that protected public lands help build strong and resilient communities,” said Friends of OMDP Executive Director Patrick Nolan. “They help bring people into our community that otherwise wouldn't. This includes both visitors as well as people making the choice to live here full-time with our public lands being a significant factor in that decision. Our local business community has recognized this and integrated them into their business plan. Most importantly for the Friends of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, we are seeing a new generation of community members find inspiration in these places and becoming advocates for these protected spaces."

OMDPNM “was established to protect significant prehistoric, historic, geologic, and biologic resources of scientific interest, and includes four areas: the Organ Mountains, Desert Peaks, Potrillo Mountains, and Doña Ana Mountains<’ the U.S. Bureau of Land Management said on its website.

The Organs rise to an elevation of 9,000 feet, the BLM said, and the monument “provides opportunities for photography, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, camping and wildlife viewing.”

The monument “has been a homeland for diverse Native American people, Van Patten’s historic hotel, the Butterfield Stage Coach Line, a place of exploration for 17th century Spaniards, a hideout for one of the American West’s most notorious outlaws and a training ground for World War II airmen and Apollo astronauts,” the BLM said. “The area is also home to a high diversity of animal life, including golden eagles and other raptors, as well as mountain lions, mule deer and other mammals.”

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