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The Economic Impact of NM's New National Monument

PHOTO: Designating the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks area as a national monument is expected to attract more tourists to southern New Mexico which, in turn, will attract new businesses and create jobs. Photo courtesy U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich.
PHOTO: Designating the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks area as a national monument is expected to attract more tourists to southern New Mexico which, in turn, will attract new businesses and create jobs. Photo courtesy U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich.
May 23, 2014

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Southern New Mexico is expected to see several million dollars of economic impact now that President Barack Obama has designated the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks area as a national monument.

Speaking in New York Thursday, the president called international tourism a big part of America's economy that helps to create jobs.

Carrie Hamblen, executive director of the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce, Las Cruces Chapter, agrees.

She says new visitors to the Organ Mountains could help to generate millions of tourism dollars for the region.

"Last year, we conducted an economic impact study that showed that $7.4 million will come back into our economy annually,” she says. “When we have a national monument designation, people are going to come to New Mexico.

“They're going to stay in our hotels, they're going to eat at our restaurants, and they're going to spend money in our community."

A report from the U.S. National Park Service says national parks in New Mexico added more than 1,100 jobs and $80 million to the state's economy in 2012.

Hamblen says the national monument designation may also attract new businesses to the area.

"Certainly, I think when we have more people here and there are more restaurants that are able to pop up because of more tourism to Las Cruces and Dona Ana County,” she says. “Certainly a likelihood that there will be more businesses that are popping up."

Obama signed the paperwork this week to officially designate the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks as a national monument.

Detractors have been critical of the president for bypassing Congress to make national monument designations.

But conservationists say in New Mexico, it protects a half-million acres rich with mountains, wilderness and Native American history for generations to come.


Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NM