Mimbres Peaks National Monument logo in full color with a white background

Proposed national monument would be economic boon for area

Russell Hernandez and Renee Frank

A recent opinion piece in this paper argued that the economic benefits of the proposed Mimbres Peaks National Monument need a full airing in the light of day. We couldn’t agree more.

Where national monuments have been created elsewhere in New Mexico and the United States they have been a resounding economic success. The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument (OMDPNM) in Doña Ana County, next door to Luna County, is a sterling example that provides good reason to believe the economic benefits in our neck of the woods.

The Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce, of which we are members, released a report this past September looking at the economic benefits that have accrued to our region since OMDPNM was created in 2013. Amongst the exciting findings by the report’s economist authors at BBC Research & Consulting are that visitation has increased to our region since OMDPNM was created, leading to an overall economic impact of $234 million over eight years. This spending currently supports over 300 jobs in hospitality, outdoor recreation, and other sectors, even while the Bureau of Land Management’s own data even showed grazing increased in OMDPNM in the first six years after it was declared.

The Green Chamber commissioned a second BBC study, which Dr. Schickendanz referred to, which builds off of the local experience with OMDPNM and other national monuments in the southwestern U.S. to envision what the economic benefits of a Mimbres Peaks National Monument declaration would look like in Luna County. We would encourage all New Mexicans and anyone who wants to learn more about what the monument could mean economically to Luna County to read the report at .

BBC’s Luna County report shows that $7.8 million to $13.6 million in revenue from new visitors could be created for Luna County. That’s an impressive range that is worth shooting for, even on the low end.

The reason why national monuments attract new visitors is because they are symbols of American greatness. When unique public lands gain national recognition, it brings broader attention to their world class attributes through guide books, feature articles, and other media attention. The monument designation also puts a community’s star on the map and makes it a destination. That attracts not only visitors but also relocating retirees, employers, employees, and other new residents. 

We speak from firsthand experience as entrepreneurs and community leaders who have seen our communities and our own businesses benefit greatly from the creation of OMDPNM. Restaurateurs and realtors need customers and many are coming from all over since the creation of the monument. We have both seen an increase in business since then, which has allowed us to make further investments in our business, staff, and communities.

Of course, if you live in southern New Mexico, you don’t need to be reminded why this is such a great place to live and visit. But you also know that it’s time to expand economic opportunities beyond the ones that have brought us this far.

We couldn’t agree more that something great could happen in Luna County if we all come together, but only if we do so with the facts in hand. Fortunately the economic facts about national monuments in southern New Mexico are well-known and clear: They are great ways to protect our traditional ways of life, and to grow into the future.

This article was originally published in the Las Cruces Sun News.

Read on the Sun News