Udall, Heinrich, Luján, Lujan Grisham Urge Interior Secretary to Honor New Mexicans’ Views and Leave NM’s Monuments Alone

NEWS FROM U.S. SENATOR TOM UDALL
U.S. SENATOR MARTIN HEINRICH
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE BEN RAY LUJÁN
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 21, 2017

Udall, Heinrich, Luján, Lujan Grisham Urge Interior Secretary to Honor New Mexicans’ Views and Leave NM’s Monuments Alone

Write to Interior Secretary: Don’t make make changes that would damage and degrade monuments’ unique values

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – As the deadline nears for U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to complete his review of national monuments created under the Antiquities Act, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, and U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham urged him one more time to respect the wishes of thousands of New Mexicans who cherish Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks national monuments, and leave them intact.

“The voices of New Mexicans could not be clearer – our national monuments are vitally important to our history and are part of the living culture of local tribes and pueblos. Our local communities worked for decades to ensure that permanent protections for our national monuments would be in place for the use and enjoyment of future generations,” the lawmakers wrote. “We strongly urge you to honor the views from New Mexicans who love the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and the Rio Grande del Norte National Monuments.”

The lawmakers have made the case to Zinke numerous times in person, during congressional hearings and in writing that the monuments – in their current form – are significant drivers of New Mexico’s economy, attracting visitors from around the world who visit, shop, and stay in local communities while they enjoy exceptional hiking, hunting and fishing, and learn about the cultural and historical sites preserved in the monuments.

Communities, including Taos, Albuquerque, and Las Cruces, have held rallies and special events to raise awareness about the review and demonstrate to Zinke the strong widespread support the monuments enjoy. For example, more than 600 local residents, sportsmen, veterans, Hispanic leaders, members of tribes and faith groups, and business and community leaders packed a town hall meeting in Las Cruces to express how much they cherish Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks.

“You invited the American people to participate in two public comment periods and over 90 percent of the more than 2.7 million responses supported keeping or expanding our existing national monuments. The public has spoken loudly and clearly to protect — and not alter or eliminate — national monuments,” the lawmakers wrote. “We encourage you to end your review with a recognition and renewed commitment to properly care for and manage all of our national monuments as designated under the Antiquities Act, and not to make changes that would damage and degrade their unique values.”

Full text of the letter is here and below:

 August 21, 2017

 Dear Secretary Zinke:

We write to you today on behalf of our constituents, who are committed to keeping the Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks and the Rio Grande del Norte National Monuments intact as established under the Antiquities Act. These national monuments showcase the abundance of natural beauty and archeological wonders of New Mexico — that bring locals and visitors from across America together.

As you saw firsthand during your visit to New Mexico, these two national monuments enjoy broad public support and are important engines for our local jobs and economies. In Las Cruces, more than 600 local residents, sportsmen, veterans, Hispanic leaders, members of tribes and faith groups, and business and community leaders packed a town hall meeting to share their stories and express how much they cherish these special places. The voices of New Mexicans could not be clearer – our national monuments are vitally important to our history and are part of the living culture of local tribes and pueblos. Our local communities worked for decades to ensure that permanent protections for our national monuments would be in place for the use and enjoyment of future generations.

We have shared our support for these national monuments in their current form with you through letters, Congressional hearings, phone calls, staff-to-staff communication, and meeting you personally in New Mexico. You invited the American people to participate in two public comment periods and over 90 percent of the more than 2.7 million responses supported keeping or expanding our existing national monuments. The public has spoken loudly and clearly to protect — and not alter or eliminate –national monuments.

The American people have a strong sense of pride and deep connection to our public lands. Our national monuments have been thoughtfully conserved by presidents of both parties for more than 100 years. The vision of the leaders who protected our most wild lands, darkest skies, rare ecosystems, scenic landscapes, historical sites, and culturally significant tribal resources was for all Americans to enjoy and learn from these amazing places.

We encourage you to end your review with a recognition and renewed commitment to properly care for and manage all of our national monuments as designated under the Antiquities Act, and not to make changes that would damage and degrade their unique values. And we strongly urge you to honor the views from New Mexicans who love the Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks and the Rio Grande del Norte National Monuments.

Sincerely,

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Contacts: Jennifer Talhelm (Udall) 202.228.6870 / Whitney Potter (Heinrich) 202.228.1578 / Joe Shoemaker (Luján) 202.225.6190 / Gilbert Gallegos (Lujan Grisham) 505.967-5612