Santa Fe, N.M. – Today, Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke sent a report to the White House “which included his findings and recommendations on national monuments that were under review.” The report summary included no details of what those recommendations were. The full report must be made public immediately.
In addition, Sec. Zinke hinted at potential changes in an interview with the Associated Press. Of grave concern here in New Mexico, are his specific comments about Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monuments. In response, Conservation Voters New Mexico Executive Director Demis Foster released the following statement:
“The spectacular Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande del Norte national monuments are important because they protect important archeological and cultural sites and irreplaceable lands and wildlife,” said Demis Foster, Executive Director of Conservation Voters New Mexico. “Earlier this year, more than 2500 Conservation Voters New Mexico members and supporters joined nearly 2.8 million people across the country in calling on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to keep our national monuments as they are. It appears Sec. Zinke is ignoring the will of the people by abolishing protections for any part of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks or Rio Grande del Norte national monuments. But we won’t know unless the full report is released to the public.”
“Not only is it important to protect these lands and keep them public, our national monuments are critical to the economy of rural communities in New Mexico,” added Foster. “In New Mexico alone, the Outdoor Industry Association estimates the annual economic impact of outdoor recreation is $9.9 billion in consumer spending, plus $2.8 billion in wages and salaries; $623 million in state and local tax revenue; and 99,000 jobs. It couldn’t be clearer – monument status does more than protect the land; it also supports local jobs and economies.”