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What Were On Those 500,000 Acres In New Mexico Obama Just Made A National Monument Anyway?

[heading]What Were On Those 500,000 Acres In New Mexico Obama Just Made A National Monument Anyway?[/heading]

Barack Obama just made the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region the largest national monument created during his presidency.

On Wednesday the President signed a proclamation to turn half-a-million New Mexico acres into a national monument protected from development.

And so now the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument now represents the largest national monument created under the Obama Administration, twice the size of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, which is also in New Mexico.

In order to do this, the Obama Administration bypassed congress.


It is important for man to live in harmony with nature. The federal government’s overt rationale for taking over the land was to protect it’s natural and historical integrity. After all, the protected area, near Las Cruces, is home to “petroglyphs from three indigenous societies, canyons, mountains and desert grasslands, a volcanic field and a petrified forest,” according to Time Magazine.

But is that the only reason?

It is important to also understand the resources on this land themselves, and their potential economic value. Will the government in the future ultimately privatize the land? In this Department of Interior report, the mineral resources of the Organ Mountains are detailed. What do we find?

When I CTRL+F for key term “Gold”, a section “low-grade gold and silver deposits (D16)” shows up. The very next result brings up:

“Copper resources are present at the Torpedo mine; silver, lead, zinc, and possible gold resources are present at the Stephenson-Bennett mine; and fluorspar resources are present at the Ruby mine (fig. 2). . The mineral resource potential for copper, molybdenum, gold, and silver is high in an area along the northern edge of the study area, where a porphyry coppermolybdenum system has been emplaced at the margins of a granitic batholith of mid-Tertiary age (see geologic time chart in the Appendix for geologic time terms). The potential for lead, zinc, copper, silver, gold, and fluorspar resources is moderate near the western edge of the study area, where steeply dipping, faulted Paleozoic sedimentary rocks are.


The wilderness study area has low resource potential for oil and gas and geothermal energy, with certainty level B] Geologic terrane having high mineral resource potential for copper, molybdenum, gold, and silver in (1) porphyry copper-molybdenum deposits (certainty level D) and moderate mineral resource potential for copper in (2) copper-bearing breccia-pipe deposits (certainty level D) Geologic terrane having moderate mineral resource potential for copper, silver, lead, and zinc in (3) skarn deposits (certainty level D), having moderate mineral resource potential for silver, lead, zinc, copper, and gold, in (4) polymetallic replacement deposits (certainty level C), having moderate mineral resource potential for silver, and gold, in (5) low-grade gold and silver deposits (certainty level B), and having moderate mineral resource potential for fluorspar in (6) vein fluorspar deposits (certainty level C)


The mineralized Sugarloaf Peak phase of the Organ batholith and associated veins occur in the northern Organ and southern San Andres Mountains. The distribution of metal values in the veins is spotty (Jeske, 1987, table 2). The veins, with one exception, are of limited extent. A 0.1- to 0.3-ft-thick quartz vein containing high silver values is exposed for approximately 600 ft along strike in the study area. The vein strikes N. 40° W., and dips 35°-72° SW. The nine samples taken along the vein had silver values ranging from 0.38 to 116 ppm (parts per million) (0.1 to 3.4 troy ounces per ton) (Jeske, 1987, table 2). Surface samples indicate that the average grade is too low and mineralization too discontinuous to constitute a resource at this time.


The mining history and production in the region shows the discoveries of many of the commodities and resources in the area:




The red lines highlight areas with “high mineral resource potential” including gold and silver.


And how do all the New Mexicans feel about all this?

Many locals were against the change. I found a now-failed online petition, by Western Heritage Alliance, dated from February to stop the national monument. The page reads:

“The controversy around a National Monument in Dona Ana County has moved from local to national input. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell came to Las Cruces a few weeks ago for a listening session on the 500,000 acre Organ Mts-Desert Peaks National Monument. The environmental supporters had ample time to get notices out to rally support for the large national monument. Supporters of a smaller national monument for just the Organ Mountains had only 2 days to notify the local citizens of the meeting. The Sun News did not report about the meeting until the day of the meeting. Buses were used to bring supporters from Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Silver City and El Paso. Consequently, the room was packed to over capacity with monument supporters and the Secretary may have left with a false impression that the majority of the local people were in favor of a large national monument.

I have developed an online petition for those opposed to a large national monument to make it known to the President, Secretary Jewell and as well as Senators Udall and Heinrich that there is not a consensus in favor of the 500,000 acre national monument.




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