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N.M. Leaders Seek Organ Mts. Protections

LAS CRUCES (AP) — A coalition of Hispanic leaders is urging President Barack Obama to protect southern New Mexico’s Organ Mountains and the Desert Peaks region.

The group sent a letter to the president on Wednesday. Former Gov. Jerry Apodaca, former Land Commissioner Jim Baca, State Auditor Hector Balderas and Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima were among the 24 leaders to sign the letter.

The group pointed to the area’s ecological values, its thousands of archaeological sites and its connections to Hispanic residents and historical figures such as Billy the Kid and Geronimo.

U.S. Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, both New Mexico Democrats, are sponsoring legislation that would establish the Organ Mountains-Dona Ana County conservation and wilderness area.

The measure would protect nearly 400,000 acres of public land in the county.