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Las Cruces Groups Push for Land Protection

LAS CRUCES (AP) — A coalition of archaeologists, historians, former Las Cruces mayors and a former governor are urging federal lawmakers to protect southern New Mexico’s Organ Mountains and the Desert Peaks region.

They gathered Tuesday in Las Cruces to throw their support behind legislation sponsored by U.S. Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall. The measure introduced by the New Mexico Democrats would protect nearly 400,000 acres of public land in Dona Ana County.

The groups want a national monument to be created in the area.

Former Gov. Jerry Apodaca says that would protect a cross-section of some of the state’s most unique history, from an Apollo Space Mission training area to Billy the Kid’s Outlaw Rock.

Supporters contend the creation of a monument would ensure that public lands remain open to hunting, grazing, hiking, camping and horseback riding.