Organizations like the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance (NMWA), The Wilderness Society and other similar groups promote legislation to designate as much Federal land as Federal Wilderness as possible.  Federal Wilderness designation is their singular focus and the sole purpose.  These well funded, environmental activist groups have targeted numerous areas throughout the western states, including Dona Ana County. 


To make any sense out of the issues surrounding the Dona Ana County Wilderness proposals, it is necessary to understand the background and philosophy of these groups.

The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance Summer 2007 newsletter had an article on the founding board members of NMWA.  They stated in that article that Mr. Dave Foreman "provided many, if not most, of the philosophical underpinnings that guide the work of NMWA." 

As we mentioned above, Mr. Foreman has a long and well documented history in the environmental movement, including authoring books on sabotage techniques in the name of "environmental defense" and an FBI arrest record.  For more information, see our Understanding the Agenda and our References and Resources sections.   

These groups that follow Mr. Foreman's philosophy pursue and promote legislative land designations to restrict or eliminate access to the areas in an effort to "remove human impact" from the land.


In early 2006, the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance promoted resolutions to several governmental entities in Dona Ana County proposing federal wilderness designation for 422,138 acres in Dona Ana County, and a National Conservation Area of 108,000 acres for Organ Mountains area.  Assurances were given to the governmental entities that the proposals would not affect existing ranching operations and that they had the support of the ranching community, and yet no input from ranchers within the affected areas was solicited.  The ranchers were completely unaware of the NMWA proposal and resulting resolutions until much later in 2006.


Resolutions supporting Wilderness designations were adopted by the Dona Ana County Commission, Las Cruces City Council, Sunland Park City Council, Village of Hatch Council, and Mesilla Town Council, solely on the information provided by the wilderness activists and without notice or input from the ranching community or any others with a differing perspective.  Wilderness proponents have frequently cited these resolutions as evidence of "support" for their proposal.  See our "Ranchers Concerns" page for more information on the Dona Ana County events. 


At Senator Domenici's request, the City of Las Cruces initiated a workgroup process, termed "Regional Land Management Community Response", intended to build community consensus.  Sixteen individuals, termed "stakeholders", were identified to participate in the workgroup meetings.  Tom Mobley and Tom Cooper served as stakeholder representatives from the ranching community.  A series of meetings were held, but consensus across stakeholder representatives was not reached.  The conclusion of the final report from this process stated:

"The range of suggestions made by the stakeholder groups in their Position Papers illustrates the diversity of our community and the need for careful consideration of the potential impact on all users of public lands as legislation is drafted and decisions are made."

The city workgroup process was terminated, but it did serve to provide an education for those involved.  The more people learned about the restrictions imposed on Federal Wilderness areas, the more concerned they became.  Review of current wilderness management history and resulting issues only served to reinforce and magnify those identified concerns.


On August 16, 2007, The Board of Trustees of the Village of Hatch unanimously voted to rescind the Village of Hatch Resolution No. 669, which supported the NMWA proposals.  In the letter from Mayor Judd L. Nordyke, he states "In the past weeks, the Board of Trustees has learned that the information they had at the time the resolution was adopted did not give them all they needed to make an informed decision."   And from the Meeting Minutes, from Trustee Sment: "What they presented to us at that time has proven to be only half true and there has since been plenty of opposition to supporting their request.  He feels it is in the best interest of the Village Trustees to rescind Resolution No. 669 which was passed at that time."