LEGISLATIVE  PROPOSAL S 1689

 
  The Organ Mountains Desert Peaks Wilderness Bill - S.1689

In 2009, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) have introduced federal Wilderness legislation for Dona Ana County, New Mexico.  Community concern caused the Senators to hold a field hearing in Las Cruces on February 15, 2010.  In June, 2010, a revised version of the legislation was put forward by Senator Bingaman, claiming to address concerns raised by the community about border security.  This legislation imposes federal Wilderness designation, the most restrictive of all federal land management designations, on 241,400 acres of lands in Dona Ana County, along with 99,150 acres of National Conservation Area (NCA) designation. 

"The presence of any wilderness on the Mexican border is a danger to the security of the United States"

Jim Switzer, National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers

PFPOWH OPPOSES THIS LEGISLATION. 

THIS LEGISLATION IS NOT IN THE BEST INTEREST OF OUR COMMUNITY, OUR STATE OR OUR COUNTY.

HOW MUCH LAND?

This area is over 532 square miles of land, nearly 14% of Dona Ana County, and a little over half the size of the state of Rhode Island.

PFPOWH FAQ, LEGISLATION SUMMARY

S.1689 FAQ / Fact Sheet - Know The Issues
Abbreviated summary of S.1689

Full Text of S.1689

WILDERNESS MANAGEMENT REQUIREMENTS

When land is designated as Federal Wilderness under the 1964 Wilderness Act, there are numerous prohibitions, such as:

  • no permanent road within any Wilderness area
  • no temporary road
  • no use of motorized vehicles
  • no motorized equipment or motorboats
  • no landing of aircraft
  • no form of mechanical transport
  • no structure or installation

WILDERNESS ON THE BORDER - IMPACTS ON BORDER SECURITY

These prohibitions do not allow for Border Patrol or other law enforcement agencies to perform routine patrols in Wilderness.  They can not utilize sensors, radio transmitters or microwave towers for surveillance in designated Wilderness.  The only way for them to travel in the Wilderness is on foot or on horseback, unless it is deemed an emergency.  There is a Memo of Understanding (MOU) between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Department of Agriculture that will allow emergency entry, but it has not been tested in New Mexico because there is not any designated Wilderness along the border.

As of July, 2010, more than 28,000 people have been killed in drug related violence since 2006.  We do not want create a smuggling corridor in our county that will invite this type of criminal violence to move in to our community.

See Wilderness On The Border to learn more about why PFPOWH and many in our community strongly oppose this detrimental legislation.

LOCAL COMMUNITY - POSITION STATEMENTS & LETTERS

Bill Mattiace: Protect Our Two Symbols, Now  (08/17/10)
Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce (Reaffirmed 7/2010)
Dona Ana County Organizations and Community Leaders Letter

Las Cruces Association of Realtors
Coalition Listing - over 800 strong supporting an alternative to Wilderness

BORDER SECURITY FORUM, LAS CRUCES, MAY 2010

"Smuggling organizations quickly learn to scout, identify, occupy and utilize unguarded border locations.  To disrupt criminal operations, Border Patrol officers must have COMPLETE access TO ALL AREAS adjacent to the border.  Border Patrol agents must have the flexibility to monitor and have a PHYSICAL PRESENCE to confront illegal activity, regardless of where it occurs along our borders.  Failure to do so gives the perpetrators the upper hand, established routes of safe passage into the U.S., and weakens the first line of defense.  The control of ANY corridor translates into the control of all illegal activity in that corridor.  Border Patrol must have access to ALL trafficking corridors, NO EXCEPTIONS.  Our borders have never been so severely tested.  The United States is at a critical crossroads regarding our sovereignty and national security. Anything that impedes the Border Patrol from actively patrolling corridors automatically enables and enhances criminal activity.  The authority vested in Border Patrol agents must be UNENCUMBERED.  Wilderness designation creates significant impediments for Border Patrol."
Buck Brandemuehl, Chief of U.S. Border Patrol (Retired), Border Security Forum, Brandemuehl Presentation (large PDF of presentation slides)

"The Potrillos have ALL the characteristics for the perfect smuggling corridor.  No motorized vehicle access and no mechanized equipment is the original intent of the law and the cornerstone of Wilderness.  NO law enforcement agency can provide protection under these conditions.  Environmental idealism has trumped national security. Designating Wilderness on the border IS NOT WORKING.  Wilderness designation contribute significantly to criminal activity and environmental devastation. With appropriate support, U.S. Border Patrol agents can succeed in security our border.  WHEN our borders are secure, environmental restoration has a far greater chance of success."
Gene Wood, Retired U.S. Border Patrol Chief Patrol Agent and Sector Chief (McAllen, TX and Yuma, AZ) 
Border Security Forum, Wood Presentation (large PDF of presentation slides)

"Wilderness Areas, Wildlife Refuges, and similar federally controlled lands are the PRIME smuggling corridors into the United States.  Most federally protected lands on the U.S./Mexico border RESTRICT OR PROHIBIT normal and exigent law enforcement activities."
Zack Taylor, Supervisory Border Patrol Agent (Ret.),
Border Security Forum, Taylor Presentation (large PDF of presentation slides)

ECONOMIC IMPACTS

Wilderness' Economic Revolution - Catron County
Shame on the Sun-News & the Hispano Chamber

S.1689 CBO COST ESTIMATE

Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate for S.1689

BLM MANAGEMENT PRACTICES CHANGING?

Are significant management changes that would impact federal land usage underway with the BLM?

BLM Document Reveals Big Change in Federal Land Management (The Westerner)
BLM Treasured Landscapes Discussion Paper

SILENCE IS IMPLIED AGREEMENT!  SPEAK UP AND TAKE ACTION!

 

 

  LAS CRUCES FIELD HEARING, 02/15/2010

Interior Rejects Bingaman's Southern NM Wilderness Bill as a "Crown Jewel" (The Westerner)  11/11/11

Senator Bingaman and Senator Udall held a field hearing in Las Cruces, NM on S 1689 on February 15, 2010.

The Westerner: "Hundreds attend congressional field hearing about wilderness areas" 

WRITTEN TESTIMONY:

Gary Esslinger - Elephant Butte Irrigation District (oral testimony)
Gary Esslinger - Elephant Butte Irrigation District (written testimony)
James Switzer, Chairman, National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers
Frank DuBois, New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture, 1988-2003
John Hummer - Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce

Joe Delk - Dona Ana Soil & Water Conservation District
Mayor Judd Nordyke, Village of Hatch
R. Javier Diaz, Chairman, Luna County Commission
Dr. Jerry G. Schikedanz, People for Preserving Our Western Heritage
Tom Cooper, Rancher

Las Cruces TEA Party, Attachments 12345678
Dale & Sara Hopkins, Ranchers

Tom Hutchinson, Dona Ana County business owner, Captain USNR retired, Past Chair LC Chamber of Commerce, Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance, Chairman of the Board, Citizens Bank of Las Cruces
Judy Keeler, Rancher

Rio Grande Soaring Association
Terry Denning, Dona Ana County resident
Philip VanVeen, Dona Ana County resident

Bud Hettinga
Kent Evans, former Dona Ana County Commissioner

For more excerpts from the testimony, click here
For the senate hearing transcripts submitted by panel participants, click here.

 

 

 

S.1689 LETTERS & ARTICLES

LCAR Opposes Wilderness Act (Las Cruces Bulletin) NEW 08/06/10

Wilderness Bill Puts Teague in a Tough Spot (NM Politics.net)  NEW 08/05/10

Rancher Wilderness Views Remain Unheeded - Border Security Issues Still a Significant Problem

Don't Shackle Border With Wilderness Bill - Open Letter to Senators Bingaman and Udall, and Congressman Teague:

National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers - letter to Congressmen, Senators

Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce Board Reaffirms its Stance on Wilderness Bill

The Wilderness Border and its Implications on American Security

The True Consequences of the Wilderness Bill

Stormwater Authority Sought - Task Force recommends a regional approach to watershed issues and Part 2  (04/09/10)

Fears of Repeat of 2006 Flooding Spur Talk of Control Authority (04/08/10)

Las Cruces Sun News article "How do we preserve our natural resources?" by Jerry G. Schickedanz is Dean emeritus of the College of Agriculture and Home Economics, and Gerald W. Thomas is President emeritus of New Mexico State University.

 

For more information, see Wilderness On The Border - A Bad Idea
 

 

 

  S.1689 NEWS, MAPS

Track the legislation on GovTrack.

Full text of the legislation  (S.1689)

SENATOR BINGAMAN PRESS RELEASES:

07/22/10 - Bingaman: Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act Unanimously Clears Energy Committee
06/09/10 - Bingaman & Udall Unveil Strengthened Dona Ana Wilderness Bill

NEWS

07/28/10 - Wilderness Zone in NM Won't Be Lost to Smugglers, Advocates Say
07/28/10 -
Armed Escorts Join Border Ag Inspectors
07/16/10 - Wilderness Bill Still Raises Concerns
07/15/10 - Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce Board Reaffirms its Stance on Wilderness Bill
06/09/10 - "Wilderness Proposal Meant to Ease Concerns"

MAPS

Potrillo Mountain Complex Map
Organ Mountains National Conservation Area Map
Desert Peaks National Conservation Area Map
Potrillo Mountains - Existing vs. Proposed boundaries Map
S1689 Legislation Amendment Text

ORIGINAL LEGISLATION MAPS

Dona Ana County Overview
Organ Mountains
Desert Peaks
Potrillo Mountains Complex
Prehistoric Trackways

BORDER PATROL LETTER

Border Patrol Letter

 

 

 

ALTERNATIVES TO PROTECT OUR OPEN SPACE

There is a viable alternative that will PROTECT THE LANDS FROM DEVELOPMENT, while still addressing all the expectations and needs of our community and our country.

Rangeland Preservation Areas - learn more about this proposed legislative alternative to federal Wilderness areas. 

 

 

  NEWS & ARTICLES

See Wilderness On The Border to learn more about why PFPOWH and many in our community strongly oppose this detrimental legislation.

For the complete archive of all past news articles, click here.
 

 

 

   
 

PRESERVE THE LAND FOR THE PEOPLE, NOT FROM THE PEOPLE