White Sands National Park
PHOTO: U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich unveils the White Sands National Park Establishment Act alongside local community, May 4, 2018.
Yesterday, I unveiled the White Sands National Park Establishment Act, legislation I plan to introduce to designate White Sands National Monument as New Mexico's newest national park. Everyone who visits White Sands marvels at its remarkable geology, spectacular scenery, and outstanding recreation experiences. And the broad regional support we've received for what could be our state's second national park demonstrates the endless opportunities this designation would offer to communities and local businesses across southern New Mexico.
The vision to create White Sands National Park has been driven by a diverse coalition of community leaders and local elected officials. I am proud to work with the community in Alamogordo-including Mayor Richard Boss and former mayor and current State Senator Ron Griggs-who have called for promoting White Sands from a national monument to a national park for years. While drafting this legislation, I also worked closely with the Department of Defense to ensure the bill will enhance the missions at southern New Mexico's military installations.
The "Find Your Park" campaign celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016 contributed to record numbers of Americans and international visitors visiting our national parks, making this the ideal time to promote the status of White Sands. Increased visitation to White Sands National Park will be a major boost to the local economy in Alamogordo, Otero County, and all of southern New Mexico. A recent study found that making White Sands a national park could increase visitation by 21 percent each year and create $7.5 million of additional annual tourism spending.
Because White Sands is already managed by the National Park Service, visitors to the new national park would experience no change in management. Entrance fees and access would stay the same. However, becoming a national park would immediately bring new attention and prominent inclusion in global and domestic travel materials. More international and out-of-state visitors would bring in more revenue, allowing for even better resource protection, interpretation, and visitor services.
When I think about White Sands, I always think back to a trip I took there with my wife, Julie, and our two boys when they were much younger than they are today. Words can't describe the smiles on young kids' faces when they are able to spend a day exploring and playing in one of the most spectacular natural wonders on Earth. By making White Sands our newest national park, I hope more families will experience that same indescribable joy.
United States Senator