Governors note cultural, economic importance of preserving lands
The All Pueblo Council of Governors issued a statement Tuesday (June 26) in support of preserving the Río Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monuments, providing a united front against any attempts by the Trump Administration to reduce protections.
In the statement, the 20 Pueblo governors noted the monuments "protect outstanding cultural and historical resources, and were designated with significant tribal support following long efforts to preserve these culturally significant landscapes."
"We also want to be clear--any attempts to damage our national monuments will be met with united opposition," said All Pueblo Council of Governors Chairman Edward Paul Torres in a statement. "In the meantime, we are excited to work with New Mexico's diverse communities to build collaborative management policies that honor our incredible landscapes and our proud peoples,"
Then President Barack Obama designated the 242,555-acre Río Grande del Norte National Monument in Taos County in 2013. A year later, he designated the 496,330-acre Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in southern New Mexico. The council noted both monuments have broad and diverse local support and "have protected significant tribal cultural sites and ensured continued use for these purposes while also increasing visitation and economic development, spurring creation of new businesses and encouraging local use of national monument lands."
New Mexico's two U.S. Senators, both Democrats, lobbied for the monuments.
"By every measure, establishing Río Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks as national monuments has been an inspiring success for New Mexico," said Sen. Tom Udall in a press release from the All Pueblo Council.
"As vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, I'm especially grateful for the integral role that pueblos and tribes have played in our stewardship of these special places. But across the country, national monuments are under attack by the Trump administration. The attacks on our public lands coming out of Washington flout the will of pueblos, tribes and the local communities who have worked so hard to ensure the continued success of these monuments."
U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich added, "The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Río Grande del Norte are exactly the types of places that the Antiquities Act was intended to protect. I've been proud to stand with tribal leaders and local communities who worked for so many years in New Mexico to establish these national monuments."
In addition, Pueblo nations remain opposed to the illegal attacks by President Trump against Bears Ears National Monument in Utah that shrunk the protected area by some 90 percent.
"The Pueblo Governors stood together with diverse communities to protect Río Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks. We are proud of their success and grateful that they safeguard important cultural and historical artifacts important to Native American tribes and to all who come to learn from our past," said Torres.
Over 20 local Pueblo, municipal and county resolutions were passed in support of both national monuments. Tuesday's announcement is the third APCG resolution for the national monuments.