President Barack Obama will designate a new national monument in New Mexico this week, a White House official said. The landscape features a craggy mountain range 40 miles north of the Mexican border.
The president will sign a proclamation Wednesday creating the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. It will include 500,000 acres currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management in and around the city of Las Cruces. Within the monument borders are five mountain ranges, open grassland and petroglyph sites.
Opponents fear the designation will attract more illicit traffic in areas near the southern border. Some cattle ranchers in the area are concerned about their future land access.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel visited Las Cruces in January to gauge local support for the monument.
In his State of the Union address this year Obama promised to use executive power to protect more federal lands. This is the second national monument in New Mexico designated by the president.