Teachers, business leaders and hunters are the “stars” of a new ad campaign by the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance and the Campaign for America's Wilderness at the Pew Environment Group supporting protection for New Mexico's special wild places – our “common ground.” The six Las Cruces residents depicted are united in their desire to “keep the things they love [about the area] just the way they are.”
For Las Cruces school board member Maria Flores and Amy Carpenter, who teaches at Camino Real Middle School in Las Cruces, Doña Ana County's natural places serve as outdoor classrooms “where children can challenge themselves and reconnect with the real world—away from TVs, computers and video games.”
Jim Bates, president of the New Mexico State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation and his son, Ryan, value Broad Canyon, the Organs, and the Potrillos for hiking, horseback riding, and of course, hunting. “Nothing compares to being out in the wide-open backcountry, tracking a deer or searching for a covey of Gambel's quail,” they say in their ad. “The only sounds are the crunching of our footsteps, the rustle of wind through grass and every now and then, the sudden explosion of quail flying from cover.”
Local business leaders tout wilderness as good for the bottom line. Executive director of the Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces, Amanda Cruz, and Jud Wright, owner of Del Valle Printing, note: “Across the West, we see counties with protected public lands economically better off than counties that lack these natural areas. Protecting our spectacular public lands is vital to preserving our quality of life and ensuring a thriving business climate.”
The spokespeople in the ad campaign join more than 100 businesses, the Doña Ana County Commission and the municipalities of Las Cruces, Sunland Park, and Mesilla in advocating the safeguard of some of the county's wild landscapes as a legacy for future generations.
New Mexico Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall have introduced the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act, which would designate almost 250,000 acres of wilderness and create a nearly 100,000-acre national conservation area around the Organ and Robledo Mountains and parts of Broad Canyon.
The Common Ground ads will run over the next several weeks in print and online editions of newspapers in Las Cruces, Deming, Almagordo and Albuquerque and in El Paso, Texas.