February 12, 2021 | By:
The Organ Mountains Wilderness at sunset (Photo credit: Patrick Nolan)

The Organ Mountains Wilderness of New Mexico Needs Your Help Now

By Brad Borst, President, The Wilderness Land Trust

Featured Image: The Organ Mountains Wilderness at sunset (Photo credit: Patrick Nolan)

The Organ Mountains Wilderness of southern New Mexico is a newly established (2014) designated wilderness managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that totals 19,916 acres. The community of Las Cruces is located directly west of this wilderness. The Organ Mountains are situated within the 500,000 acres of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. The wilderness and the overall monument offer spectacular landscapes, recreation, important wildlife habitat, and watershed protection. The striking granite crags and spires of the Organ Mountains range from 4,600 to just over 9,000 feet, and they are so named because of the steep spires that resemble the pipes of an organ.

Spring wildflowers and other native plants draw visitors from nearby El Paso and adjacent Las Cruces, especially the Mexican poppies that blaze golden across the lower slopes. Seasonal springs and streams flow through canyon bottoms, along with a few perennial springs that support rare desert riparian habitats.


Pronghorn (Source: DesertUSA)

Desert mule deer, quail, mountain lion, desert pronghorn, a variety of songbirds, and a species of the Colorado chipmunk are found in this area.

The mountains also hold evidence of humans in secluded caves where Native American rock art, abandoned mines, and crumbling ruins can be found. Clues to prehistoric hunters and farmers, Apache braves, treasure hunters, miners, gunfighters, revolutionaries, Union and Confederate troops, hermits, ranchers, and early tourists are scattered in sites across the range.

All of this is threatened by the existence of privately owned properties adjacent to and within the Organ Mountains Wilderness. These properties can be developed for mineral or residential use.  Such development would destroy their wilderness value. The Wilderness Land Trust, together with the Friends of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, is working to purchase a 109-acre property adjacent to the wilderness that includes a trailhead to the popular Achenbach Canyon 5.5-mile loop trail. If the land remains in private hands, it could eventually be developed with homes, and access to the Achenbach Canyon blocked. In acquiring it, the Trust would preserve more than 100 acres of wildlife habitat, scenic views of the surrounding 500,000-acre Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, and access to Achenbach Canyon.

Purchase of the Achenbach Canyon property will build upon another recent successful 100-acre acquisition adjacent to the wilderness by the Trust. Each property will add developed recreational access points to the designated wilderness, protecting native plants and other sensitive wildlife by dispersing the increase in public use from the Las Cruces area.

Organ Mountains Wilderness, New Mexico Map

Organ Mountains Wilderness, New Mexico – Achenbach Canyon Proposal Map

How You Can Help

The Wilderness Land Trust is under contract to purchase a 109-acre property adjacent to the entrance to the Achenbach Canyon, which will prevent future residential development and protect public access to the canyon trail. The total purchase price of the property is $765,000. To date, the Trust has secured a pledge of $690,000 toward the purchase and is actively raising the remaining $75,000 before the closing deadline in March 2021.

The Wilderness Land Trust has worked hard to protect this area of the Organ Mountains Wilderness, and acquisition of this latest parcel will build upon that legacy. In the last year, we purchased almost 100 acres of private land, two-thirds of which will be incorporated into the surrounding wilderness, with the remainder providing another future public access point. Protection of the Achenbach Canyon property will add more wildlife protection and forever ensure public access to the canyon trail. Once BLM acquires the properties from the Trust, the agency will go through a public process to add this land to their management plan for the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument and Organ Mountains Wilderness Area.

With your support, the Trust can acquire the Achenbach Canyon property and permanently protect it from private development. The acquisition will ensure there will always be room for native animals and plants and human visitors in the Achenbach Canyon in the Organ Mountains Wilderness Area.

To learn more or make a generous contribution in support of this project, please contact:
Brad Borst, President
206-842-1214 (office) | 206-397-5240 (cell)
Email: br**@wi*****************.org
Website: www.wildernesslandtrust.org

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6 months ago

The Organs are special Sky Islands above the Chihuahuan Desert and deserve wider protection from development and exploitation.

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