LAS CRUCES – As we wrap up the third annual Monuments to Main Street, this is a good time to reflect on what public lands mean for our community. As a business owner, father and community member, I cannot overstate the impact the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument designation has had on my life and the lives of those around me.
Growing from a dream hatched in my garage into a full-fledged storefront in downtown Las Cruces, Organ Mountain Outfitters was inspired by our very own monument and the passion of those who work tirelessly to protect our public lands. And our clothing and gear are inspired by the gorgeous mountains that surround our community.
We also work closely with local non-profits that share our vision of encouraging businesses to do good work in our community. While we recognize all the good things happening in our area, we must also recognize the challenges that many people still face. With close to 25% of Doña Ana County residents living in poverty, businesses should play a part in helping ease their burden. For our part, Organ Mountain Outfitters donates a portion of every item sold to the Las Cruces Public Schools in order to provide lunches for students in need. This effort has now grown into a foundation that can feed children for years to come.
The Friends of the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks (FOMDP) is a non-profit with whom we work closely because of a shared vision for breaking down the barriers that prevent people from experiencing the outdoors in transformative and educational ways. Growing up in poverty in Oklahoma gave me a perspective that guides my work. Just as children should not feel shame as they wait in line at a school cafeteria, they should also not feel that public lands belong just to “other” people. The mountains are theirs too.
Public lands, much like our schools, are the great equalizer, protected for everyone’s benefit. Over the summer, Organ Mountain Outfitters supported and documented several trips the FOMDP organized for the Boys and Girls Club of Las Cruces and Lynn Community Middle School. These trips forged memories for the kids to cherish, from catching their first fish to seeing deer in the monument. These experiences will change the way these young people see our public lands and how we use and protect them.
Monuments to Main Street also offers several opportunities to celebrate our monument in fun and creative ways. It also presents us with a chance to reflect on what it means to be a member of this community. We created this monument. We did it through collaboration among businesses, non-profits, local elected officials, and community members. As a father of two children, having access to the monument has had an enormous impact on our life. From a day hike at Soledad Canyon Trail to star gazing at Dripping Springs, we have enjoyed these places as a family, and believe that all families should have the same opportunity to do so.
While we have successfully protected these lands, our work is far from over. With elected officials using public lands as political currency, we must continue to hold them accountable for their actions. Those of us in the business community must use our collective voice to ensure that we are heard when public lands are threatened. As a business owner, I pledge to continue to work with all of our partners to ensure that our monument is protected in a responsible way, while ensuring access to all of the special places we have here in southern New Mexico. I call on my fellow members of the business community to do the same.
Chris Lang is the owner of Organ Mountain Outfitters.
Original article can be found here https://www.lcsun-news.com/story/news/2018/09/22/owner-local-outfitter-business-inspired-monument/1380871002/