LAS CRUCES – As we celebrate the beginning of summer, I am already looking forward to September. It’s not because I’m eager to blaze through the summer heat. Matter of fact, I love the summer. I love the summer nights where we stay outside later, enjoying the company of others. Hanging out and sharing laughter and food around our friends’ pool is something I always look forward to. The night market for the Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts market is a tremendous gem in our area and brings families and friends together for a celebration on Main Street. These are just a few of the things that make me love Las Cruces more and more every year. But, this September, we are going to have dozens of events that will celebrate our community, our festivals, and our national monuments that will add to the greatness that is Las Cruces and the surrounding areas.
September is Monuments to Main Street Month in Las Cruces. We are very fortunate to have three local national monuments within driving (and sometimes biking) distance. Combined with our beautiful fall weather, Monuments to Main Street Month will be an experience filled with adventure and natural and cultural wonder. We will have dozens of hiking, mountain biking, sightseeing, birding, horseback riding, Jeep tours and more taking place at the White Sands, Prehistoric Trackways, and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks national monuments. Residents and visitors alike will also be able to enjoy September’s signature events like our Wine Fest, Mesilla’s Diez y Seis de Septiembre, the White Sands Hot Air Balloon Invitational, and the internationally renowned Hatch Chile Festival.
Even while this article goes to print, the OMDP coalition of groups, including the Sierra Club, the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, the Friends of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, the Bureau of Land Management, the Downtown Las Cruces Partnership, the National Parks Service, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Las Cruces Green Chamber are continuing to coordinate many events that the public will be able to enjoy during September.
Although there are several events in the confirmation stage, there are a few I can share with you now. They include a health and wellness day at Dripping Springs, the annual Native Plant Society Conference, and the unveiling of the White Sands National Monument Girl Scout Achievement patch.
Since the designation of OMDP in May of 2014, Las Cruces has been recognized nationally as a community that is embracing our national monuments in clever and unique ways. In addition to local businesses creating OMDP products and packages, we are doing other things that are highlighting the importance and benefits a monument can bring to a community. Just recently, there was a graffiti and trash cleanup day on the monument. Last year, we had an interfaith service at Dripping Springs that brought together various religions to celebrate our beautiful landscapes. And, we have had several conferences come to our area specifically because of the monument. Just last month, the American Rock Art Research Association conference had 300 attendees who stayed in our community for an average of five days. That means they spent about $500 in hotel stays, in addition to eating at our local restaurants, and shopping in our local stores. In hotel fees alone, that was a total of $150,000 in hotel costs and lodgers taxes.
In September, the Native Plant Society of New Mexico will hold their annual conference in Las Cruces, with the theme “Celebrating Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument: Hidden Diversities/Secrets Revealed.” The Las Cruces Green Chamber is proud to support this event as it will bring plant enthusiasts from around the state to enjoy the diverse ecosystems within OMDP. When President Obama designated OMDP, he even referred to the rare plants, some found nowhere else in the world, like the Organ Mountains pincushion cactus. That conference is set to take place Sept. 22 through 25 at the Ramada Hotel and Conference Center. For more information, go to www.npsnm.org.
Many residents venture into the monument for exercise, to explore nature, and to find solitude. The Health and Wellness day, taking place from 8 a.m. to noon on Sept. 17 will feature yoga and meditation classes, a fair of various information booths, and an opportunity to take care of one’s body and mind while in the company of our majestic Organ Mountains.
And, we will unveil the next in the series of Monument Achievement patches with a patch for White Sands National Monument. Last year, the Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest created the first-of-its-kind OMDP Girl Scout Achievement patch, celebrating the different ways girl scouts could “Discover, Connect, and Take Action” within our Monument. The creation of this patch is serving as a model for other Girl Scout Councils to create patches that celebrate our public lands. Last week, I was in California talking with the Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio about creating a Mojave Trails National Monument patch, the first of its kind in California and based on the OMDP patch.
These three events are just the tip of the iceberg during Monuments to Main Street month in Las Cruces. Combined with our regional celebrations and events, I am convinced that Las Cruces will once again be in the national spotlight as a community that understands the positive health, environmental, and economic impacts National Monuments can have on an area. For now, mark your calendars and plan to celebrate our great community.
Original artical can be found here: http://www.lcsun-news.com/story/money/business/economic-development/2016/06/20/setting-sights-september-monuments-main-street/85922246/