Landscape Stewardship Awards - 2018

PLF State Representative Jesse Juen (left), Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Executive Director Patrick Nolan, Associate Director Brenda Gallegos, Bureau of Land Management Las Cruces District Manager Bill Childress (back center), PLF Director-at-Large Rosemary Thomas, and Friends President Fernando Clemente.

The Public Lands Foundation presents the Friends of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks with its 2018 Landscape Stewardship Award and this Citation.  The Foundation grants this recognition to honor private citizens and organizations that work to advance and sustain community-based stewardship on landscapes that include, in whole or in part, public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management.

The Friends have demonstrated continued support for the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument through their outreach to and partnership with local and national businesses to collaborate with the BLM and other organizations to achieve the BLM’s mission in managing the Monument. They have engaged local business owners and other partners to discuss appropriate locations for endurance mountain biking routes, particularly in areas where multi-uses can be conflicting. They have organized several cleanup events each year with 30-50 volunteers participating on BLM-managed land. With members of Keep Doña Ana Beautiful, the Illegal Dumping Partnership, South Central Solid Waste Authority, BLM Las Cruces District Office, and Organ Mountain Outfitters, the Friends have teamed up to remove 1½ dump truck loads of yard waste, discharged firearm ammunition, couches, television sets, and more. The Friends also have collaborated with the Native Plant Society and BLM Las Cruces District Office to develop an educational pollinator garden.

The Artist-in-Residence partnership between the Friends and the BLM educates and promotes the appreciation, protection, and preservation of natural and cultural resources on public lands. The Friends and Southern New Mexico Trail Alliance have partnered to launch the Monumental Trails Program to facilitate volunteer trail days. The Friends are a “Leave No Trace” partner organization, and host a variety of training and awareness events highlighting the ethics, principles, and methods of protecting and maintaining public land in the region.

The Friends collaborated with the BLM to host the Organ Mountain “Naturepalooza,” which consisted of three events: 1) a BioBlitz with activities including small mammal trapping and bird banding; a series of hikes, including sunrise birding, sunset birding, reptile, butterfly and plant hikes; moths under the microscope; nature art workshop; mammal presentation; and acoustic bat monitoring; 2) a Star Party where the public could watch the sunset, moonrise, and the observance of stars over Las Cruces through high-power telescopes provided by astronomy experts, and 3) a Junior Ranger Day where kids ages 5-12 completed a series of tasks to earn their esteemed Junior Ranger pin. Expert scientists led kids in activities, including birdwatching, hiking, plant-pressing, animal identification, and more. At the end of the day, there was a song circle complete with s’mores. The Junior Ranger Day was free in honor of National Get Outdoors Day.

The Public Lands Foundation is pleased to present the Friends of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks with its 2018 Landscape Stewardship Award and this Citation for invaluable contributions to the stewardship of America’s public landscapes.

Edward Shepard
September 14, 2018