Tourists, respect our new national monument

I love the Organ Mountains and I have explored them thoroughly from 1983 to the present. When hiking in the Organs, I am extremely
respectful of their unique beauty. For example, I have hiked to the Organ Needles (summit) 82 times. Every hike, I make it mandatory
that everyone in my group takes everything out that they bring in — if you pack it in, you pack it out. That includes all paper, all food
stuffs, plastic; and even orange peelings, apple cores, and fecal material.

In the past, during our descent, we never met very many hikers — even in the lower elevations. Most hikers went to Fillmore Canyon
and other areas where distinct trails accommodated fairly easy access. However, on April 18 and 19, I led 23 hikers for an overnight
experience at the Needles. As we approached the trailhead parking lot on our descent, I counted more than 60 people we passed.
Some were carrying fast food bags and drinks. Some were in flimsy sandals.

This week marks the anniversary of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. I hope during the celebration, someone
or some organization will address the probable littering problems and potential increase in search and rescue challenges.

If this is the future of the Organ Mountains, I suggest going back to the pre-national monument era.

Ron Lautenbach, Ph.D., Las Cruces
Organ Mountains
Desert Peaks - Locals not impressed