President Barack Obama has created a new national monument, setting aside a half-million acres of federal land in southern New Mexico. The Organ Mountains-Desert Peak National Monument encompasses five mountain ranges and has some 243 known archeological sites. (National Geographic News)
Listen to these “Youth Voices for New Mexico’s Outdoors” interact with the landscape and ancient history of Organ Mountains-Desert Peak National Monument.
Read the Nat Geo News story, and then read through our short, terrific activity “Protecting the Mariana Trench,” which focuses on another national monument, the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument in the South Pacific. Apply the activity’s questions to the Organ Mountains-Desert Peak National Monument in New Mexico.
What is the physical geography of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peak National Monument? (Information on the monument website might help.)
- The park’s steep peaks and river valleys, rising above the Chihuahua Desert, are nicknamed the “crown jewel of the southern Rockies.” The monument’s landscape is also dotted with volcanic craters, cones, and prehistoric lava flows.
What are some plants and animals that live in and near the Organ Mountains-Desert Peak National Monument?
- Plants: The Organ Mountains evening primrose and smooth figwort are endemic to the Organ Mountains, meaning those plants do not exist anywhere else on Earth. Many varieties of cacti, ferns, and even oaks also thrive in the region.
- Animals: Mountain lions, pronghorn, javelinas, bobcats, mule deer, and bats are among the mammals found in the new park. Golden eagles, hawks, quail, and roadrunners are a few of the birds.
What ecosystems are part of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peak National Monument?
- Five mountains rise above a desert plain, with rivers slicing through the landscape. This creates distinct riparian, desert, and mountain ecosystems.
What is the human geography of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peak National Monument?
- According to the Nat Geo News article, the hundreds of archaeological sites include some of the earliest documented Native American villages. Petroglyphs and artifacts such as projectile points are common throughout the park.
- Outlaw Billy the Kid and legendary Chiricahua Apache leader Geronimo found hideouts the desolate mountain landscape.