"In a letter to President Barack Obama, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson called for a national monument declaration for Otero Mesa.

During his two terms in office, Richardson has worked to protect the 1.2-million-acre expanse from oil and gas exploration. He calls Otero Mesa ''a national treasure'' and wants Obama to use his presidential authority to establish a monument.

"As governor I have fought hard to protect Otero Mesa, but if we are going to ensure the protection of this national treasure for future generations, we need a permanent federal designation," Richardson said.

Otero County commissioners in May passed an ordinance requiring local consideration before any designation of Otero Mesa as a national monument.

According to a press release from the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, recent public events including an economic forum in Alamogordo and a Department of Interior listening session in Albuquerque have created a groundswell of support for further protection of the public lands that are currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management." More>>>>