Las Cruces state senator: Everybody ought to take pleasure in, profit from metropolis’s, county’s world-class outside alternatives

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By Mike Koch

“Being outside is healthy; it’s a medically proven fact,” said Senator Jeff Steinborn, a Las Cruces Democrat, environmentalist and outdoor enthusiast.

Steinborn is also a proponent of the Rio Grande Trail Project.

The 2015 Steinborn Legislation created the Rio Grande Trail Commission to oversee the development of a 500-mile recreational trail spanning the north-south length of Doña Ana County and the entire state. The trail corridor includes six state parks, three national wildlife refuges and six national monuments, touching 10 New Mexico counties and approximately two dozen cities and towns.

The trail includes “some incredibly beautiful sites” that encompass the state’s “very rich history and culture,” Steinborn said.

Steinborn was there when the 4.5-mile La Llorona Trail along the Rio Grande in Las Cruces was declared the first section of the Rio Grande Trail in October 2016.

And trail development continues, he said.

Eighty miles of the trail have been designated so far, and more designations are underway, Steinborn said. Government funding will pay for full-time trail planning and infrastructure, and $250,000 has been allocated for a campground at Hatch.

The trail will continue to “grow and become more celebrated over time,” Steinborn said, and the addition of campgrounds, lodging, water access points and other infrastructure along the trail will bolster what Steinborn called the “economic power of a trail town.”

This increases the attractiveness of Hatch, Las Cruces, Sunland Park and other communities along the way to visitors and makes them more attractive to business owners looking for locations that provide quality of life for their employees.

“I’m so excited to see that communities across the county are embracing (the trail) and that the state is funding it,” Steinborn said. “It all comes together.”

The hiking trail, nearby Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, the 6.2-mile Las Cruces Causeway Trail, and many other outdoor recreation opportunities in and around the city and county help “create a sense of well-being.” , he said.

The 496,000-acre memorial includes 22 miles of the Butterfield Stage Trail, the hideouts of Billy the Kid and Geronimo, training grounds for WWII pilots and Apollo astronauts, and countless species of birds and animals. There are also many kilometers of trails for hikers and cyclists.

Steinborn also sponsored legislation that created the New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Division (ORD) within the state’s economic development division.

“Recreational recreation affects all corners of the state and transcends partisanship,” Steinborn said as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed legislation into law in 2019 creating ORD and teaching stewardship to our next generations.”

Visiting nature and enjoying the fresh air and natural beauty unleashes beneficial chemicals in the brain and is “a powerful and affordable tool” for healthy living for both children and adults, Steinborn said.

“We are so blessed in this community,” Steinborn said, of being surrounded by world-class outdoor facilities.

And it not only welcomes visitors from all over the world, he said, but also the people who live here.

“It’s right in our backyard,” Steinborn said. “Take advantage of it.”

Visit www.emnrd.nm.gov/riograndetrailcommission, www.blm.gov (type Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in the search box), www.lascrucescvb.org/outdoor and www.nmoutside.com.