Executive Director, Ben Gabriel Bids Friends Farewell

Dear Members and Supporters of the Friends of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks,

Serving you, our community, and this organization has been one of the highlights of my career. Las Cruces is an enchanting and friendly place unlike any other, framed by a tremendous new national monument that you helped protect for future generations.

I’m writing to inform you that I will be departing the organization to continue my career protecting our public lands and wild places. I have accepted a position as executive director of the Montana Wilderness Association, based in Helena, Montana. I am incredibly and humbly grateful for your support in protecting our national treasures — our public lands. I leave knowing the Friends are well prepared to continue the fight to protect our National Conservation Lands.

The past three years, the Friends have helped vigorously defend the

Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument, while at the same time, connecting the community to our trails and outdoor recreation experiences. We’ve built strong partnerships with diverse organizations enabling us to launch the Monumental trails Program, the Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project, the Artist in Residence program, and we’ve spearheaded stewardship programs to clean up illegal dumping and promote dumping prevention. We have helped build Monuments to Mainstreet, an annual event highlighting the significant opportunities our monument brings to our community. In short, we’ve worked to connect people to public lands while protecting our history, culture and way of life in Southern New Mexico. That work will continue.

There is no doubt that more challenges lie ahead as we see continued attacks on our national monuments, the Antiquities Act and other policies that are counter to our mission and vision.  Rest assured that Friends is the strongest it’s ever been and we will continue to have a strong commitment to grassroots advocacy. The organization is as well positioned as ever to defend our public lands.

Once I depart the Friends on November 22nd, the Friends will be implement a transition plan and open a transparent process to select a new executive director.  If you have any questions regarding that process you can email director@organmtnfriends.org.  If you have questions regarding programs please email Brenda Gallegos at brenda@organmtnfriends.org.

It has been an honor to serve Friends mission working with each of you.  I know the Friends — with your support – will continue to protect, restore and educate.


Ben Gabriel
Executive Director