LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Groundwork Dona Ana has been surveying an area west of Las Cruces in search of artifacts in the proposed Organ Mountains - Desert Peaks National Monument.
The group of about 15 young people known as the Green Team has been looking for artifacts that indicate earlier cultures might have lived in the region.
"They're finding pieces of ceramics and pottery that date back thousands of years," said Groundwork Dona Ana Executive Director Tim Fulton.
A lot of the region has been undisturbed with only an estimated 5 percent of the land having been surveyed.
When an artifact is found, the area is flagged and the piece is returned to where it was originally.
"That's the real purpose behind all of this is to let people know these lands are of value," Fulton said.
The land about 18 miles west of Las Cruces along Interstate 10 is currently owned by the Bureau of Land Management and would fall under the proposed Organ Mountains - Desert Peaks National Monument.
"It would be a mistake to destroy this land and build stuff on it because a lot of history and culture is on this land," said Perrin Paxton, a Green Team member.
Fulton said the goal is to get the youth involved and teach them about the area around them.
Perrin added she would have not known the area had so much history if it wasn't for her participation on the surveys.
WIthout being protected, Fulton said people don't know about the artifacts and they could be destroyed forever.
"We don't want to keep people off these lands but we want people to be aware of what's out here," Fulton said.
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