FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 20, 2014
Contact: Laura E. Sanchez, 505-401-9441
Chris Cervini, 505-980-6110
Business, civic leaders celebrate Rio Grande del Norte National Monument’s One-Year Anniversary
Evidence shows early economic bump, Taos business owners look forward to increasing economic benefits from national monument
Taos, NM – Business owners in New Mexico are celebrating the new Rio Grande del Norte National Monument’s one year anniversary and some promising statistics that show the monument is already benefitting the local economy.
To mark this occasion, the Taos Green Chamber of Commerce today released a fact sheet outlining some of the economic benefits of the monument’s designation as well as quotes from local business leaders.
One year removed from Rio Grande del Norte’s designation, economic data show the Town of Taos Lodgers’ Tax Revenue increased by 21 percent in the second half of 2013 compared to the same period of 2012, amounting to an increase of nearly $100,000.
In addition, gross-receipts revenue to businesses in Taos County in the Accommodations and Food Service sector was 8.3-percent ($3.7 million) higher for the second half of 2013 than for the same period of 2012. This increase in gross receipts for Taos County outpaced the statewide increase for Accommodations and Food Service by 1.8 percent over the same period.
The Bureau of Land Management’s Taos Field Office (BLM) reported late last year a 40% increase in visitors in less than one year since the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument designation. In fiscal year 2013, which ended last September 30, the BLM reported 182,501 visitors to the areas within the monument, compared to 130,002 visitors in fiscal year 2012.
“The Rio Grande del Norte National Monument has already become an important part of our community,” said Taos County Commissioner Larry Sanchez. “Tax revenues from the accommodations and food service sectors have already increased in the second half of 2013 compared to 2012. The Monument is one more thing we turn to in promoting Taos and northern New Mexico as a first-rate outdoors and tourism destination.”
Despite a struggling statewide economy, business leaders like Cisco Guevara, President of Los Rios River Runners, say they have seen an increase in customers since the designation became official.
“The Rio Grande del Norte National Monument has been great for my business,” Guevara said. “Even though we had low water levels in recent years, my business experienced the busiest fall season ever in 2013. I attribute this in large part to the monument’s ability to attract new people to the area.”
Consisting of 242,555 acres of public land located northwest of Taos, the Rio Grande del Norte was one of five sites nationwide to be given national monument status on March 25, 2013, as President Barack Obama used the Antiquities Act of 1906 to make the designations.
The excitement surrounding the one-year anniversary of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument stretches to southern New Mexico, where business owners in Las Cruces and surrounding communities are hoping to soon have a new national monument of their own in the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region.
“It is very encouraging to hear the positive responses from Taos business owners on the first anniversary of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument,” said Arianna Parsons, Owner of Beck’s Coffee in Las Cruces. “Those of us in southern New Mexico are hopeful that Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks will become a national monument so we can experience the same kinds of economic benefits in our own community.”
“The proof is in the numbers,” said New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce CEO Laura E. Sanchez. “When special places like Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks receive monument status and are properly promoted, visitors will come. And that visitation creates jobs and grows our economy. National Monuments are good business for New Mexico.”
The Taos Green Chamber of Commerce is helping to organize a community celebration for the one-year anniversary of the monument designation on Saturday, April 5, 2014, to recognize the leaders who made the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument possible. The public is invited to attend the celebration at 3 p.m. at Taos Mesa Brewing, 20 ABC Mesa Rd in El Prado (approximately 11 miles west of the Town of Taos off US Highway 64 near the historic Rio Grande Gorge Bridge).