Press Release May 4, 2018

Elevating White Sands National Monument to National Park Benefits Local Economy

The re-designation would create New Mexico's second National Park, and could bring in millions of tourism revenue to local communities, according to new study.

Background: Today, Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) unveiled legislation that would re-designate White Sands National Monument in New Mexico as White Sands National Park. Senator Heinrich made the announcement at the New Mexico Outdoor Economics Conference in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The re-designation would create the nation’s 61st National Park, and could result in up to $7.5 million in new spending and more than 100 new jobs in neighboring counties, according to a new study released today by Headwaters Economics.

In 2017, White Sands National Monument welcomed more than 610,000 visitors who spent over $31 million in surrounding communities, supporting 450 local jobs.

Statement by Ernie Atencio, New Mexico Program Manager for National Parks Conservation Association

“National Parks Conservation Association commends Senator Heinrich for working closely with local communities to develop a comprehensive proposal that would benefit businesses as well as park visitors. Designating White Sands as New Mexico’s second official National Park would enhance the tourism economies for Otero and Doña Ana Counties, and the acreage added to the existing Monument would open new opportunities for exploration for visitors. The additional revenue, along with the creation of new jobs, would be an economic boon for these communities that have long relied on tourism to White Sands National Monument.

“The Headwaters Economics report underscores the value that comes from re-designating a treasure like White Sands to a National Park. The study proves, through examples across the west, that such a change leads to an increase in overall visitation and overnight stays, increasing the value of existing tourism economies. Sen. Heinrich made the right choice for local economies by bringing even more visitors to this corner of the land of enchantment.”


About National Parks Conservation Association Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit

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