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Sierra Club and BLM Welcome Military Families to the Organ Mountains

On October 20th, 2012, the Sierra Club Mission Outdoors program, Blue Star Families, Friends of the Organ Mountains, and the BLM-Las Cruces District Office teamed up to provide a day of fun and adventure for military service members and their families in the Organ Mountains. More than 40 people gathered at the Aguirre Springs campground for a weekend of hiking, children's activities, camping, and s'mores.

The Organ Mountains event was sponsored by the Sierra Club Mission Outdoors program, whose mission is to provide access to outdoor experiences for more people, organize grassroots and administrative support for the value of outdoor experiences, and build alliances and partnerships that involve diverse communities in protecting their natural heritage. The director of the Mission Outdoors program, former Army Captain Stacy Bare, has spearheaded the Sierra Club's Military, Veterans, and Families initiative, which focuses on connecting service members and their families with their public lands.

"One of the reasons we do this, one of the reasons we want our military families, service members, and veterans to get outside is because nature is such a healing force," Stacy said at Saturday's event. "We're excited to show the military the country they defended, what it is they are defending, out here at the Organ Mountains in Las Cruces." Washington Office employees may remember Stacy from his powerful presentation at last year's Veterans Appreciation event, where he spoke about the healing powers the public lands held for him when returned home from a tour of duty in Iraq.

Military families from nearby Fort Bliss and the White Sands Missile Range were treated to scavenger hunts, arts and crafts exercises, and leave no trace training courtesy of BLM staff. Many of the adults and older children went on either a two-mile or four-mile hike along the Pine Tree loop before returning to the campsite for a barbeque dinner catered by a local restaurant. Most of the families opted to camp overnight, taking advantage of the amazing weather to enjoy s'mores around the campfire and a view of the annual Orionid meteor shower.

While the event was hosted by the Sierra Club, Las Cruces District Office staff spent their Saturday providing logistical support and education opportunities for the service members and families in attendance. "We are just so honored to host this event here at Aguirre Springs to support our military troops and our military families," said Bill Childress, Las Cruces District Manager. "I think this is just a perfect venue for this event."

 


Sierra Club Mission Outdoors Director Stacy Bare (center) and a group of service members from Fort Bliss and White Sands Missile Range prepare for a four-mile hike.
Sierra Club Mission Outdoors Director Stacy Bare (center) and a group of service members from Fort Bliss and White Sands Missile Range prepare for a four-mile hike.

New friends have fun on one of the many boulders in the Aguirre Springs campground.
New friends have fun on one of the many boulders in the Aguirre Springs campground.

Las Cruces District Park Ranger McKinney Briske teaches children how to make binoculars.
Las Cruces District Park Ranger McKinney Briske teaches children how to make binoculars.

The Sierra Club's Jared Robinson looks on as kids roast marshmallows for s'mores over a campfire they built.
The Sierra Club's Jared Robinson looks on as kids roast marshmallows for s'mores over a campfire they built.