Created: 03/20/2014 8:06 AM
By: The Associated Press
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - An overflow crowd packed a Las Cruces public meeting organized by Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce on contentious rival proposals to create a new national monument in southern New Mexico.
Pearce is sponsoring House legislation to protect nearly 55,000 acres in and near the Organ Mountains east of Las Cruces.
Meanwhile, Democratic Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich are backing Senate legislation for a much larger monument that would include nearly 500,000 acres.
The New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum was filled to capacity for Wednesday's public meeting, with about 100 people left standing outside.
The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that many of the speakers voiced concerns about the Senate proposal, with some calling it an overreach by the federal government.
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