OTERO AND DONA ANA COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) – An Otero County Commissioner was hoping to spread some New Mexico cheer in our nation’s capitol by delivering souvenirs from White Sands National Monument, as in the protected sand. That had people calling him out saying he broke the law.
“What Cowboys for Trump is fixing to do is we’re going to haul White Sands to our nation’s capital, that they can use to decorate around the capitol,” said County Griffin on his Facebook Live video.
White Sands National Monument is one of the most iconic spots in America, and Otero County Commissioner County Griffin wanted to share some of that beauty with the rest of the country.
He and his group, Cowboys for Trump, were invited to Washington D.C. to attend the Congressional Tree Lighting ceremony. As a thank you gift, the group brought four plastic bins filled with the highly sought after sand to the nation’s capitol.
“We’re so honored to haul it up there. From the people here in New Mexico, in Otero County, to be able to show our white sand on such a huge platform,” Griffin said.
However, according to the National Park Service website, taking sand from the monument is against the law.
“We allowed people to take little bags of it home and they were real appreciative of it,” Griffin said.
Griffin says he knows the law and got the permission he needed, but not from the park itself.
“It’s perfectly fine if you grab that sand that’s in the right of way because the right of way is on Highway 70. The sand blows through that fence and it blows onto the right of way. Just go out there and get some,” he says.
A spokesperson with the New Mexico Department of Transportation told KRQE News13 that Griffin is in the clear. Once the sand blows onto Highway 70, it becomes contaminated so it can’t be put back into the park. Essentially, it becomes the DOT’s property.
The DOT also says their employees collected the sand for Griffin to pick up at their office.
KRQE News 13 tried calling the rangers at White Sands National Monument for their perspective but did not get a callback.