Would the Far Right PLEASE Butt Out of New Mexico?


The people of New Mexico have been trying to turn the remarkable, beautiful and extremely historic lands associated with the Valles Caldera into a National Park for nearly a century. Unfortunately, people like Michelle Malkin evidently think there is this huge land-grab where the feds will confiscate the land from private concerns and turn it into some evil national park.

“…The proposal by Bingaman, who is chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, would include most of the 60-plus public lands bills his panel has passed in the 111th Congress, and none that have failed to pass, said spokesman Bill Wicker.

Bills that have passed the committee include a proposal to designate the Valles Caldera National Preserve in New Mexico as a unit of the National Park System, a proposal to turn the Devil’s Staircase in Oregon into federally protected wilderness where logging and road development would be banned, and a bill to expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in Washington and extend the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River and Pratt River wild and scenic rivers.

Other bills would create new national parks, monuments, wilderness areas and wildlife sanctuaries.

“We really don’t know what the prospects for a public lands bill are likely to be,” said Wicker, adding that Bingaman would be talking with leadership and committee Republicans before making a decision on how to move forward. A final decision on a package could come anytime before the end of the session, Wicker said.

“Certainly the chairman would like to see all of those bills succeed,” he said….”

Michelle Malkin

Nothing could be farther from the TRUTH….get it – factual accuracy?  We the People of New Mexico want the incompetent Valles Caldera Trust turned into a National Park.  The land deserves to be a national park.

There is another reason the land should be under the NPS auspices.

“…The archaeological record of the Jemez Mountains begins approximately 10,000 years and is extremely diverse. The most common kind of site on the SFNF is the remains of small structures, frequently termed field houses. On the VCNP, obsidian quarries dominate archaeological landscapes. The Jemez Mountains are also the ancestral home of living Pueblo communities, including from south to north Santa Ana, San Felipe, Zia, Jemez, Cochiti, and Santa Domingo, San Ildefonso, and Santa Clara….”

We have a problem here in the Southwest with pot-hunters (people who destroy archaeological sites to mine pots, and archaeological items they can sell on the black market).

The far right  has this mime that the feds own a tremendous amount of the land in the West (and want more).  There’s a really really really good, logical reason why the Feds own a heck of a lot of the Southwest.  Unfortunately, the tea party types probably haven’t been given their psuedo history lesson by Glenn Beck, so they don’t know much about history.

Once upon a time, the United States went to war with Mexico.  We won.  They lost. The Government of the United States of America got lots and lots of land because of the win.  End of story.

Tready ot Guadalupe Hidalgo

“...Under the terms of the treaty negotiated by Trist, Mexico ceded to the United States Upper California and New Mexico. This was known as the Mexican Cession and included present-day Arizona and New Mexico and parts of Utah, Nevada, and Colorado (see Article V of the treaty). Mexico relinquished all claims to Texas and recognized the Rio Grande as the southern boundary with the United States (see Article V).

The treaty provided for the Mexican Cession of 1.36 million km² (525,000 square miles) to the United States in exchange for 15 million dollars (equivalent to $380 million today). From the viewpoint of some[who?] in Mexico, this Treaty also ceded an additional 1,007,935 km² (389,166 square miles), since Mexico had never officially recognized either the independence of the Republic of Texas (1836) or its annexation by the United States (1845), and under this calculation, Mexico lost about 55% of its prewar territory.

The Treaty also ensured safety of existing property rights of Mexican citizens living in the transferred territories. Despite assurances to the contrary, the property rights of Mexican citizens were often not honored by the U.S. in accordance with modifications to and interpretations of the Treaty. The U.S. also agreed to take over 3.25 million dollars (equivalent to $81.4 million today) in debts that Mexico owed to American citizens….”

There is another reason the US owns a heck of a lot of land in the West.  It is because of a Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson.  It was called the Louisiana Purchase. The Oregon Territory was acquired by the Feds in 1846 by treaty.  Texas was annexed in 1845.  Get it.  The FEDS OWNED this land, acquired by purchase and treaty.  It was not taken by some big land grab. (Okay, it was, but not through conspiracy, etc).

Deliver me from the historically ignorant and hysterical!

If Ms Malkin, who lives in Colorado were honest, she would also mention that a goodly portion of the West, seriously here in the Southwest, is basically wasteland.  There are heck of a lot of military bases out here, many of whom have their roots in the Wild West days.

There are times when We the Normal People of New Mexico do like having the National Park Service running land parcels that are national treasures.  They preserve them.  They keep them allegedly pristine. Frankly, I don’t want to see McDonalds go  up in the middle of White Sands National Monument.  Sure the libertarian types probably want to see it sold to the highest bidder who can exploit it, but guess what, I DON’T.  I don’t know any RATIONAL person who does.   The current trust is incompetent.

Get it?

Santa Fe New Mexican

We want treasures like the Valles Caldera preserved.

“…Until recently, the Valles Caldera was part of the Baca Ranch. The Dunigan family sold the entire surface estate of 95,000 acres (380 km2) and seven-eighths of the geothermal mineral estate to the federal government.

On July 25, 2000, the Valles Caldera Preservation Act, 16 U.S.C. Sections 698v-698v-10, created the Valles Caldera National Preserve, Santa Fe National Forest. The careful husbandry of the Baca Ranch by its private owners, including selective logging, limited grazing and hunting, and the use of prescribed fire, had preserved a mix of healthy range and timber land with significant biodiversity, including New Mexico’s largest herd of elk, and served as a model for self-sustaining land development and use.  Funds for the purchase came from the Land and Water Conservation Fund derived from royalties the US government receives from offshore petroleum and natural gas drilling. Under the terms of the Act, the Preserve will have to produce sustaining income; environmentalists had lobbied for the more inclusive protections of National Park status instead. The preserve is located in northeastern Sandoval County and southern Rio Arriba County, just west of Los Alamos. It has a land area of 89,716 acres (140.18 sq mi, or 363.07 km2). It is administered from the offices of the Valles Caldera Trust in Jemez Springs….”

From the New Mexico State Record Center and Archive is a history of the attempts to preserve this land.

“..2000 – Valles Caldera National Preserve Established

On July 25, 2000, the American people purchased approximately 89,000 acres of the Baca Ranch in northern New Mexico. The Valles Caldera Preservation Act designated these spectacular lands as the Valles Caldera National Preserve, a unit of the National Forest System. The Act also created the Valles Caldera Trust to manage the Preserve. The Valles Caldera Preservation Act established the Preserve to: “. . . protect and preserve the scientific, scenic, geologic, watershed, fish, wildlife, historic, cultural, and recreational values of the Preserve, and to provide for multiple use and sustained yield of renewable resources within the Preserve,” consistent with Valles Caldera Preservation Act.

A unique public land management approach was developed for the Preserve. The Valles Caldera Trust (the Trust), a wholly owned government corporation will manage the Preserve and a nine-member Board of Trustees will govern the Trust. The Board is made up of the Forest Supervisor of the Santa Fe National Forest, the Superintendent of Bandelier National Monument, and seven individuals with a variety of skills. The President of the United States, in consultation with the New Mexico Congressional Delegation, appointed the seven individuals on December 12, 2000. The Presidential appointees represent the following areas of expertise: livestock management; game and non-game wildlife and fish populations; sustainable forestry; nonprofit conservation organizations; financial management; cultural and natural history of the region; state or local government in New Mexico.

The stated purposes of the Trust is to: Provide management and administrative services for the Preserve; establish and implement management policies which will best achieve the purposes and requirements of the Valles Caldera Preservation Act; receive and collect funds from private and public sources and to make dispositions in support of the management and administration of the Preserve; cooperate with Federal, State, and local governmental units, and with Indian tribes and Pueblos, to further the purposes for which the Preserve was established.

The history behind the Preserve begins in1825 when the Mexican territorial government awarded a private land grant to Don Luis Maria Cabeza de Vaca for lands in the area surrounding Las Vegas, New Mexico. Cabeza de Vaca’s plan was to raise sheep, but harassment by Commanches caused him to leave. In 1835 the Mexican territorial government awarded a community grant to several individuals for lands in the area surrounding Las Vegas, New Mexico. Even though these lands were the same as those granted to Cabeza de Vaca in 1825, the community grant was made because Cabeza de Vaca had apparently abandoned his grant.

After the 1848 War with Mexico and under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the region became a territory of the United States. The passage of the 1854 Surveyor General Act established a process for reviewing claims to lands granted by preceding governments. Claims to the Las Vegas grant were subsequently filed both by the surviving heirs of Cabeza de Vaca (he had seventeen sons) and by citizens living on the community grant. Both claims were eventually ruled valid by the Surveyor-General of New Mexico. The passage of “An Act to confirm certain Private Land Claims in the Territory of New Mexico” on June 21, 1860, resolved conflicting claims to the Las Vegas grant by giving the heirs of Luis Maria Cabeza de Vaca the right to select an equal area in not more than five square non-mineral tracts in the Territory of New Mexico. Three years were given to exercise this right. Baca Location No. 1 was located soon thereafter and approved by the Surveyor General on December 11, 1860. The total area was said to be 99,289.39 acres. No patent was issued or necessary because the location of the grant and approval by the Surveyor General were all that was needed to divest the United States of all title to that land. In 1876, an original survey of the Baca Location No. 1 was completed and the land surveyed included 99,289.27 acres. In 1899, Baca Location No.1 was acquired by the Valles Land Company (F. J. & M.S. Otero, Jr.) and by 1902-4 sulfur was being mined at Sulphur Springs on patented claims (Mineral Surveys 553 and 1019).

In 1905 portions of public domain in the Jemez Mountains were designated as the Jemez Forest Reserve and in 1909 Baca Location No. 1 was acquired by Redondo Development Company (Edward D. Wetmore). New Mexico achieved statehood in 1912 and in that same year a restorative survey was completed to retrace and restore the 1876 survey of the Baca Location No. 1. The re-survey showed there to be a total area of 90,425.63 acres. Bandelier National Monument was created in 1916 and the U. S. Forest Service was made responsible for its administration.

In 1918, timber rights were leased to the New Mexico Timber Company for 99 years and grazing rights leased to Frank Bond. In 1921, an independent re-survey was completed to correct the survey of 1876, which was determined to have been in error and the area surveyed was 99,289.39 acres, the original claim amount in 1860. This is the survey that is currently being used to define the boundary of the Baca Location No. 1.

Baca Location No. 1 was acquired by Frank Bond in 1926 and in 1930 a resort hotel was constructed on private in-holdings at Sulphur Springs and was operated as a popular mountain retreat until it was destroyed by fire in 1977. By the 1930s, the National Park Service’s recognition that the Jemez Mountains and the Valles Caldera in particular, had special public value and a debate was begun over its status as a National Park or a National Monument. In 1932 the administration of Bandelier National Monument was transferred from the U. S. Forest Service to the National Park Service. In 1935 timber harvesting was initiated and by the 1940s cattle grazing was initiated and sheep grazing was phased out.

Frank Bond died in 1945 but the land was held by Frank Bond and Son, Inc. In 1947, elk from the Yellowstone area were introduced into the Jemez Mountains and about 49 head were released approximately 10 miles west of the Baca property. In 1960, an exploration well drilled to search for oil and gas but hot water was encountered instead. In 1961, Frank Bond and Son, Inc., was liquidated and the Baca Location No. 1 was put up for sale. In 1962-63 efforts involving Congress, the Forest Service and the National Park Service to pass legislation to purchase the property were initiated, various legislative proposals were introduced, but none were passed. These efforts were significant and involved considerable publicity and controversy, with the main issue focusing on which agency should be in charge of managing the area. Tensions were aggravated by a longstanding disagreement between the two agencies regarding management in the Jemez Mountains. Key differences stemmed from the agencies’ respective missions and public support bases. A compromise was achieved late in the process by then Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall, whereby the National Park Service would manage the southeastern quarter of the Baca Location No. 1. and the U. S. Forest Service would manage the remainder, but in 1962 Baca Location No. 1 was bought by Baca Land & Cattle Co. and Dunigan Tool and Supply Co. (James P. Dunigan).

In 1964-65 elk from the Jackson Hole Wyoming area were introduced into the Jemez Mountains and about 58 head were released near the southeast corner of the Baca Location No. 1. In 1966, a Cochiti Land Exchange was finalized and Dunigan received land northeast of Santo Domingo Pueblo (the ‘La Majada” tract), and in exchange the United States received land along the north boundary of the Baca to be used for an access road. In 1967 a right of surface use on 185 acres along eastern boundary was sold to Los Alamos Ski Club for ski area operation. In 1972, timber rights were acquired by the Baca Land & Cattle Co. and Dunigan Tool and Supply Co. from the holder of the timber rights, the New Mexico Timber Company. A geothermal lease was issued to Union Geothermal of California in 1973 and over the next several years, about 40 wells were drilled. In 1975, Baca Location No. 1 was designated as a National Natural Landmark and in1977, 3,076 acres in the southeast corner of the Baca Location No. 1 were sold to the United States, to be incorporated into Bandelier National Monument. This purchase gave Bandelier N.P. control of the upper end of the Frijoles watershed.

Discussions between James P. Dunigan and the Forest Service, National Park Service, and the Fish & Wildlife Service regarding sale of the property were conducted in 1978-80 and reports were prepared by each agency regarding the property’s importance and how it could be managed. Sale proceedings were interrupted in 1980 by the death of James P. Dunigan. In 1982 geothermal drilling ended; plans for a generating plant were scrapped; and leases were relinquished on the property. In 1985 a private settlement of complications related to the 1966 Cochiti land exchange with Santo Domingo Pueblo were finalized and in 1986 the final Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed OLE power line transmission corridor through the northeast comer of the Baca was released. The next year, a local group named “Save the Jemez,” proposed reassigning management of the core of the Jemez Mountains, including the Baca, to the National Park Service. This proposal led to the mobilization of opposition groups supporting more traditional public land uses such as logging and grazing. At key public meetings, representatives of the Baca’s owners pointed out that the Baca was not for sale and no legislative action or change in ownership resulted from this episode.

In 1990, the enactment of P.L. 101-556 to compensate Dunigan Enterprises for complications related to Cochiti Land Exchange and to authorize study of a 57,000-acre Jemez National Recreation Area on portions of Santa Fe National Forest went forward. In 1991-3 legislation was introduced to create the 57,000-acre Jemez National Recreation Area on portions of Santa Fe National Forest immediately south and southwest of the Baca but prior to final passage, the 102nd Congress concluded business and the legislation died. In 2000, enactment of P.L. 106-248 Valles Caldera Preservation Act designating 89,000 acres of the Baca Ranch as the Valles Caldera National Preserve, a unit of the National Forest System was passed….”

Wiki on Valles Caldera

2 thoughts on “Would the Far Right PLEASE Butt Out of New Mexico?

  1. This is a wonderful and very informative post. I am so glad you have presented it so well. I hope this beautiful land will be preserved and become a national park someday. I hate people who destroy archaeological sites looking for artifacts. They have never learned respect for pre-historic people and have no qualms about destroying their grave sites. To me these places are sacred. Thanks for all the pictures and information. Good Luck!

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