Governor Bill Richardson today announced his support of the Valles Caldera National Preserve Management Act sponsored by Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall. The bill would transfer management of Valles Caldera to the National Park Service.
"The Valles Caldera is home to important tribal and cultural sites as well as natural resources including elk, deer and other wildlife," Governor Richardson said in a letter to both Senators. "Permanently protecting this unusual landscape as a Preserve in our National Park Service system is the right thing to do."
The legislation would maintain the existing character of the 89-thousand acre preserve nestled inside a volcanic caldera. Hunting, fishing and cattle grazing would continue to be permitted. The bill also strengthens protections for tribal, cultural and religious sites and ensures access by pueblos to the area.
The preserve is currently managed by the Valles Caldera Trust, a unique public land management experiment charged with becoming financially self-sustaining by 2015. However, a recent U.S. Government Accountability Office report showed achieving that goal would be difficult for the Trust.
Additionally, a National Park Service study, requested by Senators Bingaman and Udall determined that Valles Caldera meets the high criteria for inclusion in the National Park System as a National Preserve. In particular, the report highlighted the nationally significant geologic resources found in the area.