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Idea for a new national park in New Mexico

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Re: Idea for a new national park in New Mexico

Postby Buz Groshong » Thu Nov 15, 2012 6:36 pm

It amazes me how spoiled you guys out west are when it comes to National Parks. There are already lots of National Parks out there, and they were created from Federal Government land at no cost to the western states. In order for us back east to have Shenandoah National Park, the state of Virginia had to buy the land and donate it to the Federal Government.

I guess it comes from that western attitude that says westerners should have the right to tell the Federal Government how to run its western property (without interference from easterners), even though it is owned by the wole country and was bought and paid for by easterners.
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Re: Idea for a new national park in New Mexico

Postby mrchad9 » Thu Nov 15, 2012 6:42 pm

Sounds like people from the east are easily amazed.
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Re: Idea for a new national park in New Mexico

Postby jdzaharia » Thu Nov 15, 2012 7:28 pm

Another thing that I don't quite understand is National Parks on Indian Reservation land. There are some examples of that within the current Park system, and Bubba's proposal includes a portion of the Santa Clara Indian Reservation. I'm not sure if that area is already part of the Valles Caldera National Preserve, or not.
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Re: Idea for a new national park in New Mexico

Postby jfrishmanIII » Thu Nov 15, 2012 7:54 pm

Thought-provoking topic, Bubba! I must say, I don't really mind that New Mexico flies a bit under the radar in the park system. We've got quite a few great Monuments, and those offer most of the benefits the Parks without attracting the same level of crowds. I agree with you that we do need places where people who require good access and amenities can appreciate the natural landscape, but I don't think it's necessarily elitist to prefer a low-profile approach in regard to new designations.

In regard to the Jemez specifically, I'm tempted to say the park idea is a solution in search of a problem. The one obvious candidate for that problem is the Valles Caldera Preserve, which is failing in its mandate to be self-sufficient and is very weirdly managed, resulting in lousy public access laden with strange red tape. If accessing the Preserve had only the bureaucratic hassles of the average national park, that would be a huge improvement from the current situation! (Although some changes are currently in the works which may improve both access and amenities.) I don't feel that the Caldera on its own has sufficient attractions and interest to stand as a national park, but combined with Bandelier it's a possibility. There are a good number of folks in New Mexico advocating for just that solution.

Of course the big problem is budget. All Bandelier's money is going towards mitigating the effects of the 2011 fire and floods at the main visitor center, while the backcountry trails are being neglected. They're in no position these days to take on management and maintenance of more land and roads and trails. Also, grazing and hunting are mandated to continue in the caldera, and any proposal to change that would have some tricky waters to navigate.

Your Pedernal and White Rock Canyon units are fun ideas. White Rock would make more sense as part of a Jemez Park; part of the canyon is already in Bandelier, and there are some great trails in other parts. A trail system that linked those with the ones in Bandelier would be awesome. Pedernal, on the other hand, would face fierce opposition from the locals who run cows, cut wood, gather pinon and hunt up there, and it has decent access and is not particularly threatened the way things are. It also begs the question Why that area and not others? The Grulla Plateau, Teakettle Rock, San Pedro Parks, Gilman Tunnels and the mesas near Jemez Springs all come to mind as potential additions to such a park.

If such a proposal were ever a serious possibility, I certainly wouldn't oppose it. But the area's not in major need of protection and, much as I enjoy it, it doesn't strike me as self-evidently worthy of park status. I'd certainly rather see protection efforts for Otero Mesa and various tracts of southern NM backcountry come to fruition first.
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Re: Idea for a new national park in New Mexico

Postby SeanReedy » Thu Nov 15, 2012 7:59 pm

A few cans of worms have been opened. :wink:




It is a Thanksgiving tradition for me to work up a big appetite by enjoying a big hike on public lands. The more adventures Thanksgiving week the better. The more times my leashed dogs can legally come along the better. The hardest part in California is often narrowing down the list of places to go, but weather is helping to provide some boundaries this year more so than any legal distinctions.

This thread is making me regret that I didn't spend more time in New Mexico while friends and family still lived near the Gila Wilderness and near Taos. I guess I may end up venturing there regardless of who I may get to see along the way.

I hope ya'll have a great holiday.
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Re: Idea for a new national park in New Mexico

Postby lcarreau » Thu Nov 15, 2012 8:55 pm

jfrishmanIII wrote:

Of course the big problem is budget.


Of course ... when you deal with BIG GOVERNMENT, the problem is ALWAYS the budget ... :!:

Where's the MONEY coming from ... does anybody know we're already facing a massive DEFICIT that will affect our children and grandchildren ???

GOSH ... just can't see supporting another national park ... AND IT WOULD NEVER BENEFIT THIS GUY ... :D

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Re: Idea for a new national park in New Mexico

Postby Bubba Suess » Thu Nov 15, 2012 8:58 pm

jfrishmanIII wrote:Thought-provoking topic, Bubba! I must say, I don't really mind that New Mexico flies a bit under the radar in the park system. We've got quite a few great Monuments, and those offer most of the benefits the Parks without attracting the same level of crowds. I agree with you that we do need places where people who require good access and amenities can appreciate the natural landscape, but I don't think it's necessarily elitist to prefer a low-profile approach in regard to new designations.


I do not think the "under the radar" mentality is itself elitist. Rather, I was commenting on the conceit that parks are only for those how venture into the wilderness. There are a lot of parks, like Lassen and North Cascades, that generally go under the radar, as far as the public at large is concerned. I do not think that their park status has impaired them significantly, but it does mean that more people are able to appreciate them, at least in the front country.

jfrishmanIII wrote:In regard to the Jemez specifically, I'm tempted to say the park idea is a solution in search of a problem. The one obvious candidate for that problem is the Valles Caldera Preserve, which is failing in its mandate to be self-sufficient and is very weirdly managed, resulting in lousy public access laden with strange red tape. If accessing the Preserve had only the bureaucratic hassles of the average national park, that would be a huge improvement from the current situation! (Although some changes are currently in the works which may improve both access and amenities.)


You are correct. It is the problematic status of the preserve that has always had me thinking in this direction. If not for the administrative black hole the area finds itself in, I do not think it would have occurred to me (or others).

jfrishmanIII wrote:I don't feel that the Caldera on its own has sufficient attractions and interest to stand as a national park, but combined with Bandelier it's a possibility. There are a good number of folks in New Mexico advocating for just that solution.


I agree that the caldera alone is not "national park material" on its own, though there are lower thresholds that have made it. However, the caldera, plus Bandelier, plus some of the national forest attractions, plus the White Rock area plus the tent rocks... Well, now you have a robust natural, historic and cultural base upon which an excellent park can be established. There literally would be something for everyone.

jfrishmanIII wrote:Of course the big problem is budget.


As always. It is a travesty that the stimulus was disbursed without filling the NPS and USFS coffers to overflowing. I am not sure why the environmental and recreational movements are not howling in protest.

jfrishmanIII wrote:All Bandelier's money is going towards mitigating the effects of the 2011 fire and floods at the main visitor center, while the backcountry trails are being neglected. They're in no position these days to take on management and maintenance of more land and roads and trails. Also, grazing and hunting are mandated to continue in the caldera, and any proposal to change that would have some tricky waters to navigate.


Hopefully, the new status would bring new funds (which the NPS, of course, does not have).

jfrishmanIII wrote:Your Pedernal and White Rock Canyon units are fun ideas. White Rock would make more sense as part of a Jemez Park; part of the canyon is already in Bandelier, and there are some great trails in other parts. A trail system that linked those with the ones in Bandelier would be awesome.


Absolutely. I think a trail beginning in White Rock and then climbing all the way up to the high country and then looping back down would rock. Honestly, I think that could have the potential to become New Mexico's signature trail.

jfrishmanIII wrote:Pedernal, on the other hand, would face fierce opposition from the locals who run cows, cut wood, gather pinon and hunt up there, and it has decent access and is not particularly threatened the way things are. It also begs the question Why that area and not others? The Grulla Plateau, Teakettle Rock, San Pedro Parks, Gilman Tunnels and the mesas near Jemez Springs all come to mind as potential additions to such a park.


There were a few considerations as to why I added that area. First and foremost, I think it adds an important part of New Mexico's modern heritage into the mix, since it is near Ghost Ranch and Cerro Pedernal was a favorite subject of hers (Actually, I think Ghost Ranch would make a cool unit of the park as well, much like TR's Elkhorn Ranch is part of Teddy Roosevelt NP). Plus, I think the peak is iconic for NM and would become iconic for the park. It also adds more area to the park which means more funds and also would divert people to a different and more remote corner of the Jemez Mountains (which some people would obviously think is bad). Also, in contrast to the other areas you mentioned, it is easy to have a cohesive block of land drawn out from the national forest to become a part of the park. All the other areas you mentioned would be gerrymandered outliers, both in terms of geography and private land ownership. Lastly, it is reasonably close to a highway system, so access would not be tremendously difficult. Honestly, I was looking for a way to include the Guadalupe River and Guadalupita Mesa as part of the park, but I did not think that was realistic.

I doubt anything will ever come of this, but it is fun to speculate. I have thoughts for a few other places in other states, but given the current question of the Valles Caldera Preserve (and the fact that I love New Mexico) I think this is the most pressing.
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Re: Idea for a new national park in New Mexico

Postby Bubba Suess » Fri Nov 16, 2012 4:06 am

jfrishmanIII wrote:Pedernal, on the other hand, would face fierce opposition from the locals who run cows, cut wood, gather pinon and hunt up there, and it has decent access and is not particularly threatened the way things are.


One other thought I forgot to mention. Following the Great Sand Dunes precedent, I think my proposal would work better if it were created as Jemez National Park and Preserve. It would be administered as one unit, but sections, such as the Pedernal, would fall under the Preserve rules, which would allow for continued hunting, grazing etc.
Last edited by Bubba Suess on Fri Nov 16, 2012 3:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Idea for a new national park in New Mexico

Postby jfrishmanIII » Fri Nov 16, 2012 4:27 pm

Yeah, the Park/Preserve approach would definitely be the way to go. I certainly don't mean to sound too negative. The more I think on it, I believe you're right that such a park would definitely be the most sensible signature National Park for New Mexico, and would have enough recreation, scenery, geology, archeology and history to hold its own, more than some parks that come to mind. (There's even rafting to be had in White Rock Canyon, though that run has some pretty major headaches.) But I guess we should be happy that the whole idea falls under fun-to-think-about/nice-to-have rather than something that needs to happen to counter serious threats.
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Re: Idea for a new national park in New Mexico

Postby Bubba Suess » Sat Nov 17, 2012 12:57 am

jfrishmanIII wrote:The more I think on it, I believe you're right that such a park would definitely be the most sensible signature National Park for New Mexico, and would have enough recreation, scenery, geology, archeology and history to hold its own, more than some parks that come to mind.


Just out of curiosity, which come to mind?

jfrishmanIII wrote:(There's even rafting to be had in White Rock Canyon, though that run has some pretty major headaches.)


What challenges are presented? Is it a long run?
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Re: Idea for a new national park in New Mexico

Postby chugach mtn boy » Sat Nov 17, 2012 8:03 pm

Buz Groshong wrote:It amazes me how spoiled you guys out west are when it comes to National Parks. There are already lots of National Parks out there, and they were created from Federal Government land at no cost to the western states. In order for us back east to have Shenandoah National Park, the state of Virginia had to buy the land and donate it to the Federal Government.

I guess it comes from that western attitude that says westerners should have the right to tell the Federal Government how to run its western property (without interference from easterners), even though it is owned by the wole country and was bought and paid for by easterners.


Mwahahahahaha. The entire object of our lives is to get you to send us more money & stuff! We recently named this mountain for the guy who was best at helping you spend your tax dollars on baubles for us:

Image

But back to the topic at hand, the Nat'l Park idea for New Mexico sounds intriguing. I wonder if local opposition might be muted by the realization that so many local opponents of recent national parks have changed their tune after being overwhelmed by a tide of prosperity. Kenai Fiords National Park comes to mind: http://www.theconservationlandtrust.org/eng/mision_conflictos_articulo_2.htm
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Re: Idea for a new national park in New Mexico

Postby jfrishmanIII » Mon Nov 19, 2012 12:03 am

Bubba Suess wrote:Just out of curiosity, which come to mind?


I suppose something like Petrified Forest comes to mind, that basically shows off just one major phenomenon in one ecosystem. Maybe the cave parks too (though I've only been to Carlsbad); they try and showcase the surrounding ecosystem and whatnot, but virtually everyone's there for the cave. Compared to these, the Jemez would have a much broader array of justifications for its status.

Bubba Suess wrote:What challenges are presented? Is it a long run?


It's 19 miles. The big hassle is that the run ends in Cochiti Reservoir, so you've got to get across an expanse of windy lake water to reach the takeout ramp. How much varies greatly with the reservoir level. And to add to the fun, they recently installed a boom at the top of the lake to keep debris from the post-fire floods out. I understand that you can get boats through it, but its another obstacle. The flows seldom get high and I understand camps aren't great. All this makes it a lot easier to do as a one-day kayak run, but if you're going to bother it would be more interesting to take a raft and spend a night or two, hike a lot. People do it, but you've gotta want it.

I guess another factor in the national park proposal might be that it would change the dynamic with the Army Corps and dam operations at Cochiti. There was some outcry when the reservoir level hit its historic maximum in 1987, backing up water almost to the Buckman road and flooding lots of archeology sites, including in Bandelier. If that happened in a Park instead of a lowly Monument, it probably would have been much more in the spotlight. I also wonder how the Buckman water diversion facilities would affect any proposal to add the canyon to a potential park. I haven't been down there in a couple years, I should go take a look one of these days.
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Re: Idea for a new national park in New Mexico

Postby Clark_Griswold » Mon Nov 19, 2012 4:38 am

The White Sands area is a good spot for a park, too bad there isn't much there, and the Lincoln NF is more like a NF in Texas, than a typical rugged, mountainous, and fairly wilderness like NF in New Mexico. Makes sense, since it gets over run by Texans in summer, but it is also pretty flat and roaded up.
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Re: Idea for a new national park in New Mexico

Postby Bubba Suess » Mon Nov 19, 2012 6:39 am

Clark_Griswold wrote:The White Sands area is a good spot for a park, too bad there isn't much there, and the Lincoln NF is more like a NF in Texas, than a typical rugged, mountainous, and fairly wilderness like NF in New Mexico. Makes sense, since it gets over run by Texans in summer, but it is also pretty flat and roaded up.

I am honestly not sure if this is intended to be a joke or not.

The White Sands area is a good spot for a park, too bad there isn't much there

Um...there is a park. If there is nothing there, though, then why is it a good place for a park?

the Lincoln NF is more like a NF in Texas, than a typical rugged, mountainous, and fairly wilderness like NF in New Mexico. Makes sense, since it gets over run by Texans in summer, but it is also pretty flat and roaded up.

This may be true for the Guadalupe Ranger District, but for the rest of the National Forest not so much:

Image
Image

What does all of this have to do with the Jemez?
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Re: Idea for a new national park in New Mexico

Postby Clark_Griswold » Mon Nov 19, 2012 6:15 pm

I was serious, White Sands is a National Monument, not a Park, so there are differences. It's a good spot for a park because it represents a lot of southern New Mexico and is fairly unique, but there isn't much there as it is mostly just gypsum dunes and desert- or what a lot of southern NM looks like. The Sacramento Mountains are what I am thinking of, as they are closest to the White Sands area. The Guadalupe RD is really closer to Texas than White Sands, but lightly visited due to isolation, lack of roads, and not being as cool in summer when the Texans arrive in droves to ATV everywhere. It is true, that the Sierra Blanca is quite different, but it should be noted that the photos of the peak you posted, are in fact on Apache Reservation land. Lookout is on FS land. However, that area is unique for the Lincoln, and over 70 miles from Alamogordo, so further from White Sands. The gentle limestone terrain of the NF around, south and east of Cloudcroft, the bulk of the Lincoln near White Sands, is really a high plateau that reminds me a lot of the national forests in east Texas. This is due to the the high level of exploitative resource utilization, the high level of road development, and the recreational use being geared to ATV, 4x4 and RV camping use. One trip there on a summer weekend will give an impression of that.


This has nothing to do with the Jemez. Nor does the big mountain a few posts back.
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