Sandoval Signpost

 

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U. S. Forest Service personnel, along with volunteers, provide restoration to “Sandia Man Cave,” a historically significant and much-visited destination in Las Huertas Canyon, a part of the Sandia Mountains.
Photo credit: —Courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service

Restoring Sandia Cave

—Marta Call, U.S. Forest Service

Several local organizations and community members are coming together to provide a much-needed facelift for a historically significant and much-visited destination in the Sandia Mountains. The public is invited to visit the cave on June 27, between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., to talk with the contractor and volunteers about the importance of stewardship and the many ways in which Sandia Cave is a special place in history and for the local community.

Years of illicit campfires and spray-painted graffiti have left their mark on Sandia Cave, an archaeological site, a National Historic Landmark, a National and State Register Property, and a Traditional Cultural Property. Sandia Cave is located on the east wall of Las Huertas Canyon near the town of Placitas. The original archaeological excavation of the cave was directed by University of New Mexico Professor Frank Hibben from 1937 to 1941 and was surrounded by controversy. Later, research conducted at the cave, however, indicates that it has been used intermittently for about ten thousand years and continues to be an important cultural and spiritual place for many local tribes.

Many Albuquerque area residents also have fond childhood memories of visiting the cave, both for its far-reaching vista and for the opportunity to explore its depths. But accumulated vandalism and trash dumping have downgraded the cave’s integrity and blanketed both historic markings left by excavators in the late 1930s as well as potential prehistoric markings.

In collaboration with a graduate student from the University of New Mexico and with the help of volunteers from the Sandia Grotto (the local chapter of the National Speleological Society) and New Mexico SiteWatch, the Forest Service was able to secure a $16,000 dollar grant from the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division to fund both the cave’s restoration and interpretation. This funding will bring an expert in graffiti removal at archaeological sites to remove the extensive graffiti now present in the cave. The contractor will also train volunteers who will then remove graffiti from the site and along its trail. Volunteers will also work to draft and install a new interpretive panel in the cave’s parking area.

Graffiti removal will begin on June 23 and continue on weekdays through July 7. During the cleanup process, the cave will be closed to the general public for safety reasons.


Eastern Sandoval Citizens’ Association (ES-CA) notes

—Chris Daul

The ES-CA Board met on June 1. Guests included Sandoval County Commissioner James Dominguez, Senator Tom Udall’s Special Projects Coordinator, David Williams and Congresswoman Michele Lujan Grisham’s Field Representative, Alexandria Bazan. Also attending was Coronado Soil and Water District Chairman Lynn Montgomery.

Ms. Bazan advised the Board that the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Resource Management Plan should be released in August or September. This is the document that will state BLM’s positions on uses for the Buffalo Tract of land that borders Placitas to the north. ES-CA and most of the other community organizations are firmly opposed to any new sand-and-gravel mining in this area. We will have thirty days in which to send comments to BLM. Ms. Bazan asked that we send copies of our comments to her so that Congresswoman Grisham can further communicate our concerns to the BLM. The Congresswoman has toured the area and is concerned about the proximity of the current mining to residences in Placitas. Mr. Williams spoke about Senator Udall’s concerns in this area. Senator Udall has long been a proponent of environmental protection. ES-CA will also send copies of comments to his office.

Commissioner Dominguez spoke about the proposed Sandoval County Resolution that would express the County’s concerns about any new mining in the Buffalo Tract. The Resolution was to have been introduced at the June 4 meeting, but the County Attorney and County Manager have made some changes. However, due to the changes that were made by the County Administration, ES-CA, Las Placitas Association, and the Land Use Planning Trust (LPT) have agreed that they are not in favor of the Resolution at this time and have asked that the Resolution not be heard at the July 9 meeting. ES-CA will continue to work with residents of Placitas to oppose any new mining and will also continue to work with all of our elected representatives on this issue.

Concerning the current mining situation with Vulcan, State Representative Jim Smith was able to schedule a meeting for the LPT with representatives of the Governor to discuss the ongoing issues. While the litigation continues, the LPT is exploring the possibility of working with Vulcan to arrive at a solution to the existing issues. The LPT hopes that a meeting can be scheduled with the Governor herself to discuss this matter.

The ES-CA general meeting has been scheduled for August 15 at the Anasazi Winery. The meeting will begin at 2:00 p.m. Mayor Jack Torres of Bernalillo will be a featured speaker at the meeting. All residents are invited to attend.

ES-CA has also rescheduled a public safety forum for September 19 at the Placitas Community Center, beginning at 2:00 p.m. Representatives from the County Sheriff’s Office and the County Fire Department will make presentations and answer questions. All residents are invited to attend.

The next ES-CA Board meeting will be on July 13 at the Placitas Fire Station on Rt. 165. Representatives of Kinder Morgan will make a presentation concerning their pipeline that runs through Placitas. All are encouraged to attend. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.

 
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