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Friends of Coronado State Monument events

On March 17, at 2:00 p.m., at the DeLavy House off Highway 550 in Bernalillo, Friends of Coronado State Monument will present a lecture by Dennis Herrick entitled Winter of the Metal People. Admission is free for Friends of Coronado and $5 for non-members. No reservations are necessary, but seating is limited.

Dennis Herrick has had a life-long career in journalism. He will reveal the history of the little-known, but bloody Tiguex War, the first-named but least-known Indian war fought throughout this area by Coronado and his army against the Tiwa Puebloans.

On March 23, Friends of Coronado State Monument will present Fun with Yucca for their fourth annual Walking Stick Workshop held at the Monument. There will be a 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. morning session and a 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. afternoon session. The workshop is open to the public at $20 per person, including sticks, all paints, and a small assortment of miscellaneous supplies. Payment is limited to cash or check only.

Reservations are required; call 867-5351, and you must indicate your preference as to the morning or afternoon session. If you have specific materials of your own you wish to incorporate into the design of your walking stick, bring them along. A limited supply of additional yucca sticks will be available for $5 at the workshop.

The DeLavy House and the Monument are located off I-25, exit 242, west of Bernalillo on highway 550, follow the road between the I-Hop Restaurant and Warrior Fuel station. For more information visit

Senators reintroduce measure to make Valles Caldera a National Park

On February 12, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich reintroduced legislation to transfer the management of the Valles Caldera National Preserve to the National Park Service (NPS).

Udall and retired Sen. Jeff Bingaman first introduced this legislation in 2010 in light of inconsistent funding, the need for infrastructure improvements and concerns that the Preserve would not achieve financial self-sustainability by 2015, as directed by the Valles Caldera Preservation Act of 2000.

“Millions of years in the making, the Valles Caldera is a natural wonder, rich in geology, ecology, and culture,” said Udall. “With its vast grass-filled valleys, forested hillsides and numerous volcanic peaks, the caldera means a great deal to the surrounding communities and tribes. Incorporating this landscape into the National Park Service will preserve its resources and allow for public enjoyment by future generations. Additionally, I want to applaud the years of work that the Board of Trustees and preserve employees have invested in caring for this unmatched natural resource.”

“As someone who’s spent time hunting and fishing in the Valles Caldera, I know well how incredible this area is. Families in New Mexico take their children to the vast swath just west of Los Alamos. They create memories and learn about the rich culture this land brings to our state. But admission to this oasis has been limited,” said Heinrich. “The Valles Caldera National Preserve Management Act would help protect the abundant natural resources of the Preserve, while increasing recreational access for hiking, camping, hunting, and fishing for all New Mexicans. Making the Valles Caldera more accessible would improve the quality of life for all who visit, for all who benefit from the tourism dollars it brings, and for all who pass on New Mexico’s outdoor traditions to their children in such a spectacular setting. This bill also ensures that traditional uses of the resources in the Caldera continue and that nearby pueblos’ sacred sites remain protected.”

A study requested by Udall and Bingaman in 2009 determined that the Valles Caldera met the high criteria for inclusion in the NPS, noting its significant national value and unique, unaltered geology.

The bill directs the NPS to take over management in a way that protects the Preserve’s natural and cultural resources. Hunting, fishing and cattle grazing would continue to be permitted under the legislation. Additionally, the measure strengthens protections for tribal cultural and religious sites and ensures local tribes access to the area.  

The first calls to bring the Valles Caldera into the NPS were in 1899. In four separate studies throughout the next century, the Park Service found that the area was suitable for protective status under its management.

It wasn’t until 2000 that Bingaman, retired Sen. Pete Domenici, and then-Rep. Udall were successful in passing legislation to acquire the property for $100 million. The law established an experimental management framework where a Board of Trustees would manage the Preserve as a working ranch with public access, with the goal of becoming financially self-sustaining by 2015.

The Senators’ press release does not mention the lawsuit filed last summer by Jemez Pueblo that lays aboriginal land claim to the Valles Caldera. Last month the U.S. Department of Justice filed for dismissal of the lawsuit in U.S. District Court. A Jemez attorney said that the pueblo will vigorously oppose this motion.

The feds argues that “it is now well settled that the designation of land as a forest reserve or unit of the National Park Service is itself effective to extinguish a tribe’s aboriginal title.” Creation of the Valles Caldera Preserve in 2000 as part of the National Forest system extinguished any aboriginal title that may have existed, the filing concludes. They also argue that any such land claims had to be filed between Aug. 13, 1946, and Aug. 13, 1951. The motion also contends that the history of other uses of the contested land clearly eliminate a key element needed to assert aboriginal title: “that the Pueblo exclusively used and occupied the area to the exclusion of others.”

c. Bill Dunmire

Author Bill Dunmire presents “New Mexico’s Spanish Livestock Heritage”

New Mexico can claim the most fascinating and complex livestock history of any state.

Author Bill Dunmire will present a free program, titled “New Mexico’s Spanish Livestock Heritage” at the Placitas Community Library at 2:00 p.m. on March 30. The program will last about an hour and will be followed by a short discussion with the audience.

Bill’s talk will be based upon his book, New Mexico’s Spanish Livestock Heritage: Four Centuries of Animals, Land, and People that has just been released by UNM Press. This is the first book ever published on the history of livestock in New Mexico, and the preparation of it required more than three years of intensive academic research on the subject.

The program will present some background on the several species of domestic livestock and then describe how Puebloans and Navajos slowly adopted horses, donkeys, sheep, goats, cattle, pigs, and chickens after their arrival with the Spanish colonists in 1598. It will cover the spread of livestock during colonial times, how quickly the Plains Indians learned to steal and ride horses, and how horses became central to their economy. The talk will describe how sheep became New Mexico’s most important economic animal, growing to a population of five million animals in the province by the end of the nineteenth century. It will cover the arrival of cattlemen from Texas on the eastern plains, the rising economic importance of cattle in our state, how speculators and politicians became involved in that industry, and how cattle on our eastern plains have replaced the historic herds of bison and have become a vital positive element of grassland perpetuation there today. The effects of introduced livestock upon Native peoples—both the good and the bad—will be included.

The topic of how an explosion of livestock numbers, particularly sheep, caused increasing environmental damage, especially to the state’s extensive grasslands, will lead to how the deterioration of our native grasslands was finally recognized by scientists, eventually resulting in the enactment of laws such as the Taylor Grazing Act, various state regulations, and the adoption of more progressive livestock management practices.

Dunmire’s program will be illustrated with historic black and white photographs from the 1880s through the 1930s along with contemporary slides of grazing and the effects of overgrazing (including here in Placitas) as well as people involved in ranching activities today

LPA invites you for trail building in the Open Space

Join the crew of the Las Placitas Association and City of Albuquerque Open Space Division for a morning of trail construction and maintenance on the Placitas Open Space on March 23 from 8:30 a.m. to Noon. This free Placitas Open Space trail construction event is sponsored by Las Placitas Association which is working on the trail system as part of implementing the Placitas Open Space Management Plan. Meet participants at Homestead Village Shopping Center (The Merc) parking lot at 8:30 a.m. and carpool to the site. Las Placitas Association will provide drinks and snacks for this event. Bring drinking water, work gloves, a sun hat and wear sturdy shoes and long sleeves. 

Las Placitas Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving open space, restoring impacted watersheds, and enhancing quality of life in the Placitas area. For further information, visit their website at:
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