Park officials seek public comment on Valles Caldera management

·2 min read

May 17—The public will have a chance to weigh in on a proposed plan to manage and further develop Valles Caldera National Preserve.

The National Park Service is inviting people to give opinions about preliminary ideas being considered as part of a long-term plan for Valles Caldera. The goal is to establish guidance for resource protection and visitor experiences at the park, as well as for future investments in the facilities, park officials said in a news release.

The comment period will run through June 9. People who want to participate can attend open houses, online forums or submit written statements.

"Valles Caldera is still in its infancy as a unit of the national park system, and there is a lot of work to be done to create a quality national park experience that honors the place as well as the passions of the people who cherish it," park Superintendent Jorge Silva-Bañuelos said in a statement.

The plan is a critical step in enabling the park to make needed improvements and protect the assets that "make this landscape unique and inspiring," Silva-Bañuelos added.

The plan builds on a zoning effort undertaken in 2021, which began exploring how the agency could achieve and maintain a variety of future conditions in different areas of the park, according to a Park Service web page.

It seeks to establish a vision that balances the restoration and conservation of park resources with enhanced visitor opportunities, the page says.

"Ultimately, any development concepts that emerge from the planning process will establish a vision to help guide future facility planning and investments for the next 20-30 years, subject to available funding," it says.

The public's suggestions and concerns were key in creating a draft of the zoning concepts that are being further refined through the current planning effort.

Located in the Jemez volcanic field where two major fault systems intersect, the 89,000-acre park encompasses distinct geologic, ecological and landscape features as well as an area with a deep cultural heritage.

The land is still recovering from overgrazing of sheep and heavy logging done through much of the 20th century. The federal government bought ranch land in the caldera from the Bond family and established the preserve in 2000.

An online presentation of the plan will be held 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Open houses will take place in Española, Bernalillo, and Jemez Pueblo from May 22 to 24. Each open house will feature information on different components of the plan and provide a chance for the public to ask questions of Park Service staff.