Listening Sessions Set For May To Discuss Valles Caldera Transition To National Park

NPS News:

The Intermountain Region of the National Park Service (NPS) will hold three public listening sessions in northern New Mexico next month to discuss the transition in management of Valles Caldera National Preserve from the Valles Caldera Trust (Trust) to the NPS.

The meetings are scheduled each day 6-8:30 p.m., May 11-13 in Albuquerque, Jemez Springs and Los Alamos.

This is an opportunity for the National Park Service to get to know the communities around the Valles Caldera, and for us to begin to establish the kind of strong working relationships that are at the heart of effectively managing the preserve,” Intermountain Region Director Sue Masica said.

In December, Congress designated the preserve as a new unit of the National Park System. The legislation requires that the Valles Caldera Trust be terminated and the management of the area be turned over to the NPS.

The listening sessions will include a brief presentation with a time for questions, followed by multiple small group discussion circles, each assisted by a Park Service facilitator to help guide the conversation and ensure all points of view are received and heard. Circle participants may include partners of NPS and the Trust as well as members of the general public and various “stakeholders,” from local governments and businesses to recreation and conservation interests. Discussion points, views, questions and suggestions will be recorded for incorporation into NPS planning for future management of the preserve.

The 89,000-acre expanse of abundant wildlife and scenic beauty lies atop a dormant supervolcano in the Jemez Mountains of north-central New Mexico. The preserve will continue to be managed until the end of September by the Trust, a government corporation overseen by a nine-member board of trustees appointed by the president.

“This is a great opportunity for significant public involvement as we move forward in the transition of stewardship for this great resource,’’ said Charles Strickfaden, NPS interim superintendent for Valles Caldera.

Jorge Silva Bañuelos, executive director of the Trust, said, “This process will help the Park Service continue the good work of the Trust and preserve this amazing place.”

Meeting dates, cities, times and locations:

  • Monday, May 11 in Albuquerque
6-8:30 p.m. MDT
Albuquerque International Balloon Museum
9201 Balloon Museum NE
  • Tuesday, May 12 in Jemez Springs
6-8:30 p.m. MDT
Valles Caldera National Preserve administrative headquarters
90 Villa Louis Martin 
  • Wednesday, May 13 in Los Alamos
6-8:30 p.m. MDT
Betty Ehart Senior Center
1101 Bathtub Row  

NPS and the Trust continue to collaborate on the transition of the preserve’s management. The law that transferred Valles Caldera into the Park Service required that an interim budget and agreement for transitional management be completed in March. Additional milestones include formal handoff of management responsibility this fall. Livestock grazing, hunting (including the fall 2015 elk hunt) and other public recreational access to the preserve will continue in 2015 as it has in the past. The NPS will work with the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish to discuss the hunt program for 2016 and beyond.

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