Saturday, May 9, 2015

Listening Sessions Set to Discuss Valles Caldera Transition to National Park

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 for Monday through Wednesday, May 11-13, in Albuquerque, Jemez Springs and Los Alamos. Each begins at 6 p.m. and concludes at 8:30 p.m.

“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,” said Intermountain Region Director Sue Masica.

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 BaƱuelos, 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.”

The meeting dates, cities, times and locations are:

Monday, May 11 — Albuquerque
6-8:30 p.m. MDT
Albuquerque International Balloon Museum
9201 Balloon Museum NE
Albuquerque, NM 87113

Tuesday, May 12 — Jemez Springs
6-8:30 p.m. MDT
Valles Caldera National Preserve administrative headquarters
90 Villa Louis Martin
Jemez Springs, NM 87025

Wednesday, May 13 — Los Alamos
6-8:30 p.m. MDT
Betty Ehart Senior Center
1101 Bathtub Row
Los Alamos, NM 87544

The NPS and the Trust continue to collaborate on the transition of the preserve’s management. The law that transferred Valles Caldera into the National 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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