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Bandelier bomb scare dampens holiday

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By Carol A. Clark

At 8:40 a.m. on the Fourth of July, a male suspect called the Bandelier Visitor Center warning a bomb was placed in Frijoles Canyon. He also told the park employee he was five miles away, “watching.”

The threatening call caused the evacuation of Bandelier National Monument on one of its busiest days of the year and in the end, it appears to have been a hoax since no bomb was discovered.

The cost of that Independence Day hoax is severe in terms of the nearly continual stream of disappointed families and individuals turned away at the gate throughout the day.

Mike Canino was one of many frustrated visitors. The Connecticut resident is traveling across country on his Triumph motorcycle. Decked out with backpacking gear in anticipation of a trip into Bandelier’s back country, Canino was told Friday of the bomb scare and given directions to other camping spots and trailheads outside of Bandelier territory.

“It’s a real shame on the Fourth of July,” Canino said.

Bandelier Superintendent Brad Traver added, “I’ve been listening to the discussions from people in the cars we’ve had to turn away and there have been lots of kids in the back seats who are very disappointed.”

The hoax also has a monetary impact in the deployment of specialized expertise and equipment.