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DISCOVER OUR SECRETS: Valles Caldera: Feeding body and soul

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By Roger Snodgrass

One of newest and most fascinating pieces of public land in the country is an 89,000-acre wonderland called Valles Caldera National Preserve.

At the center of volcanic convulsions that began forming the Jemez Mountains, more than a million years ago, the property is not only a geological marvel but it is also the center of growing schedule of outdoor activities and recreational opportunities.

Located 20 miles west of Los Alamos, the preserve feeds body and soul, not to mention the mind and the planet.

Known for its beauty, the landscape features dozens of microenvironments, from Ponderosa Pine forest to mountain meadows and bogs, with a diversity of flora and fauna to match.

It is especially known for its now-thundering, now-quietly-grazing herds of elk, as well as its predators, its birds and fish and its endangered species, like the meadow jumping mouse.

There will also be a private allotment of more than 2,000 yearling cattle moving from valley to valley over the course of the summer. A former livestock operation, the preserve has a mandate to become self-sustaining within the next seven years.


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