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Elk hunt unaffected by federal shutdown

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By Arin McKenna

The Valles Caldera National Preserve, along with other federal lands, is closed during the federal shutdown. But Board of Trustees Chair Kent Salazar confirmed that the elk hunt scheduled for this weekend will go on as planned.
The preserve’s status as one of only two federal trusts that generate income through its activities places it in a different category than other parks and preserves.
“We’re in a unique situation because we are an enterprise fund. We make our own money, even though we’re receiving allocations of $3.1 to $3.4 million dollars a year,” Salazar said. “Since we’re in a different situation, it allows us a little more latitude than the national park system or the forest service.”
The other national trust, the Presidio, has numerous commercial enterprises and will remain open during the shutdown, with only a handful of closures in public areas.
Surrounding national forests will also be open for hunting, although campgrounds and parking areas will be closed.
Salazar emphasized that national forest law enforcement personnel will be active and monitoring hunting both within the preserve and within the national forests. State Game and Fish personnel are unaffected by the shutdown and will also be active in the field.
“People should know that there will be law enforcement people out at all times,” Salazar said.
Game and Fish officers will monitor the Valles Caldera hunt this weekend, with preserve volunteers running the operation. Security personnel assigned to the preserve will be checking in hunters at the gate and helping to monitor the hunt.
“We’ll have a lot of hunters in the field, and we want to make sure they’re abiding by the law,” Salazar said.
Only two other activities will be permitted in the preserve during the shutdown. Grazers will be allowed in to monitor their cattle and science personnel with existing permits will have access to monitor their equipment.
Security staff will be patrolling the boundaries and the gates of the preserve to enforce the closure.