Studies support legislation

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By Arin McKenna

Several studies provide support for the National Park Service preserve model for Valles Caldera National Monument.

A 24-page study conducted by the Harbinger Consulting Group for Caldera Action and the National Parks Conservation Association evaluated factors such as regional economic development, funding, resource protection and visitor experience.

The study compared the NPS funding model, which designates funds for specific park units, with NFS funding, which is program based (e.g. fire management, grazing and recreation).

“USFS budgeting practices are focused on programmatic categories that allow different program priorities such as fire to cannibalize funds from specific units such as national forests, ranger districts, and special areas such as national monuments and preserves. NPS budgets are explicitly location-specific and more likely to serve the needs of a special area like the Valles Caldera.”

The study also concluded that NPS was likely to offer a better management plan.

“As in budgeting, NPS management is location-specific, while USFS management tends to be distributed by program area. An NPS priority would be developing a general management plan for the Valles Caldera, while comprehensive management planning is neither site-specific nor a high priority for the USFS.”

Studies comparing economic impact for national park and national forest units also find that entities under NPS control bring significantly higher visitation, greatly increasing economic benefit to surrounding communities.

Using those models, Harbinger projected that as an NPS unit, VCNP would bring more than 200 jobs and $8 million in wages to the regional communities in 2016.

The park service feasibility study also found that managing VCNP in conjunction with Bandelier National Monument would likely produce considerable cost savings by combining such thing as administrative services and equipment.