Valles Caldera preserve's public access stalls

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By Associated Press

 ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Valles Caldera National Preserve won’t yet invite further exploration by hikers after a plan to throw open access was tabled.
Valles Caldera Trust Board chairman Kent Salazar said at the panel’s meeting last week in Albuquerque that the move comes amid concerns that Indian tribes and pueblos weren’t consulted about the plan to allow unrestricted public access to the preserve, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
He added that review of endangered species, cultural resources and habitat protection also needed to be considered before the plan goes into action.
“It is clear from staff input that there are serious issues that must be addressed prior to the implementation of the program,” Salazar said.
Jemez Pueblo Gov. Vincent Toya Sr. told the newspaper that the pueblo has always enjoyed a cooperative relationship with the preserve and that it was “shaken” when it learned of the board’s plans to allow unrestricted access to hikers. “I want to emphasize this type of policy threatens the integrity of our cultural properties,” he said, adding that the tribe conducts many religious ceremonies on the preserve. “This type of policy denies absolute privacy, which is essential. We cannot conduct those with the risk of outside observers.”

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