The dining hall at the Betty Ehart Senior Center was packed earlier last week with more than 100 residents wanting to weigh in on how the Valles Caldera National Preserve will be managed by the National Park Service.
Legislation passed by the United States Congress in December transferred management of the VCNP from a board of trustees operating under the National Forest Service to NPS. During the transition, the trust will continue to manage daily operations — under NPS guidance — until Sept. 30.
NPS is seeking public input as it formulates a management plan for the preserve. The enabling legislation allots three years for that process.
“This is just another chapter in the evolution of the protection of this very special place,” NPS Acting Superintendent Charles Strickfaden said. “We’re spending time and money and energy to make sure that we know what the public wants. We’re not preordained. We’re not presuming that we know what you want.”
Strickfaden and Valles Caldera Trust Executive Director Jorge Silva-Bañuelos, assisted by facilitator Lucy Moore, conducted listening sessions in Los Alamos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque last week. All three sessions had high turnout, with approximately 150 people in Albuquerque and 100 at each of the other two venues.