The Valles Caldera National Preserve is a 89,000 acre ranch located in east central Jemez Mountains. The property was owned by the Dunnigan family from Abilene Texas until 2000 when it was sold to the Federal Government. Under private ownership the ranch generated significant income from three main sources; timber harvest, livestock grazing, and elk hunting.
The ranch was basically run by 3-4 full time employees and various seasonal help. The timber, cattle grazing, and elk hunting operations were, for the most part, contracted or leased out to private sector interests. Upon transfer to federal ownership in 2000, under the concept that the property be managed as an experiment in federal land management, including self sufficiency at some point, the Preserve now has twenty-eight full time staff, numerous seasonal employees, and is costing the federal government over $3 million per year to operate. Included with this document is the 2012 "State of the Preserve" report which is a comprehensive and detailed report on Preserve operations since its purchase.
According to Dennis Trujillo, Executive Director of the Preserve, the enabling legislation that established the Preserve contains two important thresholds. The first is the requirement that the