Heinrich wants to make Bandelier National Monument a park

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By Tris DeRoma

Out on the patio behind the Bandelier National Monument Visitors Center Wednesday, against the stunning backdrop of Frijoles Canyon, Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) said it’s time to do more for the oldest national monument in the country.


Heinrich said he would introduce legislation to make Bandelier National Monument a national park.  

“I believe it’s long past time we recognize that Bandelier’s historical and natural resources are more than worthy of the greatest level of stewardship our country can muster,” Heinrich said, as area tribal officials, environmentalists and government leaders clapped in approval.

Heinrich used President Donald Trump’s recent executive order to turn over 85 percent of Bears Ears National Monument land to oil and gas and uranium developers as an example as to why it’s important Bandelier be made a national park.

If Bear’s Ears was a national park, Heinrich said, Trump would not have been able to make that order.

“While I’m confident that President Trump’s executive order will be declared an illegal action by the courts… I think we can no longer be confident that our most precious places won’t someday be subject to similar abuses of presidential power,” Heinrich said.

If Bandelier is made a national park, it could not be used for any type of resource extraction through a presidential order.

When asked if the legislation was in direct response to Trump’s Bear’s Ears executive order, he said no.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a direct response to the executive order, but it got me thinking about it,” Heinrich said, adding one of the things he thought about was why, after 100 years, Bandelier was not a national park yet.

“This is one of the most impressive places I’ve ever visited. When I started learning more about the history of it, I realized that the boundaries of Bandelier have changed through the years due to administrative action,” Heinrich said. “I thought it was a good time to revisit that and see if we could come to some sort of consensus for the right path forward.”

One of the things the legislation would do, Heinrich said, was strengthen the partnership area pueblos have with the U.S. Parks Service.

“My legislation would establish a tribal advisory commission which would provide guidance for park management that reflects traditional and historical knowledge and values,” Heinrich said. “This would make Bandelier the first American National Park where traditional knowledge is explicitly integrated into land management.”

Heinrich also said the legislation would permanently safeguard tribal practices and religious rights.

Also at the announcement was Los Alamos County Councilor David Izraelevitz and Los Alamos Council Chair Sara Scott.
Scott said besides the added protection of cultural and historical resources within Bandelier, making Bandelier a national park would also mean a lot more visitors to the region and Los Alamos.

“It’s been said that when a national monument is redesignated as a national park visitors can increase by 20 percent,” Scott said, adding the designation could mean a bigger budget for Bandelier and also translate into dozens of new jobs to the region.