Famed former Baca Ranch could emerge as national park after failed “free market” experiment-
I have never been to this famous New Mexico supervolcano area with its scenic, but degraded grasslands and forests. The area is notable for its elk, but the herd is much smaller than it could be due to the competition with livestock.
In 2000 this former ranch was purchased by the U.S. government to become a national preserve, but under the rules of right wing ideology. The former ranch, as a preserve, was to be managed by the Valles Caldera Trust. It was supposed to be run much like a ranch — generate its own income by grazing, logging, oil and gas, and maybe geothermal development, and expensive visitor fees. These are hardly the rules the public expects for land it bought for scenic and environmental protection.
At the time, I wrote the whole thing off as a waste of money doomed to fail, and I forgot about it. I was right. The area could not support itself financially without destroying its amenities. Today it is overgrazed and too expensive to use, and the local public wants it transferred to the National Park Service to restore it and allow affordable public access.
There is a bill before Congress (S.3452) by Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Tom Udall (D-NM) to transfer it to the Park Service. If it becomes a national park, or some other public land unit, it will have to be rehabilitated.
RLMiller at Daily Kos has written a number of articles about it. Here is his latest. Hike On: A Valles Caldera National Park At Long Last? July 3, 2010