SANTA FE, N.M. –Today, alongside tribal leaders, wildlife advocates, and northern New Mexico elected officials, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, announced his plans to introduce legislation establishing Bandelier National Park and Preserve.
(U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) Announces Plan To Establish Bandelier National Park and Preserve, March 20, 2019.)
"When I talk to people about what makes New Mexico so unique, it always comes back to our breathtaking scenery, our deep and complex history, and our unique cultures," said Heinrich. "Bandelier National Monument encapsulates each of these in unrivaled ways. That's why I am so proud to work with communities in northern New Mexico to introduce legislation to make Bandelier our nation's newest national park. I look forward to working with all New Mexicans to ensure Bandelier's cultural treasures in particular, and northern New Mexico's history and natural beauty as a whole, finally receive the recognition and protection they have long deserved."
"I very much support the establishment by Congress of the Bandelier National Park and Preserve. It would be an appropriate recognition of this jewel in the Park System that lies in the backyard of our county. Bandelier is our most popular tourist destination and we expect this designation will increase its attendance and enjoyment by all," said Los Alamos County Councilor David Izraelivitz.
"The Santa Clara Pueblo is very appreciative of Senator Heinrich for taking the lead on advancing legislation that would elevate Bandelier National Monument to national park status. Although Bandelier is most famous for its ancient pueblo dwellings, it is also a place of ongoing spiritual significance and activities for our people. Its preservation and our ability to access those lands for traditional practices is of the utmost importance to us. We are especially appreciative that in its current form, the legislation addresses certain important tribal interests and we look forward to working with the Senator and other members of the New Mexico Congressional Delegation on further refinements to the language as this critical legislation progresses through the Congress," said Santa Clara Pueblo Governor Michael Chavarria.
"As one of the six culturally affiliated Pueblos to the area, we are always concerned with the ability to access the area for religious purposes. This includes the gathering of plants and minerals and visits to certain areas in the monument. Not only is it important to us today, we want the ability for this to continue for generations to come. This is why we support Senator Heinrich's legislation," said Santo Domingo Pueblo Governor Joe M. Aguilar.
"By making Bandelier a national park, this bill helps promote the truly unique cultural, archaeological and historical heritage of this incredible landscape while also benefiting the local, regional and state economy. In designating a portion of the national park to be managed as a Preserve, this bill creates new opportunities for sportsmen and women to access an area that is truly one of America's great national treasures," said Jesse Deubel, Executive Director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation.
Bandelier National Monument's mesas and canyons have a human history that dates back more than 10,000 years. Nearly 1,000 years ago, the Ancestral Pueblo people built homes along cliff faces, dug ceremonial kivas, and planted crops on mesa-top fields. The relics these people left behind are living cultural sites with ongoing spiritual and religious significance for their descendants who live in today's pueblos.
More than 100 years ago, after these sites were targeted by looters seeking to profit from the plundering of Native American artifacts, a campaign was started to create a national park. After the national park proposal stalled in Congress, President Woodrow Wilson used his authority under the Antiquities Act to create Bandelier National Monument in 1916. Only Congress can create a national park and provide the highest level of protection for cultural resources. Many national parks, like the Grand Canyon and Carlsbad Caverns, started as national monuments and were later re-designated as national parks by Congress.
Two years ago, President Trump signed an executive order to slash the size of Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah by 85 percent. Much like Bandelier, Bears Ears is home to land and historic sites that hold deep significance for tribes, including Zuni Pueblo and the Navajo Nation. The Trump administration has already started the process to open up some of these lands to oil and gas exploration and uranium mining. Heinrich's legislation would permanently protect Bandelier's resources by specifically prohibiting oil and gas drilling and other mineral and geothermal development within park boundaries.
Heinrich's legislation seeks to build a stronger relationship between the National Park Service and pueblos whose history and culture lies in Bandelier. The bill would establish a tribal advisory commission, which would provide guidance for park management that reflects traditional and historical knowledge and values. In a historic precedent for a national park, traditional knowledge will be required by statute to be integrated into land management planning. Additionally, the bill would permanently safeguard tribes' religious rights and practices in Bandelier.
Zuni Pueblo Governor Val Panteah said, "The Pueblo of Zuni supports Senator Martin Heinrich and his efforts to establish the Bandelier National Park and Preserve in the State of New Mexico. Senator Heinrich's legislation ensures that the traditional and historical knowledge of Zuni and other pueblos is reflected in the management of this sacred cultural landscape."
Heinrich's legislation also has the support of gateway communities to Bandelier.
Mayor of Española Javier Sanchez said, "I support Senator Heinrich elevating Bandelier National Monument to a National Park and Preserve. I welcome the creation of the Preserve which will increase outdoor recreation and hunting opportunities. A study by the Headwaters Institute estimates redesignation of Bandelier may result in between $1.9 million and $2.3 million in new spending. This promotion will be an opportunity to collaborate regionally to increase visitation to the area. It will be wonderful to have a national park in Northern New Mexico."
Mayor of Santa Fe Alan Webber said, "Bandelier National Monument has history and relevance, not just to this region, but to humanity as a whole. It is not an exaggeration to say that for 10,000 years, human beings have built one society after another here. The weight and meaning of all those years of human presence is palpable for anyone who walks the same ground those ancestors walked so long ago. It's compelling and worthy of designation as a national park."
Mayor of Jemez Springs Roger Sweet said, "I first visited Bandelier National Monument is the early 1970's after reading the Delight Makers by Adolf Bandelier. Bandelier National Monument was and is more than fiction, the canyon and mesas personify Native American history and northern New Mexico's beauty. Since the 70's it has been my go to place when I have guests visit. The ruins behind the headquarters are handicap accessible and hiking the backcountry provides some of the most beautiful landscape in northern New Mexico. Jemez Springs is a small Jemez Mountain village on the south end of Highway 4 that leads to Bandelier. Bandelier's accessibility, beauty, cultural history and uniqueness has led us to already think of it as one of America's national parks. Economics in rural New Mexico is closely tied to tourism and increased visitation at Bandelier would be a plus for surrounding communities. But more than anything, it is so worthy of national park status."
A fact sheet on the proposal is available here.