ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and tribal, state and local officials to celebrate the Valles Caldera National Preserve, one of the America’s newest additions to the National Park Service. Former U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman, who attended the event, began the effort in 2010 to transition the Preserve from a unique management structure as part of the U.S. Forest Service to management by the National Park Service. U.S. Senators Heinrich and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) pushed for the change to increase public access, and legislation they introduced was enacted as part of an omnibus defense bill at the end of last year. The senators developed the proposal after extensive input from local residents, sportsmen, veterans' organizations, business owners and elected officials. It ensures the new National Park Service management will maintain access for hunting and fishing while protecting the Preserve’s natural and cultural resources.
The Valles Caldera National Preserve was established in 2000 using $101 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The highly successful LWCF program uses a small portion the royalties from federal offshore leases of publicly owned oil and gas to invest in public lands across the nation. LWCF expired on September 30, but Senator Heinrich has been actively working to reauthorize and fully fund the program.