Momentum Builds For Heinrich Bill To Establish Bandelier National Park and Preserve

WASHINGTON – Legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) to elevate Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico to a National Park and Preserve received a key hearing in the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks.

VIDEO: Heinrich Opening Remarks On Establishing Bandelier National Park and Preserve

VIDEO: Heinrich Questions U.S. Department of the Interior Acting Deputy Director of Operations Shawn Benge On Tribal Consultation

"When I talk to people about what makes New Mexico unique, it always comes back to our breathtaking landscapes, our deep and complex history, and our unique cultures. Bandelier National Monument encapsulates each of these in unrivaled ways. It’s long past time that we recognize that Bandelier’s historical and natural resources are more than worthy of national park status,” said Heinrich. "This is, after all, a living cultural landscape. Bandelier’s mesas and canyons have human history that dates back more than 10,000 years. The ancestral sites in Bandelier continue to hold deep cultural and religious significance to the pueblos. Upgrading Bandelier to national park status is the best way to ensure these cultural treasures and northern New Mexico’s history and natural beauty receive the recognition and permanent protection they have long deserved."

In addition to establishing the Bandelier National Park and Preserve, the bill seeks to protect in statute a strong relationship between the National Park Service and pueblos whose history and culture lies in Bandelier. The bill would establish a tribal 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 considered in land management planning. Additionally, the bill would permanently safeguard tribes' religious rights and practices in Bandelier.

The legislation has garnered widespread support and endorsements from local communities and tribes throughout northern New Mexico. A copy of the bill is available HERE.

Senator Heinrich’s opening remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

When I talk to people about what makes New Mexico unique, it always comes back to our breathtaking landscapes, our deep and complex history, and our unique cultures.

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.

Bandelier’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.

What these people left behind are living, cultural sites with ongoing spiritual and religious significance for their descendants.

More than a century ago, some of these same sites were desecrated and destroyed by looters seeking to profit from a growing illicit market for Native American artifacts and bones.

Those deplorable actions inspired a fervent campaign at the start of the last century to permanently protect the area’s treasures by creating a national park.

But after the national park proposal got caught up in bureaucratic and congressional gridlock, 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. In addition, only Congress can ensure that a current or future president can’t undo those protections.

I believe it’s long past time that we recognize that Bandelier’s historical and natural resources are more than worthy of this same treatment. 

We also need to build upon the strong relationship that already exists between the Park Service and the pueblos whose history and culture lies in Bandelier. This is, after all, a living cultural landscape. That’s why my legislation will put into law the current access and protections that are afforded to these pueblos.

It would also establish a tribal advisory commission, which would provide guidance for park management that reflects traditional and historical knowledge and values.

Creating this new national park is the best way to ensure Bandelier’s cultural treasures receive the recognition and protection they have long deserved.

I look forward to working with all New Mexicans to establish Bandelier as our newest, and northern New Mexico’s first, national park.