Rep. Lucky Varela hit the nail on the head Sunday in his commentary about Valles Caldera National Preserve. For 13 years, the Valles Caldera Trust has tried but failed to raise enough money to fund its $3 million-plus operation. Sportsmen have been affected more than most as the trust has tried to wring every possible dollar out of hunting and fishing. Now a transition to new management is inevitable; the question is which agency will do the best job.
Of all the options, the National Park Service stands out. They have a good track record of managing hunting and fishing at other national preserves, such as Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in southern Colorado. They also know how to manage people, landscapes and cultural treasures, all of which Valles Caldera National Preserve has in spades.
When Congress purchased the Baca Ranch it made a promise to the American people to protect Valles Caldera and its resources forever. Inherent in that promise was to make Valles Caldera accessible. There, the trust has failed us all. Under new management, Valles Caldera National Preserve can reach its potential. Sportsmen will appreciate the improved and more equitable access, but the entire Jemez region will benefit as the preserve becomes a source of jobs and business opportunity.