SANTA FE, N.M. — The board of the Valles Caldera Trust, which runs the Valles Caldera National Preserve in the Jemez Mountains, today named Jorge Silva-Bañuelos as executive director.
Silva-Bañuelos was selected from a field of 24 applicants to fill the position vacated when Dennis Trujillo retired in January.
“Jorge has extensive experience in natural resource policy, management and leadership of government agencies,” said Kent Salazar, board chairman for the trust said in a news release. “His experience working with a broad citizen constituency on public lands issues will also be a great asset to the Trust.”
A native New Mexican, Silva-Bañuelos has lived and worked in Washington, D.C. for the last 10 years. For eight years, he worked for U.S. Sen Jeff Bingaman, including as a staffer for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where he handled New Mexico public land, natural resource and conservation policy. During his time with Bingaman, Silva-Bañuelos also worked on designation of both the Río Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks national monuments, according to the news release. He also oversaw policy matters related to the Valles Caldera, and worked to secure funding for the preserve, the release says.
“The Valles Caldera has the potential to become a premier tourist destination and a major economic driver for northern New Mexico,” said Silva-Bañuelos. “I will work closely with the board, surrounding tribes and other local communities to promote a vision that increases public access, protects the natural and cultural resources of the Preserve and stimulates job growth in the nearby communities.”
Pending legislation supported by New Mexico’s congressional delegation would shift management of the national preserve to the National Parks Service.