Caja del Rio protection worth acting on

June 12, 2022

A movement to protect the Caja del Rio is gaining steam — and that’s an encouraging sign for everyone who loves this area, so critical to New Mexico’s past and so much a part of its present.

As the vandalism of the centuries-old La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs in January showed, it is time to further shield the 106,000 acres that lie between the Rio Grande and Santa Fe.

United in seeking federal protections are the All Pueblo Council of Governors and the Santa Fe County Commission — the city of Santa Fe likely will pass its own resolution, too. These groups are asking President Joe Biden and the New Mexico congressional delegation to safeguard the area in consultation with traditional land users.

The U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management currently lack the resources to manage the Caja del Rio. On any given weekend, there can be off-road vehicles racing over delicate landscapes, illegal dumping, unsafe target shooting and further vandalism of cultural sites.

Driving through the Caja, it’s common to see rusted cars, hear the sounds of gunfire and watch trash blowing. The land deserves better.

Permanent preservation should mean increased money and staff to manage the area more capably.

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