Fact Sheet: President Clinton: Preserving New Mexico's Irreplaceable Valles Caldera (7/25/00)
                            PRESIDENT CLINTON:
                               July 25, 2000

President Clinton today signed legislation to permanently protect the
stunning Baca Ranch in northern New Mexico and designate it the Valles
Caldera National Preserve.  Later today, the U.S. Forest Service is
expected to formally accept title to the 90,000-acre preserve, which
contains the world-renowned Valles Caldera ? the collapsed crater of an
ancient volcano. Federal acquisition of this natural treasure was made
possible with $101 million in conservation funding secured by the President
through his Lands Legacy initiative. Under an innovative arrangement, the
new preserve will be managed in a way that allows for sustainable resource
use while ensuring public access and full protection of the ranch's
extraordinary natural assets.  The legislation signed today also allows
transfer of 5,000 acres of the ranch to the Santa Clara Pueblo to protect
the headwaters of Santa Clara Creek, the pueblo's water supply.

An Extraordinary Natural Treasure.  At the heart of the Jemez Mountain
region west of Santa Fe, the new Valles Caldera National Preserve contains
a stunning and unique mix of grasslands, forested mountains, and geologic
features found nowhere else in the American Southwest.  The land sustains
one of the country's largest wild elk herds and provides habitat for a wide
range of other wildlife, including 17 threatened or endangered species, and
such animals as the black bear, mountain lion, goshawk, peregrine falcon
and Rio Grande cutthroat trout.  The new preserve also encompasses most of
the Valles Caldera, a massive crater more than a half-mile deep and 15
miles wide that was created by a huge volcanic eruption more than a million
years ago.  Secondary volcanic domes arise from the caldera floor,
including Redondo Peak, which climbs to more than 11,000 feet.  Hot springs
occur in the west-central part of the caldera and reflect the relative
nearness of molten rock to the surface.  Geologists have used Valles
Caldera as a model for unraveling the history of many other volcanic
eruptions around the world.

A Unique Stewardship Arrangement.  As a working ranch, owned by the Dunigan
family, the Baca has been widely regarded as a model of private land
stewardship.  Under the bipartisan legislation signed today by the
President, the Valles Caldera National Preserve will be managed by a
nine-member Valles Caldera Trust.  Trustees, appointed by the President,
will include the supervisor of Sante Fe National Forest and the
superintendent of Bandalier National Monument, both of which are adjacent
to Baca.  The seven other Trustees will include experts in such areas as
wildlife conservation, sustainable resource use, and cultural and historic
preservation.   Under the legislation, management principles require
resource protection; allow for sustainable resource use, including logging
and grazing; and call for the ranch to be as financially self-sustaining as
possible, consistent with other management requirements.

Preserving America?s Lands Legacy. Protection of Baca Ranch has been one of
the President?s top conservation priorities and was made possible with
funding secured through his Lands Legacy initiative.  In his State of the
Union address, the President called for permanent conservation funding to
preserve other natural treasures and to support state and local efforts to
protect urban parks, threatened farmland and other critical lands.  The
President today applauded bipartisan efforts in Congress that would move
closer to achieving that goal.  At the same time, he called on Congress to
drop anti-environmental riders aimed at crippling wildlife protections,
surrendering public lands to private interests, and hampering common-sense
efforts to combat global warming.

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