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Archive for April, 2013

We drove south last fall through Colorado’s San Luis Valley, on our way to see the historic city of Santa Fe, New Mexico.  As we crossed the state line into New Mexico, I had the feeling of traveling back into the old world of the Southwest.  New Mexico has a unique character–in its land and its people.  Towns are still called villages.  Native American settlements are Pueblos.  There is history there–long history.  Santa Fe’s recorded history reaches back into the 1500’s, older than Jamestown.  Unrecorded history much longer than that has unbroken generational ties.  Nearby Taos Pueblo, a Unesco World Heritage Site, is the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in North America.  Here I looked at adobe homes continuously inhabited for 1,000 years.  New Mexico is different.

As we drove south on Hwy 285, I didn’t realize it then, but we were traveling near part of the territory that would, in a few month’s time, become a great new National Monument.  In March 2013, President Obama leveraged the 1906 Antiquities Act to create the 240,000 acre Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument.  The monument, now a protected land, encompasses the depths of the Rio Grande Gorge as well as the heights of surrounding highlands like 10,000-foot Ute Mountain.  It extends from the Colorado state line south well into north-central New Mexico.  It is a critical wildlife cooridor and a place with special meaning for many generations of local people, native and non-native.

Pew created a nice video production for this area:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=vj7iHTMa4ac

For extensive background on this national treasure and the efforts to protect it, check out http://www.riograndedelnorte.org/

Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument Map

Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument Map

The Rio Grande Gorge in the monument

The Rio Grande Gorge in the monument

 

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