On Stands Now
May 2024

Questa  •  Red River  •  Cerro  •  Costilla  •  Amalia  •  Lama  •  San Cristobal

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Letter to the President

Dear President Biden:

Thank you for the leadership and transparency provided by the Biden-Harris administration during the last 2-1/2 years. We are grateful for your hard work and unwavering commitment to our democracy.

Mr. President, I am writing to you and copying to several agencies in your administration and New Mexico state government regarding Valle Vidal, a beautiful 100,000-acre property in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in northern New Mexico that is managed by the Carson National Forest. This area is significant to me because my paternal grandmother’s family settled there in the 1800s in an area known as Peña Flor.

The online description of Valle Vidal encourages visitors to visit “the crown jewel of the forest service properties” in northern New Mexico to enjoy the area’s conifer and aspen forests, herds of elk and black bear, and wild turkey. Valle Vidal offers recreational activities such as camping, backpacking, horseback riding, fly-fishing, hunting and trekking, but it is also utilized by outfitters and by cattlemen for grazing livestock. The tourism and industry generated by the area contribute economically to the local communities with needed jobs and local industries. However, since the park is extremely difficult to access, only the intrepid dare to visit because of the rudimentary access roads and safety concerns posed by these road conditions in case of emergencies.

The western access route, NM State Road 196, is maintained by the NM DOT as it runs east through the villages of Costilla and Amalia in northern Taos County. However, as the road leaves Amalia, it is no longer a state road but is a shared road between the Forest Service and the privately-owned Rio Costilla Cooperative Livestock Association Park (RCCLA). The Forest Service has a contractual agreement with the RCCLA to maintain the road as it winds through RCCLA property on its way to Valle Vidal. However, the local Forest Service administration cites a lack of resources and personnel for its inability to fulfill its contractual obligation to keep the road graded and maintained. Due to lack of maintenance, the road is in a horrendous washboard condition that causes damage to trucks, campers, RVs, large cattle trailers, and emergency vehicles as they attempt to access the parks. As the road further deteriorates, there is a corresponding diminishing number of visitors who are willing to risk their vehicles and their safety to enjoy the beauty of Valle Vidal and RCCLA Park. Many locals, including my family, are reluctant to risk damage to our vehicles and lose out on the benefits of the beautiful natural environment minutes from our homes. These factors adversely affect our well-being and the local economy of northern Taos County and the state of New Mexico.

For the reasons stated above, there is a strong argument for designating Valle Vidal as a National Park under the auspices of the United States Department of the Interior with funding to provide infrastructure such as adequate roads to improve access to this crown jewel. This would allow more visitors and residents to enjoy the beautiful natural environment while becoming aware of the historical significance of this area to the local community. Additionally, the economic boost to the local and state economies would be invaluable.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. Please contact me if you need further information.

Arthur E. Gallegos

President Joseph R. Biden
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500

Copies to:
Tom Vilsack, US Secretary of Agriculture
Deb Haaland, US Secretary of the Interior
Randy Moore, Chief, US Forest Service
US Senator Ben Ray Lujan
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham
Jack Lewis, Supervisor, Carson National Forest, Region 3
Adam Ladell, Ranger.
Carson National Forest, Questa District
Rio Costilla Cooperative Livestock Association
Questa Del Rio News