Farmington BLM Embraces Chapter’s Badlands Initiative

San Juan Badlands 4

Feb 2010 - Progress has been steady regarding the Rio Grande Chapter's efforts to protect the San Juan Basin Badlands. The most important new development is the Farmington BLM Field Office's enthusiastic endorsement of our San Juan Basin Badlands Initiative goals.

Following an informal meeting between Badlands activist Mike Richie, BLM Regional Paleontologist Pat Hester, and several personnel from the Farmington BLM Field Office, including Branch Chief Dale Wirth, the Farmington Office has decided to explore various short-term protective measures for several badlands in their district. They are also looking at longer-term solutions like the National Landscape Conservation System or even National Monument status. Considering the Rio Puerco Field Office's prior commitment to do the same, this means that all 10 San Juan Basin Badlands currently in question are now under consideration for additional protection.

The Farmington BLM Office is sponsoring a "fact-finding tour" of Lybrook Badlands on March 17. Participants will include representatives from the Rio Puerco BLM Field Office, the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Native Plant Societies of New Mexico and Southwestern Colorado, the George Wright Society, and the Southwest Regional Office of the Wilderness Society. Everyone is invited: contact sjbbadlands@comcast.net for time and directions.

We will soon begin gathering GPS data to obtain map able boundary lines for the five (or more) San Juan Basin Badlands, which currently have no official designation. Ceja Pelon Petrified Forest, in the Rio Puerco Resource Area, and Lybrook Badlands, in the Farmington Resource Area, are the first candidates for this effort. Several likely additions to the current 10 San Juan Basin Badlands are also being considered, for example, La Lena, Cejita Blanca, and Crow Mesa areas.

We are actively seeking volunteers to help with any part of this initial inventory phase. Contact Mike Richie at 505-255-1016 or sjbbadlands@comcast.net for more information.

And don't forget our next Badlands hike on Saturday, March 13. It will be an easy/moderate tour of the Penistaja Mesa Badlands, near Cuba, with guest leader Mike Richie. This is a remote BLM gem, with a labyrinth of canyons, fantastic hoodoos along the mesa edges, huge petrified wood stumps, early mammal fossils, and three mysterious huge cairns. We will be driving from Santa Fe via Bernalillo, where we can pick up folks from Albuquerque. Dogs OK. To reserve a spot, contact Norma McCallan (505/471-0005). —Mike Richie