San Juan Basin Badlands Update

Penistaja Badlands 1

Our intrepid Badlands explorer, Mike Richie, made a major effort in October and November to introduce these spectacular badlands to more individuals through a series of independent Saturday and Sunday hikes every weekend, drawing many newcomers as well as those already hooked by these other-worldly landscapes.

The weather gets a bit too iffy in January, but come February we will resume our Sierra Club Badlands outings. Tom Petencin, Central Group leader, has kindly agreed to show us the northern section of La Lena Wilderness Study Area Badlands on Saturday, Feb. 5, and take us on an exploratory hike on Mesa Chijuilla Badlands on Sunday, March 6. See the Outings page for details (

The BLM’s Rio Puerco Field Office is hoping to send its new draft Resource Management Plan to D.C. for approval by the end of December and anticipates a publication date in early spring. We hope to see some language protective of the Badlands. Stay tuned for alerts once the plan is out—your comments will be invaluable.

Meanwhile, the Rio Grande Chapter has reactivated its “seat at the table” for the Rio Puerco Management Committee, which for 10 years has worked with local tribes and pueblos, federal and state agencies, nonprofits and private landowners to help restore the health of the badly eroded riparian areas along the muddy Rio Puerco, which wends it way through the Badlands. I have agreed to be the interim representative but would welcome anyone interested in this volunteer position on a very diverse and very active, community-oriented committee.

Look for an April date for willow planting along the Rio Puerco near the Ojo Encino Navajo Chapter, which the Chapter has participated in the prior 2 years.

By Norma McCallan, Chapter Vice Chair