Clean Water at the Caldera?

The creeks of the Jemez Mountains are some of the most important and sought-after waters in northern New Mexico. The Jemez River flows from the Valles Caldera to the lowlands where both Jemez and Zia Pueblos draw from the waters before they flow toward the Rio Grande. The clear waters of the Valles Caldera support fish and numerous invertebrate and algae species, which in turn support a variety of non-game fish. Fishing is an important activity for many Caldera visitors who value the narrow creeks for their challenge and their exceptional setting.

We are happy to know that our partners at the Western Environmental Law Center succeeded in having the East Fork of the Jemez River, San Antonio Creek, and Redondo Creek within the Valles Caldera National Preserve designated Outstanding National Resource Waters under New Mexico law.

Sixty percent of San Antonio Creek flows in the Valles Caldera while over forty percent of the Jemez River lies within the Preserve. These creeks support native Rio Grande chub, Rio Grande sucker, and longnose dace. The chub and the sucker are “at risk” populations and native cutthroat trout are consider extirpated within the Preserve though they could be reintroduced. Scientists have not found fathead minnows in the Preserve though this is possible habitat.

The Outstanding National Resource Waters designation is meant to protect water quality in designated rivers from new pollution sources. That means than any road building or cattle grazing that introduces pollution into the creeks will face state review and restriction. Water quality in the Valles Caldera is already failing state standards because of trespass cattle grazing and watershed damage caused by decades of overgrazing before the federal government obtained the land.

Caldera Action is working to rid the Preserve of illegal trespass cattle grazing to help the National Park Service achieve its watershed restoration goals.

In 2024 we plan to make water quality in the VCNP a key focus of our work.

The Valles Caldera Loses Devout Friend in Diane Albert

Diane Albert, longtime Caldera Action supporter and advocate for the Valles Caldera passed away in Ranchos de Albuquerque recently. She had been a Los Alamos County Counselor in the 1990s and an advocate for federal management of the Valles Caldera. She was a former member of the Board of Trustees with the National Parks Conservation Association. We will miss her.

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