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CALDERA OPTIONS
Good for the Preserve, Good for the Community
    
The magnetic draw of the ruggedly beautiful Valles Caldera has historically attracted nature lovers; most of whom are more interested in the picturesque landscape than the sight of yet another $13 million luxury hotel.  These discerning individuals are thrilled by the likelihood that they will encounter native wildlife, and hopeful that the serenity of such a place will result in a connection to the earth that will be instilled in their children.  The very idea that "glamping" might be offered on the VC is offensive to the tough, self-motivated character of the average visitor.  It is certainly far-removed from the character of the land itself; and with the growing intensity of winds in the area, the proposed tents could actually be a danger, almost certainly a waste of money.  Perhaps for safety's sake alone, the trust should invest in locally-made teepees; which are easily mobile and would allow the land to recover quickly from disturbances.  Three ideas that better maintain the integrity, character and spirit of the Valles Caldera:

1.  Wildfire Risk Reduction via Draft-Horse Restorative Forestry
Benefits to the VCNP, surrounding communities & the general public:
• worst-first, single-tree selection culls weak and dead trees, mimicking nature’s technique of clearing the forest with storms, wind, fire, etc.
• forest is allowed to retain a naturally diverse selection of tree species in its inventory; enhanced ecosystem health & resiliency results
• water quality protected from non-point sources of pollution inevitably resulting from conventional forestry
• optimizing raw forest products toward production of highly marketable essential oils, botanicals, & nutraceuticals assists collaborators in establishing sound economic foundation
• would allow for the production of a lucrative line of environmental cleaning products featuring various oils, such as pine
• generates public awareness of community/forest interdependence, promotes mutually beneficial relationships between the two
• general consensus of recent public opinion has reflected willingness to pay to watch woodsmen at work
• ultimate program viability would be achieved by the establishment of an International Training Facility; much interest has been proffered by countries such as China, Russia, New Zealand, Scotland and others
• community members would be expertly trained at directional tree felling, draft horse logging, grading, negotiating, marketing/sales, record keeping
• communities would cultivate sustainable legacies that produce capital by rewarding forest stewardship skills & protection of the environment
• locally grown hay and grain are fuel for this program, low start-up costs enable landowners to participate in "eco-industry" without incurring high debt
• collaboration with a spray nutraceutical company (Vitamist) would result in economic & health benefits 
Social Benefits:
• allows the rescue of perfectly healthy horses otherwise destined for slaughter
• would encourage survival of endangered Suffolk Punch draft breed

2.  Equine Facilitated Learning Program
Social Benefits:

• provides for acquisition, gentling & employment of wild horses caught in BLM's wild horse roundup
• preserve could provide valuable therapy animals for clinically proven programs targeting needs of citizens with Down's syndrome, autism, Cerebral Palsy, etc.
• notably beneficial to soldiers returning from war with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as well as Traumatic Brain Injury
• community members employed to train & gentle horses
Benefits to the VCNP:
• as EFL gains in popularity, horses could be sold for a profit to one of many programs throughout the country
• donations to VCNP are far more likely to come from a program such as this, rather than the luxury equestrian camps proposed by Entrix

3.  Zipline Ecotourism Venture
Benefits to the VCNP & the general public:

• a zipline would offer a new perspective and experience within the VC's education & conservation message
• creates far less of an environmental impact than conventional forms of tourism; such as off-road atv's & 4-wheel-drives
• relatively low start-up cost and swift installation would likely provide the preserve with a daily windfall of several thousand dollars
• in the majority of zip-lined recreational areas, the number of visitors has increased, as has revenue 
• with few ziplines in the U.S., and very few in New Mexico, there is little competition
• provides thrill-seekers the exhilarating opportunity to zip through the treetop canopy with invigorating momentum
• employment for local population

Email:  CalderaOptions@yahoo.com
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You may also voice your opinion or support for these programs by visiting the
Valles Caldera National Preserve website: 
http://www.vallescaldera.gov/misc/contact.aspx
or by email at:  info@vallescaldera.gov
or call (505) 661-3333.

 

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