Passionately tied to their Patria Chica,
or local homeland, the Cerrillos Hills Park Coalition serves as stewards of this
land and of the vision of the Park. The organization assures that the park
enriches all those who visit and experience it, inspiring them to protect these
hills and their history for all generations to come. The Coalition is a resource
for the community in accessing this rich heritage for its own pride, development,
CHPC Position on Proposed Hydrocarbon Exploration and Production
in and within the Vicinity of the Cerrillos Hills Historic Park
December 5, 2007
This paper highlights the position of the Cerrillos Hills Park
Coalition that stands in opposition to any zoning or permitting of oil and gas
exploration in the Cerrillos Hills Historic Park and vicinity. This paper speaks
particularly to the potential impacts from the oil and gas industry upon the Park.
Our position takes into consideration the following:
The Cerrillos Hills Historic Park is the largest of Santa Fe County's open
space projects, a County park transitioning to becoming a NM State Park, and should
be especially well protected. According to the feasibility study prepared in
conjunction with the decision to transition the County Park to a State Park unofficial
counts of visitation are approximately 12,000 to 15,000 people per year. On a typical
weekend day, it is estimated that approximately 100 people visit the site. On a typical
weekday, it is estimated that approximately 25 people visit the park. Approximately
33% to 50% of these visits are believed to be by local residents. The way the Park
continues to be developed, and how it affords opportunities to the residents of Santa
Fe County, sets a precedent. How the Park is cared for and evolved will shape the
opinions of many Santa Fe County residents about the effectiveness and value of open
The historic Cerrillos Mining District (CMD), which has played such a significant
role in the early evolution of New Mexico, has itself evolved to become one of the
preeminent cultural attractions in our state. With the inclusion of the CMD in the New
Mexico Register of Cultural Properties [Feb 20, 1973] and the opening of the Santa Fe
County Cerrillos Hills Historic Park [May 24, 2003], this region has become the preserve
of our collective past.
The Park will, as visitation increases, offer economic development opportunities
to the villages and surrounding areas.
The planned Heritage Center will provide exposure to many other archeological
and ecotourism assets of the Galisteo Basin.
"Clean" recreational and commercial economic development in the
Cerrillos/Galisteo Basin area will definitely be handicapped if hydrocarbon exploration
and development is permitted in the area. There is ample evidence that the impacts of
oil and gas exploration and production can have severe consequences to both the surface
Surface impacts could include the clearing of large tracts of land for
"exploratory" drilling pads with vertical and directional drilling rigs, toxic
waste pits, and access roads --all likewise ruinous to archeological preservation. Due to
necessary gas flaring, the risk of fire hazard is considerable. Flaring would also impair
the viewing of the magnificent New Mexico night sky from the Park. Other surface impacts
would include impacts from heavy truck traffic upon the Waldo Canyon Road and Turquoise
Trail National Scenic Byway-the major access to the park and communities.
We are especially concerned about the possibility of a gas pipeline running along
any Cerrillos Hills Historical Park access road or in the vicinity of the Park. Such
pipelines come with noxious air pollution, fire dangers with the risk of explosions, and
much environmental destruction from construction. We encourage County ordinances with
zoning to prohibit these threats--zoning that would remove the possibility of pipelines
running through archeology sites, County open spaces and parks.
Subsurface impacts due to drilling and fracing could result in the spoiling or
depletion of the groundwater resources including the sensitive riparian areas including
the springs within the Park. The reality of the complex mineralogy of the area greatly
increases the risk of water contamination. One of the minerals that is very prevalent is
lead and the risk of lead entering water supplies is something to be taken very seriously.
Toxic impacts to both surface and subsurface could be expected. Such impacts would
include a reduction in air and water quality, as well as soil contamination. The practice
of fracing must be prohibited. Heavy truck traffic would generate dust, diesel, noise,
traffic and the possibility of accidents. These impacts would likely discourage Park
visitation and pose safety hazards to wildlife and anticipated Park users from elementary
school groups to horseback riders. Such industrial activities would pose long term risks
of to "life, safety and public welfare."
Contrary to industry claims that target areas are already zoned for such extractive
uses, we note that the Santa Fe County Code 30 map only includes a small area where hard
rock mining was previously permitted and does not cover any of the areas where oil and gas
is now proposed and certainly is nowhere near the Cerrillos Hills Historical Park. An
earlier designation of the "Cerrillos Mining District (CMD)" was an organization
of convenience to the 1880s "pick & shovel" miners for sorting out modest
claims and locating boundaries. The CMD does NOT now nor never did imply a zoning
preference encompassing large areas for mining.
The Park creates a sanctuary for the prehistoric and historic mine sites that make
the historic Cerrillos Mining District a rare and unique place that will attract visitors
from all over for many years to come. The tri-cultural heritage of the Hills and the park
reflect and honor more than five centuries of intertwined history among Native Americans,
Hispanics and Anglos. By honoring historical pick & shovel mining, the residents of the
area can keep continuity with the mining past without destroying the historical sites or
their present environment.
TRANSITION TO SUSTAINABILITY
One of the important functions of the Cerrillos Hills Historic Park is to conserve and
protect the unique remains in these hills of the long heritage of New Mexican traditional
and historical mining. In this way, our children and all Americans will be helped to know
their roots, and look upon the marks of those who made this land and know their story. It
is our aim and our hope that the Park will, while honoring past pick & shovel mining and
retaining the record of the historic Cerrillos Mining District, serve to aid the transition
from recent high-impact industrial mining in the area to a park-centered economy more in
keeping with the rural nature of the local communities.
It is our responsibility as stewards of the park to make our observations known to those
who have authority in the matter. Therefore we submit the following:
We strongly recommend against any proposed zoning for oil and gas exploration in the
Cerrillos Hills Historic Park and vicinity and denial of all permit requests to initiate
oil and gas activities.
We note that additional areas including joint use of adjacent BLM and potentially
nearby State parcels, are all but accomplished for future inclusion in the CHHP. We request
that those who are currently stewards of land that will become part of the CHHP refrain
from leasing mineral and oil and gas rights so as to protect the future integrity of the
We note that oil and gas activities outside of the immediate area of the Park, and
within a reasonable buffer zone, would necessarily compromise the mission of the Park.
Odors, toxic gases and residues from flaring, constant noise, dust and dirt, ground
disturbance and damage to historical landscape, traffic, light pollution, etc. would have
a serious negative impact upon the historical park and surrounds. We request that the
negative impact to CHHP use be considered as part of any economic assessment of the impact
of oil and gas activities in the Galisteo Basin.
We recommend recreation and tourism be fostered in this community for their long-term,
sustainable economic and quality of life benefits.
We recommend that whenever proposals affecting this area might come before agencies
for consideration, that importance of this unique and irreplaceable cultural, historical,
natural and recreational resource, the Cerrillos Hills Historic Park, be fairly represented
for its value and importance to the community and all of New Mexico.
CHPC Position on the Park & Mining in the Cerrillos Hills -
April 5, 2000
As submitted to the Santa Fe County Board of
County Commissioners (BCC)
The paper below highlights the position of
the Cerrillos Hills Park Coalition in regards to commercial mining in the Hills
and speaks particularly to the impact of the Cerrillos Gravel Pit upon the park.
In summary our position reflects the following:
The Cerrillos Hills Historic Park will likely be the first, and is certainly
the largest, of Santa Fe County's open space projects. The way it is developed,
and how it affords opportunities to the residents of Santa Fe County, is highly
precedential. The Park ought to be developed right and well, as it will shape the
opinions of many county residents about the effectiveness and value of open
The Park will, as visitation increases, offer economic development
opportunities to the Village and surrounding area
"Clean" recreational and commercial economic development in the
Cerrillos/Galisteo Basin area is likely to be handicapped if heavy truck traffic,
dust and noise from commercial mining operations continue in the Hills long-term.
The earlier designation of the "Cerrillos Mining District" was an organization
of convenience to miners for sorting out claims and locating boundaries and does
not now nor never did imply a zoning preference for mining. The current inclusion
of the Hills in the "New Mexico Register of Cultural Properties" supersedes the
earlier designation and is fitting with the current Park intent of historic
preservation, education, and land reclamation.
Continued operation of CGP with its accompanying heavy truck traffic is likely
to discourage visitation and poses discomfort and safety hazards to anticipated
park users, such as elementary school groups, handicapped users coming to enjoy
the picnic area, families with small children, and horsebackriders. Such operation
poses long term risks of "life, safety and public welfare."
Damage to the land bordering Highway 59 (Gravel Pit Road) in Cerrillos has
occurred. Reclamation of those lands, and especially of the 2 sensitive riparian
areas bordering the road, will be made more difficult with continued heavy
equipment traffic. These two year-round flowing springs are among the strongest
reliable ground water sources in the Cerrillos Village area.
Win/win alternatives to the requested CGP resumption of mining operations are
available and can benefit the County, property owners and public officials.
With the initial purchase of over 1000 acres for Cerrillos
Hills Historic Park CHPC, would like to thank Santa Fe County Commissioners for
supporting this important project. The creation of the park gives the economically
depressed area including and around Cerrillos Village its first opportunity for a
sustainable economy, and it does so in a manner that is compatible with our
peaceful and rural environment. The Park represents the natural growth of the
area's inherent potentialities, and perhaps at the same time offers a simple and
convenient resolution to the conflicts that arise when modern large-scale mining
occurs in a rural area.
The Park creates a sanctuary for the prehistoric and historic mine sites that make
the historic Cerrillos Mining District a rare and unique place that will attract
visitors from all over for many years to come. The tri-cultural heritage of the
Hills and the park reflect and honor more than five centuries of intertwined
history among Native Americans, Hispanics and Anglos. By honoring mining in this
context, the villages of Cerrillos and Madrid can keep continuity with their
mining past without destroying it or their present environment.
Ancient mine sites are rare because they are so often obliterated by subsequent
mining, and modern mining techniques are capable of the destruction of vast tracts
of land in a very short period. It is with this in mind that CHPC would like to
make a distinction between the historic Cerrillos Mining District (CMD) and places
that are more appropriate for today's large-scale mining.
In 1973 the Cerrillos Mining District was placed on the New Mexico Register of
Cultural Properties, a designation meant to honor its history and one that is
appropriate with the intent of the current park -- preservation of the cultural,
archaeological and geological resources of the Cerrillos Hills.
The Coalition is concerned that some special interests may be trying to rewrite
the definition of this historic mining district for their own purposes. According
to the proceedings of the founding meeting of the Cerrillos Mining District on
March 27, 1879 its purpose was to define an area within which rules and
regulations governing the location of mining claims would apply. The designation
of the Cerrillos Mining District of the 1800s should not be mistaken for today's
zoning practices. The CMD was organized to bring order to a contemporary mining
boom, not to dedicate this area solely to mining for all time. Indeed mines always
play out and mining interests move on to new fields. Now that mining has all but
ceased in the Cerrillos area we have seen the arrival of many private residences,
rancherķas, and small businesses; and more are on the way. This evolution of land
use is not new, and it is why zoning designations are periodically reexamined and
For most of its very long history "pick and shovel" was the most widespread mining
technique, leaving many holes but little impact on land surface. In spite of this
long history recent aerial views of the Cerrillos Hills show little evidence of
human activity. There are two notable exceptions. One is the very remarkable
turquoise mines of Mt. Chalchihuitl, a monument to incredible human endeavor
accomplished primarily with stone tools. The other, much more in evidence, is the
until-recently-active gravel pit.
Mining in the Hills after the boom of the 1880s was sporadic and the Cash Entry
Mine, the last commercial operation before the advent of the CGP gravel operation,
closed almost 70 years ago. Coal in Madrid provided mining jobs until the 1950s,
but when that mine closed Madrid became a ghost town (more often then not the fate
of communities whose economic base is mining), and the population of Cerrillos
Village dwindled to the point that it lost its public schools. Although families
with ties to mining in the past still live here, the quiet beauty of the area has
attracted a new population with a new outlook and with new priorities; an infusion
of new spirit into a region of New Mexico that has witnessed so much.
The following points reflect our positions and concerns with regard to recent
large-scale mining by Cerrillos Gravel Products et al. in the Cerrillos Hills.
This position paper is prompted by the concern that the CHPC interest in historic
mining-site preservation may be misrepresented as encouraging large-scale
industrial mining in the Cerrillos Hills.
Although CHPC has not previously taken a position on the recently active CGP
gravel mine in the Hills, its existence has been difficult to ignore. The access
to the park, CR 59, officially only an eighteen-foot wide prescriptive easement,
has suffered in recent years from the heavy impact of industrial truck traffic
from this mine. The operations of the CGP gravel pit itself have been determined
to egregiously exceed the permissions of the BCC and raised fears for the safety
of the visitors to the Park and of the larger local environment. Although mine
manager Greg Upton has always been gracious in allowing access to sites on CGP
property, the operational program of the mine, in our opinion, appears to have
been executed without due regard for written agreements or environmental
The original BCC permit for a small 3-acre local gravel supplier in a corner of
a quiet rural area with an age-old tradition of small-scale mining might have been
appropriate. What might have continued as a semi-benign operation clearly got out
of hand when a subcontract was let to a large gravel supplier. This has had a very
serious impact on the surrounding land and on the lives and serenity of this
rural area. Additionally, it appears that this local gravel has been mined
excessively to the benefit of an out-of-area interest. This operation is out of
balance with any local benefits. It is now appropriate for the BCC to look at the
matter of mining in the Hills with a fresh perspective that identifies the
impacts of such mining on an historic mining district and upon their newly created
Prior to the suspension of operations of this mine the CHPC was compelled to
consider, for reasons of public safety and public health, opening the Park on
weekends only. An operational gravel mine, by impeding full access to the Park
throughout the week, will have clearly detrimental effects on the visitation to
the park, and thereby detrimental effects on the economies and recreational
benefits of the people in the area. Constant heavy-laden truck traffic, as has
been typical of such mines, creates safety, noise and dust hazards that are
inimical and inappropriate to the ambiance, the operations, and the safety of the
The Coalition also hopes that the BCC will direct the County to review and
consider whether portions of the hillside along the verges of CR 59 that impact
the visual and eco-biology of the area inside of and immediately surrounding the
park have, in conjunction with mining operations, been inappropriately removed or
damaged. The CHPC is very concerned for the reclamation of this area inasmuch as
all the people using CR 59 will be exposed to it.
State Route 14, newly-designated as the Turquoise Trail Scenic Byway and
substantially the only access route for all visitors to the Park, will, as tourist
and local traffic increases, become less and less suited to the constant caravans
of heavy mining-truck traffic. Fortunately, if these trucks must run there is a
nearby alternative for them and it is available now; I-25.
HOBBY MINING SUPPORTED
In keeping with the accommodation of traditional uses of the Hills the CHPC
supports individual small-scale hobby prospecting (and associated reclamation
activities) in areas where it is already taking place. The Coalition does, however,
oppose damage or degradation of traditional and historical features in the
Cerrillos Hills by any mining operations. Furthermore, we are working with the
Bureau of Land Management which is considering a reduction or cessation of the
issuance of mining leases in the Cerrillos Hills. Our motive for reducing and
eventually eliminating the creation of new mines is to preserve the record of the
past, to simplify facilities management, and to enhance public safety and reduce
IMPACT OF OLD VS NEW MINING TECHNIQUES
It is important to remember that mining in the Cerrillos Hills was traditionally
done with pick and shovel or limited underground shafts (Cash Entry Mine). The
historic Cerrillos Mining District's ancient mines, as educational and tourist
attractions, are in our view, of higher value and are of a much longer-term value
to the community than a few more years of extractive gravel mining. The difference
of in environmental impact for these traditional mining techniques compared to
modern mining techniques is enormous. The Coalition believes the present
agricultural and limited residential zoning around the park is significantly more
compatible with park activities than industrial mining zoning.
Mining by its speculative and extractive nature is episodic, a tale of boom and
bust. The history of mining is the tale of many, many hard-working diggers and a
very, very few who receive significant wealth. After over a century of boom &
bust mining, Cerrillos village economy is all but nonexistent. One of the brightest
promises of the Cerrillos Hills Historic Park is that the Park, by its existence,
will provide a continuing and a truly sustainable economy for the entire Cerrillos
area, one that will not depend upon the vagaries of lodes or veins nor the
momentary demand for a particular material nor the pressures of the fickle market.
The Park will be a constant and sustainable and nondestructive source of employment
and enjoyment for our citizens and it will benefit all the people of the area far,
far into the future.
One of the important functions of the Cerrillos Hills Historic Park is to
conserve and protect the unique remains in these hills of the long heritage of
New Mexican traditional and historical mining. In this way so that our children
and all Americans will may be helped to know their roots, and look upon the marks
of those who made this land and know their story. It is our aim and our hope that
this new Park will, while honoring past mining and retaining the record of the
historic Cerrillos Mining District, serve to abet the transition from recent
high-impact industrial mining in the area to a park-centered economy more in
keeping with the rural nature of the local communities.
We feel it is our responsibility as stewards of the park to make our observations
known to those who have authority in the matter. Therefore we respectfully submit
the following, and thank you for you consideration:
We recommend recreation and tourism be fostered in this community for their
long-term, sustainable economic and quality of life benefits.
We recommend that when considering actions in this district due weight be
given to the Cerrillos Mining District being on the NM Register of Cultural
Properties, and to the unique role of the Cerrillos District in the history of
We recommend against opening new commercial mining in the Cerrillos Hills.
We recommend against further expansion of the 3-acre mining zone now in
effect at CGP.
We recommend the BCC order a review to determine whether portions of the
hillside along CR 59 that impact the area inside and immediately adjacent to the
Park have been removed or damaged as part of the mining operation.
We offer to CGP assistance from CHPC in the reclamation of the currently
disturbed land lying beyond their permitted 3-acre mining zone, and when the day
finally arrives, assistance in the reclamation of their original 3 acres as well.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (October 16, 2000)
CONTACT: Linda Murnik 438-7784
THE CERRILLOS HILLS PARK COALITION RECEIVES NATIONAL AWARD FOR LOCAL GREENWAY
Cerrillos, New Mexico -- The Cerrillos Hills Park Coalition
received a national honor with a grant from the Kodak America Greenway Awards
Program in Arlington, VA. The $1,500 grant will help provide for the information
kiosk at the entrance to the Cerrillos Hills Historic Park, the new 1,100 acre
Santa Fe County open-space park located on the edge of the Village of Cerrillos
about 25 miles south of Santa Fe. In addition to the grant award, the Cerrillos
Hills Park Coalition will be showcased as a national model for its innovative
efforts to develop a Santa Fe County greenway in the Cerrillos Hills.
The Kodak American Greenway Awards, administered by The Conservation Fund, provide
small grants of up to $2,500 to non-profit organizations and government agencies
to help develop new action oriented greenway projects. The Kodak Awards provide
seed money to spark creativity in conservation, outdoor recreation, trail and
The Cerrillos Hills Park Coalition is one of only 35 groups chosen nationwide for
an award for their innovative local efforts to establish a dedicated environment,
in this case in the Cerrillos Hills, where the people of New Mexico can both enjoy
the beauties of nature and explore their multi-cultured history.
"This is a tremendous help to us," says Claire Fulenwider, Chair of the Cerrillos
Hills Park Coalition. "Because the Hills have not until now been accessible and
the Park is so large, we have been concerned about all our new visitors receiving
adequate and accurate information to guide their visits. This Kodak-Greenway kiosk
will be a great way to acquaint everyone with what's out there and the uniqueness
of the hills environment."
According to The Conservation Fund's Chairman of the Board, Patrick F. Noonan,
"The projects selected this year represent some of the best grassroots conservation
and greenway development efforts in the Untied States. TCF supports these local
initiatives because they are thoughtful, action-oriented projects that will serve
as models for other communities around the country."
The Kodak American Greenway Awards are made possible through the generous support
of the Eastman Kodak Company. The Kodak American Greenway Awards Grants Review
Committee consisted of conservation experts from around the country and was
overseen by The Conservation Fund. The committee selected grant recipients from
199 applications from 32 states and the District of Columbia.
Since 1985, The Conservation Fund has protected more than 2 million acres of
wildlife habitat, open space and historic sites, including land on 26 Civil War
battlefields. The Fund's mission is to work with other nonprofit organizations,
public agencies, corporations and private landowners to safeguard America's land
and water resources.
This website is maintained by the Cerrillos
Hills Park Coalition
and is dedicated to the creation, enhancement and stewardship
of an historical, recreational, and cultural open space in
Cerrillos Hills, Santa Fe County, New Mexico, USA