Administrative History
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The pendulum slowly swung in favor of the Park Service. New Mexicans made the park a priority. Morrow was a long-time supporter of the various Pajarito Plateau proposals and state Government officials were also showing renewed interest. The Office of the Governor of New Mexico asked Edgar L. Hewett to provide a comprehensive report on the situation. With Hewett's continued support, the project stood an excellent chance of success. On December 8, 1925, he presented a preliminary report to Temple's committee that indicated that he still supported Nusbaum's conception of a park that "made the Forestry people gasp." His report to the Governor reaffirmed this stance, strongly emphasizing the need for more than archeological ruins to make a national park of the first order. [31] Hewett echoed the mainstream perspective of the agency, and his support made it likely to prevail.

Under the auspices of the Coordinating Committee, conciliation became the order of the day. But even with representatives of both agencies trying to work out an acceptable solution, there was little progress in 1926. Neither agency offered reasonable concessions. Early that year, Arthur Ringland, who served as the secretary for Temple's committee, became impatient with the lack of progress. He informed Hewett that the National Park Service was going to send a "Park Officer . . . to determine the feasibility of a National Park in the [Bandelier] region." [32]

There was only one man with the degree of knowledge and the level of responsibility this job demanded. Frank Pinkley's Park Service credentials were impeccable. No one questioned his devotion and loyalty. He had been an integral part of the Service's most difficult decade. On April 4, 1927, he wired his acceptance to Cammerer. After receiving the files concerning the monument and the range of park proposals, he embarked on an inspection tour that included most of the leading southwestern national monuments and the Pajarito Plateau.

Although Pinkley's autonomy and outspokenness occasionally made the hierarchy of the agency uneasy, the central administration of the Park Service had great confidence in him. They expected that as a good Park Service man, Pinkley would echo the departmental line on the proposed park; that he would report that a large park, containing more than archeological ruins, was essential. According to the standards Mather and Albright established, a national park on the Pajarito must be archaeologically significant, scenically spectacular, and comparable to the rest of the flagship category. Anything less than a park that took in everything of interest on the Pajarito Plateau, from Puye to Otowi to the Baca Location #1, was unacceptable. These rigid requirements limited the options of the agency. The Park Service could not compromise about size if it wanted to achieve park status, for it might end up with a national park parallel to insignificant places like Platt or Wind Cave. A national park on the Pajarito Plateau had to rival the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Yosemite.

But Albright did not count upon Pinkley's commitment to the concept of the national monuments as a distinct category. "Boiled down," Pinkley wrote after his trip, "my report on the proposed Cliff Cities National Park is that the scenery is not of park status and ruins do not make a national park, not in any number, kind or quantity; they make a monument." He reiterated his long-standing contention that the ruins were inferior to those at the Chaco Canyon and the Mesa Verde and suggested that Bandelier was of more interest to scientists than the general public. "It would be a distinct anti-climax for the average visitor to come from the Mesa Verde to the proposed Cliff Cities National Park," Pinkley told Mather, and there was little in the way of exceptional scenery in the proposed area. Most of it could "be duplicated several times over" in the Southwest. Since the Frijoles ruins were already protected as a national monument, Pinkley thought it best that the Park Service assume administrative responsibility for the area. But in a heretical stance, he asserted, "I would rather see them left as a monument under [the Forest] Service than be transferred to ours as a Park."

Pinkley found little support for his position in Santa Fe. In his view supporters of project thought of the "proposed park in monument terms for when I suggested that we make a monument out of Puye and Frijoles [Canyon] and let them make a park out of the fine scenery which . . . was back on the Jemez Mountains to the west and south, they immediately said that such an idea would weaken the park proposition." When Pinkley suggested that the ruins were national monument material, the park supporters pointed to Mesa Verde as evidence to the contrary. "I could only reply that national monuments are clearly defined by the [Antiquities] Act . . . while parks are not . . . so if Congress in its wisdom wanted to make a national park out of a duck pond that could be done but it would be no argument for making a national park out of every duck pond in the country." [33]

Pinkley's vision of the national monuments as equals of the national parks shaped his position. As far as he was concerned, the scenery and the ruins on the Pajarito Plateau were second-class, national monuments and national parks were two separate concepts, and the Bandelier conversion attempt represented an effort to minimize the differences. Pinkley could not condone the park effort. His position as superintendent of the national monuments made him feel as threatened as the Forest Service. The park idea was inflexible; it left no room for compromise. If the Bandelier region became a national park, Pinkley knew that the agency would soon look at other southwestern national monuments with the same purpose in mind.

Pinkley's report came as a major surprise to the strong pro-park element in the National Park Service. Horace Albright, the leading proponent of the park, thought that Pinkley took too narrow a view of the question, seeing it from an archeological perspective instead of from the "broader standpoint of a national park executive." [34] Albright suggested Nusbaum, whom he could count upon, as a more qualified judge of the situation. Exhausted by the earlier fray, Nusbaum was too busy at Mesa Verde to take on added responsibilities.

The rift in the ranks posed a problem for advocates of the park on the Pajarito Plateau. They could not go on promoting the proposal as if they had the unanimous support of the agency. The Park Service could not even approach the Coordinating Commission, for it lacked the unified front that was necessary to sway the Forest Service. As a result, the agency finessed the rest of 1927, allowing the term of the Coordinating Commission to expire and keeping Pinkley's report out of the public eye. Even friends of the agency were kept in the dark. On January 17, 1928, Hewett wrote the Park Service to find out if the project was still under consideration. More than half a year after Pinkley's report, the most important friend of the agency did not even know that the inspection was complete. Mather responded to Hewett's inquiry by offering the traditional response concerning park proposals on the Pajarito. He complained that "the lack of a definite proposal" hurt the project. If Hewett had a clearly defined proposal, the agency "would be glad to present [it] for some definite action." [35]

The question hung in a limbo imposed by the Park Service until late 1930, when Albright commissioned another study of the area. Roger Toll, the superintendent of Rocky Mountain National Park and the primary inspector of national park proposals in the West, M. R. Tillotson, the superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park, and Nusbaum went to Bandelier to make another report on the proposal. Surprisingly, their report supported Pinkley's position. In their view, the scenery was not "sufficiently unusual and outstanding" to merit national park status. "The choice," Toll wrote, "seems to be between having a large and important national monument and a rather small and unimportant national park." [36] Although Associate Director Arno B. Cammerer thought that the agency should "aim high and then if necessary come down to what is possible to acquire," the report finally convinced Albright to put aside the park plans. [37] On January 2, 1931, he wrote that he was "inclined to favor the national monument idea [because] the reports which we have now before us have quite convinced me that we had better not try to get a national park in this section, at least not now." [38]

Even experts hired by the agency supported Pinkley. On February 10, 1931, Dr. Clark Wissler of the American Museum of Natural History and a member of the Committee on the Study of Educational Problems in the National Parks, suggested that the Park Service should "emphasize the archeological function of the proposed park [which] relieves us of the necessity to combat the argument that the area lacks distinctive natural scenery. . . . The park can scarcely be defended on scenic grounds." [39] Wissler effectively put the brakes on the idea of a national park on the Pajarito Plateau. Agency standards required not only archeological but scenic value as well. An indictment from as impartial an observer as was available damaged the chances of the park.

Even though the park project seemed futile, strong support for the idea still existed within the agency. Two days after Wissler's letter arrived, Cammerer expressed both disappointment and optimism in a memo he attached to it. "On the basis of this letter, if it stood alone," he wrote, "there would be no justification for more than national monument status for this area. From what I have heard, however, a good point could be made on scenic values. . . . I should like to inspect it some time with just that point in view." [40] There was still a little life left for the Pajarito Plateau national park.

But late in 1931, Roger Toll again concurred with Wissler's judgment, suggesting that the existing monument would "would make a splendid addition to the archeological national monuments . . . even if no other area were included." The Forest Service offered to turn over the existing Bandelier National Monument, but Toll believed that "they did not wish to lose any more area from the Santa Fe National Forest than was necessary for the protection of the ruins." [41] Transfer of the monument offered an acceptable compromise to both sides, and Toll recommended accepting the offer.

If it could not get a national park, at least the National Park Service could get what Frank Pinkley desired—administrative control of the archeological ruins on the Pajarito Plateau. A rapid increase in travel to the monument followed the completion of a new approach road to the monument boundaries, and it expedited negotiations. The Forest Service realized that it was not prepared for the onslaught of tourists the new highway would bring. Thus its policy regarding the monument changed. [42] United States Forester Major R. Y. Stuart wrote Albright that he was prepared to transfer the existing monument and 4,700 additional acres surrounding the Otowi ruins and Tsankawi Mesa as long as the access roads through the additional acreage were to remain open for the use of local residents. [43] Stuart was willing to cede it to the Park Service if it appeared to remove the pressure to convert large sections of the Santa Fe National Forest into a national park.

On February 25 1932, the Park Service assumed administrative responsibility for the new Bandelier National Monument, which included 3,626.20 of the 4700 acres that Stuart offered. The agreement resolved years of difficulty on the plateau. The Park Service had its ruins, but no national park; the Forest Service retained the majority of its holdings in the region. [44]

Albright's aggressive stance toward the Forest Service created the climate in which the transfer could occur. After an onslaught which began with the very proclamation of the monument and with a slew of proposals that included large areas of the Santa Fe National Forest, the Forest Service was happy to accede to an NPS demand to transfer a national monument not much larger than the existing one. Instead of 200,000 acres, the Forest Service only gave up 26,026. Albright requested so much land that when his subordinates finally convinced him of the value of a pre-eminent national monument, orchestrating the arrangement became easy. His all-out frontal attacks made the USFS susceptible to a reasonable proposal.

By only giving up a monument, the foresters could also claim victory. They fought off a powerful attempt to cripple their interests in northern New Mexico. The Forest Service still administered most of the Pajarito Plateau and its policies were intact. Homesteaders and commercial interests continued to lease grazing and timber land from the USFS and in such circles, the foresters retained substantial influence.

Pinkley also emerged from the Bandelier transfer a victor. He held out for his definition of the national monument category, and in this case, the NPS followed his lead. As the result of the Bandelier case, Pinkley finally made his definition of the national monument category stick. Archeological sites, at least, were and would remain national monuments. Pinkley held out for the categorization of park areas according to the Antiquities Act and for quality national parks and monuments. No longer would he have to worry that the best of his archeological sites would become national parks. Although his budget problems in the Southwest continued, Frank Pinkley's archeological national monuments were safe from assaults within the agency.

The question of whether archeological, recreational, scenic or commercial values should take precedence on the Pajarito Plateau led to conflict between the National Park Service and the United States Forest Service. It was resolved politically, without actually comparing the relative merits of each case. Frank Pinkley's allegiance to the national monuments dominated his intellectual horizons, and he did not subscribe to the theory that an aggregation of values made a predominantly archeological area worthy of national park status. An expansive national park with the combination of important archeological ruins and average scenery was unacceptable to both Pinkley and the Forest Service. A much smaller national monument, focused primarily on its archeological component and administered by the NPS, was a better alternative. It posed no threat to the land management policies of the USFS because it required a comparatively small portion of national forest land. Pinkley's unlikely alliance with the Forest Service showed that commercial use of natural resources and archeological preservation were not mutually exclusive, particularly when contrasted to the threat scenic preservation presented to both.

After finally achieving his objective, Pinkley began to implement his plans for the Bandelier National Monument. With the help of the Federal emergency relief programs, the monument would flourish under Park Service administration in the course of the 1930s.

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Last Updated: 28-Aug-2006