Administrative History
NPS Logo


The acquisition of the Bandelier National Monument was only a stepping stone for the Park Service. Although Frank Pinkley made a convincing case for keeping Bandelier in the monument category, agency officials retained a vision of a large national park in the region. The area surrounding the monument contained archeological and natural features that the agency coveted. Horace Albright set an aggressive tone that shaped acquisition policy long after he left the agency, and his successors followed his lead in places like the Pajarito Plateau.

As a result, the Park Service continued its efforts to acquire land in the region. During the 1930s, archeological areas dominated agency thinking about the plateau. Puye and the Ramon Vigil Grant became the focus of efforts to expand the monument. After 1939, the agency took a broader view of the attributes of the region. The Park Service developed its vision of a comprehensive national park that included natural and archeological features. The coming of the Manhattan Project put pressure upon the resources of the park, and the agency acquired a buffer zone around Frijoles Canyon. As its ecological perspective developed during the 1950s and 1960s, the Park Service again began to eye the Pajarito Plateau. Soon a new form of the old park proposals appeared, with the Baca Location # 1 as its center.

But with the exception of additions to the national monument during the 1960s and 1970s, acquisition efforts in the region met with little success. Competing interests, including the Forest Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and private landowners, thwarted the agency. Bad luck dogged Park Service attempts on the Pajarito Plateau, and the agency never acquired the lands it wanted.

Even after the transfer of the monument, land controversies continued to rage in the Bandelier area. Like so many of the national park proposals, the transfer itself was a compromise. Associate Director Arno B. Cammerer and, to a lesser extent, Director Horace Albright still believed that the area merited park status, but the compromise that ceded the monument to the NPS limited the options of the agency.

<<< Previous <<< Contents >>> Next >>>

Last Updated: 28-Aug-2006