"AN ISLAND BESIEGED": THREATS TO THE PARK
During the 1970s and 1980s, the pressure on Bandelier National Monument from the matrix of interests on the Pajarito Plateau mounted greatly, and park managers found themselves in a difficult situation. The plans of neighbors of the park often threatened the ability of park managers to uphold their mandate. Superintendent John D. Hunter described his position when he addressed a town meeting that evaluated road development in nearby White Rock in June 1985. Bandelier, he told the audience, was "an island besieged by external threats." 
By the mid-1980s, Bandelier had become an outpost of preservation threatened by the needs of the world around it. Throughout the twentieth century, the Pajarito Plateau had been the focus of conflicting interests. As each constituent group, Government agency, and private interest laid claim to portions of the region and attempted to implement their programs, the amount of available open space diminished. What had been a snarl of assertions of needs became an impasse that resembled the gridlock of urban traffic. A situation emerged in which the gains of any group were counterbalanced by the losses of another one.
Changing perceptions of American society contributed to more aggressive vigilance on the part of the Park Service. Beginning in the 1960s, the conservation movement in the United States took a more holistic approach to preservation. Its concerns stretched beyond the protection of the park system into the beautification of ordinary landscapes. For the Park Service this translated into a concern for lands beyond the borders of park areas.
By the middle of the 1970s, the National Parks Association [later the National Parks and Conservation Association (NPCA)] and other groups that supported the park system had expressed concern for the lands surrounding park areas. In 1976, Director Gary E. Everhardt declared that the most severe threats the system faced were external. By 1980, this position had become an integral part of agency policy. Park Service documents such as the State of the Parks 1980 report to Congress focused on external threats such as commercial enterprises and industrial development outside park boundaries with the potential to affect park units. The Park Service began to develop ways to identify and counteract the broadening range of potential threats. The issue became prominent on the agenda of the agency, and individual park units stepped up responses to new threats. 
The combination of the new perception of threats and the tremendous pressure upon resources in the region demanded considerable attention from the staff at Bandelier. Protecting Park Service holdings meant more than preserving archeological ruins and wilderness values. Superintendent Hunter and his staff had to track the plans of Federal agencies, private companies, and other interest groups and assess the manner in which their implementation could affect Bandelier. As elsewhere in the park system, encroachment on surrounding scenic vistas, noise pollution, the threat of acid rain, damage from sulfur dioxide emissions, and other similar concerns spurred active response from the administration at Bandelier National Monument.
Last Updated: 28-Aug-2006