An Administrative History
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As late as 1987, fifteen years after the establishment of Guadalupe Mountains National Park, park managers regularly dealt with the problems of trespass grazing, illegal trapping of predators and poaching of other wildlife in the park, caused by the non-existence or inadequacy of fencing on the park's perimeter. Until 1982, any fences that protected the park were remnants of the ranching era; some were as much as 50 years old, some were simply drift fences, either outside of or well inside the park boundary, that served the purpose of diverting livestock from the area. According to federal law, landowners were required to prevent livestock from trespassing on park land. In the interest of maintaining good relations with local landowners, managers of Guadalupe Mountains chose to deal with trespass problems unofficially, looking forward to the day when the park would be enclosed by a proper fence, constructed by the Park Service. When rangers found livestock in the park, they herded the animals back across the boundary and notified the owners of the problem. Trespass grazing by exotic wildlife, such as Barbary sheep, was a less-easily controlled problem. [39]

In 1982 the park received its first funding allotment for boundary fencing work. Because a new landowner had recently begun running cattle on several sections adjacent to the west boundary of the park, the most pressing need for fencing was on the west side. In a ten-week program, under the auspices of the Youth Conservation Corps, Area Manager Ralph Harris employed nine youths from the Dell City area. The workers removed old sections of fence, some of which were as much as a half-mile inside the boundary, and put up new sections along the surveyed boundary line. The following year workers from the Youth Conservation Corps took down much of the old fencing in the backcountry and replaced some of the existing fence on the southeast side of the park, near Choza Spring, another area of frequent trespass. [40]

In 1984, based on "environmental and 'political'" concerns, members of the park staff agreed that the next areas to be fenced should be the boundary areas near Guadalupe Springs and Dog Canyon. At Guadalupe Springs, trespass grazing was a frequent problem. Around Dog Canyon, the ill-defined boundary made it easy for hunters in "hot pursuit" of mountain lions to enter park lands. During the spring and summer of 1984 a newly hired fence crew of three men erected one and one-half miles of fence near Guadalupe Springs and two miles of fence along the northern boundary of the park. The projects also served an experimental purpose, allowing management to learn how many miles of fence a three-person crew could construct in rough terrain. During a helicopter training session for the park, fencing materials were sling-loaded and placed at strategic locations along the fence line at Dog Canyon. The total cost of the summer project was $30,000. [41]

Closure of the area around Guadalupe Springs to trespass grazing caused some controversy with the leaseholder on the adjoining land, whose stock had used the water source. The leaseholder, J. C. Estes, appealed to the landowner, Mary Hinson, who in turn contacted her lawyer, Duane Juvrud, and staff persons from the Roswell office of New Mexico Congressman Joe Skeen. After a meeting with all concerned, the Park Service agreed to help Estes haul water for several months until he could sell his livestock at a reasonable price. [42]

In 1985, the Park Service awarded park neighbor Milton (Marion) Hughes a fencing contract in the amount of $24,816. He constructed four miles of fence along the northern boundary of the park, west of Dog Canyon. In 1987, resource managers estimated that only 21 of 69 miles of the boundary had adequate fencing and completion of the boundary fence was the park's first resource priority. [43]

Williams Ranch Access Road

Until 1985, park personnel and visitors traveled the initial three and one-half miles of the 10-mile distance from Highway 62/180 to Williams Ranch over private property. While the access situation was similar to the situation at Dog Canyon, that is, traffic to the park could be obstructed by the landowner, the government owned an unimproved right-of-way nearby on which a road to the park boundary could be constructed. [44] However, given the low level of traffic to Williams Ranch, and the willingness of the private landowner to allow traffic to use an already established ranch road, management did not feel an immediate need to build a road on the legal right-of-way.

Although only high-clearance or four-wheel-drive vehicles could use the ranch road under normal conditions, during the rainy season portions of the road often washed out where it crossed several natural drainages and became impassable for vehicles of any sort. On those occasions, the park manager was forced to close the road to visitor use and to expend money and work-hours to reopen the road. In 1985 park personnel engineered and built a new road within the legal right-of-way. The new road met the old road inside the park boundary, 2.6 miles from Highway 62/180, and shortened the route to Williams Ranch by nearly a mile. [45]

Since the road was intended to be for four-wheel-drive vehicles, the methods used for construction were simple. A road grader scraped vegetation from and levelled a 10-foot wide path, following the centerline established by survey. Between Highway 62/180 and the park boundary the new route crossed only one major drainage. In that area the five-foot high banks were excavated to provide more gradual access to the streambed. The road crossed the wash in an area where natural dams would catch and hold gravel above the road crossing. Two other areas along the route with steeper slopes required cutting and filling to a depth of several feet. The abandoned section of road within the park was blocked with boulders and a gate. Total cost for the new road was less than $5,000. Although washouts continued to occur periodically along portions of the road, they were less frequent than before. [46]


Last Updated: 23-Apr-2001