Whtie Sands
Administrative History
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While the wilderness study moved through the federal bureaucracy, yet another directive on environmental issues touched White Sands. On May 13, 1971, Richard Nixon signed Executive Order (EO) 11593, whose section 3(e) "directs the Secretary of the Interior to assist federal agencies with professional methods and techniques for preserving, improving, restoring and maintaining historical properties." The park service applied EO11593 to Trinity Site, and also to the Oliver Lee ranch property in Dog Canyon. Jack Turney and his successor, James Thomson (1973-1978), entered into yet another round of futile negotiations with the Army. While the results were predictable, the regional office finally recognized the struggle facing White Sands whenever the subject of Trinity National Historic Site surfaced. "I think that your handling of this situation has been exemplary," wrote Carl E. Walker, acting SWR director, to Thomson. Walker realized that "both you and Jack Turney bore the brunt of some hurt feelings and resentment in this matter." The acting director praised both superintendents because they "patiently and constructively healed the wounds and brought the White Sands Missile Range officials into the project as real participants." Walker then gave Turney and Thomson a word of high esteem: "That's good management in my book." [11]

Inclusion of the Dog Canyon structures in the EO11593 study raised an old question: how to maintain a facility 22 miles from monument headquarters that the park service had acquired for its access to water. Albert Schroeder, SWR interpretive specialist, walked through the area in 1972 with Jack Turney and SWR naturalist Dave Petticord. They noted that the Disney film company had "stabilized" much of the ranch quarters for a 1970 movie, and that the State of New Mexico's Cultural Properties Review Committee (CPRC) had been given a National Register petition for the Lee ranch. The CPRC had voted against the nomination, concurring in earlier park service opinions not to restore the property. Schroeder concluded that "the area is not staffed to provide adequate protection for the Oliver Lee ranch," but conceded that a "final decision" on the nomination had yet to be reached. [12]

Schroeder's caution reflected divided thinking in the regional office about the merits of Dog Canyon and its historic properties. Dave Battle, SWR historical architect, and William "Bill" Brown, regional chief of history, believed that "enough original fabric exists that restoration could be accomplished." The historical staff contended "that the significance of the site would urge an override of the [CPRC's] recommendation," especially in light of plans to transfer all of Dog Canyon from the park service. Robert M. Utley, at this time the director of the NPS office of archeology and historic preservation, reviewed the White Sands master plan section on Dog Canyon in 1973, and called for a thorough analysis of its "wealth of aboriginal archeological remains" before taking any final action on the property. At this point, SWR's Richard W. Sellars disagreed, saying that the Lee ranch should be "abandoned and allowed to deteriorate." Sellars outlined a host of problems, among them "the relatively minor historical significance of the site," the Disney alterations, the isolated setting which posed "the unlikelihood that it would ever receive much visitation," and the perennial issue of "the expense of maintenance and impossibility of protection." The state of New Mexico, the intended recipient of Dog Canyon, disagreed with Sellars, as David King, state planning officer (and son of governor Bruce King) encouraged the NPS to press for National Register status and preservation (all of which would be funded by federal agencies). [13]

science class
Figure 57. Science class participant in Enviornmental Study Area (ESA) Program (1970s).
(Courtesy White Sands National Monument)

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Last Updated: 22-Jan-2001