By Demis Foster, NM Wild Santa Fe Director
Albuquerque Journal, Letter to the Editor
April 17, 2012

THERE IS a reason that Chaco Canyon is honored as a World Heritage site. It is one of the unique, culturally significant landscapes in the world. It is also still considered a sacred site by virtually all of the pueblos as well as the Navajos.

In Leslie Linthicum’s recent article, “Tightening Down on Chaco Visits,” she points out that in the park’s new management plan they would require visitors to watch an orientation video before entering the park loop.

This is called “education.” I believe educating the public is a good thing and I am happy to be inconvenienced for a few minutes if it means people will understand just how fragile this environment really is.

Linthicum states that Chaco is currently “free to unencumbered rambling.” This is not the case. You can’t “hike over hill and dale” wherever you please in the park. There are already restrictions in place to stay on established trails and out of sensitive areas. And there is good reason for this. Even the most well-intentioned appreciator of Chaco can create damage to fragile areas by tromping through ancient ruins “unencumbered.”

Once-ancient walls have been carved, painted or walked on over and over. The integrity of that structure is compromised and will never be as it once was. I applaud the Park Service for having the foresight and vision to look toward the future as they revise their management plan because Chaco is worth it. We have a responsibility to future generations.