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Rocky Mountain National Park Upper Ouzel

Dear Friend,

Happy Summer! On behalf of our Southwest Team, I hope the season finds you well, wherever your park travels may take you! We have lots of wonderful Southwest news to report this July.

A New Monument to Protect Grand Canyon
NPCA is excited to support the Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition’s leadership advocating for the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument. The monument (the name of which means “where Tribes roam” and “our ancestral footprints” in Havasupai and Hopi) protects Indigenous lands and natural resources from harmful development, such as uranium mining. Stay tuned as the campaign proceeds! 

Pueblo students on a field trip at Chaco Culture National Historical Park in May

Celebrating Chaco Milestones
We are proud to announce two major milestones in the long-running effort to protect the Chaco landscape. In early June, the Biden administration announced a 20-year administrative mineral withdrawal for a 10-mile protection zone around Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Despite some opposition, NPCA joins the All Pueblo Council of Governors and local Diné allies in celebrating this prohibition of new oil and gas leasing as a critical step toward protecting Chaco forever. 

We can look forward with much optimism to permanent protection since re-introduction of the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act — legislation supported by the entire New Mexico delegation to permanently eliminate new oil and gas leasing on federal lands within 10 miles of the park. On the same day the legislation was re-introduced in Congress, Pueblo youth from high schools in Acoma, Laguna and Jemez Pueblos visited Chaco on a field trip co-organized by NPCA. The students were part of a historic moment tying them both to their past and to the future of Chaco.

NPCA will keep working until the irreplaceable Chaco landscape is protected forever — and you can help! Act now to support Secretary Haaland’s decision to create temporary protections for this historical, spiritual and ecologically significant area and encourage Congress to pass Chaco protection legislation.

Highlights from a 2022 Utah State University study at Arches National Park

New Research Shows Support for Timed-Entry at Arches
A study conducted by Utah State University found broad support for timed-entry reservations among visitors surveyed at Arches National Park last summer. Arches piloted a timed-entry system in 2022 to address overcrowding and traffic congestion. NPCA supported the study to understand visitor experiences with managed access systems and gain data-supported insights to improve the system.

Researchers found: 89% of survey respondents successfully acquired a timed-entry ticket for their visit; of that number, 98% were able to enter on their selected day; and 84% of respondents indicated they would like to have a reservation system in place for future visits. Read the full report.

Descendants from different heritages come together at Amache National Historic Site

True Connection in Southeast Colorado
The national parks of southeast Colorado form the backdrop for dark chapters in American history, commemorating atrocities committed against two communities a century apart. This May, the parks were the setting for a special occasion for healing, learning and connection among Indigenous and Asian American community members.

Amache National Historic Site, a place where Japanese Americans were unconstitutionally incarcerated during World War II, and Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, the location of a mass murder of Arapaho and Cheyenne peoples by the US military in 1864, sit less than 50 miles apart on the same prairie. This year, the annual Amache pilgrimage, which draws survivors and descendants to the site, aligned with a day of remembrance at Sand Creek for Tribal descendants. The occasion brought together  descendants of different communities connected over a shared historical experience of displacement and racial targeting by the US government and presented an opportunity to share in ceremony and educational journeys.

Honoring and interpreting the lived experiences of Indigenous and Japanese American communities is central to the Park Service mission in this landscape. NPCA is dedicated to telling full American stories at Amache and Sand Creek and seeing the landscape used as a sacred connection to history.

Take good care and be safe this summer,

Ernie Atencio
Southwest Regional Director

P.S. Are you an artist who is serving or has served in the US Military? NPCA seeks artists with military service backgrounds for a special opportunity celebrating the well-being connection between national parks and service personnel. Learn more and submit your portfolio.

Images from top: Rocky Mountain National Park Upper Ouzel © Crystal Brindle; Pueblo students on a field trip at Chaco Culture National Historical Park in May © Shayla Blatchford; Highlights from a 2022 Utah State University study at Arches National Park © Amy Tian, NPCA; Descendants from different heritages come together at Amache National Historic Site © Hugh Carey, The Colorado Sun

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