Pueblo of Santa Clara, New Mexico


The Senate approved a measure authorizing the federal government to buy the sprawling Baca Ranch in northern New Mexico. It also would allow the pueblo to buy part of the ranch adjacent to its reservation. Forest Service and pueblo officials said Santa Clara agreed to pay $4.5 million for 5,000 acres including the headwaters of Santa Clara Creek. Congress agreed last year to spend $101 million to buy the ranch. That deal depends on Congress passing a law setting up a management plan for the ranch by April 30. On April 13 the Senate passed the Valles Caldera National Preservation and Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act. An identical measure was working its way through the House. The ranch includes the Valles Caldera, a one million-year-old collapsed volcano 14 miles across. It's home to one of the largest elk herds in the country, as well as fishing streams, hot springs and grassy valleys. Under the bill, the federal government would buy the ranch and open it to the public for recreation such as fishing and hiking. A nine-member board of trustees would manage the Baca as a working ranch and try to make enough money to cover maintenance and operations costs.