A preliminary report released by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis may add several Latino sites in New Mexico and Colorado to the National Park System. Specifically, the sites are located in the San Luis Valley, stretching for 122 miles from south-central Colorado into northern New Mexico.
The report, “San Luis Valley and Central Sangre de Cristo Mountains Reconnaissance Survey Report” notes that this region is home to cultural sites dating back 11,000 years. Native Americans, Spanish and Mexican colonists, as well as white settlers passed through the region.
Salazar, who is from Colorado, requested the report to identify “opportunities to preserve and interpret nationally significant American Latino heritage sites… As well as opportunities for conservation of the areas landscape, environment and natural resources.” Some interesting facts about the region:
- It includes 3,264,000 acres; 5,100 miles
- The area is 220 miles from Denver and 130 miles from Santa Fe
- Most of the land is privately held, in ranch holdings
- Colorado’s oldest documented town, San Luis is included
- And Colorado’s oldest church, Our Lady of Guadalupe, is also in the region
- The earliest inhabitants of the area hunted mammoths
This area is home to old traditions such as folklore, certain types of farming, religion, art, cooking and more, such as a version of Chris Tilly in Spanish still spoken by about 35% of this region’s population. Based on the report, Congress may decide to formally initiate a study of this area for inclusion in the National Park System. Read the full report here.[Photo By USDI]