Valles Caldera National Preserve, NM
Rebuilding the boundary fence on the north side of the Valles Caldera National Preserve (VCNP) has been a multi-year effort. In 2021, we completely rebuilt about 1.25 miles of fenceline and cleared and repaired an additional 3 miles of fence that had been rebuilt over 2019 and 2020.
Large sections of the fence have been damaged by wildlife passage, cattle, human activity, and fallen trees (due in part to the Las Conchas Fire), leaving openings for cattle from neighboring US Forest Service grazing allotments into the Preserve, particularly the Valle San Antonio. While the VCNP does maintain a grazing program, these cattle are limited to specific, managed pastures in the Valle Rincon and Valle Toledo; within these pastures, herd size is moderated by scientific monitoring and grazing reports completed by the NPS.
Maintaining and rebuilding the boundary fence helps to limit the negative ecological impacts of cattle trespassing and grazing within the VCNP. To minimize impact of the fence on wildlife, we rebuild the fence using wildlife friendly specifications, utilizing slick wire (rather than barbed wire) for the top and bottom strands.
To rebuild, the old fence is disassembled in sections: the fenceline is cleared of woody material, bent t-posts are pulled, compromised wire is cut and wound into coils, and all unusable fence material is hiked out to cache points for retrieval by the NPS. Meanwhile, new material is hiked in, new t-posts are pounded to replace damaged ones, slick wire and barbed wire are unrolled along the fenceline, tensioned, and clipped to the t-posts.