Near Santa Fe: sacred lands and a vibrant ecological zone now at risk.

Protection Campaigns

Protect the Caja del Rio

If the plans for a highway, utility lines and the country’s highest bridge come to pass, the Caja del Rio will be drastically altered. The 107,068 acres on this plateau are managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. These are sacred lands for the area’s pueblos.Caja del Rio is principally piñon-juniper savanna and grassland, with canyons plunging into the Santa Fe River and other tributaries of the Rio Grande. The land is dotted with cinder cones and features a dramatic basalt escarpment rich with petroglyphs. Caja is one of the most ecologically rich wildlife corridors in New Mexico. It provides vital habitat for a diverse range of plants and animals. The Caja is one of the last great opportunities to protect the West as it has existed for thousands of years.

The history of the American West exists on this plateau in all of its complexity. It remains a spiritual place for many of the nearby pueblos, and its importance to those communities cannot be overstated. We must do all we can to save this remarkable landscape for people today, but also for the generations ahead.

Add your comments to Federal officials. Visit the Caja del Rio Action Center.

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Caja del Rio
Action Center

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We invite you to journey virtually through the Caja del Rio to discover the story of this magnificent landscape. From uncovering what makes this land sacred to learning about the living cultures that thrive here today, you'll come away with a deeper appreciation for the Caja del Rio and a better understanding of how your actions can help protect this treasured area.

News Updates

The history of the American West exists on this plateau in all of its complexity

While the proposed new highway to the Los Alamos National Laboratory is an immediate threat, the Caja region is facing ongoing challenges—from illegal dumping to vandalism of sacred sites. From poaching to unregulated shooting and off-road misuse, past attempts to protect the plateau have not succeeded. We believe this is the right time to take on the challenge of permanent protection for the Caja del Rio.

We are working with pueblos and local communities to determine the most appropriate combination of administrative and legislative designations. One such designation is a National Conservation Area (NCA), which is designated by Congress to conserve, protect, enhance, and manage public land areas for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations. NCAs feature exceptional natural, recreational, cultural, wildlife, aquatic, archaeological, paleontological, historical, educational, and/or scientific resources. We also believe that parts of the Caja plateau would be eligible for Wilderness designation and are exploring the possibility of Wild and Scenic River status for the area as well.

Pueblo Leaders Pass Resolution Recognizing Caja del Rio as Traditional Puebloan Landscape

On November 29, 2021, the All Pueblo Council of Governors passed a resolution recognizing the Caja del Rio Plateau as a traditional puebloan landscape, and supporting its long-term preservation. The resolution also addresses the history of inadequate consultation between the federal government and tribes, and commits APCG to working with the Department of the Interior and other key stakeholders to ensure the landscape's conservation. The resolution is a major step forward in efforts to protect Caja del Rio and its cultural significance.

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Wilderness Protection Campaign

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StoriesThe Pandemic and Our Work

The Pandemic and Our Work

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Impact for our Efforts

Despite the current political challenges, we’re proud of the legislative and regulatory victories that have been achieved.

See the Legislation