ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The city of Albuquerque and the Petroglyph National Monument have crafted a new cooperative management agreement that will improve the law enforcement capabilities of park rangers.
Once the agreement is signed next week, rangers will be able to cite people for smaller violations and impose tougher fines on people caught breaking the law at one of the city's most popular attractions.
"This agreement gives us more teeth to protect the area," said Diane Souder, chief of interpretation and outreach at the monument, told television station KRQE (http://bit.ly/1ahrKm0).
The agreement has been in the works for a few months. The previous five-year agreement expired last week, and environmentalists and others were concerned about protection of the monument's rock art.
Matt Schmader with the city's parks and recreation department said that at no time has there been any lapse in protection or operations.
Bordering the city's west side, the monument protects one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America. There are thousands of examples of designs and symbols that were carved into the area's volcanic rocks by Native Americans and Spanish settlers centuries ago. The area also contains some geologically important sites.
While there has been a decline in vandalism and other serious criminal violations, some petty problems are on the rise and the new agreement will allow park rangers to issue citations.
They will be able to address alcohol use, trash dumping and speeding through the federal code, rather than under municipal codes.
"It does go through the federal jurisdiction and federal law offices and federal courts, so it's pretty severe," Souder said.
One of the big problems at the monument that rangers hope to address is people who let their pets off leash within park boundaries.
Earlier this week the group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility pressed for any details of a new agreement between the city and the monument. The group maintains that the agreement should be subject to public review and comment under the National Environmental Policy Act.
City and monument officials have yet to release a draft of the agreement.