Editorial: Celebrate the RGDN

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Public lands, like democracies, need public participation to survive and thrive.

This Saturday (March 23), the public has an opportunity to pitch in and help the much loved Río Grande del Norte National Monument. Organizers have several projects planned to celebrate the monument's fifth anniversary.

They promise lunch and cake in exchange for a little manual labor and a lot of fun. Volunteers are asked to meet at the Taos Junction Bridge group area at 10 a.m. with work gloves in hand. Projects include trail work, clearing brush, lopping branches and wrapping cottonwoods with chicken wire to protect them from beavers.

The sprawling monument is among the treasures in the valley that a diverse group of people, ranchers, environmentalists, river guides and others, lobbied for years to protect. It has miles of trails and other features to maintain so that it will remain a treasure for generations to come. The Bureau of Land Management, the federal agency charged with protecting the monument, can't do it alone.

The weather is supposed to be nice. The work will take place near the wonderous Río Grande. So grab your friends, your family and some sunscreen, and come pitch in to show your monument a little love.

Take care of santuario pilgrims

Over the next week, people from around Taos County and New Mexico will start walking to the Santuario de Chimayó. Pilgrims have made this journey every year before Easter for decades.

Some will walk for only a few miles. Some will walk for more than 100. All are walking on Good Friday and arrive at the Santuario by Holy Saturday, the day before Easter.

They walk as a testament to faith, as a prayer for healing, as a way to connect with family and for dozens of other reasons.

They'll get hot, tired and hungry. They walk along narrow mountain roads and busy highways. It can be dangerous. Pilgrims have been hurt.

Please, watch out for them. Protect them. Help them if they need help. Encourage them if they need kind words.

In the midst of all the political and social upheaval in our country and around the world, these pilgrims are a small symbol of hope. Their simple act of walking to a place they consider holy reminds us all to slow down and take stock of what is important in our lives.

Help keep them safe.

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