Monument highway sees roadside clearing


A maintenance crew with the New Mexico Department of Transportation has removed vegetation along a stretch of State Road 570 that runs through the lower section of the Río Grande del Norte National Monument, causing "heartburn" for at least one longtime outdoorsman and volunteer.

The crew removed vegetation, such as sage and tree limbs, in a section of the highway that's about 1 mile long last Wednesday (April 18).

"[The monument] has just been treated really horribly," said volunteer and river guide John Asher. Asher said the sight is ugly, especially given the tourism and status of the monument. "It's like a bomb went off."

A manager with the BLM, the federal agency that oversees the monument, said the vegetation removal was within the highway department's right-of-way.

Rosanne Rodriguez, a public information officer for the highway department, told The Taos News Wednesday (April 25) vegetation management is done annually and "improves sight distance for traveling public, provides a view of the clear zone for wild life in the area, removes sign obstruction and prevents fire hazard."

Crews will be finishing the maintenance and "dressing up the right-of-way" this week, she said.