In northern New Mexico, a sacred site has been returned to its indigenous community.
On July 14, the Taos Land Trust officially transferred the Ponce de León Hot Springs to the Pueblo of Taos.
Now, the springs will be protected from any future development and also remain open to the general public. “This kind of partnership is very rare in the conservation community,” says Patricia Quintana, executive director of Taos Land Trust.
The land trust had purchased the 44-acre parcel in 1997 to save the springs from private development and create a public park.
It’s a project that former executive director Ernie Atencio and others had been working on for more 15 years, says Quintana, as they tried to find just the right owners.
“I think Ernie and the board really had the foresight in recognizing the deep historical relationship that the pueblo has with these hot springs,” she says, “and also the foresight in really looking at building a stronger sense of harmony and goodwill in our multicultural community here in Taos.”