Vandals Damage Vets' Park in New Mexico
A request for help combating vandalism at a park established nearly 40 years ago on federal land by a local veterans group in northwest New Mexico has opened up questions about public access, protection of an endangered bird and who controls the site, The Daily Times, Farmington, reported.
Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 2182 operate the campsite and picnic area on U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land along the Old Blanco Highway a few miles east of Bloomfield. Veterans use the area to recreate and have picnics. It has been used as a quiet, non-threatening space for veterans to come and relax, especially those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders, they said.
The VFW also rents the area — it charges a nominal fee that helps recoup utility and clean-up costs — for weddings, Boy Scout events, high school graduation celebrations, local teacher organization meetings and sports team get-togethers.
James Clark, the post commander, said vandals were becoming more of a nuisance, stealing a campground refrigerator and some repair tools. He said the bathroom floor had recently had paint smeared all over it.
The VFW placed a lock on the entry gate to the site and have routinely kept it closed each winter.
The request to the BLM for help controlling vandalism and permission for a homeless veteran to live year-round at the site as a caretaker was met with a demand that the VFW relinquish control over the site until a new agreement can be reached.
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