Visitor centers which see upwards of 35,000 tourists a year will soon have greatly restricted hours near Mountainair, due to changes in hiring practices by the National Park Service.
The Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument will be closing three remote visitor centers and reducing the hours at the main visitor center in Mountainair to six days a week due to reduced staffing. The sites will remain open.
The change is basically a definition of “seasonal employees,” explained park superintendent Tom Betts. Seasonal employees staffed the remote visitor centers, Betts said.
The National Park Service did an economic impact analysis of the Salinas Pueblo Mission National Monument on the local economy.
That report shows that “visitor spending supports 30 jobs” in the local area, with visitors spending $1.9 million in the area surrounding the monument, estimating a cumulative impact of $2.4 million a year to the area.
“National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service, and it’s a big factor in our local economy as well,” Betts said. “We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities.”
As Salinas adjusts to the new hiring rules, it is making every effort to keep its offerings to the community intact, Betts said.
The closures for Abó, Quarai and Gran Quivira locations will be in place indefinitely, with Betts estimated four to six months to reopen the sites. The main visitor center in Mountainair will be open Sunday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Special events and on-site educational programs will continue as planned, with volunteers filling in some gaps, Betts said. An astronomy event is scheduled Oct. 20 at Gran Quivira and Nov. 18 at Abó.
To find out more about upcoming events, or to volunteer, contact 505-847-2585.