Logan Simpson completed a visual resource inventory (VRI) for the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument within the BLM’s Taos Field Office in Northern New Mexico. Located within the Taos Plateau geographic formation, the Monument contains varied resources—from numerous natural and geologic resources to abundant heritage and cultural resources. The inventory area covers approximately 310,524 acres of land, approximately 78 percent of which are managed by the BLM. This inventory is currently serving as the baseline visual conditions for considering management of visual resources in land management decisions for the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument Resource Management Plan that is currently under way. This project is unique due to outreach efforts associated with the sensitivity component of the VRI, which included coordination with local tribes to address culturally sensitive landscapes associated with the inventory area.
The inventory area contains a wide variety of scenic landscapes that have geologically and topographically diverse features, such as distinctive volcanic cinder cone mountains; scenic river canyons; rolling hills; and broad, expansive plains and diverse vegetation such as grassland steppe, riparian, and forested types. Prominent scenic areas within the Monument include the Rio Grande Gorge—which includes the Rio Grande National Wild and Scenic River, Red River Wild and Scenic River, and the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge (High Bridge); the Wild Rivers Zone of the Rio Grande Gorge Special Recreation Management Area; the Taos Valley Overlook; and the Wild Rivers Backcountry Byway.