Resource Damage Reports for the Sombrillo ACEC and Nambé Badlands

Damage to the natural resources in the Sombrillo ACEC and Nambé Badlands is being monitored and documented here so that remedial and preventive actions can be taken.

The landscape in the Sombrillo Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), and the greater Nambé Badlands, is highly erodible. Fragile biological soil crusts protect the fine powdery soils from blowing away.

Please stay on existing trails to minimize erosion.

These resource damage reports are shared with the Bureau of Land Management, Taos Field Office — the office responsible for managing the resources and implementing the protections required in the Sombrillo ACEC.

How You Can Help

If you notice any of these resource damages, please take a photo of them, record the location (a smartphone camera typically geotags the photo), and submit it to us, along with any additional information, so we can include it here and share it with the BLM Taos Office.  Or, if you prefer, please let the BLM Taos Field Office know about the resource damage directly.

  • off-trail mountain biking
  • riding on biological soil crusts
  • creation of new (illegal) trails
  • cutting of trees
  • dumping or trash
  • cutting of switchbacks
  • other damage

Resource Damage Reports

February 4, 2024

The recent wet snow and rain storms have saturated the ground in the Sombrillo ACEC.  If it is too muddy, please refrain from using the trails.  The muddy footprints in this photo show the hiker decided to walk off trail, increasing their negative impacts on the fragile soil crusts in the area.

More off-trail damage from (1) hiking off-trail and (2) hiking off-trail when it was way too muddy to be out there.

January 1, 2024

Irresponsible fff-trail mountain biking in the Sombrillo ACEC left serious erosion channels in the fragile soils, photo taken 12/28/2023.

Irresponsible off-trail mountain biking significantly damaged the soil crusts in the Sombrillo ACEC.  Photo taken December 30, 2023.

Irresponsible trail cutting in a highly-erosive area of the Sombrillo ACEC.  Photo taken December 30, 2023.

March 6, 2023

The trail on the left is a new illegal trail built in early 2023.  It was photo documented and GPS recorded by the Friends of the Nambe Badlands and the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance on March 6, 2023.

The new illegal trail is shown as an added dotted line in the upper right of the most recent (as of 3/8/2023) BLM Trail Inventory map. This new illegal trail in the Sombrillo ACEC connects BLM trail segments 73 and 77.  This new trail was constructed in early 2023.

A new illegal trail in the Sombrillo ACEC was constructed in early 2023.  It connects BLM Trail Segment 73 to BLM Trail Segment 77.  It is approximately 1,500 feet in length. It is oriented East-West and has one steep fall line section (with no erosion consideration).  It was constructed across cryptobiotic soil crusts, and only remnants of the original biotic crusts are now evident.  This photo was taken on 3/6/23 with the Friends of the Nambe Badlands and the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, looking east close to its departure from BLM Trail Segment 73.

This new illegally constructed trail was documented in the Sombrillo ACEC on March 6, 2023 by Friends of the Nambe Badlands and the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance.

February 13, 2023

Intentional off-trail riding by a motorcycle in the Sombrillo ACEC, where no motor vehicles are allowed.  This damage was widespread, the motorcycle rider rode off trail, spinning donuts in the fragile biological soil crusts, causing damage that will last for tens of decades!  The damage was observed on a trail damage assessment ride with employees from the Taos BLM Office to determine where signs are needed in the Sombrillo ACEC.

New illegal shortcut trail in the Sombrillo ACEC, Nambe Badlands, New Mexico

A new shortcut trail was put in on the south side of the north-south connector trail of the two historical loop trails in the Sombrillo ACEC.  The photo was taken with BLM Taos employees on a ride to determine where trail signs are needed. February 13, 2023.

New illegal mountain bike trail in the Sombrillo ACEC, Nambe Badlands, New Mexico

Another new trail that appears to be under construction, in the Sombrillo ACEC heads south from the top of the steep hill climb on the north side of the historical loop in the Sombrillo ACEC.  This new trail was observed with BLM employees on an assignment ride of where to put signs up.  February 13, 2023.  This newly constructed trail travels south from the north end of the Main West Loop. GPS coordinates of starting area are approximately 35.93028, -105.97459.

The continuation of the new illegal trail south from BLM Trail Segment 62 is shown here.

This new trail is shown by the dotted purple line added to the BLM Trail Inventory, it heads south along a ridgeline from BLM Trail Segment 62.

June 2, 2022

Fresh cutting of tree in the  Sombrillo ACEC, West Loop trail (trail segment 62), June 2, 2022.  This tree was previously “trimmed” last year, on an established trail that had plenty of trail clearance from the tree and did not cause any issues with mountain biking.   Cutting trees like this is illegal.

 This tree was previously “trimmed” last year, on an established trail that had plenty of trail clearance from the tree and did not cause any issues with mountain biking.   Cutting trees like this is illegal.

New trail in the Sombrillo ACEC that heads north and then east off BLM trail segment #28P, photographed on June 2, 2022.  Erosion is already significant from this new trail.

February 12, 2022

Intentional off-trail riding on fragile soils. Sombrillo ACEC, West Loop trail (trail segment 62), February 12, 2022

January 31, 2022

Off-trail riding, widening of single track, CR113 access trail (segment 46) in the Sombrilo ACEC. Photo taken on January 31, 2022.

January 25, 2022

New shortcut trail created at the intersection of (illegal trail) “Razor’s Edge (segment 4P) the West Loop trail (segment 62).  This trail was created between January 21 – Jan 25, 2022.  Photo taken January 25, 2022

Red Bull can litter found on the West Ridge (Vista View) trail (trail segment 2022) in the Sombrilo ACEC. Found on January 25, 2022. This Red Bull litter was not present on January 21, 2022.  Is it a coincidence that this litter and the piles of human waste and toilet paper were found just after two New Mexico mountain bike clubs organized a big ride event in the Sombrillo ACEC?

October 22, 2022

A view looking down on a fragile area where trail users have laid down branches to deter people from mountain biking on this formation.  Regardless of the deterrents, some irresponsible riders are causing significant erosion channels to form by riding on this soft formation.  One new trail is seen on the ridgeline, and some newer bike tracks are seen in the foreground.  These formations are close to where important paleontological resources have been found.  The Sombrillo ACEC was created to protect the fragile soils where these resources exist.

December 1, 2022

Extensive intentional off-trail riding continues in the Sombrillo ACEC. We have asked the Taos BLM office for “Please Stay on Trail” Carsonite Signs (thin brown signs you see in other public lands) to help educate trail users.  The extremely fragile soil crusts in the Sombrillo ACEC are easily damaged, long term, when trail users venture off existing trails.

December 12, 2022

Intentional off-trail riding and irresponsibly caused damage to the Sombrillo ACEC.

We have asked the Taos BLM office for “Please Stay on Trail” Carsonite Signs (thin brown signs you see in other public lands) to help educate trail users.  The extremely fragile soil crusts in the Sombrillo ACEC are easily damaged, long term, when trail users venture off existing trails.

HOW TO PROTECT THE SOMBRILLO ACEC AND NAMBE BADLANDS

Please provide any useful comments on trail conditions below

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