This is the new Taos Gorge Bridge Vendors Site. The old site was made in reaction to the eviction of the vendors from the easements on the east side of the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge in December of 2012. It chronicled the move to the west side of the gorge and the convoluted politics between the vendors, state highway department and US Bureau of Land Management. I was one of the main players on the vendor side in all of that and the experience eventually drained and exhausted me. The old website was simply abandoned and I stopped updating it. I had nothing more to say.
The whole process ground to a halt. It was flawed from the beginning and the fundamental flaw was that it was all about limiting the vending at the gorge and who could vend there. That came both from the BLM and a few of the vendors who, acting out of self interest, tried to take control of the negotiations with the BLM and NMDOT and set themselves up as the lucky survivors who managed to get BLM permits. I fought the restrictions and limitations tooth and nail and spent many long hours with the BLM arguing against such things as a 25 vendor limit and requirements for a business license to vend at the gorge. There was too much talk about money and not enough about the beauty and spontaneity of vending at the gorge. Everything that was proposed would kill it and turn the gorge bridge into yet another over regulated and restricted market.
I don’t blame the bureaucrats in the BLM for having a hard time understanding the lifestyle and dynamics of the gorge bridge vendors. It isn’t easy for those who are part of the system to understand those who live outside it. And the truth is that the vendors are all individuals in the extreme, each and every one of them. There is no typical vendor, every one is a distinct individual and what would work for one, won’t work at all for another, much less the whole group of them. The best way for the system to deal with the vending at the gorge is not to deal with it all and just let it happen. A lot of us who were part of the talks with the BLM and NMDOT would like to be under State and not Federal Jurisdiction. The engineers from NMDOT repeatedly said they had no interest in regulating vending at all. That would be fine for most of us. The BLM expressed a clear intention to micromanage the few of us that would qualify for their permits. The regulatory structure of the BLM was never designed for anything like the bridge vending scene. It is orientated towards the wilderness beyond the bridge and highway, not towards individuals selling by the roadside.