Friends of Bandelier Annual Report for 2010

BANDELIER HIGHLIGHTS of 2010

Remodeling of the Visitor Center dominated 2010 at Bandelier. The project was a total immersion experience for newly-appointed Chief of Interpretation Rod Torrez. Rod persevered, all went well, the new center gets excellent reviews; Bandelier staff can settle down now to the business of running the park. Juniper Campground has been undergoing much-needed upgrades which should be completed soon. Despite all the construction hubbub, the rangers were able to make effective use our 2010 grants on worthwhile projects.

RESOURCE MANAGEMENT: Chief of Resource Management, Barbara Judy, has been busy reviewing Bandelier's infrastructure to develop plans for improvements and maintenance. In 2010, the Friends funded an assessment of 18 elk exclosure structures in the park ($2,000). The exclosures are 200 feet wide by 200 feet long and enclosed by 10-foot high chain link fencing. They are designed to exclude large animals so the rangers can measure differences in vegetation survival inside and outside the exclosures. These structures are scattered throughout the park. The assessment found all but one of the exclosures in good or easily repairable condition. Barbara plans to have the exclosures repaired in the near future to provide data on browse regeneration. The data should help game managers determine a sustainable elk population size for the Jemez Mountains.

Here is Barbara's report on the Elk Exclosures.

Since 1987, Bandelier has been conducting a surface survey of archaeological sites throughout the park, most of which is wilderness. In 2010, Archaeologist Rory Gauthier declared he would finish in three years. To help with this goal, Superintendent Jason Lott requested that we fund a student who could assist Rory's crew ($4,200). We received a nice thank you letter from Rory and an essay from the assistant, David Shiffler. David is now a freshman at the University of New Mexico studying anthropology and archaeology.

Here is David's report on his Experience at Bandelier.

PRINTING ($3,626.34): As we have for many years, the Friends funded printing and distribution of two Bandelier newspaper inserts in 2010 The spring Fire Management Plan explained why the park needs to conduct managed fires to reduce excessive fuel loads in the forests. The plan listed the fire projects for the season, weather permitting. The weather permitted some of the burns to be carried out, but not all. One successful burn was of an experiment plot of the Pinyon-Juniper Restoration study initiated in 1994. The study involved cutting most of the juniper trees and spreading the fresh branches as mulch. The hope is to restore a semblance of the grasslands that existed before the arrival of Spanish livestock in 1598. We shall see if this final step in the process brings any success.

In autumn, we paid for the only edition of the Tuff Times issued in 2010. You should all have gotten access to the paper one way or another. I'm informed that the rangers will produce only one issue per year in the future. It will appear in the spring and list activities that the rangers hope to accomplish in that year.

PHYTOLITHS ($4,000): Robert Powers was the principal investigator for the 1987-1992 archaeological surface survey of Bandelier. He produced several technical reports on the survey and was editor of the definitive book on the park's prehistory, The Peopling of Bandelier. Bob has always maintained a special interest in the park and has an acute curiosity about agricultural strategies of the ancestral pueblo farmers. After he retired from the park service, Bob went back to school for a PhD. For his thesis, he is studying the distribution of suitable farming areas in Bandelier.

As part of his studies, Bob collects soil samples for analyses of various indicators of farming activity. Plants collect silica-laden water in their cells and intercellular spaces which deposits solid little sand-like silica grains called phytoliths. Many grasses form phytoliths that are characteristic for each species. These can be identified in soil hundreds of years after the plants died. Cultivated maize is one such grass that produces identifiable phytoliths.

Bob submitted 22 samples from seven boreholes from three different sites, plus three background samples. Steven Bozarth, Ph.D., University of Kansas Palynology Laboratory, performed the analyses. Dr. Bozarth found maize root phytoliths, but no phytoliths from the upper parts of the plant, in samples from two of the three sites. This led him to speculate that Pueblo farmers cut the plants at the base and carried the stalks away for other uses. The third site gave no indication that it had ever been farmed. As often happens, a bit of data always leads to more questions; Bob plans to find funding for more of these studies.

VALLES CALDERA NATIONAL PRESERVE: Some of you may be interested in the Valles Preserve adjacent to Bandelier. In 2000, Congress established the VCNP as a government-owned park governed by an independent Board of Trustees, who were charged with rendering the park financially self-sustaining within 20 years. Successive board members tried hard, but it is now apparent that the land can never generate sufficient revenue to support itself under public expectations and government-mandated policies for public land. In addition, it became obvious that the board governance system itself has intractable problems. In 2010, Senator Jeff Bingaman wrote and introduced a bill to transfer the VCNP to the National Park Service. His bill was included in a Public Lands and Utilities Omnibus Bill that came before Congress in the lame duck. The bill never came to a vote because several senators objected to other provisions in the bill. The tax bill and START Treaty debates left no time to reconcile these other issues; the bill died at the end of the session. Senator Bingaman worked very hard on this issue; it is not clear at this time if he will start the process over again. If nothing happens before 2020, the VCNP will be absorbed into the National Forest Service.

We've said it so many times: it will be an interesting budget year. This year Congress may actually address the spiraling national debt. No one can predict what will happen to our national parks, but the public has always shown passionate support for our Crown Jewels.

We wish all you treasured Friends a good New Year. Dorothy Hoard, President.


Friends Annual Report for 2010

Jason Lott, Superintendent

It has been another busy year of change at Bandelier, with a lot to be proud about. During 2010 the refurbished and expanded Visitor Center was completed, with the new film, theater and exhibits receiving high praise from visitors. There were also improvements to our infrastructure with the replacement of the gas line, paving of all of the roads on the mesa, and re-roofing of two buildings in the CCC National Landmark District.

Accomplishments for the year also included completing the landscaping for the Eco-Restoration Project, initiating year 1 of 3 for the completion of the Bandelier Archaeological Survey, completing Year 10 for Park Flight, and the Division of Historic Preservation completed the design and development of a new Viga End Replacement Tool.

It was during the past year that the Bandelier Conservation Corps (BCC) was established. The crew was managed by Kevin Stillman, and consisted of Lucas Swina from Cochiti Pueblo; Meghan Montoya, Justin Micha Ben-Niem, and Drew Betts of Los Alamos; Justin Garcia of Espanola; and Athena Lopez and Mike Pecusa from Pojoaque Pueblo. They spent the summer working on our trails, assisting with preservation projects, learning about our wilderness, and even spent a few days working on trails at Rocky Mountain National Park. This has proven to be a great program, one we intend to keep!

The Monument also did well on a series of reviews of our programs, including the Fee Program, Law Enforcement Program, Historic Preservation Program, and our annual Safety Audit. We made great progress with our Transportation Planning by testing the Atomic City Transit, utilizing an employee shuttle system, and establishing an employee parking area. Interpretation launched into the world of Social Media and established sites on FaceBook (over 1,600 "Friends"), Twitter, YouTube (created four Monument films), Flicker (over 240 pictures added), established a webcam, and added a series of new web pages for resources projects. Last year was also had a great year for safety.

Along the way, Bandelier was also recognized. The Monument received the Western National Park's Association (WNPA) Park of the Year Award, the Fire Program received the NPS Intermountain Region's Ken Castro Award for Excellence in Fire Management, and the Division of Historic Preservation received the John Wesley Powell Prize for Excellence in Historic Preservation in Federal Government. The Fire Module was also recognized for their quick response to a visitor incident at Great Sand Dunes, and our Law Enforcement Rangers were credited with a successful ARPA case involving stolen artifacts from Bandelier and other national parks. Additionally, Bandelier staff provided support on a national level by sending seven individuals to support the Gulf BP Oil Spill. Other notable events include the Cerro Grande 10-Year Remembrance and the Visitor Center Grand Re-opening. As for our visitors, we saw a 10.47% increase in visitation (only three parks in New Mexico saw an increase), which is outstanding considering that our Visitor Center and Juniper Campground was closed for the majority of the year!

As for the Friends, Bandelier can claim another year outstanding year for support. Friends provided funding to conduct an elk exclosure survey and evaluation, hire a student archaeological assistant, complete the Powers/Bozarth phytolith soil sample analysis, and print the annual Tuff Times and Fire Inserts in the Los Alamos Monitor. It is these types of projects that the Monument struggles to fund, and we very much appreciate the support and help of Friends to these projects completed.

On February 25, the Monument will mark the beginning of the new season with the re-opening of Juniper Campground. The loops have been redesigned, and now will have some walk-in campsites in addition to the drive-in spaces. New campfire rings and picnic tables have been put in the sites, and visitors can expect a much more pleasant camping experience. Please remember to come and participate in one of our campfire programs this year!

Everyone can continue to expect additional programming from our Interpretive Division. Recently, Bandelier started offering ranger-guided Moonlight Snowshoe Hikes. Other upcoming events include the Tucson Festival of Books (March 12-13), New Mexico Heritage Preservation Month (May), NPS Week (April 16-24), Fall Fiesta (still scheduling), and the Bandelier Reunion (not quite sure when yet). Projects that we have planned this year include a Transportation Workshop, a test pilot for eradication of exotics from Frijoles Canyon, trails and trail head planning, the second year of the Bandelier Conservation Corps, the second year of the Bandelier Archaeological Survey, Park Flight, and many others. Monument staff are also working on a Park Presence Program, which should define the "look and feel" for the Monument. Part of this effort will be monument signage, which we are strongly considering going back to the Art Deco and CCC "look and feel".

This is going to be another exciting year for the Monument, and we look forward to the Friends participation in our planning and project efforts. There's a lot going on, and if you're interested, we have plenty of volunteer opportunities. Also, please plan on attending our Reunion later this year, it promises to be a good time! See ya there! And on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BandelierNPS.

Jason