FRIENDS OF BANDELIER NEWSLETTER
PO Box 1282, Los Alamos NM 87544
BIG NEWS: The President's 2009 budget that went public on February 4th includes the Renovation of the Bandelier Visitor Center in 2009! Cross your fingers and continue to voice your support for the completion of this project. If Congress keeps it in the budget, the construction will begin in the fall of 2008 and the entire project (new exhibits & film included) will be completed in 2009.
It has been a while since the Friends of Bandelier sent out a newsletter, mostly because I really didn't know what to say. Everything at Bandelier seemed to be in flux, what with continuing resolutions in Congress and the change in superintendents. Now, Congress has passed a 2008 budget, and the country, including Bandelier, can get on with their business.
As many of you know, Darlene Koontz took a new job as superintendent at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Darlene benefited from years of preparation for several important milestones in Bandelier; she deserves credit for seeing them to completion. FINALLY, after 30 years, Bandelier opened the upper Cerro Unit to public use. The area includes 10,199-foot Cerro Grande. Because people love to climb mountains, it has become one of the more visited areas in the park, after the Frijoles Canyon Visitor area. Darlene pushed the Environmental Impact Statement process for piñon-juniper restoration to completion. Workers have already treated areas around Tsankawi. In November, after three years of waiting for perfect autumn weather, rangers finally set prescribed fires in the Cerro Unit. This is the first large fire since the catastrophic Cerro Grande Fire of 2000, so it is an important milestone for the park. The fire went well, without a note of panic from the public.
New Superintendent: the Park Service has appointed Darlene's successor, Brad Traver, who started January 20. Brad sent us this nice letter of introduction:
"My name is Brad Traver and I'm thrilled to be the new superintendent at Bandelier National Monument. I have no history in New Mexico, other than as a tourist, so I'm soaking up all I can about the park, the communities around us, and the state. I've spent the last 22 years in Arizona, primarily at Grand Canyon National Park but the last four years as superintendent of Tonto National Monument, where we rebuilt an archeological program that had not had a resident archeologist in over 30 years. We undertook the updating of visitor center exhibits that had remained unchanged for the last 40 years. We also established relationships with the American Indian Tribes who are affiliated with the sites at Tonto, some members of which had never been to the park.
"At Grand Canyon, I held various positions in planning and facility development, including taking the lead on implementing that park's 1995 master plan. I participated in the creation of the Grand Canyon Foundation, that park's friends group, and worked closely with the leadership of that group in their earliest years. My education is in engineering and my experience is in facility planning and development, including a significant dose of historic preservation-something I expect to put to good use at Bandelier. I look forward to meeting you and working with the staff and the Board of the Friends in the coming months and years."
We all want to thank Vito Spinale, who served as acting superintendent since October 1. The staff says Vito did a wonderful job of keeping things stable and productive. He was Chief of Maintenance at Bandelier for many years so knew well what needed to be done. Vito simultaneously served in a new position in Washington, which he performs from his home in Santa Fe.
Centennial Matching Grants: Please recall that we granted $40,000 for two Centennial Challenge matching grants for FY 2008 and FY 2009 (the Federal fiscal year begins in October). One grant is for Facilitated Focus Groups targeting underserved, non-traditional park visitors, in this case, Hispanic and Pueblo people from northern New Mexico. The second grant is for Modeling Sustainability, although specific projects haven't been chosen yet. The scheme for Centennial Grants was supposed to be that Congress would authorize government grants totaling $100 million for each of ten years for a grand total of $1 billion. In summer 2007, the Park Service put out rather short-notice requests-for-proposals to its separate units for these grants; each park was required to match its request dollar-for-dollar with non-government funds. The response exceeded $100 million.
I talked to a fellow from the National Parks Foundation who described a Congressional hearing: The Secretary of Interior very proudly testified, holding up bulging binders of proposals, of how well the parks quickly gathered matching guarantees exceeding $100 million from the private sector. The Intermountain Region approved Bandelier's two proposals and forwarded them to Washington. Alas, things don't go smoothly when Congress is involved. It did not approve the entire amount for 2008, leaving the Park Service to decide which of its approved projects it could actually fund. We are delighted that both of Bandelier's proposals made the cut; they are currently being reconsidered in Washington with 22 other Intermountain Region projects. Our hearty congratulations to Chief of Interpretation, Lynne Dominy, who conceived and shepherded the projects through the arduous process.
Completed Grants for 2007: Our other 2007 grants went well. We funded Pueblo dancers and bread baking demonstrations. We paid for printing a fire management insert in the local paper and the autumn issue of the Bandelier newspaper, The Tuff Times. The Pablita Velarde exhibit that we helped sponsor at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture ends in February; we hope you had a chance to see the beautiful exhibit.
Transfer of two coveted Helen Cordera storytelling dolls by an anonymous
donor to the Bandelier collection did eventually occur, with timely assistance from our Santa Fe board member, Lee Warren, who also is a Volunteer-in-Parks at Bandelier. We were delighted to pay for the mandatory appraisal ($404) required before Bandelier could accept the gift. Helen Cordero, of Cochiti Pueblo, essentially invented storytelling dolls in 1964. She couldn't make perfectly symmetrical pots like her peers, so they suggested she try making dolls instead. Her first storyteller doll was of her grandfather telling stories to his grandchildren; one of the children is Helen herself. That first doll is now at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe. Ranger Chris Judson sent us photos of the dolls. I put black-and-white photos in the hard copy of this newsletter, but won't send them to you electronically; many people still use phone dial-up and those big files take forever to download. Our webmaster, Laurie McGavran, put full-color photos on our website www.friendsofbandelier.org.
As part of a set of commissions for pueblo works for new exhibits at the Visitor Center, Lynne commissioned a copy of the Zuni migration mural by Geddy Epaloose of Zuni, ($3,000). Geddy carefully researched the varying versions of the migration history with different Zuni religious leaders and created a spiral painting that reflects the continuity of the Zuni culture and memories. Pueblo cultural leaders were so impressed with the project that a group of them came to Bandelier to see the mural. They are all eagerly awaiting the opening of the new exhibits!
Website Intern, $4,300. Bandelier requested a grant from us to hire high school senior, Colin MacArthur (the Bill Gates of Los Alamos High), to provide assistance in developing a better website for Bandelier. Colin started in August and sent us an end-of-year report of his progress to date. He writes that he, Lynne, and Ranger Sally King spent this autumn determining what can and can't be done within the NPS current website systems. They've read policy, experimented with website management system, discovered work-arounds and opened a dialogue with enterprise-wide website management groups in Washington. They tried to determine the limits of the current website system and lay the framework for traversing them in the future. Colin and Sally have also begun to work with website analytics and informal visitor center surveys to understand how the website is used and prioritize changes based on use priorities. Colin continues to serve as a professional resource for the Bandelier staff, facilitating discussions about basic website usability principals and technical problems. Colin writes:
"But we've also worked on more evident changes to nps.gov/band. Sally continues to bring wonderful new nature and science information online; we'll try to make this section of the website more interactive in the coming months. We're also working with the folks in Washington to change our homepage design to further focus on orientation information.
"I'm only at Bandelier for 10 months; I'm focusing on giving Lynne, Sally and other staff the tools to discover website improvements, prioritize them on the basis of organizational needs and user wants, and execute them within the restricted nps.gov system. Our work over the past five months has been primary educational and strategic (although we continue routine website maintenance and improvement).
"We plan to formalize this strategic process between now and May, generating three deliverables for website decision making at Bandelier: short and long term objectives, personas, and information architecture guidelines. Unfortunately, not all of our work is instantly evident on the website. But I feel that we're laying the ground-work for a unique and highly usable Bandelier website presence."
PS: It really is a very good website-easy to navigate and loaded with lovely photos by rangers Sally King and Dale Coker.
In Honor of Grady (Skip) Lael from Sari and Diana Stein
Skip was Chief of Maintenance at Bandelier from 1983 to 1989. Some of you may remember Sari Stein, who was a ranger at Bandelier until 1990; she now serves at Malpais National Monument near Grants, NM. Sari especially appreciated Skip's devotion to the park and his kindness and advice to her. Sari's mother, Diana, is a charter member of the Friends. Diana and Joe owned La Galeria de los Artesanos bookstore on the Plaza in Las Vegas, NM; she continued to operate it after Joe's death. An accident forced Diana to sell the bookstore. The Plaza Hotel Partnership purchased it as part of the Ilfeld complex of the Las Vegas Historic District, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Diana now lives with Sari in Grants. All their friends will be happy to know that they are both well.
In Honor of Norris Nereson from Karen and Dennis Brandt
Norris was a physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, but was best known in the community as a legendary mountain hiker. Other people climb 12,600-foot Santa Fe Baldy from the Santa Fe Ski Basin at 10,300 feet. Norris always started in the valley at 7,000 feet.