Friends of Bandelier Newsletter

May 19, 2010

Dear e-Friends of Bandelier.

Spring is here at last, and with it comes our grants to Bandelier for the 2010 season.

The BIG project at Bandelier is the Visitor Center remodeling. The work is coming along well and the rangers expect construction to be finished in August. Superintendent Jason Lott has asked the Friends to help support a Grand Re-opening party. Plans haven't been formalized yet, so Jason doesn't know how much funding to request.

The historic CCC building needed many structural repairs, but now looks sound. The remodel includes a new theater building. When we toured in April, construction was well along; the theater will be quite spectacular! The park has also commissioned a new movie for the theater. New exhibits were developed in collaboration with artists from affiliated Pueblos; they are looking forward to completion too. We expect everything to be simply grand.

The park also received stimulus money for maintenance and upgrades at Juniper Campground. It will be closed all summer, but nicer when it opens again.

Other Grants

Archaeological Survey: $6600. The rangers at Bandelier will continue their archaeological inventory of surface sites during the summer of 2010. The areas to be inventoried consist of small tracts scattered throughout the park that have never been surveyed because of their isolation. The four-person survey crew will consist of two experienced archaeologists, a student archaeologist and a beginning student intern. Jason requests that we cover the cost of the beginner. This position is at the GS-3 level, which pays the individual $10.46 an hour. He estimates the cost at $2,200 per month or $6,600 for the three-month field season. This will allow the student to gain on-the-ground field experience in inventory techniques, artifact analysis, field mapping, and GIS database analysis. Having an additional member will also enable the crew to cover more acreage.

The archaeological surface survey of Bandelier began in 1987. Bandelier's archaeologist, Rory Gauthier, expects to complete the survey within three years. Eventual coverage will include only about 85 percent of the monument. Rory says his data indicate that the original inhabitants didn't utilize the sheerest cliffs of Bandelier's canyons much!

Wildlife Program Support: $2500. The wildlife program needs field assessments of eighteen (18) game exclosures that were installed eight years ago. They are designed to measure differences in the composition of vegetation inside and outside the structures due to browsing by elk and deer. The exclosures consist of 8-foot chain link fencing with a barbed wire cap. Many have suffered damage over the years from falling trees, weather, and other impacts. The assessor will determine the damage at each location so the rangers can plan the repairs. Staff needs to resume vegetation monitoring to produce data relevant to the park's pending General Management Plan. The Wildlife Program is in the process of seeking funding to continue vegetation monitoring at the exclosures.

Liability Insurance for Crew Chief: $250. This summer the park will establish the Bandelier Conservation Corps, a new program that the rangers hope to make permanent. The corps will perform trail and maintenance work in the park. Personnel will consist of an NPS crew chief, assistant crew chief, and six high school students from local communities, all of whom will be NPS employees.

This program consists of high school students participating in overnight trips into the Bandelier Wilderness and to Rocky Mountain National Park. Superintendent Lott wants to provide the crew chief with liability insurance. By NPS policy, the park can only pay half of the cost, with the other half being the responsibility of the policy holder. Usually, only superintendents and law enforcement officers, whose salaries are much higher than that of a crew chief, use this insurance. Jason requests that the Friends assist with the chief's half of this expense.

Cerro Grande 10-Year Newspaper Insert: $2,152.41. To acknowledge the tenth anniversary of the devastating Cerro Grande Fire that swept through Los Alamos on May 10, 2000, Bandelier produced a newspaper insert explaining their current fire management program. Since (and because of) Cerro Grande, local fire-fighting agencies established a central location with all equipment needed to combat wildfires. They now have interagency agreements allowing them to assist each other without the bureaucratic delays that hampered the response to the Cerro Grande Fire. For example, in 2000 there was no way to pay fire fighters from other agencies to help fight fires!

The interagency firefighters are justly proud of their handling of the 2009 San Miguel lightning fire in the southern part of the Bandelier wilderness. They let it burn. They had crews on site to keep an eye on the fire and keep it out of Capulin Canyon. The fire cleaned out years of deadfall and skeletons of pinyon trees killed by bark beetles. There are some video clips from helicopters on Bandelier's website firemanagement.htm. Firefighters can't let a fire burn where it threatens property, but they plan to let natural fires burn wherever they can.

Copies of the fire insert were distributed locally by our newspaper, the Los Alamos Monitor. I wanted to send a copy to all our out-of-town supporters, but not enough were printed. I've asked our webmaster, Laurie McGavran, to put the insert on our website. I do have some extras and would be happy to mail a hard copy to anyone who is interested. I have a PDF file that I can e- mail to you. It is only 660 KB.

The rangers plan to issue their regular newspaper, the Tuff Times, later in the summer to showcase the remodeled Visitor Center. We will make sure our donors receive a copy.

It is an interesting time at Bandelier. Some of you may have heard that there are movements afoot to establish a Manhattan Project National Monument headquartered in Los Alamos and to transfer the Valles Caldera National Preserve to the National Park Service. We haven't heard of the status lately, but Congress is pretty busy with other things this season.

Very best wishes and a BIG THANK YOU for your support.

Dorothy Hoard