Friends of Bandelier newsletter
Dear e-Friends of Bandelier
Each autumn we check in with the Bandelier Rangers to see how they,
and the projects we funded, have fared over the year. Our first
question, of course, is how the national parks will fare in this
distressed economy. Superintendent Brad Traver said his sources are
cautiously optimistic that Congress will come up with a 2009 budget
by March and that Bandelier's Visitor Center $3.2 million remodel
will be funded.
The Friends biggest 2008 projects were matching Congressional
Challenge Grants. We paid half of $27,000 to initiate Bandelier's
becoming a climate-friendly park. Using our money, the rangers
calculated that their total emissions per year are 278 metric tons of
carbon equivalents. Now they strive to reduce that amount. They
installed solar panels to generate 1 kilowatt for campground lights
and bought weather stripping for the historic 1930s buildings. Los
Alamos County crews came down with heat detectors to locate all the
leaks. Almost half of Bandelier's carbon footprint is from vehicle
emissions. Now they are working to whittle down that source
(obviously also using other money.) They purchased a Prius hybrid
for long-distance travel and a cute little electric flat-bed truck
for hauling things around in the park. To reduce traffic at special
events, the rangers hope to partner with the Los Alamos bus system.
Our money is now all spent, but Bandelier is on its way to meeting
its goal of being carbon-neutral by its 100th birthday - 2016.
Obviously, their emissions can't be reduced to zero so the park will
have to buy some carbon credits. "We are not in the power generation
business," said Brad. (Thank Goodness!! The thought of wind
turbines on Burnt Mesa is not a happy one.)
Part of the Challenge Grant was for education. Bandelier held a
sustainability logo contest for students. Winner was Los Alamos High
School student Lily Fehler. The park will put Lily's logo on magnets
to go on everything - vehicles, signs, solar panels, garbage cans,
etc. (I tried to find Lily's logo on the Bandelier website but
couldn't. It will probably appear soon.) We try to warn the rangers
not to be too aggressive on education. People come to Bandelier for
a nice quiet vacation, not a lecture series.
Our second Challenge Grant funded focus group meetings with
underserved constituents. Bandelier's contractor has finished
meeting with Native Americans from San Ildefonso, Cochiti and Zuni
pueblos. (Zuni Pueblo is 175 air miles away, but the Zuni people
rather fiercely maintain their ties to the area.) A written report
is not finished, but Chief of Interpretation Lynne Dominy feels the
meetings have great potential for improving participants' visits to
the park. It seems many Pueblo people have felt that other visitors
regard them as part of the exhibits whenever they visit Bandelier.
The second part of the focus group grant, Hispanic communities, is
still in progress.
We asked what requests we might expect for next year's Friends
grants. Lynne said they expected more matching opportunities, so
want us to be nimble in providing matching funds.
Looking back on past projects, Brad says that they are currently
ahead of schedule with the piñon-juniper restoration and expect to
finish it in less than five years. The Friends funded experiments 10
years ago. Workers cut down trees and spread the branches for
mulch. I called it slash and trash; the land looks like it had been
caught in the crossfire of a vicious war. But, the treatment does
work wonders; wildflowers and grasses sprout on the eroded soil. The
rangers treated a large area along the Lower Alamo Trail south of
Frijoles canyon about eight years ago. People used to stop me at the
farmer's market and ask, "Did the Friends of Bandelier pay for
THAT?" Brad says they are planning a prescribed burn on the first
experimental plots from 10 years ago. That should burn all the dead
branches so the place will look nice again.
For those who haven't been to our area lately, bark beetles killed 90
to 100 percent (all) of the piñons on Bandelier's lower mesas. The
restoration workers do not cut live piñons. However, young trees are
sprouting beneath the dead ones and could become overgrown again.
The rangers have to allow periodic fires to maintain a healthy woodland.
Lynne and staff have revamped Bandelier's Junior Ranger Program. Now
there are four age-related booklets to accommodate families with
several children. Each age group gets a separate badge; children can
earn additional badges as they grow. The booklets are available on
the web. Lynne says that school children print out copies at school
and then work on them as they ride the bus to the park. The new
books are available as download items on Bandelier's website,
www.nps.gov/band. (Click on For Kids on the left sidebar.)
The Winter 2008 edition of the Bandelier newspaper, The Tuff Times is
out now. It is on the Bandelier website. Click on News in the left
sidebar. If you prefer, I can mail hard copy to you on request:
firstname.lastname@example.org. The photos are MUCH more beautiful on the
computer screen. PS. While you are browsing, check out Sally King's
gallery of aspen photos on our website, friendsofbandelier.org. We
had fabulous aspen colors this year. Now they are gone and we've had
some really welcome snowfalls.
Thank you, dear Friends for supporting us even in these trying
financial times. Have a good holiday season despite all the dreary
Sincerely, Dorothy Hoard, President, Board of Trustees