Web Newsletter May 2001


In May, 2000, fire crews at Bandelier set a prescribed burned on Cerro Grande to clean out underbrush. The fire got out of control and eventually burned almost 50,000 acres in the Jemez Mountains. Mercifully, injuries were minor, but over 400 families lost their homes. The National Park Service accepted responsibility for the fire. As part of the reaction, upper management at Bandelier was replaced. Superintendent Roy Weaver retired and later moved home to Colorado. Other managers found new jobs or were reassigned.

The new superintendent is Dennis Vasquez, formerly superintendent at White Sands National Monument. Dennis is perceptive, engaging, sociable, knowledgeable, and apparently has a lot of stamina. In addition to pressing duties at Bandelier, his new job includes being a member of the board of the new Valles Caldera National Preserve. Establishing the preserve is a major event for northern New Mexico. The board is expending much effort to develop a good management plan.

In April 2001, the Board of the Friends met with our new liaison to Bandelier National monument, Chief of Interpretation Lynne Dominy, to review Bandelier’s 2001 request for funding. Lynne is a dynamic young woman full of ideas and plans. Many of Bandelier’s exhibits need upgrading and plans are afoot to move administrative functions to Los Alamos, leaving space in the old lodge for exhibits. Lynne is looking for multiple funding sources she can tap for further help, but this year she has not had opportunity to approach others. Most of the proposed projects could not be done without us. Because of the fire, Bandelier did not spend much of our money last season, and we had more funds than usual to grant. Here are our grants for 2001:

Park-wide Newspaper $8,000. Funds will be used towards printing costs for two editions of a park-wide newspaper. The first edition will run from May – October at 10,000 copies, and the other will run from November – April at 5,000 copies. Lynne plans to highlight an activity important to the park—archaeology in this first edition. Other pages will list activities and features in the Park and nearby attractions. Lynne says that such publications are common in national parks; she is surprised Bandelier doesn’t have one. Anyone wanting a copy can contact Lynne at HCR 1 Box 1 STE 15, Los Alamos NM 87544.

Archaeology $8,200. Of this amount, $6,000 is left over from last year. Because of the fire, archaeologist Rory Gauthier could not survey in 2000; now he wants his money back. Funding will enable him to complete the survey of the Pinyon-Juniper zone Unit 5 (approximately 600 acres). $200 of the funding will enable Dr. James Snead to complete mapping trails on Tsankawi mesa and GPS the North Mesa trails. In 1999, the Friends funded James’ development of trail recording methods and his initial work at Tsankawi. The remaining $2,000 is granted to photograph cavate rock art as part of on going cavate preservation efforts. Lynne is negotiating to have the photography teacher at Los Alamos High School direct some of his students to do the work. Sounds like a wonderful idea and the Board hopes she succeeds.

Natural Resources $3,000. $1,000 of this funding will help provide housing for the Butterfly Research project for the elk impact studies. Entomologist Dr. Paula Kleintjes and two assistants will survey butterflies and moths for two months this summer. An SPMA grant is paying for their transportation and vehicle rental. Bandelier biologist Stephen Fettig is applying for matching funds from the National Park Foundation to prolong the study. Butterflies are an indicator of habitat health. The Board also approved Stephen’s request for $2,000 for arthropod analysis. This is the beginning of long-term monitoring linked to the elk exclosure studies and also linked to studies of climatic fluctuations. Stephen was delighted with the Board’s approval. He commented that it’s hard to get money to study bugs.

Maintenance $8000. $4,000 will be used to hire an individual for 3 to 4 pay periods to assist with urgent masonry work in front of the Visitor Center. Numerous areas within the historic district are due for surface stone stabilization. $4,000 will be used to hire an individual to do backcountry trail maintenance. No staffing currently exists to remove hazard trees and rocks from trails and to restore badly eroded areas. Many hikers report that the trails are in dreadful shape.

A Last Farewell

I’m sorry to report that our board member Jack Konopak died on February 16, 2001. He was 81. Jack’s mother was a Harvey Girl and he spent part of his youth in Santa Fe. He once told us about an overnight visit in Bandelier as a boy. After a stay in the Midwest, Jack moved permanently to the Santa Fe area in 1962. He was part owner of the Linen Shop on San Francisco Street, then opened a feed and ranch supply store in Pojoaque and the valley’s first coin operated laundry. He taught school at Pojoaque High School and was a member of the Pojoaque Valley Volunteer Fire Department. The Friends’ Board was just one of many that Jack served on: American Red Cross, Humane Society, Santa Fe Community Foundation, and Literacy Volunteers of America. Jack was an incisive and perceptive board member. He had emphysema; Bandelier personnel received many insights from Jack on the obstacles facing handicapped people, especially at this altitude. Despite his failing health, he and wife Joan never missed their commitments as hosts on our Special Nightwalks. It was a shock to us all when Joan died in February 2000. Now Jack joins her. Sleep well, two good and faithful servants.