September 2009

Dear e-Friends of Bandelier,

The National Park Service has bombarded us with information on the upcoming Ken Burns PBS TV series on the national parks that begins on September 27. The series won't mention Bandelier, which is a national monument, but most people who love any unit of the National Park System usually love them all, so do watch the series.

This is a quick newsletter to let you know the status of Bandelier during the Visitor Center (VC) remodeling. Park managers closed the VC on September 21. They installed a temporary building on the left side across Frijoles Creek of the bridge, where rangers provide visitor information, tours, and Junior Ranger badges, and where the bookstore and video room are now located. The first footbridge in Cottonwood Campground crosses Frijoles Creek to the Main Loop Trail, so visitors to Tyuonyi and the cavates won't be affected by the closure. The rangers hope to make the remodeling process as unobtrusive as possible. They are not planning any special events like a fiesta this year because parking will be limited. At busy times like the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, Bandelier hopes to partner with the Los Alamos bus system for off-site parking and bus shuttles to cope with parking limitations in Frijoles Canyon.

Park managers hope to complete the renovation by Memorial Day 2010. We are all looking forward to the new facilities. Members of local pueblos contributed to the design and we, the Friends, funded a number of items for the new exhibits. The bookstore will have its own room, as will the theater with a new video. I think they will even upgrade the bathrooms!

Chief of Interpretation Lynne Dominy bought a camcorder to install inside the VC so viewers can watch on the web how the renovation is progressing. Lynne and "our" web guru intern, Colin McArthur, have problems with Bandelier's National Park Service (NPS) website, so they asked if we could host the camcorder on the Friends' website. I really want it to be available, but our website may not have enough bandwidth, so it is a work in progress. After the VC renovation is finished, Lynne wants to move the camcorder around the park so people can watch the deer come to browse in the evening and the vultures return in the spring, etc. from the comfort of their cell phones. (I find technology a never-ending wonder!)

Ranger Sally King recorded some local bird songs. She would like to have them on the NPS website, but Colin said he didn't have time. (He could do it in minutes on a regular website.) I'll see if our webmaster, Laurie McGavran, can put them on our website. Oh, the hurdles bureaucracies can create!

Firefighters took some aerial videos of Bandelier's recent San Miguel wildfire. Colin was able to get them on the NPS web site They are five short little pieces from a helicopter; the only audio sound is the rotary blades. But, you can see how rugged the fire area is.

Current conditions: rain has extinguished the "good" fire. It cleaned out a lot of backcountry deadfall without harming any structures. Colin is away at school for his sophomore year but returns to Bandelier for holidays and summer vacation. Lynne will be on detail as the acting superintendent at Mt. Lassen National Park for three months.

In other news, we received generous donations from the Delle Foundation. The trustee is an avid hiker and had previously donated funding for materials for opening the Cerro Grande area in the Bandelier highcountry in 2005. Now her new donations are buying supplies to restore the trail severely damaged by floods in 2006 in Frijoles Canyon. Crews are working on the project now. If you hike in Frijoles Canyon above Alcove House, send us some photos of the work and I'll ask our webmaster Laurie to post them on our website.

Speaking of Cerro Grande--when the park opened the area in 2005, it didn't have the resources to put in trails. At that time, the sanctioned more informal routes that merely mark the way. The route up the mountain steep, so it is showing signs of erosion and receiving visitor complaints. The NPS has since determined that routes are not appropriate; however, new superintendent Jason Lott and new Chief of Resource Management Barbara Judy are now considering a real trail with standard grades. (I offered to conduct a little fundraiser by the Friends to install a bench or two at nice viewpoints along the trail.) Cerro Grande is an important hiking experience in the Jemez Mountains. It is the only peak with the iconic south-facing grasslands that is readily accessible for public hiking. Even if you are not particularly interested in grasses, the views are wonderful, and to a hiker, "a mountain is to climb."

Our funding commitment to Bandelier was relatively modest this year, and we have met all our obligations. We paid $1,563 for printing the summer Tuff Times newspaper. The paper is distributed in Los Alamos and I mail it to out-of-town Friends unless they decline. We paid $326 for printing Boy Scout Stewardship booklets relevant to Bandelier, $800 for Pueblo dancers for Memorial Day and July demonstrations, and $225 for breakfast burritos for the Earth Day clean-up crew. The rangers cancelled bread baking and Labor Day dances because of the VC renovation; instead, Lynne asked that we pay $1,527 for printing 40,000 Bandelier rack cards to put in local tourist venues. (National parks now feel they have to advertise their existence.) We distributed a special donation for an archival storage cabinet for Bandelier's archives, much appreciated by archivist Gary Roybal.

Thank you all, dear Friends, for such faithful continued support, especially in these hard times. Our best wishes to you all for a good autumn.

Dorothy Hoard, President, Board of Trustees.