Cliff-Dwelling-Bandelier

Donate-a-Dime Organization of the Month: Friends of Bandelier

Every month, La Montañita sponsors a local community-based organization through our Donate-a-Dime bag program.

Bandelier National Monument is located in north-central New Mexico near Santa Fe. The park was established in 1916 as an archaeological preserve for pueblo ruins dating from the 1100s AD. The non-profit organization Friends of Bandelier is a group of people who love the monument. A Board of Trustees governs their activities under a formal Memorandum of Agreement with the National Park Service. Park rangers request their help on special projects and the Friends of Bandelier try to meet their needs. They work to provide activities and information on key issues affecting the monument through letters, field trips, and media announcements.

Only a small area of the 32,000-acre National Monument Park is developed. The remainder is wild backcountry, much of which is included in the National Wilderness Preservation System. It is a beautiful land of high, level mesas cut by straight-walled canyons, some over 500 feet deep. Within this rugged landscape are the remains of a thriving culture that populated the area between approximately 1150 and 1550. Ruins range in size from small field houses and houses of a few rooms to large pueblos of several hundred rooms.

Management at Bandelier concentrates on protecting and interpreting the ancient cultural remains and the landscape itself. Rangers offer a wide range of interpretive activities at the Visitor Center. During the summer, artisans from local pueblos demonstrate the ancient crafts of the pueblo peoples. The Friends of Bandelier try to help where they can do the most good. We provide support for: archaeology, education, handicap access, Native crafts, visitor amenities and scientific research. The main function of the Friends of Bandelier is to provide funding for activities and projects in the park for which the National Park Service does not or cannot provide.

The year 2013 was not a good one for Bandelier. New Mexico was in the midst of a severe drought, then deluged with a wicked series of storms that severely affected the park. Los Alamos received over 7 inches in three days. (Yearly average is 18 inches!) Frijoles Canyon had one flood that July that destroyed newly restored trails in the canyon. The September storms closed the park for a week and did structural damage to roads and trails. Fortunately, the rangers and crews had fortified the Jersey Bounce barriers with sandbags around the Visitor Center. They had the foresight to put in two floodgates where the trail from the Visitor Center to the ruins crosses the sandbag barrier. They managed to close the floodgates before the waters struck; the gates held and the Visitor Center escaped any damage.

With no federal funding for seasonal employees because of the sequester, the $10,000 raised by Friends of Bandelier provided relief for the busy summer season sponsoring two seasonal workers for a total of three months; otherwise, it was all Friends of Bandelier volunteers.

Board of Trustee’s President Dorothy Hoard writes:

“2014 marked the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964. In commemoration, the Monument staff and Friends of Bandelier hoped to relocate two trailheads on State Road 4 that lead into the Bandelier Wilderness. Unfortunately, the new trailheads are in habitat of the Jemez Mountains salamander, recently added to the national endangered species list and before any work could start areas have to be proven clear of salamanders. Once again, Mother Nature had her say. Salamanders must keep their skin moist in order to breathe, so they only come to the surface during the monsoon season. But in 2014 the entire West was in the midst of a severe drought. When the rains did come, they were initially spotty. Friends of Bandelier volunteers scratched the ground and turned over rocks and logs. The good news is that they found nothing, so work on the trailheads was done. The bad news is that there were several herpetology buffs on the hunt who would really like to have seen a Jemez Mountain salamander.”

The Friends of Bandelier will continue to work to sustain the Bandelier Monument Park for us all to enjoy. This month your bag donation will go to The Friends of Bandelier. Your bag credit donations are also in recognition of Board of Trustees President, Dorothy Hoard, who, for decades, until her recent passing, spearheaded the organization and its work on behalf of this national treasure. While her loss is deeply felt, the Friends of Bandelier continues its work. In one of her last blogs on the Friends of Bandelier website she wrote: “For 26 years with the Friends, I’ve had to reference the old Chinese curse ‘May we live in interesting times.’ The times don’t seem to be getting less interesting.”

Bring a bag, donate the dime and help Friends of Bandelier so that we all can enjoy the ecology and culture of Bandelier.