Members of the Bandelier Preservation Corps working on the Ancestral Pueblo walls at Tyuonyi Pueblo in Frijoles Canyon, Bandelier National Mnument. Courtesy/NPS
Members of the Bandelier Conservation Corps and the Bandelier Preservation Corps, with visiting U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich. Courtesy/NPS
This summer, two programs at Bandelier National Monument, the Bandelier Conservation Corps and the Bandelier Preservation Corps, provided local young people the opportunity to learn skills and help improve and maintain the park.
Funding came from project money, the Friends of Bandelier, and other sources. Staff from the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, based in Taos, provided administrative support including recruiting the crews and crew leads, while the park provided projects to be done.
“We hope that the young people participating on these crews will come to have stronger connections to the area, their own cultural backgrounds, and national parks,” Bandelier Superintendent Jason Lott said. In addition, in spirit it is a continuation of the 30s-era Civilian Conservation Corps, which taught young people skills and self confidence and did such valuable work for public lands all across the country.”
This was the sixth year for the Bandelier Conservation Corps, or BCC. In finding young people to make up the BCC, the objective is to have enrollees ages 16-25, with diverse local backgrounds. This year the crew was made up of seven young men and women from Albuquerque, Corrales, Las Cruces, Santa Fe and Pojoaque. Their first week was orientation, and they participated in other training weekly throughout the 10-week session.
This year’s work projects for the crew included trail repair in the area near Ponderosa Campground, clearing flood debris along Frijoles Creek near the Visitor Center, and trimming the vegetation that grew so tall and heavy this year around Juniper Campground. During the week they camped at the park, returning home on weekends.
This was the first year for the Bandelier Preservation Corps, or BPC. All eight enrollees were from Pueblos, including Hopi, Ohkay Owenge, Santo Domingo(Kewa), Cochiti, San Ildefonso, and Santa Clara, and the crew supervisors were Bandelier staff who are members of San Ildefonso Pueblo. A major objective of having this crew was to provide the enrollees with chances to strengthen their cultural ties to the Bandelier area.
The BPC worked in the main archeological sites near the park Visitor Center, resetting stones and mortar in more than 100 of the old walls and dealing with the thick vegetation that grew this year among the ancestral rooms. In addition to working in the ancestral Pueblo sites, they went on field trips to other related sites and attended each others’ feast days, getting acquainted with some of the differences and similarities among the different Pueblo groups and their languages and traditions.
The supervisors of both crews were impressed with the young people and how readily everyone gained proficiency in their projects. The Pueblo staff members who supervised the BPC were pleased with the opportunity to bring youth from different pueblos together, providing them the chance to work together daily, finding out what traditions they shared and how they differed. As crew supervisor Earle Sanchez said, “They got along and had fun working, and everybody learned quickly. It was cool teaching them skills, especially ones that involved preserving their ancestral sites.”