Wilderness Act And Bandelier Wilderness Anniversary; Crews Thanked For Help With Trails

Members of the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps on their way to do trail work. Courtesy/NPS

One of the newly replaced bridges at Bandelier. Courtesy/NPS

Bandelier News:

For the past nearly three months, a crew from the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (RMYC) has been working on the trails at Bandelier National Monument, helping repair effects of the Las Conchas Fire and resulting flooding. 

The crew is one of several sponsored by the Taos-based RMYC. Bandelier’s crew has consisted of seven crew members and a crew supervisor, with crew members ages 18-25. They come from all over northern New Mexico, including Zia Pueblo, Espanola, Los Alamos and the Mora area. They work eight days on, six days off, and while at the park, camp at the group campground.

One of their projects this year was repairing the switchbacks on the trail between Ponderosa Campground and Upper Crossing. After the rainy season had passed, they replaced the two footbridges on the Falls Trail and the four on the trail to Alcove House, which had been repeatedly washed out by high water events during the summer. In early October, members of other RMYC crews, the Bandelier crew, and volunteers from the Wilderness Society spent a service day doing trail work in the Upper Crossing section of Frijoles Canyon. 

The crew will finish up this year’s session in mid-November, having learned new skills, spent time in the Bandelier Wilderness, and done work that will benefit park staff and visitors – and the crew themselves. As one member said, he is looking forward bringing his family to see the bridges he helped construct.

The crew follows in the tradition of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the years of the Great Depression. Thousands of CCC enrollees, the same age as the RMYC members, were based in camps doing projects all over the country, including at Bandelier. One of their projects was building many of the trails that have since been enjoyed by generations of visitors exploring what is now the Bandelier Wilderness. Besides being a place for solitude and outdoor experiences for humans, the Wilderness protects habitat for a great variety of plants and wildlife. Since the New Mexico Game and Fish relocated a group of bighorn sheep west of the park in August, sightings suggest that some of the sheep may be making it their home too.

This weekend marks the anniversary of the authorization of the Bandelier Wilderness, and this year is the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act; signed by President Johnson in 1964. The National Wilderness Conference is being held in Albuquerque this week, and on Saturday will host a “Get Wild” event 2-10 p.m. at Albuquerque’s Civic Plaza. This event is free to all, providing fun and learning especially for families, and Bandelier will be represented there in the midst of such activities as horse packing demonstrations, wilderness skills, mountain men, and backcountry cooking. At Bandelier Sunday, there will be a demanding eight-mile backcountry hike lead by trail crew leader Dale Coker, and Monday a photo walk at Tsankawi guided by award-winning photographer David Halpern. Call the Visitor Center at 505.672.3861 x 517 for details and to sign up for either one

“The concept of Wilderness is more important now than ever, providing people and wildlife a place away from the stresses of modern-day life,” Bandelier Superintendent Jason Lott said. “We are grateful to have the chance to protect the Bandelier Wilderness, and to have the help of so many people who care for it and enjoy it.”  .

One of the newly replaced bridges at Bandelier. Courtesy/NPS