Sep 122005

Tiny Utah town has impressive Anasazi, dinosaur museums Ron Dungan
The Arizona Republic

You will probably never plan a trip to Blanding, Utah. But if you travel in the Four Corners area and find yourself passing through, the small town’s museums are worth stopping for.

Don’t miss the Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum. It has an impressive display of Anasazi artifacts.

The museum is built near a ruin, part of which has been restored. As ruins go, Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde are more impressive, but Edge of the Cedars has excellent examples of pottery, knives, arrowheads, awls and other items.

Much of the year, you’ll see snow on the Abajo Mountains in the background as you walk by the ruin walls, an impressive sight that gives you an idea of why the Anasazi lived in the valleys rather than the mountains.


 Posted by at 10:37 am
Sep 062005

Farmington Daily Times Plan to pave dirt road to ancient canyon draws mixed reviews

The highway bill that President Bush recently signed — $286 billion in spending — contains $800,000 to smooth the ride on the recommended route into Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

San Juan County, which owns the road, plans to apply chip seal — layers of oil and crushed rock chips — to 13 miles of dirt.

With five miles already done, and three more previously scheduled for next spring, the entire 21 miles connecting major artery U.S. 550 and Chaco could be paved within a couple of years. …

The park, in northwestern New Mexico, gets about 80,000 people annually, and chief of interpretation Russ Bodnar says opinions about the road are evenly split.

“Some of them are just absolutely appalled that the access to a national park could be so horrible. Other folks walk in and tell us that they realize it makes Chaco a special place,” he said.
Park officials are taking no position on the paving, since it’s San Juan County’s road. Nor have they estimated its impact on visitation.

Can’t we spend a bit of that $800,000 on some guestimates? mjh


 Posted by at 3:57 pm
Aug 302005

The Albuquerque Tribune: La Vida
Trail Tales: Nature pioneer’s name lives on at camp area
By Ollie Reed Jr.
Tribune Columnist

But 90 years ago, this part of the mountain was a wilder place of greater solitude. What roads existed here then were dirt and rock and a trip to the mountains from Albuquerque was an enterprise requiring some planning beyond tossing a bottle of water and a tube of sunscreen into the back seat.

It was during this period that William Henry “Doc” Long established his field camp on the site now occupied by the picnic area named for him.

Long was a pioneering forest pathologist, a man who studied the diseases of trees….


 Posted by at 10:17 am
Aug 272005

.: Corvallis Gazette-Times :. Archives
Colorado dig at dam site running out of time, money
The Denver Post

PARKER, Colo. — Amid the weedy expanse that soon will become this growing town’s reservoir, Erik Gantt and his archaeological crew are fighting a battle against time.

The group from Fort Collins-based Centennial Archaeology Inc. was invited to Douglas County nearly a year ago to investigate findings that ancient people lived at the creek site southwest of Parker for thousands of years, building homes, creating artistic objects and hunting food.

But budget overruns due to time-consuming discoveries on the Rueter-Hess Reservoir land have prompted the Army Corps of Engineers to ask that archaeologists abandon the 6,500-year-old site early next month.

Bulldozers would shovel dirt over sites that have already yielded some of Colorado’s oldest pottery and what may be a one-of-a-kind kiln. …

Because only 1 percent to 2 percent of the site was excavated, meaning more money would be needed, town officials argued that a cap should be put on the work. …

But if the archaeologists pack up next month and rebury dig areas, the decision could add to a continuing nationwide debate over whether public needs should trump preservation of prehistoric finds. …

“There are complex deposits all along (Rueter-Hess) that you simply couldn’t have planned for,” said Larry Todd, an anthropology professor at Colorado State University. “If your only concern is economics, then it’s impossible to argue against.

“But everyone involved here has to know that you’re dealing with an irreplaceable, nonrenewable piece of history.”

The site was home to prehistoric people that lived there 6,500 years ago to about 1,800 years ago. The oldest artifacts predate Egypt’s pyramids by more than 3,000 years and Plato’s teachings in Greece by more than 6,000 years.

A different project —

Ah, Wilderness!: study area under water within a few years

A team from SWCA Environmental Consultants is wrapping up four years of investigations this summer because the Animas-La Plata Project, a settlement of American Indian water-right claims, will leave the study area under water within a few years.


 Posted by at 3:58 pm
Aug 272005
Environmental victory at Red Paint Canyon
by Sherry Robinson

In the end, all the people who cared about Warm Springs and Red Paint Canyon — Apaches, ranchers, farmers and residents — spoke with one voice.

They said “no.”

Last week, the Division of Mining and Minerals turned down an application to drill in an area that’s both fragile and sacred.

mjh’s Blog: More About the History Around the Monticello Box

mjh’s Blog: Help Save A Special Place in New Mexico


 Posted by at 3:48 pm
Aug 242005

Arctic melt likely to worsen, scientists warn – Environment –

The rate of ice melting in the Arctic is increasing and a panel of researchers says it sees no natural process that is likely to change that trend.

Within a century the melting could lead to summertime ice-free ocean conditions not seen in the area in a million years, the group said Tuesday.

Melting of land-based glaciers could take much longer but could raise the sea levels, potentially affecting coastal regions worldwide.


 Posted by at 4:57 pm
Aug 242005

Q: Are the Chaco Canyon ruins related at all to those at Mesa Verde? EB

A: There are connections between Chaco and Mesa Verde. I’m not an anthropologist or historian. I can say that both were built by the Anasazi, sometimes known as Ancestral Puebloans. I believe the big construction at Mesa Verde started later than the big construction at Chaco, which was occupied for at least hundreds of years and had about a 200 year run of Great Houses (about 950 to 1150AD). People surely moved back and forth between the two locations (among many others throughout the Four Corners). Mesa Verde may have been occupied later than Chaco (into the 1300’s).



 Posted by at 1:43 pm
Aug 072005

ABQjournal: Local Biologists’ Vision of Restored Rio Grande Valley Taking Hold
By Tania Soussan
Journal Staff Writer

Cliff Crawford has been talking about a Rio Grande bosque made up of scattered groves of cottonwoods and willows separated by open, grassy savannas for years.

Now, with tree thinning and restoration projects gathering momentum and creating change in the bosque, Crawford’s vision seems attainable. …

There are other benefits of restoring a more open bosque, including making trees less vulnerable to disease and saving water.

“What we’re focused on here is ecosystem function,” Grogan said. “We’re trying to make the bosque more resilient.”

Stands of trees in the bosque now are typically 10 to 15 feet apart, but they should be 40 feet apart, said Yasmeen Najmi of the conservancy district.

Thinning out the trees and replanting young cottonwoods and shrubs to emphasize patchiness with different ages and species of natives is a priority.


 Posted by at 2:42 pm
Aug 072005

ABQjournal: Group Comes to Aid of Stranded or Injured Hikers in the Sandias
By Toby Smith
Journal Staff Writer

Chances are you won’t bump into an Albuquerque Mountain Rescue Council volunteer unless you are in trouble. Big trouble.

Say you’re a hiker in the Sandia Mountains who wanders off course, slips and turns his ankle. Suddenly you’re stuck with a bum foot and no idea which way to go.

It’s getting late when your friends in town start to worry about you. That’s when the Albuquerque Mountain Rescue Council generally gets a telephone call, usually from the State Police.

Fifty years old this year, the AMRC is a wilderness and search and rescue team, one of several working in New Mexico.

The group got going in February 1955 when people were needed to recover and bring down bodies from the TWA airplane crash in the Sandias. …

“The Sandias are much more complex than they look from the city,” says Scherzinger, a Sandia Labs aerospace engineer. “They’re pretty big, and it’s easy for people to get lost up there.”

Albuquerque Mountain Rescue


 Posted by at 2:38 pm
Jul 312005

ABQjournal: Around New Mexico

State Buying Land To Protect Flower

The State Forestry Division is buying 116 acres of the Blue Hole Cienega, a wetland near Santa Rosa, to protect habitat for the rare Pecos sunflower.

The area has one of the few remaining large stands of the sunflower, which is listed as an endangered plant by the state and as threatened by the federal government.

The purchase — paid for with $75,000 each from a federal grant and state Department of Transportation money used to mitigate highway impacts — marks the first time the state has bought land to protect an endangered plant.


 Posted by at 2:57 pm
Jul 222005

ABQjournal: Internet Opens Door to N.M.’s Past By Sue Major Holmes, The Associated Press

[T]he state on Thursday unveiled a Web site — — to bring New Mexico’s people, places, events and stories out of the archives and into the Internet world. …

The site is designed so people can access information through portals marked story, time, place and people. …

The site currently spans from about A.D. 1100 to 2000, but Rael-Galvez wants it redesigned to start at what pueblo elders call “time immemorial” to include origin stories— whether those be stories elders have told through the generations or Oñate leading settlers up the Camino Real.

The story section “will explore what stories tell us about the past,” everything from diary entries to oral histories, the state historian said. It will contain a revolving library in which visitors can click on a word and hear it in languages ranging from Tewa to Hebrew to Spanish, illustrating New Mexico’s diversity and multilingual society.

The people section is largely biography but includes different perspectives, such as those of children or women or how people are identified by the outside community and how they see their own place in the community, Rael-Galvez said.

The theme of place centers on the idea that “wisdom sits in places,” he said.

That section has images and maps of places and a virtual exhibit of four northern New Mexico grants that was put together by media design students at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas. The section will eventually explore roads such as the famed Camino Rael or Route 66.


 Posted by at 2:39 pm
Jul 202005

Durango Herald Online
Archaeologists excavating clues of Ridges Basin
By Dale Rodebaugh
Herald Staff Writer

Fresh data indicate that the ancient inhabitants of Ridges Basin southwest of Durango were there for a much shorter time than previously thought, the archaeologist in charge of excavation said.

A team from SWCA Environmental Consultants is wrapping up four years of investigations this summer because the Animas-La Plata Project, a settlement of American Indian water-right claims, will leave the study area under water within a few years.

“Tree-ring analysis shows there were two distinct periods of occupation,” Jim Potter said on Monday during a tour of the Sacred Ridge, the most significant settlement. “There was a late Basketmaker II period from 200 to 400. After a long hiatus, the area was occupied from 750 to 800 at which time there was a very abrupt abandonment.”

Tree-ring analysis of wood found in pit houses indicates no wood later than the year 803, with intense use of the area in the period 775 to 800, Potter said.

Previous estimates of second-period occupation, which didn’t have the benefit of tree-ring analysis, pegged use of the area from 650 to 850. The earliest tree-ring evidence dates from the 300s.

Narrowing the period of occupation indicates that the basin wasn’t inhabited by a few people moving around, but a lot of people during a relatively short time, Potter said.

“We think that multiple ethnic groups, composing 500 to 1,000 people, lived in the area during the late 700s,” Potter said. “When they left at about 800, they probably dispersed in different directions.”

The inhabitants were probably different to the level of language, Potter said. They were certainly socially diverse, as evidenced by their architecture and how they buried their dead. Modern Puebloans such as the Zia, Acoma, Jemez and Laguna have ties to varying degrees with the inhabitants of Ridges Basin.

Eighty sites, including 72 pit structures, will have been excavated by the time the archaeological field season ends Sept. 30, Potter said. The Sacred Ridge, which overlooked wetlands, was the most populated site, occupied right up to the departure of the ancestral Puebloans.

Three years of data analysis will follow the conclusion of field work, Potter said. Finally, all artifacts, photographs, maps and written records will be housed at the Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores. All material will be available to researchers and the general public. The Southern Ute Indian Tribe and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe are interested in the educational and archaeological aspects of the project.

Interpretation of findings is speculative at this point, Potter said, including the reasons the ancestral Puebloans abandoned the basin. Possibilities for their departure could have been environmental (a hard life at high elevation in a cool temperature) or social conflict (trauma evidenced in bones).

In addition to the chronology gleaned from analyzing tree rings, geological evidence indicates Ridges Basin was a very marshy environment, Potter said. Prehistorically, the basin contains a natural lake fed by what today is known as Basin Creek.

Obsidian artifacts from the Jemez Mountains in northern New Mexico and redware shards and vessels from today’s Utah were uncovered in Ridges Basin excavations. Their presence suggests trade connections with neighboring groups, Potter said.

Once excavation is done, archaeologists will have literally millions of artifacts (a single shard is an artifact) to analyze, Potter said. Projectile points, charred botanical matter (corn, wood, seeds and tobacco), bones and ceramics will be examined.

“We have the skeleton of what the Ridges Basin settlement looked like,” Potter said. “We’ll flesh it out in the next three years.”


 Posted by at 7:25 pm
Jul 162005

The Globe and Mail: B.C.’s Gwaii Haanas named top park

[I]n a survey of 55 national parks in the United States and Canada published in the July-August issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine[:]
No. 5. Chaco Culture National Historical Park, NEW MEXICO (Score: 72 out of 100)

The long, unpaved access road pleased panelists by keeping this archaeologically rich site untrampled. “Its remote location means Chaco Canyon remains a relatively genuine experience. It is still possible to envision the Anasazi life and find quiet moments of solitude.” Caveat: “Nearby town is incredibly littered.”


The survey ranked six Canadian parks in the top 16. The magazine credits Canada’s conservationist approach and relatively low visitation to its parks for the strong showing. …

Three hundred experts in sustainable tourism and park management evaluated the parks for the survey.

Destination Scorecard: National Parks @ National Geographic Traveler

No destination rated 90 or above (“unspoiled and likely to remain so”)….

#14 Mesa Verde National Park
COLORADO (Score: 63)

Panelists disagree on Mesa Verde’s condition, from “well-managed” and “marvelous interpretive walks” to “serious wildfire problems and damage; archaeological heritage in danger; reduced aesthetic appeal.” The gateway, Cortez, “has a true Western feel.”


Why Canada?

Of these 55 parks, only ten are Canadian, but eight of them score above average. Sixty percent make it into the top quarter of the scoring range, versus a paltry 22 percent for the U.S. What’s going on?

Obviously it helps to be northern. Parks with short seasons suffer less tourist trampling. All four surveyed Alaska parks did well, too. But there’s more to it. By law, Parks Canada must first protect the environment, whereas Congress demands the U.S. National Park Service protect nature while also promoting outdoor recreation, dual mandates that can conflict when too many park-lovers show up.

Last, says one U.S. panelist, “Canadians in general take their government’s role in preserving parks more seriously.” In short, they’ll spend some money. “U.S. parks are now forced to be more self-sufficient,” agrees a U.S. recreation ecologist, “whereas Canada has maintained better funding.” Apparently, you get what you pay for.


 Posted by at 3:30 pm