PEEC Receives Outstanding Environmental Education Organization Award

By Sandra West

PAJARITO ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER

PEEC was one of five award recipients at this year’s Environmental Literacy Summit, and received the only award given to an organization. PEEC educators Denise Matthews and Siobhan Niklasson are fifth and sixth from the left.

 

The Environmental Education Association of New Mexico (EEANM) bestowed their first Outstanding Environmental Education Organization Award on Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC). Siobhan Niklasson, PEEC’s Director of Education, accepted the award last Thursday, November 9, at EEANM’s 2017 Environmental Literacy Summit. “EEANM is a valuable resource and community for our state and we are honored to be recognized by them,” said Niklasson.

Continue reading

Still Abuzz, After All These Months

Photos R.W.

I know, official winter doesn’t begin for well over a month yet, and most folks in the Jemez have already had their first season-closing freeze and are all set for their long dark chill ’till late March, early April, while here, we nestled up in the warm glow of red earth and red rocks you see no smoke rising from our chimneys,  it’s still Summer, late Summer perhaps, no decent banana crop ’till climate change gets a good hold, but the air dense with more bugs than through all the past months of this year, doing what they do with their loads of pollen buzzing from flower to flower and birds gasping for a sip from the bowl of fresh well water provided for their comfort in this bit of a drought, drought lite, but growing, sharing it with the odd chipmunk, rabbit, even the occasional lizard or the neighbor’s cat.

Continue reading

Celebrating the Return of the Jemez Post Heavy Drinkers Invade Red Rocks Back Yard

Photos by R.W.

After a  sustained glitch, the Jemez Post lurches back onto the internet, still slightly dazed and not quite sure what really happened. Testing the waters, literally, here are some characters, signalling seasonal change, who, put out by the recent drought-like conditions jostle by a constantly refilled bowl of water. Anyone identifying some of these, especially the small one with all the white on its face, will be appreciated.

Yes, this one in the foreground.

Continue reading

Volunteers Needed For Rio Cebolla Wetland Restoration

NEW MEXICO TROUT

We will work with Santa Fe National Forest personnel to construct several beaver dam analogs (BDAs) on the Rio Cebolla meadows downstream of where the Cebolla flows under FR 376. The work area is approximately 10 miles north of Porter’s Landing on FR 376.

This is the first stage of a project to increase riparian wetland area, to improve water quality, and to benefit fish habitat on the Rio Cebolla. We will be applying techniques similar to those Bill Zeedyk taught at a NM Trout workshop in 2015, including post pounding, rock placement, and willow weir construction. Some of the work will be in-stream and other parts will be on the stream banks. We suggest you bring waders if you plan to work in the stream.

Continue reading

(Little) Yawning Gasps From Hell aka Sulphur Springs

Photos R.W.

New Mexico is not short on unearthly landscapes, one of them, a small confined one,  looms over us on the borders between La Cueva and the Valles Caldera: Sulphur Springs. Its unearthliness seems derived from both its natural forms as from human activity. It might be that as visited and indulged in over the millenia by Native Americans it was a strange, eerie wonderland with stinky sulphorous steam rising over some white deposits into a ponderosa forest canopy. It might have also been that way when the first settlers arrived on the scene and built their crude cabins on the land.

Boiling water-like liquid emerges from ghastly orifices in the land.

Continue reading

It Was Fun While it Lasted

Early Fall mini-monsoon made up somewhat for absence of full-blown Summer monsoon with swirling brown waters, great puddles to drive through and mud to waddle in and out of. Now, back to the still air, cool mornings and clear skies of what we expect at this time of the year, with the Balloon Fiesta set to enjoy what New Mexico promises each year (but does not always deliver).

Looking back over the past few days:

Gushing and swirling brown liquid at Soda dam.  

Continue reading

Valles Caldera Geology Field Trip (Post edited with corrected date inserted)

By Sandra West

PAJARITO ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER

Geologist Fraser Goff, who wrote the book on Valle geology, is leading a trip to the Valles Caldera with his wife, Cathy Goff,  internationally known geologist, on a day trip to see geothermal springs in the Valles Caldera National Preserve.

On Saturday, October 21 (please note, the previously posted date was incorrect), explore six different areas in the Valles Caldera with geologists Fraser and Cathy Goff. This is an amazing opportunity to learn about the volcanology of the preserve and see little-known geothermal springs with the person who literally wrote the book on the Valle’s geology.

Continue reading

Earth Art Workshop for Adults and Children at the Los Alamos Nature Center

LOS ALAMOS NATURE CENTER 

Green to Yellow Leaves by Andy Goldsworthy.

On Sunday, October 8, local artist and educator Liz Martineau will offer an Earth Art Workshop for adults and children at the Los Alamos Nature Center. Based on the work of artist Andy Goldsworthy, Earth Art provides participants inspiration to create their own works of art using natural materials.

The workshop is $8 for individuals and $10 for a pair of artists working together. Advance registration is available at www.peecnature.org.

Continue reading

Flash Flood Watch for the Jemez

Starting this afternoon all the way through Sunday night the National Weather Service has announced a  flash flood watch for large parts of New Mexico, including the Jemez. They tell us that a few strong storms are possible across western New Mexico this afternoon and evening. Torrential downpours and small hail are the primary threats. Minor flooding is possible due to heavy downpours over already saturated soils.

Both localized and distant heavy rainfall will create dangerous flows in arroyos and over low water crossings. Do not attempt to drive through these waters. Water in arroyos may travel many miles and take hours to reach your location from upstream rain areas.

In many locations the ground is already saturated from 2 days of moderate to heavy rainfall, so even moderate rain amounts in a short period of time could lead to flash flooding.  Other vulnerable locations will include steep terrain, urban areas and burn scars. Keep a watchful eye on arroyos and small streams, and stay out of flooded low water crossings.

Drier air will arrive from the west and southwest on Saturday evening decreasing the risk of flash flooding.

 

It’s A Good Time For Seeing Tarantulas

By Chris Judson

BANDELIER NATIONAL MONUMENT

Photo NPS.

Around here, in Bandelier National Monument and many other parts of New Mexico, everyone starts noticing tarantulas about this time of year.  Autumn is the time when males mature and start out on their quest to find a mate.  This exposes them to many dangers, from hawks and skunks, which want to eat them, to fast-moving cars, to people who just find them creepy and may think they should be squashed.

Continue reading

Hiking Looming Birding Movies and Drawing and Painting (what more could you ask for) At the Pajarito Environmental Education Center

By Sandra West

PAJARITO ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER

Photo Chris Swanson.

Natural arch.

On Sunday, October 8, avid hiker Chris Swanson will lead an afternoon hike to our local window rock. This hike is about two miles round trip with around 400 feet of elevation gain.

To participate, register online at www.peecnature.org. Afterward, meet Chris and other hikers at 1:00 p.m. on October 8 at Mitchell Trailhead (located at the corner of Arizona and 45th streets). Participants need to bring water, snacks, hat, sunscreen, and good hiking shoes or boots.

Chris Swanson is a long time avid hiker and trail runner who also enjoys rock scrambling and nature photography. New to Los Alamos, Chris moved here in 2016 from Southern California and hit the ground running (literally), learning and loving the local trails.

Continue reading

Fall Alert

Photos R.W.

Still late Summer in the air, and the bosque and the high country not quite committed to the new season, but symptoms of coming change are popping up all over. Here are a few faint signs:

Aspen, most are still green. This is new growth, just above Los Alamos, in an area burnt a few years ago. 

Continue reading

Deer Creek Fire and Other Forest News

By Julie Anne Overton

SANTA FE NATIONAL FOREST

 

Fire managers on the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) plan to manage the lightning-caused Deer Creek Fire on Peggy Mesa by using low-intensity fire on the ground to achieve multiple resource benefits.

The Deer Creek Fire started Sept. 15 on Peggy Mesa in the old San Diego prescribed burn area and adjacent to the site of this summer’s lightning-caused Peggy Fire.  Objectives for managing the Deer Creek Fire include:

Continue reading

Hard Work Pays Off On Bandelier’s Frijoles Canyon Trail  

By Chris Judson

BANDELIER NATIONAL MONUMENT

Photo NPS

Trail tread before and after rehab

One of Bandelier National Monument’s most scenic and popular trails, the Frijoles Canyon Trail between Upper Crossing and Alcove House, can now be hiked without having to climb over the huge logjams and other barriers caused by the floods following the 2011 Las Conchas Fire.   For several years volunteer crews have been gradually working their way up the canyon, making spaces in the debris piles, removing hundreds of fallen trees, and re-establishing the trail tread.  In places a new trail alignment had to be located and approved.  Then this year, efforts included not only the Bandelier staff and local volunteers, but also the Rocky Mountain and YMCA Youth Corps.  With everyone’s hard work, there is again a real trail for the entire five-mile distance, and the effects of the floods are impressive parts of the landscape rather than obstacles.

Continue reading

Deer Creek Fire Smoke Rises Over the Nascimientos

Photos R.W.

Smoke from the lightning strike caused Deer Creek Fire has now become visible in the southern parts of the Jemez Valley.  It started on Sept. 18 when it was estimated at about eight acres, but has most likely grown by now. No new reports on its progress have yet been posted  on New Mexico Fire Information or the Santa Fe National Forest sites.

The fire is burning on the Jemez Ranger District next to the site of the Peggy Fire.

 

Night Sky Observation Event Offered in Valles Caldera

VALLES CALDERA NATIONAL PRESERVE

PAJARITO ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER

Photo Jim Stein Photography

Night sky hanging over the Valle Grande.

 

The Valles Caldera offers some of the darkest skies in our area and is a great place to get a better look at the night sky on clear nights.

The Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) working with the Valles Caldera National Preserve (VALL) offers a night sky observation event on Saturday, Sept. 23 from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. PEEC astronomers Galen Gisler, Dave North, Akkana Peck, and Rick Wallace along with VALL park rangers will point out constellations, planets, and other celestial objects with the help of telescopes and lasers.

They will use lasers to reveal constellations and other celestial objects visible to the naked eye and also set up telescopes to give a closer look at planets, star clusters, and celestial objects visible that night.

This event is free to the public, aside from the VALL entrance fee. No registration is required. To attend, meet at the Valles Caldera National Preserve Visitor Center at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23. For more information about this and other Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) programs, visit www.peecnature.org, emailprograms@peecnature.org or call (505) 662-0460.

 

 

Smoke Rising Over Gilman and Two Other Fires in Santa Fe National Forest

By Julie Anne Overton

SANTA FE NATIONAL FOREST

Three lightning-caused fires on the Santa Fe National Forest are putting up visible smoke today as crews keep an eye on the Deer Creek, Beaver Creek, and Ojitos Fires.

A lightning strike on Friday started the Deer Creek Fire, estimated at about eight acres, on the Jemez Ranger District next to the site of the Peggy Fire which started on July 18.  As crews monitor the Deer Creek Fire, which is about 2 miles northwest of the Gilman Tunnels, smoke has been reported from US Highway 550 and may impact the Pueblo of Jemez and the communities of Gilman and Cañon.

Continue reading

California Condors Back from the Brink

By Sandra West

PAJARITO ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER

Photo by Joe Fitzgibbon.

A very rare visitor to New Mexico, this California Condor flew into Los Alamos in April, 2015. 

The largest bird in North America, which existed only in captivity in the last 1980’s, is taking to the skies in growing numbers, and its story will be told at the Los Alamos Nature Center on Tuesday, Sept.19 at 7 p.m. Four condor experts, Bette Korber, Melissa Moore, Shorty Esch, and Jeanne Fair, will talk about the California Condor’s story and bird science conducted at LANL. This free presentation is open to the public.

Continue reading

Large Animals Thrive in the Jemez in Improved Forest Conditions

Video: New Mexico State University. 

An article in the Las Cruces Sun-News explores the results of habitat restoration  through prescribed burns and forest thinning that have been part of the Southwest Jemez Collaborative Landscape Restoration Project.

The study results so far give interesting insights into the changing conditions into the Santa Fe National Forest and Valles Caldera National Preserve in the mountains above us.

The link to the article is here.

 

Bandelier and Friends of Bandelier Introduce New Wilderness Ranger

By Chris Judson

BANDELIER NATIONAL MONUMENT

Photo:  NPS Photo

Bandelier Wilderness Ranger Bob Loy  

Bandelier National Monument recently welcomed their newest seasonal ranger, Colonel (RET) Bob Loy.  Ranger Loy will serve as the Dorothy Hoard Wilderness Ranger at Bandelier. The position is sponsored by the Friends of Bandelier as a memorial to the founder of the organization, Dorothy Hoard, who was also instrumental in the designation of the Bandelier Wilderness.  According to Bandelier Superintendent Jason Lott, “Many people know of Dorothy because of her guidebook to hiking in the park.  It’s so appropriate to have a ranger specifically for the wilderness, to help visitors appreciate and understand it as Dorothy did.”

Continue reading

Why So Blue

By R.W.

The Sandias as seen from U.S. 550 during the last few days.

There is a fairly contained, small, piñon/juniper wildfire burning nearby, on Borrego Mesa, and a prospect of several prescribed burns later this month on the Española Ranger District, just announced by the Santa Fe National Forest. None of that is, or will be, responsible for the smoke blurring our horizons and creeping into our bedrooms now, and likely to continue doing so through the rest of this Summer and into Fall.

This smoke blowing our way, and across the lower 48, is from the wildfires burning through the Northwest and Midwest, including vast conflagrations in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho,  Montana, Utah and British Columbia.

Continue reading

Eclipses and Phantoms

By Sandra West

PAJARITO ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER

 

On Friday, September 9, at 7 PM in the Los Alamos Nature Center planetarium, three local astronomers, who watched the eclipse from within the path of totality, will share stories, photos, data, and videos from the August 21st total solar eclipse.

The full-dome film Phantom of the Universe will play in the planetarium at 2 PM on Saturday and Sunday, September 9 and 10.

Phantom of the Universe, a film that uncovers the heavenly mystery of dark matter, can be seen at 2 PM on September 9 and 10 in the nature center planetarium. The film traces existence back to its beginning, stretching through space and time to reveal its unique connection to the Large Hadron Collider.

For more information about these and future planetarium shows, please visit www.peecnature.org/planetarium. To reserve tickets, call (505) 662-0460.

 

A Few Glimpses Through the Clouds

Photos R.W.

Not the best solar eclipse viewing conditions. I hope the people who paid thousands for their airbnb shelters all down the eclipse track, had clearer skies. Here in New Mexico, with a 75 percent eclipse, the moon was clearly visible partly obstructing the sun, and a gentle murk settled in for a few moments, interrupting an otherwise bright, partly overcast day.

Here are a few shots of discs in the sky interacting:

 

 

 

 

 

 

It Is Hard To See the Sun Through Clouds, So…

 

…just in case it turns out the way the forecasters predict (mostly cloudy), you can sit back where you normally sit back (not healthy, I know, but…) and get the full experience of a NASA sponsored total eclipse.

On the day of the eclipse go to www.nasa.gov/eclipselive(link is external)(link is external), where you will be directed by default to the NASA TV broadcast. The broadcast starts at 12 noon EDT and will connect with many of the NASA broadcasts distributed across the country.

Continue reading

See the Solar Eclipse in the Valles Caldera Tomorrow

VALLES CALDERA NATIONAL PRESERVE

The Great American Eclipse is coming, and everyone is invited to the Valles Caldera National Preserve to watch it.

Join rangers to witness and learn more about this spectacular natural event, free of charge, 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21 at the Valle Grande Entrance Station on N.M. 4. The maximum partial eclipse will be reached at approximately 11:45 a.m. MDT, Monday.
Continue reading

Bandelier Honors Youth Work Crews

By Chris Judson

BANDELIER NATIONAL MONUMENT

NPS Photo

Members of the 2017 Bandelier Conservation Corps, Bandelier Preservation Corps, and the Abiquiu-Ghost Ranch Crew.

Recently, a graduation ceremony at Bandelier National Monument honored three youth crews organized through the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps for their ten weeks of summer work.  The Bandelier Conservation Corps worked on trails in the park, the Bandelier Preservation Corps stabilized ancient stone walls in the archeological sites in Frijoles Canyon, and the Abiquiu-Ghost Ranch Crew did trail building and improvement near Abiquiu Lake and at Ghost Ranch.  All three crews worked hard outdoors, learning to use hand tools, assessing the best approaches for needed work, and perhaps most importantly, working together with other crew members and supervisors.

Continue reading