Message #220: From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG To: "'Matthias Giessler'" Subject: Bandelier Archaeology Fire Assessment Date: Wed, 11 Jun 1997 21:42:02 -0700 http://www2.phillynews.com:80/inquirer/97/Jun/08/national/BAND08.htm The Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday, June 8, 1997 Fire and floods spur push to save archaeological sites in New Mexico By Matt Mygatt ASSOCIATED PRESS ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Archaeologists at Bandelier National Monument and the adjacent Santa Fe National Forest are worried. A fire last spring that burned more than 16,000 acres and stripped away ground cover was followed by heavy flooding, damaging valuable evidence of human settlement dating back as far as 9,500 B.C. This spring's snow melt and summer rains could cause further harm. "We can't save all of them," said Elizabeth Mozzillo, park archaeologist with the National Park Service at Bandelier, referring to the hundreds of archaeological sites within the burned areas. "We're dealing with rapidly accelerating erosion," she added. Last April's Dome fire -- which flared from an abandoned campfire -- burned 16,516 acres of pinon, juniper, ponderosa pine and mixed conifer trees in the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico, near Los Alamos. Severely burned areas stripped the thin topsoil of erosion protection -- grass, brush, trees and an organic layer containing their seeds. "We experienced major flooding last year, and we've been told it apparently will be worse this year," Mozzillo said. Mountain snow will be melting, rushing down canyons. Summer thunderstorms will unleash their fury on the barren landscape. Water will cut or trickle through archaeological sites. Come winter, water will freeze, cracking rocks. The burned landscape included 4,779 acres in Bandelier, 3,092 acres in the adjacent Dome Wilderness -- for which the fire was named -- and the remainder in Santa Fe National Forest. The scorched area in Bandelier included 422 known archaeological sites, although there could be as many as 600 within the fire perimeter. Mozzillo said 298 sites had been examined since the fire; 172 were burned and 48 required immediate treatment -- mainly for erosion control. "Things like building check dams, masonry dams, people putting in erosion breaks, reseeding with native seeds," Mozzillo said. "We also used geo-textiles -- mats of fibrous materials are laid down." Charisse Sydoriak, chief of resources management at Bandelier, said at least eight other sites needed immediate attention. And four to six additional sites -- such as stone one-room field houses or terraces -- need emergency excavation. A full assessment of sites will have to wait until the snow melts and the ground thaws, but some problems will have to be fixed before the heavy summer rains come in July and August, Sydoriak said. The 32,727-acre national monument has about 3,600 archaeological sites -- 2,113 documented. The neighboring national forest has 3,500 recorded sites and an additional 5,000 to 8,000 unrecorded sites.