Message #220:
From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG
To:   "'Matthias Giessler'" 
Subject: Bandelier Archaeology Fire Assessment
Date: Wed, 11 Jun 1997 21:42:02 -0700

The Philadelphia Inquirer
Sunday, June 8, 1997

Fire and floods spur push to save archaeological sites in New Mexico 

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.