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Site Restoration Facilitated By Helicopter Deliveries

Bandelier National Monument

National Park News

Alcove House, a significant but difficult to access cultural site within the park, is being repaired through the efforts of staff members from several divisions – and with the assistance of a contract helicopter that is delivering building materials to the location via a 150-foot long line.

Alcove House is a 14th-century alcove site that includes a semi-subterranean kiva and the partial remains of a two-story complex of twenty cavate and masonry rooms. The kiva structure is significant both for its pre-Hispanic origins and as a historic structure representing the development of archeology as a discipline, early preservation efforts initiated under the Antiquities Act, and the development of Bandelier National Monument.

The kiva has outstanding value and importance to the general public, culturally affiliated Native American tribes, and special interest groups who visit the monument. On a typical year, some 220,000 visitors come to see and study the cultural resources in Frijoles Canyon: this site is among the most visited in the canyon.

The need for masonry repairs to the kiva walls was established based on conservation studies begun in 2010. A significant complexity to this project is transporting the construction materials to the site, which is located 140-feet above the canyon floor and is accessed through a series of wooden ladders.  Resource managers settled on helicopter supply of materials to the site as the preferred method, and developed an implementation plan with support from the park’s fire management division.

On June 13th, an A-Star B3 helicopter from Mountain Air Helicopters delivered building materials with a 150-foot long line.  Ten loads were delivered to the site, totaling 7,500 pounds of material, which will be used to repair the kiva masonry walls.  Loads had to be cleared immediately after delivery to ensure there was space for the next load in the small landing area, close to the alcove edge. Helicopter work was completed smoothly and safely over the course of one hour.

This collaborative effort included contributions by a number of people:

  • Chief of resources Barbara Judy, Bandelier;
  • Vanishing Treasures staff members Sarah Stokely, Jonathan Holdsworth, Rachel Adler, Molly Ray, Steve Matt, Bandelier;
  • Archeologists Rory Gauthier and Stewart Robertson, Bandelier;
  • SCAs Amy Washuta, Luke Gommermann, Josh Jojola, and Emily Polansk, Bandelier;
  • Trail crew leader Derek Beitner, Southeast Arizona Group;
  • Trail crew members Reed Kennard, Paul Irby and Chris Beitner, Canyonlands;
  • Zone safety officer Rita Causby;
  • Aviation project manager Josh Brookshire, helitack crew members Bonnie Bolser and Jim Dotson, and pilot Zaron Welch, Bandelier.

Special thanks to colleagues in Intermountain Region’s safety program who helped plan this project and to Intermountain Region cultural resources colleagues who cheered the park on, saying that this project could be done.


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