BANDELIER TAB - Pinon-Juniper Project

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By The Staff

If visitors encounter an ugly spot north of Frijoles Canyon at Bandelier National Monument, rest assured, it’s for the best.

Spots on the northern part of the canyon with branches downed and trees and other vegetation slashed are part of the Pinon-Juniper Restoration Project at Bandelier.

The restoration project, the initial portions of which date back to the early 1990s, is now going in earnest. Its aim is to reduce soil erosion in the area.

The big problem, Bandelier archeologist Rory Gauthier said, is that about half of Bandelier’s 3,000 archeological sites are located in the Pinon-Juniper area. With a high rate of soil erosion occurring in that area, the sties’ stability could be threatened.

“We’re supposed to preserve and protect these sites for future generations,” Gauthier said. “The simplest way we can do this is to control of the number of trees in the area.”

The overgrowth of the forest in the area is a primary factor in the rate of soil erosion.

In the 1880s, Bandelier’s lands were used for cattle grazing. The cattle fed on the natural grasses in the area which were vital to the area’s overall health.

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