2011 was a turning point for Bandelier National Monument.
That not only the year of the Las Conchas Fire and post-fire flooding, it began with a severe drought that prompted backcountry closures and included manmade challenges such the discovery of a marijuana operation in the park, a critical electrical infrastructure failure, frozen pipes and a natural gas shortage.
At an Aug. 27 presentation to the Local Emergency Planning Committee, Bandelier Superintendent Jason Lott stressed the lessons learned during that time and the steps Bandelier has taken to address the issues. Those include asking for help, delegating authority and “over communicating.”
Lott came back to communication again and again, and the importance of building relationships ahead of time.
“You can’t spend too much time working together,” Lott said. “Otherwise, if I sit in this hole over here and other people sit in their offices and you don’t network, that’s how you get a Cerro Grande Fire. And a big part of that Cerro Grande Fire was that we didn’t have good relationships.”
Lott pointed to a similar disconnect during the Las Conchas blaze.