By Nadia Werby
Special to The PREVIEW
It takes more than 80 volunteers to operate the interpretive program at Chimney Rock National Monument. While there are paid staff members, it is the volunteers who do most of the tasks that make the program work.
This year, there is a great need to fill that quota.
There are many Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA) volunteers who have been working at the site for over 20 years and are now ready to hang up their volunteer shoes.
It is essential to the program’s success that the volunteer corps remain strong in skills and numbers. Without the volunteers, it would be impossible to keep this local nonprofit interpretive program viable and the gates to Chimney Rock open.
This is a great opportunity for anyone who is looking for an outdoor, cultural volunteer experience. CRIA offers a great, in-depth training and mentoring program in a fun environment to anyone interested in joining our amazing team of volunteers.
New volunteers receive extended training with veteran volunteers at the site until they are comfortable in their new positions. Another perk of becoming a volunteer at Chimney Rock National Monument includes outings to other archaeological sites.
Here are just a few more reasons to volunteer at Chimney Rock National Monument:
• The land: Over 1,000 years ago, the Ancestral Puebloans built more than 200 homes and ceremonial buildings high above the valley floor.
• The view: Chimney Rock is a place of unparalleled natural beauty sitting on a high mesa at the southern edge of the San Juan Mountains between Durango and Pagosa Springs.
• The people: Chimney Rock is home to the ancestors of the modern Pueblo Indians and holds great spiritual significance to various tribes.
• The sky: Chimney Rock was used as celestial observatory and seasonal calendar by the Ancestral Puebloans, thought by many experts to be connected with the people of Chaco Canyon. The mountain peaks to the north and east made it an ideal spot for tracking the movement of the sun and moon. Monthly archaeoastronomy programs are offered by CRIA, at which you can view the full moon rising above the San Juan Mountains or view the night sky as the ancient ones did.
• The mystery: What brought the Chacoans here and why did they leave? What attracted them to the high mesa beneath the twin pinnacles in such harsh living conditions? Learn about the theories behind these questions and more.
This year because so many new volunteers are needed, CRIA will host two Chimney Rock open houses to help community members learn about the exciting volunteer opportunities at Chimney Rock National Monument.
The first open house will be held on Friday, Feb. 16, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., at the Ruby Sisson Library located at 811 San Juan St. The second will be on March 16 from 6 to 7 p.m. at the EcoLuxe Building at The Springs Resort and Spa located at 165 Hot Springs Blvd.
CRIA’s Volunteer Training Days will take place on April 13 and 14 at the PLPOA Clubhouse located at 230 Port Ave. We are very excited for the upcoming season starting May 15 and want to encourage the community to join us.
CRIA is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that runs the daily operations and interpretive program at Chimney Rock National Monument under a Participating Agreement with the USDA Forest Service/San Juan National Forest. For more information and to view the 2018 Chimney Rock calendar of events, visit www.chimneyrockco.org or call 731-7133.
By Nadia Werby