7,000 Phoenix-area children celebrate “El Día de los Niños” with BLM Arizona
BLM Arizona celebrated “El Día de los Niños,” or Day of the Children, on April 26 at a City of Phoenix event attended by more than 7,000 children. El Día De Los Niños is celebrated by many nations, particularly those in the Western Hemisphere. In Phoenix, the city’s Latino Institute produces an annual celebration. This year, the BLM was a primary partner.
The BLM staff presented two hands-on activities that introduced the children to archaeology and careers in the BLM. The first activity, called “Career Kickoff,” was a modified game of whiffle ball. The child hit the ball and ran the bases. However, at each base the child stopped and got information about the agency and careers with the BLM. At home plate, they were asked two questions pertaining to the agency’s mission or careers paths. If they answered both correctly they won a BLM Arizona Tori Tortoise book.
The second activity was an archaeological activity called “Messages in Stone.” BLM staff introduced the children to petroglyphs, referred to as rock art, and explained their presence on public lands and archeological importance. The kids then were encouraged to paint their own stories on rocks. The children were able to take their very own “petroglyphs” home.
Special guests Seymour the Antelope and Smokey Bear also attend the event. A BLM firetruck was on the scene for the enjoyment of the kids, who of course wanted to touch it, sit in it, and sound the siren.
Students, teachers, and parents visit the BLM Booth at Dia De Los Niños
A diverse group of Phoenix-area children paint rock art at BLM AZ booth at Dia De los Niños
BLM Firefighter Leonel Chavez helps a boy into the BLM Firetruck. Firefighter Juan Ledezma is next to him.
A child painted a dinosaur track at De de Los Niños
Seymour Antelop with Phoenix school children at Dia de Los Niños April 26 2013
Smokey the Bear playing baseball.
Reenactment Captures Struggles of Pioneers’ Journey (Read on ...)
Safford Field Office
Story by Diane Drobka
Hualapai Indian Youth Rediscover Traditional Uses for Agave in Arizona
Sixteen members of the Hualapai Tribe, 11 of them children, got a look recently at ancient agave gathering station site.
The group, from the Peach Springs Hualapai Indian Reservation in Arizona, was guided by Dr. George Shannon, a BLM archaeologist, and Jonathan Azar, a law enforcement ranger. Both Shannon and Azar are assigned to the Lake Havasu Field Office.
Carrie Cannon (Hualapai ethnobotanist), Drake Havatone (Hualapai elder) and three other Hualapai adult chaperones joined the children, who were 8 to 11 years old, in the March 22, 2013, activity.
Shannon, who discovered the ancient Hualapai site in 2009, provided a guided tour of the site’s 9 roasting pit features, habitation areas, and artifacts to the group. He discovered the site while surveying the area, walking parallel transects through the desert. The presence of circular roasting pits ringed by deep deposits of ash and charcoal caught his eye. These features are dead giveaways as markers of prehistoric habitation. The site is important because it contains stratified deposits that exhibit the entire range of the Yuman ceramic types, a chronology that dates from AD 300 to Historic Contact, circa AD 1600.
Carrie Cannon provided the children with a lesson on the four types of agave found in the region. Drake Havatone instructed the children on the traditional uses of agave and provided a lesson in the Yuman language regarding the plant and its preparation.
In prehistoric times, each spring the Hualapai left their winter villages on the river in small, semi-nomadic bands to gather agave in the foothills and canyons. The Hualapai pursued an annual round -- a fairly regular pattern of movement -- to follow the sequence of ripening wild plants. In March and April, the bloom was on the agave stalk, signaling that the tuber underneath the plant was sweet and ripe for harvesting and roasting. They dug up the agave tuber and baked in earth ovens (roasting pits) for several days. They ate the inner core. Then the women crushed the outer layers into a pulp, formed it into slabs, and dried in the sun. It was saved to be baked for food and syrup, or dried for bread flour, or mixed with water and fermented to drink.
The Hualapai brought the harvest back with them when they returned to their semi-subterranean homes along the lower Colorado River. There they beat the intense summer heat as they hunted, fished and planted maize, beans, and melon crops.
The group finished the day with a group prayer. The students and adults formed a circle around one of the roasting pits while Havatone prayed in the Yuman language to the earth creator. As he addressed all four cardinal directions, the circle was bathed and purified in the smoked of sage incense. A cool breeze swept up the canyon walls as the prayer was underway. Havatone said the breeze signified that the ancestral Hualapai spirits were expressing their pleasure that the Hualapai were once again, after many hundreds of years, back on the site and practicing traditional Hualapai life ways.
BLM Arizona Honors Inner City Youth Grads in Fire Program
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Arizona honored March 28 the graduating class from Phoenix’s Franklin Police and Fire High School. Eighteen youth completed the BLM sponsored wildland firefighting program, marking our 10th
anniversary partnership with the Phoenix Union School District. The graduating class completed a 40 hour Type II Firefighters course, earning eligibility for entry-level federal employment. BLM Arizona State Director Ray Suazo delivered the key note address speaking in Spanish to the largely urban crowd. He noted that he began his federal career as a GS 3 seasonal firefighter. Suazo said, “This offers you so many opportunities. Your foot is in the door and your desire represents your community and families well.” Suazo praised BLM Instructor Dean Fernandez and Franklin’s Richard Verduzco for recognizing that youth represent the future. Franklin Principal Lorenzo Cabrera echoed the sentiment, saying, “This partnership shaped the hearts and minds of these students. This is the best fire management program in Arizona, and we couldn’t have achieved it without the BLM, the instructors, parents, and especially the graduates.” In order to graduate, the students had to endure not only the 40-hour classroom training, they also completed a tough field day building fire lines in rugged terrain by digging through a hard desert floor, handling fire starters, practicing survival in shelters, and carrying fire hose long distances. Graduate Abner Lopez, 17, said, “ I knew I wanted to be a firefighter as a kid, the instructor and the program helped me build my focus, leadership skills, and teamwork skills.” Lopez is now enlisted in the Air Force and hopes to pursue his firefighting goals in the military.
13,000-year-old Clovis site dedicated as a National Historic Landmark
More than 80 volunteers, visitors, and BLM staff celebrated the dedication of the Murray Spring Clovis Site National Historic Landmark on March 23. The event was hosted by the BLM Tucson Field Office, the National Park Service, and the Friends of the San Pedro River.
The dedication took place at the site, which is located within the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (SPRNCA) near Sierra Vista, Arizona. The two-hour event included speeches, the unveiling of a plaque noting the designation, exhibits of Clovis (distinctive spear) points and mammoth fossils, and docent-led tours.
Dr. C. Vance Haynes and Dr. Peter Mehringer, both from the University of Arizona, discovered this internationally important site in 1966. Haynes led the excavation and research from 1967 to 1971. This Ice Age site yielded a multiple bison kill, a mammoth kill, and possibly a horse kill. Scattered across the buried occupation surface with the bones of late Pleistocene animals were several thousand stone tools and waste flakes from their manufacture and repair.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced his designation of the Murray Springs Clovis Site as a National Historic Landmark, which are nationally significant historic places, on October 17, 2012.
Among those in attendance was Dr. Barbara Mills, professor and director of the School of Anthropology at the University of Arizona and curator of archaeology at the Arizona State Museum in Tucson. Mills serves on the National Parks Advisory Board, where she was involved in reviewing and recommending Murray Springs as a National Historic Landmark.
Arizona State Director Ray Suazo highlighted the importance of cultural tourism in Arizona. “More than 87 percent of in-state travelers and 72 percent of out-of-state visitors list cultural heritage tourism as their main reason for traveling in Arizona. That illustrates just how important cultural resources are for our tourism economy,” he said.
Cochise County already boasts an amazing diversity of places to visit. Within the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area alone, cultural sites span a 13,000-year period of time beginning with the Murray Springs Clovis Site and Lehner Mammoth-Kill Site. Visitors can “time travel” to visit the Spanish Presidio Santa Cruz de Terranate, abandoned in 1780, as well as mining towns such as Millville which, from 1881 to 1882, produced $1,380,336 in bullion. Thanks to recent restoration efforts, the 1920s schoolhouse at the former railroad town of Fairbank is used as a visitor center and bookstore.
Lane Baker, the Superintendent of Chiricahua National Monument, Fort Bowie National Historic Site, and Coronado Memorial noted the importance of Murray Springs. “Out of 2,540 National Historic Landmarks in the nation, none are older – or perhaps more deeply meaningful – than pivotal archeological sites such as this,” she said. “Murray Springs has achieved our nation’s ultimate level of historical merit.” She congratulated the BLM for protecting and interpreting Arizona’s 44th National Historic Landmark and thanked BLM archaeologist Jane Childress for her “determination to produce a nomination that was compelling, informative, and convincing.”
Childress recalled her favorite times working at the San Pedro. “Some of my best memories of Murray Springs are of bringing kids out here with the replica artifacts and the real mammoth teeth,” she said. “We had so much fun searching for micro-fossils. When kids are having fun, learning is easy.”
The keynote speaker was Dr. Vance Haynes. He shared his memory of discovering the site in 1966. “I knew immediately that it would be very important when I walked down Curry Draw and found mammoth bones poking out from the eroded dry streambed,” Haynes said. He and his colleague, Dr. Peter Mehringer, quickly made grant applications and it wasn’t long before the National Geographic Society and National Science Foundation were eager for them to get excavations started.
Haynes and his team from the University of Arizona labored for four years, yielding evidence of what would become the earliest well-documented culture in the Americas. The stone artifacts and fossil bones they found, allowed archaeologists, paleontologists, and other scientists to develop a better idea of what life was like for both the hunters and the hunted in the most recent Ice Age. Murray Springs came to be considered as among the most important archaeological sites of the day.
Murray Springs has been described as the largest single sample of Clovis flint-knapping activity known in the western United States. Also recovered was a remarkable mammoth-bone tool, interpreted to have been a spear shaft straightening wrench. It is 10 inches long and nearly one inch thick. The tool is the only one of its kind ever found in the Americas.
A hallmark of the Clovis culture is the distinctively shaped, fluted stone spear point named the Clovis point after Clovis, New Mexico, where they were first discovered in the 1930s. The culture appears to have been short lived (300-500 years) yet Clovis sites are found throughout the United States, northern Mexico and southern Canada.
Haynes and members of the Friends of the San Pedro River displayed both original artifacts and casts of bones and points. The dedication concluded with Friends docents leading tours of the site.
L-R Tia Bellew, Dr. Barbara Mills, Dr. Lane Baker, Dr. Vance Haynes,
Jane Childress, Ray Suazo, Kelly Castillo, Brian Bellew, child unknown
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Empire Ranch Awarded $10,000 Humanities Grant
A $10,000 grant will help the Empire Ranch Foundation showcase the cowboy and vaquero traditions of southeastern Arizona.
The grant, from the Arizona Humanities Council, will be used to develop the Cowboy Life Exhibit at the historic Empire Ranch in the 42,000-acre Las Cienegas National Conservation area, managed by BLM Arizona. The Foundation assists the BLM in caring for the ranch.
"Having this grant will enable the Empire Ranch Foundation to enhance their great work as volunteers at the ranch," said Las Cienegas NCA manager Mark Rekshynskyj. "We truly support and appreciate their outreach to youth and families, helping visitors learn more about the natural and cultural history of the ranch."
“The exhibit will accent the vaqueros’ and cowboys’ traditions, methods of working with the cattle, as well as their journey stories,” said Alison Bunting, the project’s director. “It will also illustrate the cowboys’ daily lives, including social and family life and will be installed in the 1870s section of the Empire Ranch house where the cowboys bunked.”
The exhibit is to open February 8, 2014, on the ranch’s Family Fun Day.
The Empire Ranch Headquarters is situated in the rolling grasslands of the high Sonoran Desert, surrounded by the Mustang, Whetstone, Empire, and Santa Rita mountain ranges. It includes a 22-room adobe and wood-frame building which dates to 1870 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The BLM works closely with the Empire Ranch Foundation to preserve the house and other structures, host educational programs, and provide literature to tell the story of this special place.
LOCAL GROUPS COLLECT OVER TWO TONS OF TRASH
On Sunday January 27, 2013, members of the American Lands Access Association (ALAA) and Ye Old Timers Mineral Club (YOTMC), under the leadership of the Yuma Field Office Recreation staff members, held their First Annual Off-Road Clean-up of public lands. The event took place on public lands near I-10 exit 26, otherwise known as the Gold Nugget Road. Approximately 20 participants worked for several hours gathering years of accumulated trash and debris from the area. The collected refuse was scattered over approximately five acres and weighed in at little over two tons! Removal of the trash from this heavily visited area increased the general health of the land as well as its aesthetic beauty. The event showcased the dedication of the two groups and the desire to maintain a beautiful landscape while enjoying their public lands.
Birders Wowed at Wings Over Willcox
Story and Photos by Diane Drobka, Safford Field Office
With perfect weather, nearly 30,000 Sandhill Cranes wintering in the Sulphur Springs Valley, and over 140 avian species, birders attending the 20th Annual Wings Over Willcox (WOW) Birding and Nature Festival couldn’t have asked for more. New tours, free talks and the Nature Expo kept everyone busy between tours. Live birds, reptiles, and amphibians on display were enjoyed by young and old.
Guided tours started on Wednesday, January 16. These overnight tours visited the Chiricahua Mountains, a well-known birding locale, and the Galiuro Mountains and Muleshoe Ranch Cooperative Management Area, where the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), The Nature Conservancy, and Coronado National Forest are partners.
The opening ceremony for WOW began at Cochise Lake Nature Park, where Tucson Audubon Society Executive Director Paul Green, announced the new designation of the Willcox Playa and Cochise Lakes as a Global Important Bird Area (IBA). Green noted the importance of the area for Sandhill Cranes, which migrate as far north as Siberia in the summer to breed, as well as shorebirds and sparrow species. There are 42 IBAs in Arizona; only eight of these have the elevated status of Global IBA.
Next, a ribbon-cutting celebrated a new bird-viewing deck at the Cochise Lakes Viewing Area. The deck was funded by WOW through participants’ purchases at the Silent Auction and general revenues generated during past festivals. Community support included a donation of time from Pioneer Title for title work on the acquisition of land for the deck. The City of Willcox provided the use of labor, equipment, and materials for the construction of a ramp for the viewing platform. The architectural design was donated by John Riggs, AIA, of Tucson.
Friday through Sunday featured tours to a variety of habitats to explore, everything from playa lowlands to the Chiricahua Mountain forests. Beginning birders were thrilled with everything they saw. Advanced birders came looking for specific birds for their “life lists” and were not disappointed. The present species count is 144 total for the weekend, a new record for WOW; this could increase as tour leaders submit all their species lists. Several new species were added to the list of birds seen during prior WOW weekends. Two were hummingbirds: Blue-throated and Magnificent.
Free one-hour seminars began on Thursday and continued until Saturday night. Topics included bats, leopard frogs and Arizona amphibians, bats, jaguars, lizards, cranes, turtles, plants, dragonflies and damselflies, eBird, geology, and wildlife photography.
Saturday night was capped with the banquet. Well-known naturalist, author, artist and conservationist, Kenn Kaufman, spoke about Birding in Outer Space, which actually meant looking into the future. He focused on the future that will be entrusted to our children and the importance of teaching them about nature and outdoor ethics at an early age. He acknowledged the great work that Jennie Duberstein of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sonoran Joint Venture has done by introducing kids to nature, including tours and workshops in Spanish.
Birds were not the only critters that drew the attention of tour-goers; mammals seen included Pronghorn Antelope, White-tailed Deer, Coatimundi, and Javelina.
Back at the Community Center, visitors got up-close views of live animals provided by Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center, Liberty Wildlife, and the Huachuca Area Herpetological Association.
Displays included snakes, lizards, frogs, toads, scorpions, centipedes, and spiders. Children got a thrill by holding one of several species of kingsnakes (common, gray-banded, black) or a gopher snake. Free nest-box-building workshops on Friday and Saturday taught youth about cavity-nesting birds and how to construct and paint a wooden box to take home for their backyard birds.
On stage, exhibitors showcased a Bald Eagle, Great-horned and Burrowing owls, Red-tailed and Harris’s Hawk, American Kestrel, Black-crowned Night Heron, and more.
WOW definitely has positive impacts on the community. “There were 468 registrants and 43 sold-out tours,” stated Connie Bonner with the Willcox Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture and very active WOW planning team member. “Attendees came from 24 states, including 40 cities in Arizona, and two Canadian provinces.”
Bonner continued, stressing the importance of the cranes and WOW to rural tourism and its benefits to the local economy. “We gave out over 300 maps showing locations to view the Sandhill Cranes and most of those were to people who were not registered for a tour.” “It reinforces our usual ‘guestimate’ that our attendance is at least double those registered when one considers walk-ins,” added Hansen.
So check out the WOW website, http://www.wingsoverwillcox.com/, to see what you missed and learn more about this wonderful festival.
Mark your calendar and plan to attend next year:
January 15-19, 2014.
A Mexican Jay visited one of the tour vans.
Acting Gila District Manager Kelly Castillo addressed the
ribbon-cutting ceremony audience.
Two Harris’s Hawks are perched on a
Willcox power pole.
Keynote speaker Kenn Kaufman signed his books.
A Javelina with its young darted
across the road during a tour.
Children built simple
nest boxes with
some help from adults.
A Bald Eagle on stage was easy to photograph.
A well-traveled birder loved his time at WOW.