Chimney Rock volunteer open house Saturday

Mark your calendars for Saturday, April 11, for the Chimney Rock Interpretive Association’s (CRIA) annual open house, “Fun, Friendship and Food,” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the South Conference Room of the Pagosa Springs Community Center.

Chimney Rock volunteers will be on hand to share their volunteering experiences and help you determine how you may fit your unique talents into the CRIA program.

Why do people join the Chimney Rock program?

The reasons are varied. Some feel that by helping CRIA keep the gates open at Chimney Rock, they are helping support the local community. Chimney Rock is the most popular seasonal attraction in the Pagosa Springs area, serving nearly 11,000 visitors during the last season, many from foreign countries. This increase in tourism helps support local businesses and our local economy.

Some people join because they find it an excellent way to meet new friends here in Pagosa Springs. Our monthly potlucks, with speakers who present a wide variety of programs, are always a fun get-together.

Some people have a strong interest in the Four Corners area and find that they have a desire to explain the Chimney Rock phenomenon to visitors. These people become cabin hosts, tour guides and monitors to greet and educate our visitors.

Last year, we implemented a new self-guided tour program that enabled an additional 1,000 people to visit the site who did not have the time for, or an interest in, a guided tour. To enable the self-guided tours, we place “monitors” on the site to answer questions. This new volunteer position is extremely important to the program but requires minimal training and little physical exertion. This year, we will need more monitors. Would this type of outdoor position be of interest to you?

Whatever skill or interest you have, it is likely that it would benefit the Chimney Rock program.

Some of our volunteer positions include cabin hosting, leading site tours, being a site monitor, administrative work, grant writing, fund raising, posting fliers, bookkeeping, administrative tasks, scheduling potlucks and speakers, being a speaker, putting together a monthly volunteer newsletter, mowing, maintenance and construction.

This year, for the first time in decades, there will be an actual archaeological “dig” happening at the Great Pueblo. This will bring some extra excitement, more visitors as well as special archaeological tours to this season. In addition, we need night time volunteers to help facilitate the Full Moon and Night Sky programs. So, if you can’t volunteer during the daytime, we have evening volunteer positions available for these monthly events.

Training for 2009 is scheduled for May 1-2 at Parish Hall. Learn about the history of the native Ancestral Puebloan people who occupied Chimney Rock over 1,000 years ago, and find out where you may fit in as a volunteer and immediately start contributing and making friends.

The Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA) is a 501(c) non-profit organization devoted to public education and protection of the Chimney Rock Archaeological Area. Through participation in tours and programs, generous donations from the public, CRIA memberships, Friends of Chimney Rock and visitor center purchases; the site’s care, protection and preservation are assured.

CRIA operates in partnership with the USDA Forest Service, San Juan National Forest, Pagosa Ranger District, through a special-use permit. For program information, view the CRIA Web site at www.chimneyrockco.org. or call Cher Logsdon, 731-1237, or Glenn Commons, 731-9155.

Join us at the community center for Chimney Rock’s Volunteer Open House on April 11 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. And don’t forget ... there will be free refreshments!