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Give the gift of giving by volunteering at Chimney Rock National Monument

By Nadia Werby
Special to The PREVIEW

For your New Year’s resolution this year, give the gift of giving by becoming a volunteer at Chimney Rock National Monument. There are a number of volunteer opportunities at Chimney Rock and the amount of time a volunteer puts in at the site or behind the scenes is flexible. It is an exciting time to be involved with Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA), and with the monument designation, visitation is expected to continue to increase.

CRIA is in need of tour guides, monitors, cabin hosts, maintenance crew, administrative work and a new position this season, kiva interpretive host.

The monument’s care, protection and preservation, as well as public interpretation and education, are the mission of the CRIA, a non-profit organization that manages the interpretive program at the monument under a special use permit with the Pagosa Ranger District, USDA Forest Service. CRIA has approximately 80 friendly volunteers who donate in access of 12,000 hours to make the Chimney Rock Interpretive Program work. Without CRIA and the volunteers’ skills and valuable time, it would simply be impossible to keep this local, nonprofit, interpretive program viable and the gates to Chimney Rock open. So, please, come join the team.

One of the perks of becoming a CRIA volunteer is the friendships that develop between volunteers and the continuing education on related topics of interest.

CRIA will be sponsoring a free lecture series that will be open to the public following their monthly potlucks starting on Jan. 9at the Ross Aragon Community Center. The CRIA potlucks are the second Thursday of each month beginning at 6 p.m. and the lecture will take place at 7 p.m.
Our first speaker, Kevin Khung, will be talking about the West Fork Complex Fire that occurred this past summer, including factors involved in the decision-making processes and a history of fires in the southwest. Kevin Khung is the District Ranger for the San Juan National Forest, Pagosa Ranger District and he has been with the U.S. Forest Service for 21 years throughout southwest Colorado, Wyoming and New England.

CRIA operates in partnership with the USDA Forest Service and the San Juan National Forest. For more information on the various volunteer opportunities available, or to make a donation, visit www.chimneyrockco.org or call 731-7133. CRIA relies heavily upon donations and cannot survive on tour fees alone.

This story was posted on January 9, 2014.