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By John Gwin
Special to The SUN
The Chimney Rock National Monument site’s care, protection and preservation, as well as public interpretation and education, are the mission of the Chimney Rock Interpretive Association, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that manages the interpretive program at the Monument under a special use permit with the Pagosa Ranger District, USDA Forest Service.
Johnny Pickett, a six-year CRIA volunteer, is a Cabin Host at Chimney Rock National Monument. Her passion is the educational aspect of the National Monument’s programs that are organized and operated by CRIA volunteers. She enjoys the diversity of the people visiting the site and enjoys observing visitors who begin their visit with perhaps idle curiosity and return from their tour with enthusiasm to learn more about the Ancestral Puebloan culture. Johnny would like to see more funding for archeological and stabilization efforts at the site. Johnny urges folks to become a CRIA volunteer and enjoy the outdoors while meeting interesting people and, “plug into the archeological treasures of the southwest.”
Jean and Jim Carson have a combined 33 years of service with CRIA after their visit to Chimney Rock while on vacation in the 1970s. Jim, a Site Monitor and member of the Full Moon “Light Brigade,” enjoys helping visitors explore the wonders of the historical site. Jean, a Tour Guide, appreciates the, “imagination and creativity” of the Ancestral Puebloans and relishes sharing their story with the visitors who experience the site. Both encourage folks to become CRIA volunteers and enjoy the outdoors while having fun with a great group of volunteers focused on CRIA’s mission to educate the public about the Ancestral Puebloan World and protect this sacred site.
This year, Tanice Ramsperger celebrates her 21st year as a CRIA volunteer. Tanice has done it all as a volunteer, especially since there were only three CRIA members when she began her volunteer career with Chimney Rock. Tanice enjoys all aspects of being a CRIA volunteer, from interacting with volunteers and visitors to enjoying the site on her own time.
Tanice says, “there is an incredible history throughout the Southwest and at Chimney Rock National Monument, one can still see its cultural evidence.” Her passion is the amazing history of this prehistory culture that existed in our neighborhood and her passion enables her to vividly share their story and, “it’s a great story” to tell. As with all volunteers, protecting the site is a primary objective for Tanice. Her wish list includes improved infrastructures to support the visitors and their exploration of our nation’s newest national monument.
CRIA’s annual training for volunteers is scheduled for April 19-20, with a special tour scheduled on the 19th. For more information about Chimney Rock National Monument and volunteer opportunities, call 731-7133 or explore the new website at www.chimneyrockco.org.