January 2021 Update
Los Luceros is a Winter Wonderland
by Ethan Ortega
Winter is a beautiful time of year at Los Luceros, and we have been fortunate to have received several blankets of slow-melting snow. As a result, the river is flowing heavily, and the plants and trees are happy. As we move into a new year, our staff are developing creative ways to navigate the current situation to continue working towards our site mission. Despite being closed to the public, we are still working with contractors and consultants to continue preserving and improving the site for the future. Below are updates on a few of our most impactful projects.
In the fall of 2020 Los Luceros began working with a contractor to address tree-safety on the property. Many dangerous branches have been safely removed and several historic trees have been stabilized. During the month of January, the crews turned their attention to the 80 acres of bosque (forest near the river) on the property. In these areas, the crew have been carefully removing invasive tree species such as the Russian Olive and Salt Cedar. This process will greatly help the viability of native species such as the Rio Grande Cottonwood and local willows. Removal of invasive trees has also increased the view of the river and cleared passage to previously inaccessible portions of the site.
We are moving forward with the recently awarded Saving America’s Treasures grant through the National Parks Service project. This is a $1.1 Million restoration and stabilization of the Hacienda and Storehouse structures at Los Luceros. The project is currently in the consultation phase in which preservation experts are examining the buildings and providing recommendations on treatment. The first conservator to visit the site examined the carved wooden folkart doors on the Storehouse. This project will be documented weekly by Interpretive Ranger, Rebecca Ward in her new blog post series entitled “Adobe Speaks”.
Although it is not currently safe for staff to visit classrooms in person, they are continuing to visit virtually. During the month of January, Instructional Coordinator, Carlyn Stewart, developed and began presenting a new live virtual program about archaeology in New Mexico. All of her lessons are tied to State Standards and Common Core so they connect easily to what students are already learning in their classes. We will continue offering this growing list of live virtual classroom visits throughout the spring. Educators can request a free interactive presentation by following the link below:
Trail Enhancement Project
We have finally received the much-anticipated shipment of benches and picnic tables to enhance our trails and outdoor spaces. These versatile benches are convertible into picnic tables, so guests will be able to choose from many locations throughout the property to enjoy their meals outside or take a rest and enjoy the beauty of our cultural and natural landscapes. Staff are hard-at-work to construct the 45 new convertible bench/tables so that they are in place by summer.
While we cannot allow on-site volunteers at the moment, we are looking for interested individuals to work with our staff virtually. We hope to have a spring Docent training and have several education project that can be worked on remotely via video chat. Please contact Instructional Coordinator, Carlyn Stewart at the email below if you are interested in getting involved:
Living Collections (Our Animal Friends)
The resident goats, sheep, chickens, and burro have been happily grazing on alfalfa bales all winter long. This month, we celebrated the first birthday of two of our favorite lambs. Biscochito and Natilla were born last winter, and their mothers abandoned them. As a result, staff all took turns bottle feeding these two babies, and now it is hard to walk through the corrals or fields without these two cute sheep following close behind. For their birthday, they got a banner, hats, and a sweet feed and carrot “cake”.
Los Luceros Historic Site remains closed during the month of January 2021 in accordance with public health orders relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. We currently have three full-time permanent staff including an Instructional Coordinator (Carlyn Stewart), an Interpretive Ranger (Rebecca Ward), and Regional Manager (Ethan Ortega). Thanks to support from the Department of Cultural Affairs administration, Los Luceros is accepting applications for a Plant Systems Operator position to assist with facilities and preservation tasks at the site. This is also a full-time permanent position and interviews are expected to be held in early February. Once this position is filled, Los Luceros will only have three remaining vacant positions including a Farm and Ranch Supervisor and two Farm and Ranch Rangers.
As always, we appreciate your support of Los Luceros Historic Site. Be sure to check back next month for another update of our ongoing projects. In the meantime, stay safe and healthy.
Originally published on January 30, 2021 as part of the Newsletter series.