Rachel Israelsen writes, IT WILL MATTER FOREVERColorado Preserve America Youth Summit 2009By Connor Pearson and Rachel Israelsen Our National Parks…

IT WILL MATTER FOREVERColorado Preserve America Youth Summit 2009By Connor Pearson and Rachel Israelsen Our National Parks, Forest Service Land and historical sites are sending out an S.O.S… what does this mean in relation to our National Parks, Forest ServiceLand and our historical sites? It is a call for help but help from the property owners – US! It also stands for Sustainability, Opportunity, andStewardship. It was one of the main messages of this year’s Colorado Preserve America Youth Summit.Sustainability is the preservation of the parks. On our youth summit we ventured to the amazing cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde, which means “table green” when correctly translated in Spanish, but in America we would say “green table” and we saw how well preserved they were. It was amazing that just being under a cave alcove could preserve it so well. We also went to Crow Canyon where we went on a curation tour and learned how they take care of artifacts and how they preserve the artifacts for future generations.Opportunity. We got the opportunity to see things that are usually not open to the public. In Mesa Verde we actually got to see and unexcavated site that is not open to the public. While we were there we got to pick up artifacts that were on the surface just laying there. It was amazing. We also think that all Americans should have the opportunity to see these sites and experience historical places with hands on activities. Stewardship means that you have to take care of the park, or any park. National Parks, State Parks, ands National Monuments. In Mesa Verde we learned that some people took artifacts to sell them. A ranger told us that one day a few years ago; two people took some artifacts from a site that they found. Some other visitors saw them and were suspicious. They told the park ranger and the ranger stopped the car and searched through it. They found a lot of artifacts and they worked on the case for 2 years. In the end the visitors did not have to go to jail but they had to pay $7,000. Overall stewardship means that you have to respect the culture and history around you and help preserve it for future generations. Preservation was a huge part of the Youth Summit. We learned about how the cliff dwellings were so well preserved that the archeologists found them with their original wood still in place. Sometimes archeologists put concrete in the cliff dwellings just to make sure that they don’t fall apart. They also don’t let the public into unexcavated sites because there are some people who will take the artifacts and then as the park rangers said, that is one less thing we know and we don’t know much about this any way. There were many important state and national park leaders at this summit who were interested in our ideas. Each of our element groups put together a report on suggestions we have for involving and encouraging youth to visit and experience these places. They were really listening to us and asking our opinion – cool! Part of our group included kids from the Hopi Reservation in Arizona. They debuted a “Footprints of Our Ancestors” video that they had made about their visit with their elders to Mesa Verde. We learned to look at these sites through their eyes and through them felt their sacredness and importance to these people.Finally we are going to talk about the actual youth summit. On Monday, June 10, 2009 we left our school and took the 8 hour drive to Crow Canyon. If you have never heard of that don’t worry, we hadn’t either until we got there. It is so fun though. They have summer camps and everything and they are really fun. On the only day we were there the weather was horrible so we didn’t get to see the archeological site that we were going to see. So we went to a gym instead. On the second half of the day we went up to the Anasazi Heritage Center and saw some of the sites up there. We were able to sit in the rooms of the pueblo and Kiva and were given boxes of artifacts that were found in each of these rooms when they were excavated. We had to determine what they may have been doing in those rooms based on the artifacts. We went to an Indian Dance presentation after dinner.Thursday June 11, we went to Mesa Verde National Park and on the first half of the day we went to some of the cliff dwellings. But the most amazing thing was Balcony House. It is a tour of a cliff dwelling where you actually get to go inside of the dwelling and experience it. The entrance requires climbing a 32 foot ladder and crawling through a very small tunnel. After that we went to archeological sites that weren’t open to the public and were even able to see pot sherds on the ground! We spent the night and then we went home after our final presentation which told the Park service’s what would bring more families to the parks. Some of our suggestions were to have an online interactive video game presentation of the park, advertising especially for Crow Canyon, hardening an unexcavated archaeological site (so visitors can see what it looks like when they find it), a Face book page, interaction with Hopi tribes in person or on video and more hands on activities.At our final presentations Larry Weise, the District Superintendant of National Park Services, told us, “Just remember, everything you say, everything you write, every action you take or don’t take, it will matter, and it will matter forever.


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