Virtual Trade Show

Registration » Field Trips

Please read these important notes BEFORE reading individual descriptions of Field Trips

FT 1:  Los Alamos and the Jemez Mountains: Ecology and History
Departure from Albuquerque Convention Center - Saturday, August 1, 7 AM; Return to Albuquerque Convention Center - Saturday, August 1, 7 PM
Organizer - Randy Balice, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in Emergency Operations, Fire Hazard Assessment Specialist

$43 Fee includes: Transportation, breakfast treat, lunch

Participants will learn about the history, ecology, geology and prospects for the future of the Los Alamos region.  The focus will be on a long-term monitoring project and its relationships to community ecology of the region, fire ecology in the Jemez Mountains, drought-related tree mortality, and current management practices conducted by the local agencies.  Participants will also learn about events of historical importance, such as the Manhattan Project, early Spanish colonization, and the Cerro Grande Fire.

Randy and Melissa Balice conducted a similar field trip for the ESA as part of the previous ESA Annual Meeting in Albuquerque.  Between that meeting and the current ESA Annual Meeting in Albuquerque, the Cerro Grande Fire has occurred and the area has experienced drought-related mortality in many of its ecosystems.  Recovery and regrowth following these disturbances, as well as land management to reduce fire hazards, have been ongoing.


FT 2:  Life in the Twilight Zone: Lava Tube Ecology, El Malpais National Monument, NM, USA
Departure from Albuquerque Convention Center—Saturday, August 1, 7 AM; Return to Albuquerque Convention Center—Saturday, August 1, 5:30 PM
Organizer—Diana E. Northup, Biospeleologist, Univ. of New Mexico

$37 Fee includes: Transportation, breakfast treat, lunch

*For insurance purposes we will need your birthday for participants on trips #2.  Please send this information to registrar@esa.org along with your name and the trip for which you have registered.

To explore the ecosystem and ecology of lava tubes.  We will visit Four Windows Cave in El Malpais National Monument, or an alternative, depending on weather.  This lava tube is a cold trap and illustrates an environment in which life is adapted to low nutrients and cold temperatures.  Bat bones can be seen on the floor, and collembola and mites are found on the surface of small pools in cracks.  A luxuriant moss garden exists under the skylights and is home to a variety of invertebrates.  Microbial mats line the walls in the twilight and dark zones and have been shown to harbor a variety of bacterial life.  In the twilight zone, algal mats can be seen adjacent to the bacterial mats. If time allows, we will also visit Big Skylight Cave in the Big Tubes area.  On the drive to the lava tube we will drive by lava flows and craters.  On the return trip, we will stop by the Sandstone Bluffs on the east side of the monument. The trip is led by Diana Northup, a biospeleologist who has studied caves in New Mexico and elsewhere since 1984.

Precautions and Safety Considerations: There is an approximately 30 minute walk to the cave over a’a lava, which is rough and sharp.  Good footwear and good ankles are essential!  The lava is also hot in July and the lava tubes are approximately 4-6oC, so layers are necessary and water is critical.  Hats, sunscreen, lightweight long pants and long sleeve shirts will help with sun blockage.  Some helmets (caving, climbing, or bike helmets will work) and lights will be available, but participants should bring their own if available. If you want to crawl around on the floor of the lava tube, kneepads would be useful.  Gloves are also helpful for climbing on rough rock.  Bring a small pack to carry water and gear. You want your hands free for climbing. There is a climb-down into the lava tube, which involves scrambling over large boulders, but no technical rock climbing. No children under 10 please.  It’s a hostile, but stunning environment.


FT 3:  The Jornada del Muerto (Dead Man’s Journey): A History of Long-Term Research in a Chihuahuan Desert Ecosystem
Departure from Albuquerque Convention Center - Saturday, August 1, 7:30 AM; Return to Albuquerque Convention Center - Saturday, August 1, 11:30 PM
Organizer—Brandon Bestelmeyer

$58 Fee includes: Transportation, breakfast treat, lunch. Does NOT include BBQ dinner, bring about $20.

The southern Jornada del Muerto Basin is an international center for research in aridland ecology and management, featuring the USDA Jornada Experimental Range (established 1912), the Jornada Basin Long-Term Ecological Research site (established 1982), and the Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Research Center, New Mexico State University (established 1927). The tour will begin with a description of the regional context of the Chihuahuan Desert and landscape development along Interstate 25 between Albuquerque and Las Cruces. We will then visit several sites within the Jornada Basin LTER, with a focus on patterns and consequences of landscape change from grasslands to shrublands, the pre-historic, historical, and contemporary processes causing change, and a century-long history of experimental approaches to disentangling these processes and initiating restoration. The linkages among landscape, soil, plant, and animal ecology will be discussed at sites representing stages of change from grassland to shrubland. The trip will conclude with a barbeque at the Jornada Experimental Range headquarters before the return to Albuquerque. This field trip is an excellent complement to the field trip to the White Sands Missile Range, which features distinct landforms and history. Participants should be able to walk short distances from the bus (> 0.25 miles) and be prepared for warm, sunny weather (hats, lightweight clothing, sunscreen, boots, and water). The tour will end at the Jornada Experimental Range Headquarters for a BBQ, including steaks, sides, and beer. Plan return to Albuquerque Convention Center beginning at 1930, return to ABQ at 2330.


FT 4:  Global Change Experiments at the Sevilleta LTER
Departure from Albuquerque Convention Center—Saturday, August 1, 8 AM; Return to Albuquerque Convention Center—Saturday, August 1, 5 PM
Organizer—Scott Collins, Dept of Biology, University of New Mexico

$32 Fee includes: Transportation, breakfast treat, lunch.

*For insurance purposes we will need your birthday for participants on trips # 4.  Please send this information to registrar@esa.org along with your name and the trip for which you have registered.

The Sevilleta Long Term Ecological Research site (LTER) lies at the ecotone of three major southwestern biomes: the Chihuahuan desert, Great Plains grasslands, and the Colorado shrub-steppe, with higher elevation sites dominated by piñon-juniper woodlands. This positioning makes it an excellent place to study the effects of global climate change on arid ecosystem processes and community structure.

This field trip will tour four experiments at the Sevilleta LTER which address the potential impacts of global change such as N-deposition and changing precipitation and diurnal temperature regimes on semiarid grasslands and woodlands.  Grassland experiments focus on: 1) how abiotic interactions affect shrub encroachment and the abundance of dominant grasses (“warming” plots), 2) how changes in the size and frequency of summer precipitation events affect community structure and ecosystem processes (“monsoon” plots), and 3) how above (50% increase) and below (50% decrease) average annual precipitation affects grass versus shrub productivity (“drought” plots). In addition, a large-scale rainfall manipulation in the piñon-juniper woodland is addressing how the physiological differences between the two dominant species will alter species composition and ecosystem processes under altered precipitation regimes.

Participants on this field trip will enjoy the morning exploring the grasslands, with plenty of opportunity to see local wildlife, followed by a cooler afternoon lunch and tour of the piñon-juniper woodland

Recommended attire: sunglasses, sunscreen, hat, lightweight long pants and long-sleeved shirt (with a t-shirt underneath), close-toed shoes.  No hiking required.  It will be hot and there will be lots of sunshine!


FT 5:  Field Trip to Consider Ecological Aspects of the Northern Jornada Del Muer to Grasslands and Ecotones with Mockingbird Mountain and the Oscura Mountains on White Sands Missile Range, Socorro County, New Mexico
Departure from Albuquerque Convention Center - Sunday, August 2, 7 AM; Return to Albuquerque Convention Center - Sunday, August 2, 5 PM
Organizer - David Lee Anderson

$40 Fee includes: Transportation, breakfast treat, lunch.

Special ID information needed.  See below.

The purpose of this trip will be to show participants different aspects of the ecology of Chihuahuan Desert grasslands and the ecotonal variations corresponding to geomorphological and edaphic interplay in the Trinity Basin as related to the surrounding mountain ranges.  Stops are planned at strategic sites along the route.  All stops are planned for White Sands Missile Range and one of the stops will be at Trinity Site where the first atomic bomb went off on April 16, 1945 as the major feature of the Manhattan Project.

Photography will be prohibited except at certain places along the route to be explained by the trip leader.  Sunscreen is important and hats should be worn.  Drinking water is absolutely necessary.  Short hikes will be conducted in order to see the terrain in greater detail.  No strenuous hiking is involved.  A briefing on the importance of not picking up any man-made object encountered while on the trip will be given at the entrance to White Sands Missile Range.

Due to security issues, to gain access to White Sands Missile Range, we will need to collect in advance of the trip all attendees’ full names and driver’s license numbers and you will need to have a picture ID with you the day of the trip.  This trip will also be open to foreign nationals and we will need you to give us your Passport # and your country of origin.  You too will need to bring your Passport with you the day of the trip.


FT 6:  Ecology in Agriculture of Pueblo and Acequia Communities
Departure from Albuquerque Convention Center - Sunday, August 2, 8 AM; Return to Albuquerque Convention Center - Sunday, August 2, 6 PM
Organizer - Miguel Santistevan

$45 Fee includes: Transportation, breakfast treat, lunch.

This trip will visit Tesuque Pueblo’s Agricultural Program (just north of Santa Fe) that includes seed production and saving of traditional crops, medicinal herb productions, orchards, and bees.  As part of an effort to maintain food and seed sovereignty, the Pueblo’s agricultural system is an excellent example of one of North America’s oldest agricultural systems in a contemporary setting.  The next stop will be at Santa Cruz Farms, just east of Espanola, a farm that has been in production by the same family for over 200 years.  The farm uses the acequia system of irrigation with green houses, solar power, and a direct marketing strategy that feeds local children in the public schools.  These are living examples of what can be considered the most sustainable and ancient agricultural systems in the world.


FT 7:  Sevilleta LTER and Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge
Departure from Albuquerque Convention Center - Sunday, August 2, 8 AM; Return to Albuquerque Convention Center - Sunday, August 2, 5 PM
Organizer - Scott Collins, Dept of Biology, UNM

$37 Fee includes: Transportation, breakfast treat, lunch.

During this trip we will visit the UNM Field Research Station and the east side of the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge. The Purpose of the trip to will be to introduce the field trip participants to the Field Station facilities, include labs and housing. We will then go to the east side of the refuge to visit several long-term ecological research experiments including our nighttime warming experiment, our summer monsoon rainfall experiment and our Gunnison’s prairie dog restoration project. We will discuss aridland ecological dynamics and the potential impacts of climate change on aridland ecosystems during the trip. Participants should wear casual clothing, hats, sunblock, and comfortable shoes. Short hikes along level trails to various research sites will be required. There are neither age restrictions nor any skill factors required.


FT 8:  Manzanos Raptor Viewing Field Trip with HawkWatch International
Departure from Albuquerque Convention Center - Sunday, August 2, 8 AM; Return to Albuquerque Convention Center - Sunday, August 2, 4 PM
Organizer - Mike Neal, MS, Southwest Monitoring Coordinator for HawkWatch International

$27 Fee includes: Transportation, breakfast treat, lunch.

*For insurance purposes we will need your birthday for participants on trips #8.  Please send this information to registrar@esa.org along with your name and the trip for which you have registered.

Join Mike C. Neal for a day trip to one of the longest running raptor migration monitoring sites in the West.  HWI operates the world’s largest network of raptor migration monitoring sites, which are critical to assessing long-term population trends for this fantastic group of indicator species.  The site is located in the scenic Manzanos Wilderness Area at approximately 9,000 ft above sea level and requires a leisurely .5 mile hike.  Please bring binoculars (if you have them), day pack, wide-brim hat, hiking boots/shoes, compact folding chair, sunscreen and/or lightweight long-sleeved shirt and long pants, a nylon shell and or light jacket, snacks, and ½ gallon of water.  No previous skill required, but it is helpful to have some wildlife viewing experience.   Since the trip occurs at a relatively high elevation and requires a hike, participants should be in reasonable physical shape.  A brown bag lunch will be provided.


FT 9:  Riparian Restoration Efforts on the Bosque del Apache NWR and along the Rio Grande of Central New Mexico
Departure from Albuquerque Convention Center - Sunday, August 2, 8 AM; Return to Albuquerque Convention Center - Sunday, August 2, 5 PM
Organizer - Gina Dello Russo

$37 Fee includes: Transportation, breakfast treat, lunch.

*For insurance purposes we will need your birthday for participants on trips #9.  Please send this information to registrar@esa.org along with your name and the trip for which you have registered.

This field trip will highlight a local initiative underway to address community issues including fire danger, biological diversity and ecosystem health, floodplain encroachment, invasive species control, and limited water availability for the natural system.  Bosque del Apache NWR and a diverse group of private landowners, other government agencies, and non-profit organizations have developed and started implementing a science-based program to address these issues.  Join area experts in hydrology and ecology to discuss our restoration planning and analysis techniques.  We will tour projects on and off the refuge in a unique section of the Rio Grande.  The Socorro valley has an extensive native cottonwood and willow bosque (forest) and interesting restoration challenges.  Please bring a hat, sunscreen, and wear lightweight long-sleeved shirts and long pants and sturdy shoes for limited hiking across uneven terrain.  Children over 10 are welcome.


FT 10:  SEEDS Education Outreach Initiative – “BioBlitz” at the Albuquerque Bosque Ecosystem (public bus) 25 SEEDS/Teachers and 25 ESA folks plus 2 organizers
Departure from Albuquerque Convention Center - Sunday, August 2, 8:30 AM; Return to Albuquerque Convention Center - Sunday, August 2, 4 PM
Organizer - Colleen Cooley

$27 Fee includes: Transportation, breakfast treat, lunch.

The overall aims of this trip are to: (1) allow ESA members to connect with the local host community of the annual meeting; (2) use the expertise of ESA to aid local community members and scientists to preserve, conserve, and restore an area; (3) leave the community with surveying skills taught by selected ESA members; (4) introduce Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) expertise to field trip participants; and (5) build and/or strengthen connections between local schools and Albuquerque environmental groups, so that similar educational activities can continue beyond this fieldtrip. This is the third trip being organized by the SEEDS Education and Outreach Initiative, a group of students, former SEEDS participants, and SEEDS staff interested in instituting educational outreach activities at ESA annual meetings.

The Albuquerque Restored Wetland in a Bosque Ecosystem is a riparian habitat that contains two man-made marshes and a naturally occurring wetland that is managed by the City of Albuquerque Open Space Division. It is located just southeast of the Tingley Biological Park and along the Rio Grande where bosque is present along the river corridor. The man-made marshes were constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who retain jurisdiction over any river development along the middle Rio Grande and also conduct ongoing monitoring of the marshes and wetland. Bosque is a riparian woodland area, which provides critical habitat for a number of species of wildlife, including endangered species in the region. Bosque is the name for areas of gallery forest found along flood plains and river banks in the southwestern United States. It is an oasis-like ribbon of green vegetation that is most notable along the middle Rio Grande in New Mexico. Vegetation found in the bosque habitat is generally deciduous (i.e. mesquite and cottonwood trees). Therefore, an array of shrubs, grasses, and other understory vegetation are present.

The Army Corps of Engineers is collaborating with several agencies from the city of Albuquerque and the state of New Mexico to restore bosque along the Rio Grande, otherwise known as the Albuquerque Bosque Restoration Projects (www.bosquerevive.com/). Some of the project goals are to restore the riparian gallery forest, remove invasive species, reduce fire hazards, increase ecosystem function of the river and bosque, improve educational and interpretive opportunities, and improve access for passive recreational use. There are 25 sites along the middle Rio Grande that are being monitored for restoration purposes by the Army Corps of Engineers. One of these sites (Bosque Ecosystem) is co-monitored by the Albuquerque Biological Park (BioPark) and they have partnered with the Bosque Ecological Monitoring Program (BEMP) to conduct bird surveys as part of a long term agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers to restore the area. The BEMP is a program that conducts long-term ecological research using volunteers (K-12 teachers and their students) to monitor key indicators of structural and functional change in the middle Rio Grande riparian forest (also known as the Bosque; www.bosqueschool.org/bemp.htm).

Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) refers to the knowledge base acquired by indigenous and local peoples over many hundreds of years through direct contact with their environment. It includes an intimate and detailed knowledge of plants, animals, and natural phenomena. In addition, the development and use of appropriate technologies and methodologies for hunting, fishing, trapping, agriculture, forestry, and a holistic knowledge, or "world view" which parallels the mainstream scientific discipline of ecology. TEK has long been over-dominated by Scientific Ecological Knowledge (SEK) in mainstream society even though both derive from the same source: systematic observations of nature (Kimmerer 2002). 

The fieldtrip will consist of separating participants into groups of 5-7 individuals comprised of ESA members, local middle school and/or high school students, teachers, community members, and TEK practitioners. TEK practitioners will be invited along with mainstream scientists to help identify flora and fauna of key locations of the Bosque Ecosystem during the bioblitz. Each group will collect biological data from key locations of concern identified by the BioPark. Biological data will be collected in the form of a “mini-bioblitz.” Traditionally, a bioblitz is characterized as a 24-hour inventory of all the living organisms in a given area. This blitz, however, will run for 2-3 hours. The trip will conclude with a data synthesis, reflection, and recommendation period following lunch. Ideas and recommendations presented during this portion of the trip will be provided to land managers of the Albuquerque Bosque Restoration projects.

We recommend that participants dress comfortably and wear long pants, walking shoes, hat, and sunglasses. They should bring sunscreen, bug repellent, and drinking water. There is a chance that participants will get muddy and/or wet. 


FT 11:  Forest restoration, fire, and water:  Ecology of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Santa Fe, New Mexico Rental
Departure from Albuquerque Convention Center - Sunday, August 2, 8:30 AM; Return to Albuquerque Convention Center - Sunday, August 2, 8 PM
Organizer - Ellis Margolis, Univ. of Arizona, Tree-Ring Lab

$29 Fee includes: Transportation, breakfast treat, lunch. Does NOT include dinner in Santa Fe, bring about $30.

*For insurance purposes we will need your birthday for participants on trips #11.  Please send this information to registrar@esa.org along with your name and the trip for which you have registered.

The purpose of the field trip is to expose the participants to the diversity of ecosystems, associated research, natural and cultural history, and forest restoration activities found in the southern Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Santa Fe, NM.  In a short distance we’ll travel from semi-arid grasslands outside of Albuquerque up into spruce-fir/aspen forests near tree-line above Santa Fe.  Our explorations will include old-growth ponderosa pine forests of the Santa Fe River Municipal Watershed.  Here we’ll see and discuss the ongoing forest/watershed restoration project aimed at protecting the city’s water supply from catastrophic fire effects.  Extensive environmental history research (including dendrochronological reconstructions of fire, forest demography, and climate) and monitoring efforts that were used to guide the ongoing project will be highlighted, as well as the “payment for ecosystem services” plan that is currently being developed to fund maintenance of the restored watershed.  We’ll also drive up the Santa Fe ski basin road along an elevational gradient from piñon-juniper woodlands into forests of ponderosa pine, mixed conifer, aspen, and ultimately spruce-fir for wonderful views of glorious northern New Mexico landscapes in the upper Rio Grande valley, stopping for a short forest hike for interested participants. A final stop in historic downtown Santa Fe for dinner will round out the trip, bring about $30.  Bring sunscreen, hat, long pants, long-sleeved shirt, rain jacket and hiking shoes (for optional 1/2 hour hike).  No risk factors, age restrictions, or experience needed.  Personal identification information will need to be provided to the trip leader and the City of Santa Fe Water Division before the trip to gain access into the watershed, which is otherwise closed to the public.


FT 12:  Field Trip to Jemez Pueblo to Observe Corn Dances  
Departure from Albuquerque Convention Center - Sunday, August 2, 9 AM; Return to Albuquerque Convention Center - Sunday, August 2, 4 PM
Organizer - Norma D. Duran

$38 Fee includes: Transportation, breakfast treat, lunch.

This trip will provide participants the rare opportunity to visit this historic pueblo. Jemez Pueblo is closed to the public except on Feast days when dances take place and the public is invited.  Upon arrival at Jemez, a Jemez Pueblo member can board the bus and give a historical overview of the Pueblo, plus any important protocol.

What to bring: The day may be hot so a hat is recommended. So is a lightweight, long-sleeve shirt; sunscreen, bottled water. A sack lunch is optional. At this Feast, several booths will be available where food, water, juice can be purchased. Other booths will be selling authentic arts and crafts made by Native Americans in the area. Jemez is well-known for its pottery. Loaves of bread baked in traditional hornos (outdoor ovens) can be purchased. Many people bring a lawn chair or stool to sit on as they watch the dancers. Photography is not allowed and neither is sketching or sound recording so do not bring your cameras. Reframe from point at dancers or ask questions of Pueblo members as to what dances represent. Do not go across the plaza where dancers are dancing/have danced; go around the Pueblo houses to look at the many booths open to tourists. 


FT 13:  Songs Sustaining Seeds: Santo Domingo Pueblo Harvest Dance 
Departure from Albuquerque Convention Center - Tuesday, August 4, 8:30 AM; Return to Albuquerque Convention Center - Tuesday, August 4, 4PM
Organizer - Donna House and Greg Cajetee

$40 Fee includes: Transportation, breakfast treat, lunch.

Welcome to the homelands of the Pueblos, Navajo and Apaches Nations.  Many communities in New Mexico are harvesting their crops at this time of the year.  This field trip will introduce you to the biological-cultural knowledge of the Rio Grande and the southwest; discuss Traditional Ecological Knowledge system role in ecological sustainability and protecting biodiversity.  After the discussion we’ll attend the Santo Domingo Pueblo Harvest Dance, a living archive of agricultural Traditional Knowledge.  The Pueblo of Santo Domingo and many other Pueblos along the Rio Grande have their annual corn harvest dance.  This is an all day ritual the community participates in for the well being of the village and the natural world.  Bring your hat, long-sleeve shirt, sun screen and water bottle.  Photography is not allowed and neither is sketching or sound recording so do not bring your cameras.  We’ll provide general map, articles to read before the trip and Pueblo Protocols.


FT 14:  Exploring the Urban Gradient of Albuquerque
Departure from Albuquerque Convention Center - Wednesday, August 5, 7 AM; Return to Albuquerque Convention Center - Wednesday, August 5, 11 AM
Organizer - Christopher Lepczyk

$5 Fee includes: Transportation, breakfast treat.

This morning field trip will explore a handful of habitats ranging from those in the city center through suburban and parkland/wilderness areas.  Using the city bus system, participants will move from the convention center to the city’s edge, with opportunities to see a variety of urban habitats and the species comprising them.  The trip will be two to three hours and includes a breakfast.

What to bring: The day may be hot so a hat is recommended. So is a lightweight, long-sleeve shirt; sunscreen, binoculars are welcome for urban birding.


FT 15:  Sandia Peak Tramway
Departure from Albuquerque Convention Center - Wednesday, August 5, 8:30 AM; Return to Albuquerque Convention Center - Wednesday, August 5, 3:30 PM
Bus only, no tour guide

$35 Fee includes: Transportation, breakfast treat, lunch. Does NOT include Tramway ticket.

Tram Rides

Adults $17.50

Seniors 62+

$15.00

Active Military w/id $15.00
Teens 13 yrs to 20 yrs $15.00
Children 5 yrs to 12 yrs $10.00
Children Under 5 years accompanied by adult FREE!
Adult/Senior with Dinner Reservations $10.00
One Way $9.00

The scenery steals the show on the Sandia Peak Tramway.  The Tram, as it is affectionately known, has taken more than 9 million passengers to the top of Sandia Peak and back again, and celebrates its 43rd anniversary in May.  Located on the eastern edge of Albuquerque, New Mexico’s largest city, the Tram is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Central New Mexico.

Although the Tram, the world’s longest passenger aerial tramway, is an engineering marvel, visitors come mainly for the spectacular view - 11,000 square miles of the Land of Enchantment.  Passengers ascend 4,000 feet in about 15 minutes, gliding along the western face of the rugged Sandia Mountains.  The granite rock faces, eroded into spires, cliffs and pinnacles, the aspens, hardy pines, scrub oak, fir and spruce, are home to many different birds and other animals.  Tram riders may see an eagle or a mule deer or perhaps a black bear as they look out the windows of the cable car into the deep canyons.

No matter what time of day, the view is unparalleled.  West across the Rio Grande and a volcano field, Mount Taylor rises, more than 100 miles away.  To the north is Cabezon, a stump of an eroded volcano, and other volcanic necks and plugs.  To the north and west, Redondo Peak stands tall in the Jemez Mountains, rising from a caldera known as the Valle Grande, a volcanic crater reported to be the largest in the world.

To the east lies the heavily wooded backside of the Sandias and, on the far horizon, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the capital city of Santa Fe.  Farther to the south, the Estancia Valley and the Manzano Mountains frame the view.  The view from 10,378 foot summit parallels what one might see from a very still airplane on a scenic flight.

A trip to Europe by Robert Nordhaus, one of the founders and owners of the Sandia Peak Ski Company, inspired construction of the Tram.  Nordhaus came back with the idea of a tram similar to those he rode in Europe and with partner Ben Abruzzo made the idea a reality.  It would connect Albuquerque to the top of Sandia Peak, combining first-rate views with efficient transportation for skiers, avoiding a half-hour or more drive on an icy, curving mountain road.

The tram took two years to move from idea to construction project.  Its development marked by city and state hearings, financial planning and interest and skepticism on the part of the public.  Because of the difficult terrain, topographical engineering, foundation engineering, and studies of the geology were required.  An engineer from the U. S. Forest Service also was assigned to the project.

Installing the tram posed considerable problems because of the steep, rocky terrain.  Bell Engineering of Lucerne, Switzerland, the company contracted to do the work, had built more than 50 tramways throughout the world beginning in Switzerland with their first passenger tramway in 1888.  Their engineers but readily admitted that the Sandia Peak project was their most challenging.  Just stringing all of the cables up the mountain the 2.7 miles alone took five months.

The tram cables are supported by only two towers between the terminals.  Tower One is located at an elevation of 7,010 feet is 232 feet tall.  Tower One leans at an18 degree angle to evenly support the cables between the lower terminal and tower two.  As a result, the top of Tower One is offset more than 70 feet from the center of the tower base.  Several 30 foot deep stressed steel rod anchors hold the towers in place.

Tower Two located at a breathtaking 8,750 feet, is 80 feet tall.  Helicopters were used to construct this tower as the terrain was too difficult to build a construction road to ascend the rocky face to the required tower location.

Holes were drilled and steel rods were anchored in the granite (many over 30 feet deep) to anchor each of the footings for the towers and terminals of the tram.  Keeping the towers in alignment was of major concern and importance.  When construction was finished, the line from the bottom to top including the towers was within 3/8 of an inch.

Construction took 24 months, then the tram underwent 60 days of strenuous testing.  Only then did it take its first riders up Sandia Peak on May 7, 1966.

With a total diagonal length of 2.7 miles, Sandia Peak Tram is the longest aerial tram of its type in the World.  Officially, it is a bi-cable double reversible aerial passenger tramway.  Both tramcars are attached to the hauling cables and the weight of the downhill tramcar helps to pull the uphill tramcar to the top.  When the tramcars pass at midway, they are almost 1,000 feet above the ground.  Top speed of the tramway is 24 feet per second, averaging 12 mph.  The main drive is a 600 horse power dc electric winch motor.

In case of a power failure, the tramcars can be returned to the terminals with an auxiliary Ford industrial engine.

Each of the four 100,000 pound track cables is stronger than required to support one car, and, as an added safety precaution, each car travels over two such cables. The original track cables were replaced in the spring of 1997, during a seven week project with the help of Swiss cable experts. The tramcars were designed with track cable brakes.  These brakes would close automatically and hold the car firmly in place in an emergency or haul cable failure.  The brakes on the main drive are electronically/hydraulically opened before the tramcars can move.  If the power should fail, the brakes are applied automatically, stopping the moving cables and tramcars.

Each tramcar is capable of carrying 50 passengers or 10,000 pounds up the mountain at a maximum rate of 200 passengers per hour on average, the tram makes 10,500 trips per year.

From the tram station at the top of Sandia Peak, passengers may hike along the forest trails in the Cibola National Forest observing the rock formations, natural vegetation and wildlife.  The tram serves Sandia Peak Ski Area, a prime spot for intermediate and beginner skiers from mid December through mid March.  During the summer, one of the chairlifts offers a lovely ride down the east side of the mountain through the towering trees.  Sandia Peak has more than 26 miles of trails for mountain bikers with easy access via the chairlift for riders and their bicycles.


FT 16:  Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program (BEMP): Long-term monitoring of riparian sites above and below the Albuquerque Drinking Water Project diversion dam and reconstructed wetlands at a post-burn site 
Departure from Albuquerque Convention Center - Thursday, August 6, 9 AM; Return to Albuquerque Convention Center - Thursday, August 6, 1 PM
Organizer - Kimi Scheerer and Kim Echhorst

$20 Fee includes: Transportation, breakfast treat, lunch.

The Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program (BEMP) is a long-term ecological research project that uses K-12 teachers and their students, university interns, and staff to monitor key indicators of structural and functional change in the Middle Rio Grande riparian forest, or “bosque”. Each year BEMP involves over 500 students in year-round data collection and lab processing, helping to increase their understanding and appreciation of science and the ecosystem.  Abiotic data collected and analyzed include groundwater, river and ditch water level and quality; precipitation; and temperature. Biotic data include plant primary productivity and cover, woody debris, and surface-active arthropod activity. These data provide insight into the biological quality and hydrologic connectivity of 25 BEMP sites spanning 280 km of the Rio Grande. Included are post-fire recovery sites, wetlands, sites bracketing Albuquerque’s drinking water project diversion dam, and sites cleared of exotic vegetation used for measuring the effects of thinning on groundwater and vegetation.  This trip will focus on sites bracketing the Albuquerque Drinking Water Project diversion dam, which is scheduled to start diverting water for consumption in 2009 and a post-burn site with man-made wetlands. There is a moderate amount of walking involved, including traversing up and down the levees; there are no ADA trails.  Long pants, closed-toed shoes, hat or visor, sun block, and insect repellent are recommended.  Water and lunch will be provided. Trip will include BEMP overview handouts, datasheets and methodology CDs. For more information: www.bosqueschool.org/bemp.htm


FT 17:  Valles Caldera National Preserve – Science-Based Adaptive Management of Public Lands
Departure from Albuquerque Convention Center - Friday, August 7, 7  AM; Return to Albuquerque Convention Center - Friday, August 7, 4:30 PM
Organizer - Bob Parmenter, Chief Scientist, Valles Caldera Trust

$60 Fee includes: Transportation, breakfast treat, lunch.

This field trip will visit the Valles Caldera National Preserve in the heart of the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico.  The 89,000 acre Preserve is the caldera of 1.25 million year old volcano, and currently supports lush grassy valleys ("valles"), forested mountains, blue-ribbon trout streams and extensive herds of elk and other wildlife.  The Preserve is managed by the Valles Caldera Trust, a non-profit Federal Trust, and management decisions are guided by science-based research, inventories, and monitoring.  The trip will visit many of the scientific field sites, including elk-livestock enclosure experiments, prescribed fire study sites, watershed monitoring areas (with flumes, flux towers, weather stations), stream water-quality monitoring stations, range trend plots, and historic and prehistoric archaeological sites (principally obsidian quarries for prehistoric tools and weapons).  The trip also will stop at the Walatowa Visitor Center of the Jemez Pueblo.  Participants should bring sturdy walking shoes (short hikes over uneven terrain), hat and sunscreen (elevations of 8,000-10,000 ft), binoculars, camera.  Sack lunch and drinks are provided.



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