Sarah Milligan, seeing here working on a mountain lion project, is the recipient of the Dorothy Hoard Stewardship Award. Photo Courtesy NPS
Sarah Milligan at a beaver relocation site. Photo Courtesy NPS
BANDELIER NATIONAL MONUMENT NEWS RELEASE
Bandelier National Monument’s Natural Resources Program Manager Sarah Milligan, has been named the recipient of the 2022 Dorothy Hoard Stewardship Award by the Friends of Bandelier. Dorothy Hoard, who established the non-profit group that supports activities in at Bandelier, was a historian, preservationist, and environmentalist who passed away in 2014. The award was established to recognize those who devote time and effort in the pursuit of environmental stewardship at Bandelier and in the surrounding areas. The recipient will sponsor a $1000 volunteer project that will be funded by the Friends of Bandelier.
Sarah’s dedication and enthusiasm toward the stewardship of the wildlife resources at Bandelier is consistent with the values Dorothy Hoard brought to the park and surrounding area. Dorothy’s legacy continues to live on strong through people like Sarah.
Sarah grew up in Michigan where she loved backpacking and cross-country skiing. Even as a small child, Sarah loved the outdoors. She joined the U.S. Navy but when her enlistment was complete decided that she wanted to be a park ranger. After visiting numerous parks for many years, she decided, “I want to be doing this”. Sarah’s first job with the National Park Service (NPS) was a seasonal position in fire. Sarah has also worked in visitor services but wanted to be outside and work with animals, so returned to school to obtain a master’s degree in environmental science and wildlife management.
Today Sarah’s job at Bandelier (she first worked at Bandelier in 2009) is one most people would be envious of until they learn the hard work, long hours, and paperwork involved. Sarah’s day often starts before the sun comes up, overseeing a bird banding project with multiple volunteers, data collection, and a diligent commitment to ensuring no bird (or volunteer) is needlessly harmed. It’s more complicated than it sounds but Sarah finds it very rewarding.
On another day you might find Sarah strapping a large wire mesh cage to her back. The cage’s occupant, a 40-pound beaver, unaware that this endeavor to move it to a new home is undoubtedly saving its life, must be gently carried, covered with a blanket to provoke as little stress in the animal as possible. Even so, after a rugged hike of 5 or 6 miles, the animal is unlikely to offer a smile, or a wave, let alone a thank you to the rugged red head with the slight frame on whose back it made this life rescuing trek. But Sarah knows she’s played a valuable part in saving not just this one beaver, but assisting an environment threatened by changes big and small, local, and external.
Beaver had been an absent but important environment stabilizing component in Bandelier’s Frijoles Canyon for more than a quarter of a century. Now they are back and finally doing well.
“The most important part of my job is figuring out what we need to do to preserve a healthy diversity of species in Bandelier and in the Jemez Mountains as more and more species become threatened or endangered. What can we do to help?”
Sarah is unlikely to get bored with her profession any time soon. She really likes that every day is different. She spends much of her time supervising volunteers and interns, forming lifelong bonds with people of similar interests. Some of her projects embrace the already mentioned bird banding data collection and beaver reintroductions but also include large mammal monitoring, fish reintroductions, Mexican Spotted Owl, Jemez Mountain salamander, and American pika surveys, as well as tree planting events. At Bandelier, we believe that Sarah’s selection to receive the Dorothy Hoard Stewardship Award is an excellent choice and offer her a big, congratulations! And by the way, if you want to help Sarah complete any of her projects, she’ll be happy to sign you up. It’s likely training will be required before you’ll hear her say with a smile, “Can you be here at 5 a.m. tomorrow ready to work?”
Bandelier National Monument is open every day from sunrise to sunset. In Frijoles Canyon, the park visitor center and the park store (operated by Western National Parks Association) is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm and the café, Sirphey’s at Bandelier, is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Bandelier National Monument entrance fees are $25 per private vehicle, $20 per motorcycle, or $15 per bicycle/individual. All entrance passes are valid for 7 days. Camping fees are not included in entrance fees. America the Beautiful– the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands passes are accepted for entrance fees. The full suite of America the Beautiful – the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands passes as well as Bandelier Annual passes are available for purchase at the visitor center. For more information about types of passes and prices, visit: https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/passes.htm.