Conservation legacy internship awarded

ALAMOSA—The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area in cooperation with the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, and the National Park Service Regional Office has hired Zoe Rierson for a 3-month internship to identify significant locations in the National Heritage Area which have potential to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Zoe Rierson, from Monte Vista, is a current master’s student at Adams State University in Cultural Resource Management. The purpose of this internship is to identify potential sites within the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area which qualify for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.

The internship provides Zoe with an opportunity to work with public land managers, county assessors, and community officials in Alamosa, Conejos, and Costilla counties, Heritage Area board members, community members, and other professionals. These interactions will assist Zoe in identifying, preparing, communicating, and coordinating potential heritage assets. Under the direction of the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area and the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Zoe will be working to prepare the needed research and paperwork to designate the four potential sites.

The goal is to identify sites in need of preservation and recognition that are important to Alamosa, Conejos, and Costilla counties. Identifying these sites will provide the public with a deeper understanding of the history of the sites and why they are worthy of preservation. In addition, staff at the Great Sand Dunes and the Heritage Area will work with Zoe to develop public programming in regards to the chosen sites, in an effort to pass on an appreciation of why they were saved for future generations. This programming will provide Zoe an opportunity to develop skills in public presentation and community outreach within the San Luis Valley communities where history is all around.

The National Park Service is considered one of the leading agencies in history and culture, which is why they oversee the National Register of Historic Places. Sites on the National Register can include: districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects which are significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture. The honor of being listed on the National Register of Historic Places is certification of the documented value and contribution to our combined American heritage. Some of the advantages of acceptance to the National Register are: consideration in planning for federally assisted projects, eligibility for certain tax provisions, consideration of historic values, and qualification for Federal grants for historic preservation.

Funding for this position is provided through a partnership with the Conservation Legacy Stewards Individual Placement Program, a national service program that places and supports AmeriCorps members, known as stewards, across the country. Stewards are supported by a full time staff that works with hosting sites to develop projects and provide support to members, on-site supervisors, and organizational partners.

The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area is a 501C3 Nonprofit that encompasses all of Alamosa, Conejos, and Costilla Counties. The Heritage Area works to provide opportunities for locals and visitors to recognize and celebrate the region’s natural and cultural assets.

The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is home to the tallest dunes in North America. The natural system of the Park ranges from great sand dunes to forests, from cottonwood groves to majestic mountain peaks and tundra. The highest elevation in the park is 13,604' above sea level.
For more information about the project, contact Tori Martinez at 719-580-4070. For more information on the Heritage Area visit

Cutline: SdCNHA Financial Officer Julie Chacon is standing, and from left seated in front are SdCNHA NPS liaison Kathy Faz, SdCNHA Executive Director Victoria Martinez and intern Zoe Rierson. Courtesy photo.