Hopi Camp Crew Keeps Fire Community of 728 Personnel in Order
Incident: Silver Fire Wildfire
The Hopi Camp Crew Gives Back to Mimbres Valley Children's Garden
The Hopi Agency Camp Crew of Arizona was recently dispatched to the New Mexico Incident Management Team to work the Silver Fire.The fire broke out June 7, 2013 when lightning hit in the Gila National Forest. The Hopi Camp Crew of 11 cared for the incident command post in San Lorenzo and its 728 personnel who camped there while fighting the fire. The command post was established at the San Lorenzo Elementary School.
Crew Boss Arley Woodty said it was ‘the best assignment yet’, because during down time, the Hopi Crew also completed a service project for the youth and community.
The school is home to the Mimbres Valley Community Nature Garden. School Custodian Linda Jones has been watering the vegetables during summer break and needed help expanding plots for a new crop of sweet potatoes.
“Our students started a pollinator garden and grow their own food and learn the importance of agriculture to this valley that began 1,000 years ago with the Native Americans, continued with the homesteaders, and organic farms today.”
Thanks to the Hopi crew, the school has three new raised garden beds that are decorated in traditional Hopi symbols – Butterflies, Bears, Corn, Eagles, and Horses.
“We are artists back home; we all do arts and crafts, making baskets, dolls and jewelry, but we hardly ever get to do things for kids. We like it,” Woodty said.
Each member of the crew, even the bus driver, took part in painting. They hope the youth appreciate the meaning of the art as it relates to agriculture, snow, water, and prayer.
Jones saw the work and started showing it off. “I had no idea of the talent of this crew.”
She called the school’s volunteer archaeologist, Marilyn Markel. When Markel saw the garden work, she brought the school’s historic mascot (of sorts), a wooden rabbit named Conejo Mimbreño.
The rabbit is painted in the traditional style of Mimbres pottery. Archaeologist Markel, a member of the Grant County Archaeological Society, takes the rabbit to important natural and cultural places of valley, takes a photo, publishes it in the Mimbres Messenger community newsletter, and the youth must guess the location in nature where Conejo Mimbreño visited.
He also made his way to another fire camp in the Cooney area and posed with firefighters there from the New Mexico Forestry Division, who were stationed to protect property and resources during the Silver Fire.
“Because it’s fire season, we had Conejo Mimbreño visit Smoky Bear,” Markel noted. The scene became a coloring page for the students. “We teach the kids about the history of the valley through the rabbit visits,” she explained.
The next lesson will focus on the locations where the firefighters were stationed and how their work, and the New Mexico Incident Management Team, helped protect Mimbres Valley resources.
During down time in fire camp, it is common for firefighters to assist the communities that host them in service projects. Facilities used by crews are always left looking better than when the emergency trucks rolled in to town.