The Friends of Petrified Forest provide an avenue through which anyone who wants to help the park directly can do so. Donations of any size are appreciated and can be directed to something specific or for general support.
Past donations have been used to build a new trail between the visitor center and the rim of the Painted Desert, to add a teaching microscope to the park’s lab equipment, and to support several seasons of park science interns.
Travel grants that permit schools to bring students to the park on field trips have also been supported by donations.
Ongoing park needs that can be supported by donations include:
There is a backlog of potential radiocarbon dates. With better dates park archeologists can develop a much better understanding of many interesting questions, like the development of early agriculture, village coalescence, trade and mobility routes, and demographic changes which would better link the record in the park with the region around us.
It would also contribute to further education of interns and students and really bring the park’s program the more scientific founding that it deserves. Carbon dating—$550 each, Soils dating (non-carbon-based)—$1000 each.
Purchase of privately held lands within the new park boundary. There are hundreds of smaller parcels inside the new park boundary that could be donated or purchased for donation to the park.
Very few have any form of development on them although some have Codes, Covenants and Restrictions that must be stripped away before they can be acquired by the park.
Land values, as an example, would be about $12,000 for a 40 acre parcel, plus due diligence and closing costs. The park can provide parcel priorities to anyone interested.
A popular 3rd through 6th grade education program is the simulated excavation of either fossils or artifacts. This program could be improved by the addition of a simulated preparation lab and pottery reconstruction area.
This project would entail construction of a shelter for the prep lab, production of fossil replicas and purchasing of pottery that could be broken and reassembled.
Costs for the project would be between $2,000 and 3,000.
The Native Conservation Corps program will be seeking funding on an annual basis. The program recruits Native American High School students to work and live at Petrified Forest National Park for two weeks and to experience all facets of park operations to see what might appeal to them.
The students serve as ambassadors for their communities and cultures while working in the park. These students then serve as ambassadors for the National Park Service once they return to their homes.
An annual cost of $10,000 is estimated to keep the program going. Started at Petrified Forest, this program has now expended to several parks across the west.
The park has many historic preservation challenges, from rustic CCC-era structures to the mid-century modern Painted Desert Community Complex, where the primary preservation efforts have been focused in recent years. Federal funding has been used for foundation repair on that Complex, but the restoration of the “character-defining” features has been more elusive through internal sources.
Character defining features include the glass storefront that once graced the main façade of the Painted Desert Oasis (the concession building), restoring the flat roofs to the Oasis and Visitor Center buildings, which would re-expose the architect’s signature “spider legs” on the Visitor Center, and restoration of the second floor terrace off the Library in the Visitor Center building.
Rehab of housing unit 208 will also be difficult to do with federal funds. The park has described a variety of projects for donation consideration by The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Park Foundation, all of which are over $100,000 in size and, when combined into larger projects, can go over $1 million. Specific projects can be defined for interested donors.
With an eye on the horizon, Friends are beginning to see the potential to support one of the park’s longer-term goals—construction of a Learning Center building at the Painted Desert Community Complex.
The Learning Center would be located steps away from the visitor center and would include the park’s lab, museum collection, and space for researchers to examine museum specimens. It would create an opportunity for interface between the visiting public and the scientific work being done through exhibits, glass walls, and technology (monitors hooked up to the microscope, for example) that allows scientists to share their work.
The museum collection would be primarily paleontological and would accept specimens from beyond the park although the lab could be used by archeologists, too, as needed.
Beyond these functions, the building could also include offices and a classroom space for presentations. Its size is estimated to be approximately 4500 square feet on one level, and its cost is estimated to be around $2 million.
The park is seeking federal funding. The many university research partners from around the country currently working in the park could be considered potential partners in this project, too.