Site Stewardship Program
New Mexico SiteWatch, a statewide volunteer program, coordinates the efforts of citizens to serve as stewards and educational docents for cultural resource –particularly archaeological sites. The program is administered by the New Mexico State Historic Preservation Office and is organized as a series of local affiliated chapters.
New Mexico SiteWatch volunteers help to preserve and protect historic properties through site monitoring; assisting in surveys, mapping projects, and rock art recording; site documentation; public outreach; and other activities. Presently, 255 site stewards are active throughout the state. In 2007, they contributed 25,000 volunteer hours and 150,000 miles of volunteer vehicle use.
Many of the sites protected by New Mexico SiteWatch volunteers are located on federal, state, or county lands. Given constraints in government budgets, the work of the volunteer site stewards offers essential support. In 2007, the efforts of volunteer site stewards saved government agencies more than $350,000 in salaries and $60,000 in mileage costs. Vigilance by New Mexico SiteWatch volunteers also has led to several criminal investigations under federal and state laws addressing vandalism and looting of archaeological sites.
SiteWatch volunteers participate in classroom archaeological and history presentations at schools, public education efforts at community events, and outreach at the annual State Archaeology Fair. Regarding their own education in site stewardship, SiteWatch volunteers receive introductory classroom and field training but also have opportunities for continuing instruction. New Mexico SiteWatch has partnered with the Archaeological Society of New Mexico to make a number of courses available to help volunteers enhance their important work as site stewards.
Designated a Preserve America Steward in January 2009.