Let’s Come Together to Help Our Neighbors

Dear PEEC Community,

Did you know that Tuesday, May 5th has been designated as a global day of giving? It’s called Giving Tuesday Now. At PEEC we’re worried about our fellow New Mexicans who have been especially hard-hit by the COVID-19 crisis. That’s why we’d like to encourage you to make a gift on that day to an organization working to help with those urgent needs. Below, we provide some suggestions of nonprofits working on the front lines of support for our neighbors. 

Santa Fe Indian Center is an organization that serves the Native community in Santa Fe County with emergency financial assistance, along with other services. You can give directly to their GoFundMe page,  or make a tax-deductible donation through the New Mexico Community Foundation.

The Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund is an effort organized by Native people to support those in the hard-hit communities in our state. Donate to their GoFundMe campaign.

McKinley County has more COVID-19 cases than anywhere else in New Mexico. McKinley Mutual Aid is a group of organizations providing community care packages with critical supplies to families in need. 

MoGro has stopped their normal operations, but they are making biweekly deliveries of a mix of fresh produce and staple grocery items to 190 families on Zia Pueblo. Whenever possible, their items are purchased from local farmers and producers. Contributions will help them expand to serve more Pueblos and communities in need. Plus, they can match all gifts, including weekly and one-time donations. 

Some of us are struggling at this time, and some of us have an extra $1,200 in our pockets. If you are able to give, I hope you’ll join me in making life a little easier right now for those who need help the most. Thank you for your generosity to PEEC, and to all who need help during these difficult times. 

Stay healthy, safe, and happy. I hope you can get outside today!

Katherine Bruell, Executive Director

P.S. Did you know that under the new CARES Act you may deduct up to $300 of charitable gifts from your 2020 income taxes, even if you don’t itemize deductions? 

10 Tips For Getting Outside Responsibly During COVID-19

Following social distancing practices and hiking on uncrowded trails are two of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors during COVID-19. (Photo by Craig Martin)

In this time of closures and social distancing, the outdoors seems to be one of the few places that we can still go and continue to enjoy. Getting outside to move your body and give your mind a break is important to maintaining physical and mental health. PEEC wants to encourage our community to be responsible trail users, so the trails and outdoor spaces we all love can remain open during these uncertain times!

As always, we recommend following recommendations from the New Mexico Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control, and Los Alamos County or your local authority. Look to them for the most up-to-date information and guidelines!

Here are our 10 tips for getting outside and using our trails during COVID-19:

1) Keep Your Distance

Social distancing guidelines apply when out on the trails, too! Remember to stay at least six feet apart from fellow trail users and give each other plenty of space when passing.

We recommend getting outside with household members rather than friends who may have been exposed to different people and environments. If you plan to meet a friend at a trail, drive separately and always maintain at least a six foot distance from each other.

2) Stay Home If You Are Sick

If you are feeling sick, you should stay home and follow recommendations from the Department of Health on getting tested for COVID-19. If you have been in contact with a sick person or may have been exposed to the virus, please follow testing and isolation guidelines and stay off the trails until you are certain that you are healthy.

3) Wash Your Hands!

We know you’ve heard it already, but it is important to wash your hands before and after heading outside. Avoid touching your face, disinfect high-contact surfaces, and follow the CDC’s recommendations on personal hygiene.

4) Avoid Crowded Trailheads

If you pull up to the trailhead and find that it is bustling with people and cars, consider an alternative plan. It’s hard to social distance in a crowded parking lot or along a trail packed with people!

We are lucky to have almost 60 miles of trails managed by Los Alamos County, plus nearby U.S. Forest Service, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and National Park trails — so there are plenty of trails to explore and plenty of space to spread across!

Visit PEEC’s Trail Guide for more information on local trails. Be sure to bring your Passport to the Pajarito Plateau along on your adventures. If you don’t have a passport, feel free to use a sheet of paper or take pictures and we’ll get you caught up when the nature center reopens.

5) Limit Risk

Hospitals are already overwhelmed with patients due to COVID-19 and the situation is unlikely to improve anytime soon. It’s the responsibility of all of us to avoid further straining the healthcare system. You also probably want to stay away from hospitals at this time if you can help it!

Avoiding higher risk activities like backcountry skiing or rock climbing is the responsible thing to do right now. Limit your outdoor adventures to hiking, running, walking, and other less dangerous activities. We also suggest staying within your comfort zone when it comes to trying new trails!

6) Be Prepared

Understand that you may not have the same access to (or desire to use) facilities like public restrooms and drinking fountains. Be prepared for your outdoor adventure by bringing plenty of water in a reusable water bottle and learning how to use the bathroom outdoors.

We also suggest following the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics’ seven principles on your adventure. Be a good steward of our outdoors spaces (now and always!) by packing out your trash, planning ahead, leaving what you find, and respecting wildlife.

7) Enjoy Alternatives

If the places your family usually enjoys visiting are closed down, explore alternatives! If you enjoy camping at our state parks, try having a family campout in your own backyard. If you enjoy playing at the nature center, try out fort building on a nearby trail.

If you’re looking for craft and activity ideas, be sure to check out PEEC’s new online program Take It Outside. We publish new posts every weekday to help folks learn about and enjoy the outdoors while the schools and nature center are closed!

8) Stay Close to Home

The New Mexico Department of Health is currently advising individuals to reconsider out-of-state travel. If you do travel out-of-state, the department is recommending that you self-isolate for 14 days.

National Parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon have all closed to visitors. We should avoid further spreading the virus by staying close to home. No one wants to bring the virus to a new community or come back home with it. Take a virtual tour of a National Park rather than visiting one right now. Many popular outdoor destinations are also in more rural communities that do not have the medical resources to deal with an outbreak. Enjoy the beauty around your home rather than traveling at this time!

9) Continue to Follow Guidance From Authorities

New information about COVID-19 is being released every day. While these are our suggestions now, continue to follow the recommendations of the Department of Health, CDC, and your local government during this time. Stay informed and defer to these authorities for the most-up-to-date information and best practices!

10) Be Kind

This is a stressful time, but we can work together to ensure that we can continue to enjoy the outdoor spaces we love. Be kind to other trail users you meet by keeping a distance, but smiling and saying hello. We can continue to encourage one another to enjoy our outdoors safely and responsibly — even if we must do it apart!

An Update from the Pajarito Environmental Education Center

UPDATE: The Los Alamos Nature Center will be closed starting on Monday, March 16. Please read the full statement from Los Alamos County here.

The Pajarito Environmental Education Center is dedicated to keeping our visitors, volunteers, and staff healthy and safe. Due to recent guidelines from the New Mexico Department of Health regarding COVID-19, we are making changes to our operating policies and canceling all large events for the time being.

Current Event Cancelations:

  • Tonight’s scheduled Universe in Six Strings concert has been canceled for the safety of our guests. If you have already purchased tickets, we are happy to issue you a refund, provide a credit to your account, or apply your purchase as a tax-deductible donation.
  • Nature Playtime will follow the cancellation schedule of New Mexico public schools. We will restart the program when schools re-open.
  • The Los Alamos County Parks, Recreation, and Open Space takeover of the nature center scheduled for Tuesday, March 17 has been canceled.
  • The Fly Fishing Film Tour scheduled for Thursday, April 2 has been postponed. We will update our community once a new date has been selected for this event.

Other Updates:

  • The status of our other upcoming events is currently being determined. We are waiting for additional guidance from Los Alamos County and the New Mexico Department of Health. Please check our website for the most up-to-date information. We will update our events page to note if our programs are canceled.
  • Currently, the Los Alamos Nature Center is still open to the public during our normal operating hours. We are making a dedicated effort to disinfect surfaces and toys in the building. We have limited the type and number of toys available in our Children’s Play Area for the time being. Please practice healthy habits while visiting the nature center and stay home if you or a member of your family is feeling sick.
  • Fortunately, now is a time when we can still get outside and enjoy the trails and our backyards! Since we are still open, we encourage you to pick up a Passport to the Pajarito Plateau and hike our trails. All three passports are still in stock. If you don’t feel comfortable visiting the nature center, take pictures with the rubbings or use a piece of paper from home instead.
  • PEEC staff members are developing plans to offer more content online to encourage our community to continue to enjoy and learn about nature during this time. Check peecnature.org for updates.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation in keeping our wonderful community safe! Please check our website for additional communications and updates as they become available.

Keep In Touch

Our office is still open! Call us during our open hours at 505-662-0460 or email center@peecnature.org to speak with a staff member.