Mesa Verde Foundation, established in 1997 and based in Denver, Colorado, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit partner to Mesa Verde National Park. Because the federal government cannot and does not completely fund our national parks, financial assistance is needed to maintain and improve parks for present and future generations. The Foundation raises money through special events, multi-tiered annual giving program and grants to support capital improvements, special projects and educational endeavors that promote an understanding of the park’s cultural and natural resources. Recent projects of note include:
In partnership with the State Historical Fund, the Foundation has secured funding to cover the costs of preproduction and production of an updated Interpretive Film to replace the outdated film, created in 1997. The film, shown in Chapin Mesa Museum inside the Park, is viewed by hundreds of thousands of Park visitors annually. The new film will include a park overview, tribal input and archeological perspectives.
Conservation Legacy is a national program that fosters conservation service in support of communities and ecosystems. It provides young adults and/or veterans opportunities for growth through employment/internship opportunities. The Foundation has provided funding for costs associated with Conservation Legacy Internship opportunities at Mesa Verde.
In partnership with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, the Foundation has secured funding for cost of supplies for two wheelchair accessible ramps in Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum. The goal of the Chapin Mesa Museum ramps is to provide the highest level of access for all visitors, with the lowest level of impact to the building and its character-defining features.
In October of 2019, President Donald Trump and Finland’s president, Sauli Niinistö, signed an agreement that made it possible for the ancestral remains of 20 people and 28 funerary objects to be repatriated to Mesa Verde National Park. This repatriation occurred more than 100 years after the remains were removed by Swedish scientist Gustaf Nordenskiöld. The Foundation provided funding that was used to offset the costs of the excavation of the burial site, travel expenses for some of the participants, equipment rentals, and other miscellaneous expenses incurred outside of the Park’s regular budget.
On May 29th, 2019, Governor Jared Polis signed HB 19-122, an act that officially created the Mesa Verde National Park license plate. Colorado residents can purchase this beautiful plate to help raise funds that directly benefit Mesa Verde National Park.
The Visitor and Research Center, with its state-of-the-art collections facility, introductory museum exhibit and film and beautiful new bookstore, opened in 2012. The Mesa Verde Foundation purchased land for the Visitor and Research Center building site and donated it to the National Park Service. The Foundation also funded the architectural planning for the project, which was then built using federal funding. In 2018, the Foundation is supporting the upgrade of the audio/visual presentations at the Visitor and Research Center and Morefield Campground, greatly improving visitor experiences at the park.
Cliff Palace, the crown jewel of Mesa Verde National Park, has suffered structural problems from an unstable foundation on the southern end of ruin, which has caused the site to slide downhill at uneven rates, leading to cracks, falling walls and general instability. The deterioration has lead to heroic stabilization efforts to preserve the structure. The Foundation has helped fund the ongoing project.
Reestablishing an active horse patrol has opened more of the backcountry to hundreds of visitors. Horses provide a practical way for rangers to patrol remote trails and backcountry areas, ensuring visitor safety, cultural resource protection and emergency response. The Foundation funded the rehabilitation of an old barn and corral areas and purchased two horses park rangers.
New Audio-Visual Systems and Screens were installed at the Chapin Mesa Museum and Morefield Campground Amphitheater in spring 2018. Funding for these improvements came from a $1 per night optional charge to guests staying at the Far View Lodge and managed by the Mesa Verde Foundation. The upgrades have resulted in high definition video and multi-channel stereo sound that has greatly enhanced the enjoyment of visitors watching the orientation video, and other videos currently in production.