The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989

ECO-BEAT

Pipeline studies nearing completion, public meeting to be scheduled

—BILL DIVEN
Two pipeline projects affecting Placitas remain pending and may be the focus of discussions in the coming weeks.

An environmental assessment on expanding a Mid-American Pipeline Company natural-gas liquids line still has not been completed, according to Danita Burns, Bureau of Land Management public affairs officer. The delay is in gathering final comments and signatures on an agreement on how to deal with any cultural resources uncovered during construction of additional pipeline segments, she said.

Those discussions involve the BLM, MAPCO, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the State Historic Preservation Office.

MAPCO has proposed boosting capacity in its line by building a dozen parallel segments at various locations between gas fields in Wyoming and refineries in Hobbs. The local segment begins at a pumping station near San Ysidro and extends within an existing pipeline corridor to a valve station in the Placitas Open Space.

Giant Industries also is nearing an announcement on a public meeting in Placitas on its plans to revive a dormant petroleum pipeline running through Placitas near the village and the elementary school. Giant proposes to reverse the original direction of the flow to send crude oil from Hobbs to an underutilized Giant refinery at Bloomfield.

Consulting engineers currently are testing parts of the line, said Giant executive vice president Leland Gould. Giant officials plan to meet with Placitas-based Citizens for Safe Pipelines in the coming weeks and are waiting for a final report from the consulting engineers, he said.

Giant then will schedule a public meeting in Placitas, probably sometime in May, Gould added.


Conservationist Dave Foreman to speak at wildlife-trails workshop

—REID BANDEEN, MEMBER, LAS PLACITAS ASSOCIATION
Well-known conservationist Dave Foreman will be a featured speaker at the Wildlife Trails workshop to be hosted by Las Placitas Association on Saturday, April 15. The event is cosponsored by the Las Huertas Watershed Project and the Earth Care Committee of the Las Placitas Presbyterian Church, and will be held from 9:00 am to noon at the church. Admission is free.

Foreman, currently the chairman of the Rewilding Institute, is nationally and internationally recognized for his pioneering work in restoring regional and continental linkages for wildlife populations, particularly large mammals, that have been disrupted by human populations.

On the local scale, Placitas enjoys a plentiful and diverse community of wildlife, from birds and reptiles to coyotes, bears, and bobcats. The Placitas area also occupies a valuable link in regional wildlife-migration routes linking wildlife territories in the Sandia and Manzano Mountains, to the south, with the Jemez, Ortiz, and Sangre de Cristo Mountains, to the north. These areas in turn connect with wildlife populations further north in the Rockies, and the “sky islands” mountain ranges of southern New Mexico and Arizona, and beyond. Foreman is the author of a recent book, Rewilding North America, that develops these concepts in well-researched detail.

He will be joined by colleagues Dave Parsons and Kurt Menke. Dave Parsons, a wildlife biologist and vice-chairman of the Rewilding Institute, is widely known for his work in reintroducing Mexican wolf populations to the American Southwest. He is currently involved in research documenting recent discoveries of ivory-billed woodpecker populations, previously thought to be extinct, in the south-central United States.

Kurt Menke is cochairperson for the Tijeras Canyon Safe Passage Coalition, an Albuquerque conservation group devoted to creating viable wildlife-passage corridors across Interstate 40 in Tijeras Canyon, which has been identified as one of the most critically important, and endangered, areas in the nation for wildlife passage. Menke will share from the coalition's recent work supporting a redesign of I-40 between Carnuel and Tijeras to provide safer passage for both wildlife and people in this area.

Denise Smith, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will discuss government-grant programs available to assist private landowners in Placitas with enhancing wildlife habitat on their lands.

The Wildlife Trails workshop promises a powerful morning that will include a sobering look at the current state of local and regional wildlife populations, as well as inspiration from those actively engaged in ensuring their future.

For more information, please contact Reid Bandeen, Las Huertas Watershed Coordinator, at 867-5477, and visit the following Web links:

• The Rewilding Institute: www.rewilding.org
• Tijeras Canyon Safe Passage Coalition: www.safepassagecoalition.org
• Las Placitas Association/Las Huertas Watershed Project: www.lasplacitas.org/watershed.php
• Las Placitas Presbyterian Church/Earth Care Committee: www.lasplacitaschurch.org/earth_care.htm
• U.S. Fish and Wildlife/Partners for Fish & Wildlife Program: http://ecos.fws.gov/partners/index.do?viewPage=home


Gila workshop will help teachers bring ecology into classrooms

Teachers, naturalists and others interested in education and the ecosystem of the Gila National Forest are invited to participate in a natural history workshop April 28-30 at the Pueblo Park Campground north of Glenwood.

The workshop, titled “Get Wild in the Gila,” will feature presentations by Department of Game and Fish and U.S. Forest Service experts about the Mexican wolf reintroduction program, jaguars of northern Mexico, springtime birds and reptiles, fire ecology and wilderness management. The programs are designed mostly to teach educators how to integrate ecology into traditional classroom studies, but members of the public are welcome to attend.

Registration deadline is April 30, with a $15 refundable signup fee. Participants will camp in a meadow surrounded by old-growth ponderosa pines, and will have opportunities to hike the famous Catwalk National Recreation Trail, tour the Glenwood Fish Hatchery and fish for trout in Glenwood Pond.

To register or for more information about the workshop, contact Colleen Welch, (505) 476-8119, colleen.welch@state.nm.us; or Kevin Holladay, (505) 476-8095, kevin.holladay@state.nm.us.


Corrales Growers' Market opens April 30

The Corrales Growers' Market will open for the season on Sunday, April 30, running from 9:00 a.m. to noon, with a plant-and-garden show, live music, and Jim White's breakfast burritos. The market offers visitors local produce, a market shop, agricultural products, natural soaps, salsas, baked goods, and more.

Sunday markets will run through October 29.

The Corrales Growers’ Market will also be held on Wednesday evenings, 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., from May 31 through September 20.

The market is next to the Corrales Post Office, on Corrales Road. For further information, call 897-0502.


Energy company stakes out wildlife refuge

—APRIL REESE, HIGH COUNTRY NEWS
Iridescent dragonflies, shimmering wetlands, and the many imperiled species that call a southeastern New Mexico wildlife refuge home may soon have a new neighbor: gas wells.

Yates Petroleum Co., based in Artesia, N.M., told U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials last month it plans to drill two wells in Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge—one of them just a quarter-mile from the visitor center. The company has yet to file for the required permits, but its surveyor has staked out the locations of wells it is hoping to drill under leases issued by the state, which retained the mineral rights when the land became a federal refuge.

Those plans concern refuge managers and Wildlife Service biologists, who wonder if the refuge’s rare species, which include two diminutive snails listed under the Endangered Species Act and several state-protected fish, can survive in springs that could be contaminated by brine and other drilling by-products.

"They’re proposing to drill through the aquifer that is feeding those springs," says Paul Tashjian, a hydrologist with Wildlife Service’s water resources office in Albuquerque.

Yates must receive permits from New Mexico’s oil and gas conservation division before it can drill, and from the Fish and Wildlife Service to build roads and drill pads. Both agencies say that if they give the project the go-ahead, they will attach stipulations to protect the springs.

Yates has a long history with Bitter Lake. In 1982, the company attracted national attention and a federal citation for trespassing after it erected a drill rig within the refuge without federal permits.

Yates officials did not return calls for this story.

High Country News (www.hcn.org) covers the West's communities and natural-resource issues from Paonia, Colorado.


Classes will teach PV design, installation

Are you interested in learning more about solar electricity? Would you like to learn about siting, sizing, and safely installing a photovoltaic system? Two classes, sponsored by New Mexico Solar Energy Association, will be held for women only on April 21-23, and 29-30, and for men and women together on May 26-28 and June 3-4. Topics to be covered include photovoltaic components, designing and sizing a system, siting, and the configuration of stand-alone (off-grid) and grid-tie (utility-connected) systems. Safety and energy efficiency will also be covered.

Starting with three days in the classroom, both classes will include visiting instructors, tours of local PV systems and hands-on labs. The remaining two days will be spent installing a PV system.

Students will have the opportunity to hear from local PV business owners, installers and other PV experts. Depending upon the group's interest, there may be evening slide shows and talks from members of the New Mexico Solar Energy Association.

The instructor, Marlene Brown, president of the New Mexico Solar Energy Association, has been working with PV systems for over fifteen years and has installed hundreds of systems in the United States and the developing world. She has been teaching PV classes for over ten years.

For updated information, check www.nmsea.org or call Mary McArthur, 505-281-0471. A limited number of volunteer opportunities are available for students in need.

To register, mail your name, address, phone, e-mail, preferred workshop, and dietary or other special needs, along with a check for $450, to New Mexico Solar Energy Association, 1009 Bradbury SE, Suite 35, Albuquerque, NM 87106. To register with a credit card, call the NMSEA office, at 505-246-0400 or 888-88NMSOL.

 

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