Sandoval Signpost


An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988

Coronado soil and water conservation district


—Lynn Montgomery, Coronado Soil and Water Conservation District

The Coronado Soil and Water Conservation District: much too long a name. Very confusing also. Most folks who live in urban-suburban settings have no idea of what conservation districts are. These days, even some folks out in the country don’t know either. Does obscurity mean obsolescence? Well, according to the National Association of Conservation Districts, “more than 17,000 citizens serve in elected or appointed positions on conservation districts’ governing boards. The districts work directly with millions of cooperating land managers nationwide to manage and protect natural resources.”

Known in various parts of the country as “soil and water conservation districts,” “resource conservation districts,” “natural resource districts,” “land conservation committees” and similar names, they share a single mission: to coordinate assistance from all available sources—public and private, local, state, and federal—in an effort to develop locally driven solutions to natural resource concerns. Among other things, conservation districts help:

  • “implement farm, ranch, and forestland conservation practices to protect soil productivity, water quality and quantity, air quality, and wildlife habitat;
  • conserve and restore wetlands, which purify water and provide habitat for birds, fish, and numerous other animals;
  • protect groundwater resources;
  • assist communities and homeowners to plant trees and other land cover to hold soil in place, clean the air, provide cover for wildlife, and beautify neighborhoods;
  • help developers control soil erosion and protect water and air quality during construction; and
  • reach out to communities and schools to teach the value of natural resources and encourage conservation efforts.”

Our district is situated in a very diverse, high-desert environment with important historical and cultural aspects that make it unique. Although the district used to be called “Sandoval SWCD,” its western boundary now generally runs along the western boundary of the five Pueblos in it. Coronado is committed to working with the Pueblos—Cochiti, Kewa (Santo Domingo), San Felipe, Santa Ana, and Sandia. Since most of the area in the district is Pueblo, we owe much consideration to them.

The massive northern peaks of Sandia Mountain are the foundation of the District. From any high point in the District one can gaze on it. It looms over the wide escarpments on the east and the Rio Grande Valley on the west. To the southwest, Sandia Pueblo dwells under the magnificent west face of its namesake. To the northwest, the Jemez Mountains drop down to the Rio Grande.

Coronado owns the Piedra Lisa flood control dam that helps protect northern Bernalillo. We are consulting with other agencies and leaders to provide better flood control for the Algodones area and hope to restore watersheds to assist new works. Doing this also helps recharge to groundwater, erosion control, pollution, grasslands, and wildlife.

Fire protection and control is paramount in keeping our resources healthy. Coronado has joined a Basin-wide initiative to treat our forests in the Rio Grande and has funded and supported Firewise and forest interface efforts to protect very vulnerable Placitas. We hope to move into other communities with chipper days as soon as local groups form to host them.

Although most supervisors don’t concern themselves much with politics, Coronado is a political sub-division of the State of New Mexico. Board members or Supervisors are elected officials of state government and take an oath that includes “to control and prevent soil erosion, to prevent floodwater and sediment damage, to further the conservation, development, beneficial application, and proper disposal of water, and by the application of these measures, conserve and develop the natural resources of the state, provide for flood control, preserve wildlife, protect the tax base, and promote the health, safety, and general welfare of the people of New Mexico.” Elections are held every two years to fill vacant and expired terms. This year there will be one on May 5. To keep abreast of developments, go to our website, Supervisors are volunteers and there is no pay or compensation for serving. Once the election is over, creating conservation on the ground becomes the most pressing concern.

Coronado was founded on December 18, 1941, as a result of the federal government’s commitment to prevent erosion after the devastation of the dust bowl in the Thirties. The states were required to pass conservation district legislation creating and regulating them. So, Coronado is a child of the federal government, but has the state as parents. The districts have accomplished an amazing amount of conservation on the land through the years, but the urgency dropped off and they have been quietly helping out since. Today, we face challenges that could dwarf the dust bowl days. One of our most respected New Mexico scientists, from UNM, is saying that we will soon have the climate El Paso has now. Preparing for things like this will take an adept agency, supported by a committed populace, building community resilience with natural and human resources. But first, we must emerge from obscurity.

Coronado Soil and Water Conservation District holds election for supervisors

On May 5, polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. to elect three supervisors of the Coronado Soil and Water Conservation District. The polling location will be the Our Lady of Sorrows Gymnasium (301 Camino del Pueblo, Bernalillo, NM 87004).

The following have filed Declarations of Candidacy for the three positions:

  • Position 1—Patricia Bolton, Placitas (Incumbent) and Patience O’Dowd, Placitas
  • Position 2—Marvin Mendelow, Algodones (Incumbent) and Renee Sposato, Placitas
  • Position 5—Alfred Baca, Algodones (Incumbent) and Jami D. Watson, Placitas

For those who are not registered voters in the district, the deadline to register with the Sandoval County Clerk is April 3, 2015. Eligible voters within the district shall obtain and cast their ballots at the polling place on the day of the election. Eligible voters who will be absent on the day of the referendum may request an absentee ballot application by mail, by phone, or in person. Absentee ballot applications will be available for pick up April 6 through April 10, and April 13 through April 15, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at the offices of the Sandoval County Bureau of Elections, Sandoval County Administration Building, 1500 Idalia Road, Building D, Bernalillo, NM, or by mail between April 5 and April 15, to Coronado Soil and Water Conservation District, c/o Election Superintendent, P.O. Box 69, Bernalillo, NM 87004.

To request an absentee ballot application by phone, call 867-2853. Completed absentee ballot applications must be received by April 19 at the Coronado Soil and Water Conservation District mailing address above. Absentee ballot packets will be sent out no later than April 20. Completed absentee ballots must be received at the Coronado Soil and Water Conservation District mailing address above or at the polling location no later than 7:00 p.m. on May 5


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