The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


Signpost Cartoon copyright Rudi Klimpert
Gourd-geous art to make at Coronado Monument

The Friends of Coronado State Monument will present the third annual Gourd Workshop on the Portal, on Saturday, August 12, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

“Every year this event gets to be more and more fun!” said Emily Sue Shields, of the Friends. “This year, we will be offering the chance to make birdhouses, bird feeders, masks, folk-art chickens, Southwestern dolls, Christmas ornaments, or whatever possibilities you see in the gourd. Bring your imagination and a lunch.”

The cost is $20 per person, with a limit of twenty people. One small gourd (either bottle or buffalo) and supplies are included in the admission price; additional gourds may be purchased for fifty cents to $5. Gourds of various sizes and shapes will be available.

Reservations are required by August 5. Call Gordon, at 771-3464, or e-mail your reservation to

On Sunday, March 19, “Pueblo Feast Days: Cultural Meanings and Visitor Etiquette,” will be presented at 2:00 p.m. For further information, contact Coronado Monument, at 771-3464.

General admission to the monument is $5 per person; members of Friends of Coronado State Monument are admitted free.

Coronado State Monument is off I-25 west of the town of Bernalillo, on Highway 550.

Sunday is Funday picnic

Vendors and sponsors are being sought for Rio Rancho Mayor Kevin Jackson's Sunday is Funday community picnic, scheduled for Sunday, August 27. The free event at the Rio Rancho Sports Complex from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. will include fifty-cent hot dogs and hamburgers, entertainment, and activities for children.

Vendors of arts and crafts, food, and other items may reserve a ten-foot-by-ten-foot space at the sports complex fields for $50. They will be required to provide their own equipment, canopy, tables, chairs, and insurance. For further details or information on how to reserve a vendor space, please contact Tony Popper, at 892-0325, or David Heil, at 228-7189.

Kiwanis Club of Rio Rancho is the primary sponsor for this event. Any revenue generated will be given by Kiwanis to benefit youth programs in Rio Rancho, such as the Boys and Girls Club.

Hagen, NM
An adobe ruin in the fabled mining community of Hagan

Las Placitas Association invites you to tour Hagan

Ghost towns, canyons, and spectacular 360-degree views are just some of the treats Las Placitas Association has for you this month.

On August 12, join us for a special guided tour into the Diamond Tail Ranch, north of Placitas. Normally closed to the public, the ranch property (which is far larger than the Diamond Tail subdivision) boasts old Pueblo sites, abandoned Spanish farms, and the fabled mining community of Hagan.

That's our main destination. We'll explore the ruins of the many buildings that once fed Hagan's hopes of becoming a coal-mining giant. You can choose to stroll leisurely among the buildings or hop onto a group hike to a ridgetop for those great views.

Local experts on the area's history and wildflowers will be aboard to expand our brains.

After about two hours, we'll head further into the ranch. Under the shade of some elderly cottonwoods, we'll enjoy a fresh chuck-wagon lunch, courtesy of the Diamond Tail Ranch.

This is a free event sponsored by LPA, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving open space, restoring ailing watersheds, and helping Placitas residents "learn to live like a local."

Meet us at 8:00 a.m. on August 12 in the Merc parking lot. We'll carpool north on I-25 to the San Felipe exit, then drive east on the dirt road into the Diamond Tail. (Four-wheel and all-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended.)

Bring plenty of water, wear sturdy shoes, and, just in case, pack some rain gear, too.

To help us get an idea of how much food to prepare, log onto and use the Contact Us link to send an e-mail on how many will be in your group. Computer-less? Leave a message at 867-6330.

El Rinconcito español

Hay que aprender a perder antes de saber jugar.
One must learn to lose before learning how to play.

La verdad padece pero no perece.
The truth suffers, but it doesn’t perish.

No da él que puede, sino él que quiere.

It isn’t the one who can who gives, rather the one who wants to.

Submitted by SOS-panyol, Placitas—Spanish instruction that focuses on oral communication skills,

“Mormon Tales” at historical society’s August meeting

The Sandoval County Historical Society will meet on August 6 at 2:00 p.m. at Delavy House Museum, off highway 550 west of Bernalillo, between Coronado State Monument and Santa Ana Star Casino. Featured will be “Mormon Tales,” by Dave Gardner, Penne Melton, and Bruce Myer. Refreshments will be served. The program is free and open to the public. For further information, call Martha Liebert, at 867-2755.

2006 Corrales Harvest Festival spreads out

The twenty-first annual Corrales Harvest Festival—a special event honoring Corrales’s farming roots and the preservation of its unique and rural atmosphere—takes place in Corrales on Saturday, September 30, and Sunday, October 1, from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. each day. Thousands of visitors come to Corrales to enjoy the event.

The pet parade and competition will kick off the event on Saturday, assembling at 8:00 a.m. and marching at 9:00 a.m. The event is spread out over many locations that include the Corrales Growers Market, the ever-expanding juried arts and crafts show, Wagner’s Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch, Mercado Antiguo at Old Church, and the food court. There will be live entertainment at many locations, hayrides throughout the village, and children’s activities, including a petting zoo and rides. Many animal exhibits can be seen at Casa San Ysidro, and a farm tour is available. Wine tasting is offered at the wineries by hayride. Corrales businesses host additional events in the village.

The Corrida de Corrales Fun Run begins Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m. Two dollars will purchase unlimited hay rides all day and a brochure listing all the events and the schedule, including a little Corrales history lesson. Parking is free.

The Corrales Harvest Festival is a nonprofit corporation registered in the state of New Mexico. All staff and event positions are held by volunteers from Corrales and neighboring communities. Proceeds from the event are distributed to charities serving the Corrales community. 2005 proceeds were distributed to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Katrina relief.

Learn the ropes, ancient-style

The Sandia Ranger District invites the public to join Al Cornell for a presentation and demonstration on the prehistory of cordage, including a hands-on component which will allow the attendees to make cordage as our ancient ancestors did.

Cornell has a keen interest in applied anthropology, especially prehistoric fire making, the fabrication of stone and bone tools, prehistoric pigments, and cordage. He has appeared at a variety of archaeological events and museums, including ten days of presentations and demonstrations at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., in 2005.

The program will be held at Tijeras Pueblo, at the Sandia Ranger Station, on August 12 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. For additional information, contact the Sandia Ranger District, at 281-3304.

Laura Paskus
Laura Paskus

Debunking the myth of the sand-burrowing minnow

It’s a popular refrain here in central New Mexico come summer: The silvery minnow can hunker down, bury itself in a dry streambed, and outlast drought. Whenever the river slows and its bed begins to dry, I’m inevitably informed that the Rio Grande has always dried, and the four-inch-long minnow has always survived. This year, I received a letter pointing out that “old-timers” and “local observers” know that minnows can bury themselves and their eggs in the sandy river bottom. I was also told that “desert fish have evolved to deal with drought.”

I’ve seen the bumper sticker that says “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” But in my mind, a fish without water is just a dead fish, one that’s likely to be eaten by a bird or maybe even run over by a bicycle. Not being an ichthyologist, however, I decided to consult with biologists, geneticists, and fisheries scientists and ask whether the minnow can live in sand to swim another day.

“BS,” began a message that came to my inbox within the hour. This fisheries biologist, who had certainly been asked the question more than once, wrote that when the Middle Rio Grande dried in 1996, the manager of Bosque del Apache Refuge took a backhoe to the dry riverbed. He, along with a handful of farmers invited to watch, dug six feet into the riverbed—and nary an egg was found.

“Fish don’t live in sand—dry or wet,” the testy biologist continued in his e-mail. Fish do burrow in sand to survive drought in Africa and Australia. Known as aestivating fish, they include the lungfish and salamander fish. But aestivating fish, one geneticist assured me, do not live in North America.

The minnow used to swim throughout much of the 1,850 mile-long Rio Grande; in fact, it was once the most populous fish species in the Middle Rio Grande. It also lived in the Pecos River, which flows through eastern New Mexico. The fish is now found in small numbers in a 157-mile stretch of the Rio Grande, and it is completely gone from the Pecos, which nowadays also dries each summer.

Another biologist told me that most of the fish species that occupy the Rio Grande are closely related to Mississippi River-drainage fish and are not really desert-adapted. He added that “these fish occupy medium-to-large perennially flowing rivers that flow through arid areas.” This bears repeating: The fish live in rivers that flow through dry areas.

Not only that, but even if sections of the Rio Grande dried up in the past, they never dried completely. When one portion of the riverbed dried, water likely remained in an adjacent bend or oxbow. Without dams to stop them, minnow eggs and larvae from upstream waterways would have drifted downstream, recolonizing the reaches that had suffered drying.

Today’s Rio Grande does not bend and meander throughout the valley; it is carefully managed to flow within a relatively narrow channel for short stretches between diversions and dams. Now, there are sixteen major dams and diversions on the Rio Grande between its headwaters in Colorado and the Gulf of Mexico. When one portion of the river dries, the fish can’t simply swim up or downstream. When, say, eighty miles of the river dries, as it did in 2003, biologists must salvage what fish they can, pack them in plastic bags with water, then truck them to a wet portion of the river. Then, from the fall through the spring, when flows are higher, it’s up to biologists to stock the river from fish they’ve raised in tanks.

A second geneticist pointed out that we didn’t collect much historical flow data before dams and diversions. “That timescale (from when water managers started recording flows) is pretty negligible when it comes to evolution,” she said, “even for a minnow with a short generation time.” In other words, even the short-lived minnow can’t evolve fast enough to be able to live without water. That’s like expecting humans to evolve within a few hundred years to survive while breathing carbon monoxide.

It’s critical that journalists report many sides of any story. But let’s lay to rest the myth of the amazingly resilient silvery minnow. There’s absolutely no proof that it burrows into the sand and hangs on in the dry streambeds of the river, and as far as I can tell, there’s little proof that the “old-timers” who tell such tales exist either.

Laura Paskus is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News ( She is the paper’s Southwest editor in Albuquerque, New Mexico.







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