Recycling news: it's in the bag
—ROBIN BRANDIN, BOARD MEMBER, PLACITAS RECYCLING
As anyone who has visited the Placitas Recycling Center recently
knows, business is booming, especially with so many new residents
moving into the community. This makes it all the more important
that materials brought to the center be appropriately separated
and free of contaminants. In that regard, the Placitas Recycling
Association is very pleased with the care Placitas recyclers are
taking to ensure materials go into the proper containers.
One of the biggest challenges recyclers face is determining what
plastic items can be recycled. It is not always obvious, because
many types of plastic look alike. The Placitas Recycling Center
only accepts No. 1 and No. 2 plastics. The number will be located
inside the recycling symbol on the item—usually on the bottom,
in the case of bottles. Bottle caps are generally not No. 1 or No.
2, so it is important that the caps be removed and the bottles rinsed
out before they are brought to the center.
Until recently, the center was not accepting plastic grocery bags,
but some of those bags are actually No. 2 plastic and can be recycled.
Those that are acceptable have the recycling symbol with the number
2 printed on the bag. Other ideas for reusing plastic bags can be
found at the http://frugalliving.about.com/cs/tips/a/blplasticbag.htm.
As the volume of recyclers increases, the Placitas Recycle Association
needs more volunteers to handle the workload. Recyclers may be approached
when they visit the center and asked whether they would be interested
in volunteering. The response so far has been very positive.
“It's the volunteers who make the service we provide possible,”
notes the association’s volunteer coordinator, Carmen Ketchum.
“We owe them a huge thank-you for their work and support of
the center. Time is precious, especially to volunteers, because
they often work for more than one cause. Our volunteers have been
very good about letting us know when they can't make it on their
assigned day so we can find substitutes. And those who are willing
to take last-minute calls are angels in disguise.”
Most volunteers work at the center two or three times a year.
Anyone interesting in volunteering can call Carmen, at 771-1311.
The Placitas Recycling Center is on Highway 165, approximately
a quarter mile east of I-25, and is open every Saturday from 8:00
to 11:00 a.m. The center accepts newspapers, cardboard (flattened),
office paper, mixed paper, aluminum, No. 1 and 2 plastic, laser
and ink-jet printer cartridges, and polystyrene peanuts (double-bagged).
Detailed information on the materials that are accepted can be obtained
at the center on Saturday mornings or on-line at www.placitasrecycling.com.
See PV array from the Rail Runner
—NEW MEXICO SOLAR ENERGY ASSOCIATION
PV is popping up everywhere! Travelers on I-40 can see PNM's Algodones
twenty-five-kilowatt PV (photovoltaic, solar electric) plant. Soon
Rail Runner Express riders will see a smaller scale PV array near
the downtown Bernalillo station. The PV site is the future office
of Empowering Our Communities in New Mexico, a nonprofit corporation
that serves to improve the conditions of communities and low-income
households so they have access to safe, decent, affordable housing
and the resources and skills to live, learn, and work together.
The two-kilowatt pole-mounted photovoltaic array was installed
to offset some of the electricity the office will be using. Until
and after the office is remodeled and occupied, the array will sell
electricity to PNM at the rate of thirteen cents per kilowatt hour
under PNM's Renewable Energy Credit program. The office will also
net-meter: that is, their electric meter will spin backwards during
daylight hours until their daytime use catches up with the electricity
that is generated. The office will be remodeled using passive-solar
design and energy-efficient appliances to lighten the electric load
and increase the percentage of their use that is provided from the
sun. Once the office is occupied, it will no doubt use more electricity
than the system will generate, but EOC will continue to benefit
from the REC program and the energy they produce.
The installation of the photovoltaic array was donated by the
students in a five-day hands-on Photovoltaic Design and Installation
class presented by New Mexico Solar Energy Association, a nonprofit
educational organization. Though the groundwork and pole installation
were prepared ahead of time, the students, from Las Cruces to Las
Vegas, including one from Texas via France, installed the PV panels,
inverter, AC and DC disconnects and REC meter box.
The hands-on installation was the culmination of the class, which
introduced basics of solar electricity, photovoltaic components,
fundamentals of PV siting, sizing, and safety in a classroom setting
the weekend before. Taught by Marlene Brown, of NMSEA, and Randy
Sadewic, of Positive Energy, the class included a tour of homes
and facilities in Albuquerque that have installed photovoltaics
to offset some or most of their electricity use.
NMSEA and EOC thank Mayor Patricia A. Chávez for donating
the use of the Rio Grande Room in the town hall for the classroom
instruction. Additional support for EOC's solar system came from
Richard Reynolds, of Bernalillo Sand and Gravel, Luz Energy Corp.,
and Direct Power and Water. Each entity demonstrated generous support
of nonprofit education, low-income assistance, and the renewable
energy industry through their contributions.
For information on NMSEA's classes, chapter activities around
the state, the Taos Solar Music Festival in June, the Solar Fiesta
in September, and financial incentives for solar, check NMSEA's
Web site, www.nmsea.org, or call the main office, at 505-264-0400
or 888-88NMSOL. For more information about Empowering Our Communities
of New Mexico, contact Sally Moore, at 505-867-3374, extension 12,
Energy department awards $1.8 million to weatherize
homes in New Mexico
U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman today announced
$1,857,690 in weatherization program grants for the state of New
Mexico to make energy-efficiency improvements in homes of low-income
families. On average, weatherization can reduce a home’s energy
costs by $358 a year.
“Weatherizing your home is a valuable way to save energy
and money,” Bodman said. “The Department of Energy’s
weatherization program will help many New Mexico families make their
homes more energy-efficient.”
For every dollar spent, weatherization returns $1.53 in energy
savings over the life of the measures. DOE’s weatherization
program performs energy audits to identify the most cost-effective
measures for each home, which typically includes adding insulation,
reducing air infiltration, servicing the heating and cooling systems,
and providing health and safety diagnostic services. Other benefits
of weatherization include increased housing affordability, increased
property values, job creation, lower owner and renter turnover,
and reduced fire risks. In 2005, DOE helped weatherize more than
ninety-two thousand homes.
On average, Americans spend 3.5 percent of their income on energy
bills, but for lower-income households the costs average 14 percent.
DOE’s weatherization program grants are distributed by state
energy offices through more than nine hundred local agencies. Every
state, the District of Columbia, the Navajo Nation, and the Inter-Tribal
Council of Arizona will receive weatherization grants this year.
For more information, visit http://www.eere.energy.gov/wip.
Fencing off Mexico is an ecological blunder
Medical doctors have their Hippocratic Oath, in which they pledge
to heal the sick to the best of their ability and do no harm. We
ecologists have our own guiding principle: Call it the Leopold Oath.
The late Aldo Leopold, who worked for the U.S. Forest Service
and is considered to be one of the fathers of ecology, wrote several
fine books about what he called the land ethic. But one quote stands
out as symbolizing the ecological mindset: "A thing is right
when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of
the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise."
It is with such guidance that we ecologists interpret the world,
interpret history, and interpret current events. The great immigration
debate is the current event of the year, and the border fence its
latest incarnation. And thus, by any measure of a Leopold oath,
I have to call the border fence an ecological nightmare.
It is fitting that this fence is all about immigration. Immigration,
of course, is not just a human activity, but something that every
critter on this planet does to one extent or another. The fence
will stop human immigration, but it will stop most wildlife migration,
The border fence that already exists in parts of Southern California
has wreaked ecological havoc; the new fifteen-foot-tall, triple-decker
fence will make matters worse. The U.S. government may have to suspend
or completely ignore most of its environmental laws—the National
Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act,
and the Endangered Species Act—to build and accommodate the
border fence that will separate San Diego and Tijuana. This is the
place where, over the last few decades, the city of San Diego, the
state and federal governments, and the Mexican government have spent
nearly $600 million to protect the sensitive ecology of the Tijuana
River Estuary. When the last portions of the fence are built in
this area, the estuary will be ecologically blocked.
The conflict in Tijuana is only one example of what could happen
along a fenced U.S.-Mexican border that contains a biologically
rich swath of parks, forests, wilderness area, and binational wildlife
habitat. Thousands of species, and millions of individual animals,
travel back and forth across the border along daily or seasonal
migration paths. Endangered species such as the Sonoran Desert pronghorn,
the Mexican wolf, and the American jaguar all move back and forth
across the border in parts of Southern California, Arizona, and
The American jaguar offers a specific example. Hunters, ranchers,
and trappers killed every jaguar in America by the mid-1900s; rural
Mexicans to the south did not. Over the last few decades, a few
jaguars have migrated back from Mexico into America, most around
Tucson, where there's also a heavy human immigration path. The border
fence will stop this jaguar passage, and thereby stop the animal
from ever naturally reinhabiting its native American range.
The U.S. Senate endorsed its version of a border fence a few weeks
ago, calling for 370 miles of triple-wide fencing that will cost
at least $1 billion. A more elaborate $2.2 billion version is being
discussed in the House of Representatives; it would cover nearly
seven hundred miles through each of the four states bordering Mexico.
The fence even has its own citizens' support group and Web site,
that, under the guise of national security, calls for a fence stretching
the entire length of the border.
It is usually during times of political crisis that the greatest
ecological harm is done. The legacy of Cold War nuclear facilities
and bomb testing, plus the Superfund sites that followed, stands
out as one prominent example. And now we have the border fence.
An ecological way of seeing the world takes a long view, one untainted
by the political vagaries of the day. No matter the issue—global
warming, nuclear fallout, ozone depletion, air and water quality—nature
offers the ultimate verdict. As for this longer and more formidable
border fence, it does not preserve the integrity, stability, and
beauty of the biotic community. It tends otherwise, and it is wrong.
Gary Wockner is a contributor to Writers on the
Range, a service of High Country News (hcn.org).
He is a writer and ecologist in Fort Collins, Colorado.
A lesson in survival
—JENNIFER HOBSON HOFFMAN
I thought about the woman’s bones for a long time—what
position they might have been in when they were abandoned and covered
up, what had happened to her heart and her lungs as they slowly
deteriorated. The cavity of her ribs and her chest, the now hollow
cavity of her thigh bones, that narrow indentation of skin between
the sinews on the back of her neck where her black hair swirled
against her olive skin—they were all empty and would stay
empty, and she would be staring up at the hot blue sky for a long
time. Ten years of sky.
What if I, like her, was buried in the place I happened to be
going to the next morning? Was it a good day to die? A friend had
just told me the story of his cousin going out to fly-fish and never
coming home again. The family recovered her remains ten years later
near a remote northern New Mexico stream. Before I heard this tragic
and gruesome story, I was driving north from my home in Santa Fe
with my fly-fishing gear, a steaming cup of coffee in hand, and
a good lunch stuffed into my pack, headed for the river called Santa
Barbara in the Carson National Forest.
Just short of a two-hour drive from Santa Fe, the Rio Santa Barbara
is a cool stream that runs under the feet of the thirteen-thousand-foot
Truchas Mountains. It’s brushy, small, and requires a short
leader and a whole lot of patience, but it is one of the area’s
most rewarding fisheries. The brown trout, and upstream, the cutthroats,
are small but opportunistic and haven’t been over-fished.
It took me three and a half unforgettable hours to cover about two
miles of water.
The evening I returned from the Santa Barbara, my husband and
I talked about Bone Woman, as I’d begun to call her. I couldn’t
stop thinking about her. Should I be afraid? Just like her, probably,
I want a day alone to drive to a place and walk in a river where
there is no one at all, my mind is quiet, and I am thinking only
of fish. I want to feel the way I did when I was a kid, when I was
completely absorbed in a place in that intimate way that children
So I ask myself the questions that Bone Woman—in fact, any
woman—might ask, after getting out of a car and surveying
a lonely place: Was a man looking at her oddly as she put her rod
together? Does something feel wrong? Is this experience worth the
risk that I might not go home and have dinner with my husband tonight?
The answer for me is still “yes.” You cover yourself,
you leave detailed directions, you make sure you know where you’re
going so you don’t have to stop at a garage to get directions;
and you are discreet. For me, the answer is always yes: I choose
to go places where only my topo map can get me, and yes, I fish
there, and yes, I do it alone. And don’t look at me like I’m
crazy just because I am a woman.
Growing up near Sun Valley, Idaho, I unwittingly fly-fished some
of the world’s premier waters: Silver Creek, Big Lost River,
Salmon River. Two Basque brothers from my high school and I would
wet-wade the Silver Creek up to our waists, pulling flies from our
belt loops and enduring dirty glances from the gear-heads that fished
the technical waters in all their Orvis finery. I didn’t get
a car for my sixteenth birthday; I got a beautiful nine-foot 5/6
L.L. Bean rod and reel and my own vest. Walking out my back door
to fish and explore was more than something I got used to; it was
The real question is: What am I willing to risk to keep the things
that make me happiest?
The answer is that my love of flyfishing and exploring solo hasn’t
changed, but the way I protect myself has. I just took shooting
lessons and recently purchased a .38 caliber Ruger revolver that
I plan to carry with me. I will always say that if you are willing
to risk your own life; if you are willing to face Bone Woman’s
fate, then you have only one option: Go.
But you also have to remember to be very smart. And carry a big
Jennifer Hobson Hoffman is a contributor to Writers
on the Range, a service of High Country News, in Paonia, Colorado
(hcn.org). She writes
in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Proposals being accepted
for $5 million in conservation funds
—NEW MEXICO DEPARTMENT OF GAME AND FISH
The New Mexico Game Commission is inviting interested New Mexicans
to help identify important ways to use $5 million appropriated by
the 2005 Legislature for a variety of wildlife and land conservation
The funding is part of Governor Bill Richardson’s initiative
to improve access to hunting, fishing, and other recreational opportunities
statewide, and to help private landowners and communities in their
voluntary efforts to conserve land and habitat. It includes $4 million
to be spent on projects such as land purchases, easements, and land
improvements to improve wildlife protection and habitat, to protect
open space, and to reduce wildfire risk. The remaining $1 million
will be used to acquire land and conservation easements to benefit
species listed or proposed to be listed under the federal Endangered
Although some projects had been previously selected for the program,
the commission is seeking more to replace those that may no longer
be available for implementation. To meet funding criteria, projects
• Benefit wildlife species in New Mexico.
• Enhance use for hunting, angling, and other wildlife-associated
• Benefit wildlife species classified as threatened or endangered.
• Preferably include acquisition of property, although easements
may be considered.
• Be fully executed by December 2009.
• Involve willing sellers.
The deadline for proposals is 5:00 p.m., September 15, 2006. You
may send proposals to: New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, attention
Lisa Kirkpatrick, P.O. Box 25112, Santa Fe, NM 87504; or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Application forms and instructions can be obtained at www.wildlife.state.nm.us.