The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988


Las Huertas culverts

New culverts open pathway for Las Huertas Creek to flow

Las Placitas Association to host leading environmentalists

Come and be inspired. On Saturday, August 16 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church, four visionary conservationists will educate and inspire our community. Their stories and personal accounts will help us rethink our land-use decisions and help us truly understand the impact of development on our environment.

Dave Foreman, founder of 1) Earth First, the “notorious ‘direct action’ environmental organization” and 2) The Wildlands Project, will speak to the importance of protecting portions of our Earth to let “nature rule.”

Rewilding Institute’s carnivore biologist, Dave Parsons, will address and update us on the rewilding efforts of the critically endangered Mexican wolf in southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona.

Learn about the Western burrowing owl (the bird world’s equivalent of the seal pup) from David Wyllie and his pilot program “Owls in Flight.” And finally, David van Hulsteyn and Lura Brookins will advocate for the importance of native ecosystems and species with the greatest conservation needs. They have a soft spot for the prairie dog and have also been pivotal in promoting awareness of wildlife corridors in the Galisteo Watershed Basin.

Bring the family and bring your questions. Suggested donations of $5 are appreciated.


BLM rescinds blanket solar energy moratorium

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rescinded its blanket moratorium on solar energy development on public lands in the West. On May 29, the BLM stopped reviewing applications for new solar power projects in six western states, including New Mexico, for as much as two years. Recently, the BLM announced that it will continue to consider solar energy development applications on a case-by-case basis.

“At a time when energy prices are skyrocketing,” said Rep. Tom Udall, “solar energy needs to be part of the solution. The BLM needs to study the environmental impact of new solar developments, but we should not have to wait for years to develop this proven source of energy. Small businesspeople across the West cannot wait two years for approval, and these small ventures are those least likely to have a harmful environmental impact. Continued case-by-case evaluation will allow BLM to protect our public lands without effectively shutting down small solar companies. A blanket moratorium on development goes too far, and I’m glad the BLM decided to rescind it.”

Last year, Udall offered an amendment to the House energy bill that would require large utility companies to get fifteen percent of their energy from renewable sources or conservation by 2020. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, this would create hundreds of thousands of jobs in places like New Mexico, with access to wind, sun, and other renewable resources.


Wild Rose

Mountain wildflowers of the Southern Rockies and Central NM

Wild Rose
Rosa woodsii Lindl


Rose Family—Rosaceae

Wild rose displays the shrubby growth, prickles, and sharply-toothed ovate leaflets of our familiar cultivated roses. Only the flowers differ, being limited to five round, pink petals that surround numerous yellow stamens. Although the flowers produce no nectar, abundant pollen attracts insect pollinators. The fruit is a bright red or orange fleshy rose hip. Blooming from May to July, dense thickets of wild rose are found in dry, open areas from the foothills to near timberline, but are more common at the lower and middle elevations.


Roses are the most popular and widely cultivated flowers in the world. Wild roses have five petals and many stamens, but most cultivated roses are “double,” that is, they have more than five petals. The additional petals are modified stamens, so that extremely double flowers have few or no functional stamens and thus cannot reproduce by seed. Today, more than five thousand cultivars of double roses, developed from centuries of selection and hybridization, are available in all colors but blue.

Rose hips are the richest known natural source of vitamin C, and extracts are sold in health food stores almost everywhere. When World War II prevented Great Britain from importing citrus fruit, rose hips were gathered by schoolchildren from wild rose thickets and processed into syrup to prevent scurvy. Tasty but sour, rose hips are dried for tea or cooked into jam and jelly.


Since ancient times, oil from the damask rose, native to Asia Minor, has been distilled to yield attar of roses, the fragrant essential rose oil used in cosmetics. Today, this rose is extensively cultivated for its oil. We enjoy these fragrant oils for their pleasant scents, but, more important, they play a significant role in attracting pollinators.

Excerpted from Mountain Wildflowers of the Southern Rockies, by Carolyn Dodson and William W. Dunmire.

Published by University of New Mexico Press.


New Mexico-based tribal group receives federal grant for water systems

Senator Pete Domenici, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, announced that the National Tribal Environmental Council (NTEC) in Albuquerque has been awarded a $794,400 federal grant to assist tribes in improving their water systems.

The technical assistance training grant has been awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development agency. The funding will allow NTEC to provide technical assistance and training to operators and utility managers of tribal and drinking water systems in nine states and 163 tribal communities, as well as provide certification to water system operators.

“This funding will be an important resource for aiding tribes as they work to provide safe and reliable water services to their people. The grant is an affirmation by the USDA of the services offered by NTEC to help tribes,” said Domenici, who is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee that sets funding for the USDA and its programs.

Founded in 1991, NTEC currently serves more than 184 member tribes, including fourteen tribes in New Mexico (the Jicarilla Apache Nation, the pueblos of Acoma, Cochiti, Isleta, Jemez, Nambe, Pojoaque, San Felipe, San Ildefonso, San Juan, Sandia, Santa Clara, Tesuque, and Zuni). The organization provides assistance to help tribes protect natural resources on tribal lands. For more information about NTEC, visit their website at

The grant award comes a day after the U.S. Senate approved a bill that includes a Domenici co-sponsored plan to create an Indian emergency fund with $1.0 billion to address water needs on Indian reservations. The funding would be directed toward tribal water projects, water supply projects associated with congressionally-approved Indian water settlements, and safe drinking water and sanitation systems.

The Indian emergency fund, included in the Lantos-Hyde U.S. Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008 (S.2731), also includes $750 million to address law enforcement and public safety on Indian reservations and $250 million for Indian health care. S.2731 will now be reconciled with a companion bill passed by the House.


Gardening with the Masters

Dr. Curtis Smith, Horticulture Specialist with New Mexico State University will speak on “Xeriscaping Your Home Landscape” on Monday, August 4 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at the Meadowlark Senior Center, 4330 Meadowlark Lane, SE in Rio Rancho.

Dr. Smith is the author of the “Yard & Garden” column for the Albuquerque Journal, and the “Southwest Garden” series on KNME.

There is no charge for the class. To reserve a seat, call the Sandoval County Cooperative Extension Service at (505) 867-2582.

New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator.


Conservation groups merge

Forest Guardians and Sinapu, two regional conservation groups, have joined forces to create a stronger organization to protect and restore the wild places, wildlife, and wild rivers in the American West. The new organization, WildEarth Guardians, creates a conservation force that will pressure policy-makers and government agencies to better protect and restore the lands, wildlife, and waters from the Great Plains and Desert Southwest across the Rockies and through the Intermountain West.

For nearly two decades, Sinapu, based in Boulder, Colorado, has worked to defend and restore large carnivores across the Southern Rockies, while Forest Guardians has worked to protect and restore national forests, endangered species, and rivers in the greater Southwest. Integrating and expanding upon the two groups’ specialties, WildEarth Guardians has four core programs: Wildlife, Wild Rivers, Wild Places, and Climate & Energy.

“We’ve created a bigger, bolder, and better organization to achieve our goals to restore wolves across the west, protect iconic western rivers such as the Rio Grande, and keep wild places like the Sagebrush Sea intact,” said John Horning, Executive Director of WildEarth Guardians. “With the merger and other staff additions, we’ve assembled a powerful team of incredibly talented, passionate, and hard-working advocates for wild nature,” Horning added.

Both organizations collaborated closely over the last two years and agreed to merge a year ago. WildEarth Guardians will continue to do much of the same work, but has also amplified its strategic focus in several critical respects.

Among WildEarth Guardians priorities are: restoring wolves to the American West, including protecting Mexican wolves in the Gila bioregion and reintroducing wolves to the Southern Rockies; protecting the Rio Grande from its headwaters in Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico; restoring keystone species such as prairie dogs across the American West; restoring wildfire as a natural and restorative process in healthy western forest ecosystems; abolishing the USDA’s Wildlife Services’ wildlife-killing program; and inspiring residents of the West’s urban and rural communities to become a cohesive and powerful voice for the protection of wild nature.

Two other new developments at WildEarth Guardians that parallel the merger announcement and name change include the creation of a new Climate & Energy program and the formal integration of the Sagebrush Sea Campaign into WildEarth Guardians.

The Sagebrush Sea Campaign, which had been a sponsored project of Forest Guardians until recently, focuses on protecting and restoring the vast sagebrush-steppe landscape in the Interior West. To protect native wildlife and ecosystems of the Sagebrush Sea, the Campaign Director, Mark Salvo, will lead WildEarth Guardians’ efforts to obtain Endangered Species Act protection for the greater sage-grouse, Columbian sharp-tailed grouse, and Gunnison sage-grouse. These three iconic grouse species have dwindled precipitously in the recent past because of habitat destruction due to livestock grazing, energy exploitation, and urban development.

The Climate & Energy program will fight fossil fuel extraction, including coal, oil, and gas, while promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency. “Unless we do more to bring about a shift away from dirty energy and towards clean, renewable energy and efficiency, the climate crisis is going to have a devastating effect on the wild places, wildlife, and wild rivers of the American West,” said Robert Ukeiley, the Climate & Energy Program Director for WildEarth Guardians.

WildEarth Guardians also has its own legal department. The organization has hired four staff attorneys over the last year to provide the legal muscle necessary to enforce environmental law and ensure that government agencies are protecting wildlands, imperiled species, biodiversity, and clean air and water. In the past, the organizations have relied exclusively on outside law firms.

“The law is one of our most powerful tools to protect our public lands and endangered species,” said Jay Tutchton, WildEarth Guardians’ general counsel, who has successfully brought about the protection of more than one hundred endangered species. “By having experienced litigators on the Guardians’ team, we can move quickly and make sure that endangered species have a fighting chance.”

WildEarth Guardians has eighteen staff members—fifteen full-time and three part-time—and a budget of nearly $1.5 million in 2008. The group has offices in Denver, Boulder, Santa Fe, and Phoenix, as well as more than ten thousand members and e-activists from all across the country, the majority of whom live in the Four Corners states.

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