The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989

ECO-BEAT

Former SEAC president to discuss 1980s Las Huertas Canyon Road paving dispute

Las Placitas Association is sponsoring a presentation on December 9 that will revisit a legal battle that took place in the 1980s over whether to allow the paving of Las Huertas Canyon Road.

During that time, a local Placitas-based citizens’ group opposed the favored plan of the U.S. Forest Service and New Mexico Highway Department to convert NM 165 through Placitas into a two-lane paved route connecting I-25 with NM 536 through Sandia Park, State Route 14, and ultimately I-40. This “loop road” would have brought more traffic through the area. The citizens’ group, the Sandoval Environmental Action Coalition, successfully opposed the project on the basis of threats posed to the canyon environment and Native American cultural uses of the canyon, as determined under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Jim Mackenzie, former SEAC president and active participant in the road-paving dispute, will lead a presentation and discussion on this controversial project on Thursday evening, December 9, at 7:00 p.m. at the Placitas Community Center, 41 Camino de las Huertas Road.

 Join Las Placitas Association for a fascinating evening remembering a major chapter in Placitas's recent history with long-lasting effects on our quality of life.

For further information, call Reid Bandeen, Las Placitas Watershed coordinator, at 867-5477.

 

©Rudi Klimpert

Results of flood flows in lower Las Huertas Creek after the October 5, 2004, storm

 

Workshop for stakeholders in Las Huertas watershed

Las Placitas Association, a Placitas-based nonprofit dedicated to enhancing quality of life in the Placitas area, is hosting a day-long workshop for Las Huertas watershed stakeholders on January 15, 2005, at the Las Placitas Presbyterian Church. Broadly defined, a "stakeholder" includes anyone with an interest in the current and future health of the watershed as an ecological entity and community resource. The workshop will include both informational and public-participation elements focusing on a long-term community vision for management of the watershed and sharing resources for implementation of that vision.

The stakeholders’ workshop marks the latest in an ongoing series of lectures, workshops, and projects aimed at improving the Las Huertas watershed as an ecological, recreational, agricultural, and cultural resource as part of LPA's Las Huertas Watershed Project. LPA was recently awarded a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the New Mexico Environment Department to establish a watershed-management group for the Las Huertas Creek watershed. The long-term goal of this group is to enhance the quality of water in the creek, in consideration of its status as an intermittent tributary of the Rio Grande.

Stay tuned for further details in the January issue of the Signpost. For additional information, please contact Reid Bandeen, Las Placitas Watershed coordinator, 867-5477.

 

An arroyo in the Rio Puerco watershed west of San Ysidro

An arroyo in the Rio Puerco watershed west of San Ysidro

Restoration of severely degraded Rio Puerco channel begins

Curves are back in vogue! No, not on runway models but in the meandering of the Rio Puerco in north central New Mexico. In cooperation with the New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department, the Rio Puerco Management Committee hosted a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the beginning of the La Ventana project in the Rio Puerco Watershed thirty miles west of San Ysidro on October 25.

The project entails redirecting the Rio Puerco from an unstable artificial 1.1-mile channel to its natural 2.2 miles of meandering channel. The project will save approximately twenty-one tons of sediment that have been lost annually since the river was diverted, surpassing soil erosion by any other watershed in the country, according to the Corps of Engineers.

Jim Hughes, Deputy Director of the Bureau of Land Management has awarded the RPMC the Director’s 4Cs (Communication, Consultation, and Cooperation, all in the service of Conservation) award for their outstanding effort in fostering collaborative management practices to reduce erosion, increase native vegetation, and improve riparian habitat while supporting the watershed’s rural, agrarian, and cultural traditions.

The RPMC has effectively built on initiatives begun by a locally led public-private stakeholders group based in Cuba, New Mexico. The committee is a collaborative watershed organization consisting of state, federal, and tribal entities, soil and water conservation districts, representatives of county government, residents from the rural communities within the watershed, environmental and conservation groups, and the public. The RPMC uses basin-wide scientific data to identify sub watersheds most in need of attention where restoration efforts could be most effective. They launched a community involvement initiative that started with listening sessions held in communities in the priority sub watersheds. The sessions have developed into a series of training and demonstration workshops on conservation practices.

The BLM manages 13.4 million acres of public land in New Mexico and forty-seven million acres of federally owned mineral estate; the bureau works to sustain the health, diversity and productivity or these lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

 

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