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LAS PLACITAS ASSOCIATION YEAR-END REPORT

The Las Placitas Association (www.lasplacitas.org) is looking for board members. Consider joining the LPA Board to help influence the future of our community. Leave a note expressing your interest in the contact section of our web page and a current board member will contact you. Board members are needed and especially with membership management, social media, or financial management skills. Make a difference and volunteer.

LPA had a busy 2017We negotiated to maintain an in-perpetuity library of Michel Crofoot’s writing about Placitas plants, herbs, geology, native seeds, plant ball creation, herbarium, native plant locations, and erosion control. These papers will be preserved and available to the community through our website. We felt that Michael’s writings should not be lost with his relocation.

LPA sponsored THREE hikes this yearled by our vice-president David Haigh to La Cienega Petroglyphs, Tesuque Cree Trail, and Tent Rocks. Michael Crofoot led three hikes in the open space this year to explore what was growing during the spring, summer and fall.

Pipeline Activities—The entire pipeline route through Placitas was “droned” by the LPA Pipeline Committee using a professional operator to catalog locations of excessive erosion, exposed pipelines, missing concrete blankets, and other anomalies conducive to unsafe operation. That information was used in meetings with the operators. Two studies commissioned in 2009 at a cost of $250,000 based upon work by the LPA board at that time was uncovered and reviewed by the current LPA Board this year. We found that actions and remedies suggested in the two studies have not been accomplished. In a meeting with operators, congressional representatives, and safety commissioners, we reviewed the study findings and none of the “fixes” have been implemented. This work continues in 2018. With the increased throughput and aging pipelines, LPA’s pipeline committee is compelled to monitor the safety record and actions of the operators and suggest alternatives to the current operation to increase the safety of our community.

Mining ActivitiesAlong with ES-CA, and the ES-CA Trust, LPA has met regularly with our congressional delegation and state officials throughout the year to see if the 800- to 1,000-acre gravel mine in one of the Draft Resource Management Plans alternatives is still under consideration. (Read the excellent report, Land of Enchantment …. or Gravel on the LPA website.) Most recently we met with the outgoing director of the NM BLM to discuss the mining proposed in the draft BLM Resource Management Plan. Again, there is no assurance that mining will not be the selected alternative and we will wait until the release of the plan to assess our next actions.

LecturesLPA launched its Lecture Series in the fourth quarter of 2107 with two well-received presentations about erosion issues and the evolution of Placitas, given by Michael Crofoot. We are planning a quarterly lecture at the library in 2018. Email us with suggested topics, speakers, or volunteer to present a lecture.   

KUPR—LPA continues its ongoing support for the “Heart of Placitas,” low wattage, public radio station. In February of 2014, LPA applied for a license to construct a low-power FM public radio station to serve the communities of Placitas, Bernalillo, Algodones, parts of northern Rio Rancho, and the pueblos of Santa Ana, San Felipe, and Zia. In May of 2015, the station went on the air with a limited schedule and has since grown with robust programming serving the tastes of our diverse communities and reaching out to a more distant audience by streaming over the internet. In January 2018, the station will begin broadcasting 24 hours a day. LPA provided start-up money and has continued to provide financial support to ensure this asset to our communities can continue. Information on the station and its programming can be found at www.kupr.org.

Become a member or join the board of Las Placitas Association. Board meetings are the third Wednesday of each month (except December), 6:30 pm, at the Placitas Community Center, 41 Camino de las Huertas. Everyone is invited.


Light Among the Ruins shines in the Jemez

~Erica Asmus-Otero, Communications Director, Village of Jemez Springs

On December 9, the Village of Jemez Springs will meld beloved holiday traditions with cultural traditions from Jemez Pueblo during the memorable “Light Among the Ruins” event. This event is a holiday favorite with New Mexicans, as the historic ruins of the 17th century San José de los Jemez Mission of Giusewa Pueblo (Jemez Historic Site) are lit by nearly 1,500 farolitos (paper bags filled with sand and lit by candles).

This year, beginning at 3:00 p.m., the Village will have arts and crafts vendors, food vendors, a warm-up tent, live holiday music by the Jemez Valley High School band, and complimentary shuttle service at the Jemez Valley Community Park adjacent to the Jemez Valley Credit Union, including a drop off at the Plaza, then back to the Park.

New this year, the Village will sell a limited 1,000 “Let Your Light Shine” glow in the dark bracelets, sponsored and provided by the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Bracelets will include perks such as biscochitos and hot cocoa (available only at the Community Park), flashlight key chains, a dedicated line for shuttle service, and January “Spring up to Jemez Springs” discount punch card. Bracelets are only $2 for adults and teens, 13 and older.


Rapidly warming Southwest faces water challenges, choices

Laura Paskus, NM Political Report

“I’m openly skeptical we’ll ever be able to fill Elephant Butte Reservoir again,” Dr. David Gutzler told attendees of a recent climate change conference. That’s given the trend toward diminished flows in the Rio Grande resulting from the continued global rise in temperature.

The University of New Mexico Earth and Planetary Studies Department professor delivered the grim news on a crisp, yellow and blue fall morning along the bosque in Albuquerque.

Since the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation completed the reservoir in 1916 to supply farmers in southern New Mexico and Texas with water, the reservoir’s levels have fluctuated—from highs in the 1940s to lows in the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. Many New Mexicans are familiar with the wet period that lasted from 1984 through 1993; between 1980 and 2006, the state’s population increased by fifty percent. But then the region was hit with drier conditions—and increasing temperatures. Areas of the Southwest have suffered from drought since 1999 and, unlike earlier droughts, it’s driven not just by a lack of precipitation, but a rise in temperature.

Even with good snowpack in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico the past few years, there simply isn’t enough water to boost the reservoir’s levels again, said Gutzler, who is also one of the lead authors of the “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2013 Assessment Report.” The reservoir is currently at just 15 percent capacity.

“It is a lot warmer here now than it was a generation ago,” said Gutzler—about three degrees Fahrenheit warmer. And by the end of the century, New Mexico could be four to six degrees warmer.

This isn’t breaking news.

Seven years ago, Gutzler and a colleague published a paper about rising temperature trends in central New Mexico. “By the end of the 21st century, Albuquerque’s temperature will be the current temperature of El Paso,” he said, noting that the vegetation in the Franklin Mountains flanking the west Texas city look very different from the Sandias, which still have aspens and conifers in higher elevations. “The climate in El Paso is significantly different from Albuquerque even though we get roughly the same precipitation.”

Pointing to the screen behind him, Gutzler drew attention to the red temperature curve. “That red curve is headed up,” he said. “And the choices we make will determine how much higher that will go.”

Warming in the American Southwest is occurring at about double the global rate—and that local warming will have a profound impact on water resources in the Interior West. Those changes in water supply will occur regardless of changes in precipitation, he said.

Gutzler added, “There is nothing the slightest bit hypothetical about this warming.”

This month the U.S. government released its “Climate Change Special Report” and the fourth volume of the National Climate Assessment, an update of the last report released in 2014. It’s the culmination of work by 13 federal agencies mandated by Congress to assess climate science and climate change impacts every four years.

The final report isn’t significantly different from this summer’s draft. But it underscores the critical challenges the United States faces due to increasing global temperatures.

Global annual temperatures have increased by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 115 years, according to the report, and the current period is “now the warmest in the history of modern civilization,” according to the report.

As NM Political Report reported earlier this year, the assessment’s authors point out that human activities—such as the burning of fossil fuels—are the dominant cause of this warming. “For the warming over the last century,” the assessment’s author’s write, “there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”

The impacts of warming are widespread across the Earth: melting glaciers, diminished snow cover and sea ice, and ocean acidification. Already, seas have risen by seven to eight inches since 1900—and almost half of that has happened since 1993. The Arctic is warming at a rate about twice as fast as the global average, they write. If that continues, Septembers will be “nearly ice-free” in the Arctic Ocean within the next two decades.

“Understanding the full scope of human impacts on climate requires a global focus because of the interconnected nature of the climate system,” according to the authors. “For example, the climate of the Arctic and the climate of the continental United States are connected through atmospheric circulation patterns.”

Earlier this year, Sen. Tom Udall shared the concerns of many that the Trump administration might try to halt or delay the release of the final report. The only good news from last week’s release, he said, is that the Trump administration didn’t suppress it.

“And I will keep working to ensure scientific integrity going forward,” Udall said. “While the Trump administration devates and denies climate change, we’re losing valuable time that we should be spending trying to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.”

Earlier spring snowmelt and reduced snowpack are already affecting water resources in the West, he said, “and unless we make profound changes to water management, chronic, long-duration hydrological drought is increasingly possible before the end of this century.”

The science on warming and its impacts is definitive and there is no debate, he said. “The longer we deny climate change the worse off we will be, especially our children and future generations,” he said. “Global action must be taken to prevent climate change from getting worse, or we will pay the consequences—in our communities, our food supply, global health, and national security. In the United States, the West is already in the bull’s eye, and we need to be taking urgent action.”

Meanwhile, carbon dioxide levels in the Earth’s atmosphere continue rising. In October, NASA reported dramatic spikes in carbon that were recorded in 2015 and 2016. Given continued emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, warming will continue to accelerate globally, and in New Mexico.

The biggest foreseen impact on New Mexico will be on snowpack, Gutzler said.

“We will still have wet decades,” he said. But they won’t boost reservoir levels or recharge groundwater as efficiently. Soils will be dry. Water demands will be high, from cities, farmers and vegetation. And reservoirs and ecosystems alike won’t be able to catch up on water.

“We don’t have a choice whether to adapt to warming,” Gutzler said. It’s happening—and it’s going to continue happening. New Mexicans can choose, however, to reduce emissions.

“If we want to, we can choose a lower emission rate and a ‘softer path’ to warming,” he said. “We can think globally and long-term. We can join other countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Reprinted from the NM Political Report (nmpoliticalreport.com).

 
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