Matt Mathis, left, and Roger Simmons, technicians with the Center
of Excellence for Hazardous Materials Management, sample the water
in a stock tank being used to grow algae at New Mexico State University’s
Agricultural Science Center, at Artesia. Researchers are working
to determine the best methods to grow and harvest the algae, which
can be used to produce oil for biodiesel fuel.
Scientists research ways algae can fuel biodiesel production
—NEW MEXICO STATE UNIVERSITY
The New Mexico State University’s Agricultural Science Center,
at Artesia, is the current location for research on using oil extracted
from one of nature’s simplest organisms—single-cell
green algae—as a feedstock for biodiesel production. The research
is led by the Center of Excellence for Hazardous Materials Management,
based in Carlsbad.
Algae is now considered to be one of the most critical components
in alleviating the need for foreign oil. This does not, however,
eliminate the likelihood of other oil-based feedstocks from being
investigated. CEHMM is also collaborating with the Artesia Science
Center on a project focused on the potential of growing a cold-season
canola crop to generate oil for biodiesel production.
The tremendous reserves of brackish water, mild climate, and abundant
sunshine in New Mexico make good conditions for algae farmers.
The next step in the algae research is to establish a larger,
quarter-acre demonstration pond, expected to be completed in March,
at the Artesia center. The new pond will enable a broader focus
on growing and harvesting the algae, as well as oil-extraction processes.
A much larger demonstration project, to commence in 2008, will cover
about a hundred acres eventually.
As the project expands, NMSU is expected to remain a critical
partner, researching other species of algae, as well as harvesting
and oil-extraction techniques.
Prescribed burning to continue
Weather permitting, the Sandia Ranger District will continue with
its fuel-reduction program, implementing a series of prescribed
The buildup of fuels and the growth of neighborhoods in forested
areas have increased the potential for catastrophic wildland fire
during the fire season. Utilizing fire in a managed environment
allows fire managers to reduce the risk of such fires within the
wildland-urban interface, as well as restore forest and watershed
health and wildlife habitat.
This is a great time to continue working on your defensible space
and fire prevention. As we see this much snow around us it is hard
to think fire season is coming, but it is. You should continue protecting
your family, make sure you have an evacuation plan, work on your
property, and fireproof your home.
The Sandia Ranger District is working in cooperation with Bernalillo
County Fire Departments and New Mexico State Forestry. Anyone interested
in the Forest Service’s Prescribed Burn Program, wildfire,
defensible space, and general fire information may call 281-3304
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteers fix fencing during a Las Placitas Association
LPA plans Placitas Open Space cleanup
The Las Placitas Association invites you to bring your energy,
enthusiasm, heavy gloves, and warm clothes and join us in removing
an antiquated barbed-wire fence that runs through the middle of
the Placitas Open Space, obstructing both people and wildlife. We'll
meet at the Placitas Merc at 9:30 a.m. on February 24 and carpool
to the work site.
Members of the Albuquerque Open Space Division will be on hand
to help with the work and advise us on the ongoing work of implementing
the Placitas Open Space Master Plan. In addition, Alex Kurota, of
the UNM Office of Contract Archeology, will point out some evidence
of Anasazi people who lived along Las Huertas Creek many years ago.
This event is sponsored by Las Placitas Association, a nonprofit
organization dedicated to preserving open space, restoring ailing
watersheds, and enhancing the quality of life in Placitas. LPA will
provide tools, drinks, and snacks for this event. Lunch is also
available if you RSVP. Log onto www.lasplacitas.org and use the
Contact Us link to send an e-mail on how many will be in your group.
Computer-less? Leave a message with Lolly Jones, at 771-8020.
Learn more about LPA hikes, special events, and mission by visiting
www.lasplacitas.org. Please watch the events calendar at www.lasplacitas.org/events.php
for weather-related updates.
Big coal remains big and the weather gets wacky
in the New Year
—HIGH COUNTRY NEWS STAFF
In early January, eastern Colorado and much of New Mexico continued
to dig out after a brutal pounding by winter storms. Snowfall broke
records, stranded travelers and killed some 15,000 cows. But Arizona
faces the opposite problem: Winter has thus far dodged the state,
leaving snowpack levels at just 38 percent of average.
The severe weather could get even more intense if global warming
continues. Last year was the warmest on record, and there’s
a 60 percent chance that next year could be even hotter, say British
climatologists. Blame goes to elevated levels of greenhouse gases
and a resurgent El Niño.
Coal—one of the world’s leading sources of greenhouse
gases —keeps chugging along, though. Last year, U.S. coal
mines set a new record for production, with Western producers pulling
30 million tons more coal out of the ground than in 2005.
A new coal mine might dig into Kane County, Utah, near the boundary
of Bryce Canyon National Park. Alton Coal Development hopes to lease
3,851 acres of public land from the federal Bureau of Land Management.
The public now has a chance to weigh in for energy jobs or park
Northwestern New Mexico activists prefer clean air to energy jobs,
and literally stood in the way of a proposed power plant to make
their point. In January, Navajo District Judge Genevieve Woody ruled
that the protesters may keep pro-testing. However, they have to
stop illegally blocking a road to the plant site, so workers can
continue studying the plant’s potential impact on the environment.
This article originally appeared in High Country
which covers the West's communities and natural-resource issues
from Paonia, Colorado.
Recycling center not taking phone books,
The Placitas Recycling Center is not accepting old phone books
this year. It has also suspended acceptance of laser and toner cartridges,
but will continue accepting ink-jet cartridges and cell phones for
The recycling center accepts aluminum, No. 1 and No. 2 plastic
(as identified on the item), polystyrene peanuts, corrugated cardboard,
newspaper, white office paper, and mixed paper.
The Placitas Recycling Center opened again on January 13 after
being closed for three Saturdays in a row during the holidays and
the big snowstorm. A record number of people visited the center
that day to drop off three weeks of accumulated materials. “We
even had to close ten minutes early because all our containers were
full,” exclaimed Len Stephens, PRA president. “I know
some people were frustrated that we were closed so much, but the
center simply wasn’t safe with all that snow, and we don’t
want either our volunteers or our customers to get hurt.”
The PRA is especially grateful to the volunteers who braved the
snowy conditions on both January 13 and the 20 to enable the center
to be open.
The weather has been uncertain from day to day this winter, so
it is not always possible to predict when the center will be closed.
The PRA is investigating the possibility of posting a same-day notice
on its Web site, at www.placitasrecycling.com.
The association continues to need additional board members and
volunteers. Board members are asked to operate the center four Saturdays
a year and volunteers generally work one or two Saturdays a year,
or as often as they wish. Anyone interested in becoming a board
member or volunteer can sign up at www.placitasrecycling.com,
at the recycling center, on Saturdays from 8:00 to 11:00 a.m., or
by calling Fran Stephens at 867-3077.