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  The Gauntlet

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letters, opinions, editorials

re: notice of liability

How dare you come onto my property and leave a “Notice of Liability Upon Any Person Who Feeds and Waters the Free Roaming Horses of Placitas.” You didn’t even have the nerve to knock on my door and hand it to me in person, but left it under a rock at our garage door. This unsigned “document” basically amounts to a threat. Who are you/organization?

“Were it not for humans (Placitans) watering and feeding the horses, the animals would not be in our residential communities.” What an asinine statement. As if the horses are going to leave on their own. They were here when you moved here. The Legal Assessment may be true, but is it provable?

I am not going to watch the Placitas horses perish, and there are plenty others with the same sense of decency as me. It saddens me to witness the throwing of rocks and sticks at the horses. Shame on you!

—Karen DeMart, Placitas

Notice of Liability —Cosmos Dohner


**Were it not for humans watering and feeding the horses, the animals would not be in our residential communities.**

Placitans are aware that: horses are large animals; they will damage private property and may injure people; they freely roam; and in collisions with moving vehicles their stature can result in the death of the vehicles' occupants.

Some Placitans water and feed the horses along fence lines bordering our Placitas Open Space and the Bureau of Land Management tract to the north.  Some Placitans water and feed the horses on their own properties or, with or without permission, on the properties of other people and are responsible for drawing the horses into our residential communities.

Legal Assessment

Notice of Negligence: There is the potential of liability upon the person who feeds horses, sets out water for them, opens a gate or breaches a fence to allow them in on private property in Placitas in that his or her activity is creating a danger for other people as well as for the horses.

Every person has a duty to exercise ordinary care for the safety and the property of others.

It is a landowner's duty to prevent unsafe conditions or activities. This liability is not limited by the physical boundaries of the landowner's property.

The owner, occupier or possessor of land may be held liable for injuries sustained by someone beyond the boundaries of that land if those injuries proximately result from the owner's breach of duty to exercise ordinary care to avoid creating an unreasonable risk of harm to people.

In the event of a horse/vehicle collision resulting in serious injury or death of the occupants of the vehicle or other damages caused by horses to the properties of others, the potential for liability will come back on the people who are watering, feeding and sheltering the horses.

Punitive Damages Warranted:  Watering, feeding and sheltering the free-roaming horses with utter indifference to or conscious disregard for another person's rights or safety is Malicious, Willful, Reckless or Wanton Conduct.

**Were it not for Placitans watering and feeding the horses, the animals would not be in our Placitas residential communities.**


**Were it not for Placitans watering and feeding the horses, the animals would not be in our Placitas residential communities.**

LIABILITY FOR CIVIL CONSPIRACY arises when two or more persons conspire to do an unlawful act and injury is caused to another from the commission of that act.  The liability for civil conspiracy is DAMAGES.  An action for damages where injury is caused in pursuance of a conspiracy is a TORT ACTION.

Placitans who have conspired to attract free-roaming horses into the area know that the horses are likely to come into contact with people and that someone might be injured and property damaged as a result.  The intention to achieve an unlawful object is an element in civil conspiracy.  An action for damages can be brought by an injured person for the damage caused by acts committed in furtherance of a conspiracy.  Liability for damages will arise when it is established that a conspirator has committed some tortuous act that caused injury or damage.

Each conspirator is JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY LIABLE for each act done by the other conspirators.  Each member of the conspiracy is liable for the damage caused irrespective of the fact she or he gained from the outcome of the conspiracy.  An officer of a corporation may be considered party to a conspiracy.

In joint and several liability, lawyers will locate, identify and place a maximum number of conspirators at risk.

**Were it not for Placitans watering and feeding the horses, the animals would not be in our Placitas residential communities.**

Seventy-five years of conservation starts in Roy, New Mexico

—Mark A. Smith

Emerging from the Canadian River Canyon onto rolling fields and blue skies, you wouldn’t think that the town of Roy, New Mexico, was once buried deep in dust during the 1930s. Even though the Dust Bowl was more than seven decades ago, residents of Roy still vividly recall mornings that required feeling for a rope from the house to the barn in order to find the cows to milk.

Folks ranging from four-to-93-years old gathered together in the Harding County Community Building on July 13 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Mesa Soil and Water Conservation District and reflect on how far America has come since the days of the Dust Bowl.

It was after a severe and sustained drought similar to today’s that the soil began to erode and blow away. The huge black dust storms that engulfed the Great Plains traveled all the way to Washington, D.C., prompting Congress to create the Soil Conservation Service, now known as the Natural Resources Conservation Service, to put a stop to the loss of America’s soil from erosion.

In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote to every governor encouraging them to pass legislation that would allow landowners to create soil conservation districts as a local partner to the SCS. New Mexico passed the Soil Conservation District Act that same year to allow landowners in Harding County to create the Mesa Soil and Water Conservation District.

Sitting at the edge of the Great Plains and the western front of Dust Bowl territory, the Mesa Soil and Water Conservation District was New Mexico’s first of 48 districts spread throughout the state and all too familiar with the hardship of stopping the Dust Bowl. The current and former members of the district keep the lessons they learned from the dust storms close as a reminder of their mission at hand.

“Even though we’re not seeing the dust like we did in the dirty Thirties, there are so many things that still need to be done to protect our soil and water,” said Richard Shaw, a board member of the district who has served since 1981. “This is the source of food for everybody.”

With New Mexico entrenched in a drought comparable to the severity of the Dust Bowl’s, it is a feat that great clouds of black dust aren’t billowing across the country right now. Debbie Hughes, the Executive Director of the New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts, chocks it up to the decades of conservation work by the district volunteers and NRCS. “New Mexico is facing one of the worst droughts in recorded history, but it is because of conservation that you still see the local farmer and rancher out on the land and the dust at bay,” said Hughes.

When driving across New Mexico’s northeast corner, conservation is evident. Though the winds are still steady, the skies are clear and crisp, and grasses flow from the Rockies to the Great Plains as far as the eye can see. Because of the work by the conservation districts and NRCS, the grasses have returned, wind and water erosion are under control, and conservation is an integral part of the ranching community’s way of life.

“This federal, state and local partnership is alive and well here in Roy,” said J. Xavier Montoya, NRCS State Conservationist in New Mexico. “You all are the reason conservation works.”

And, despite the decades of achievement by this rare partnership, they have yet to hang up their hats. They are just as active as they were at the start.

 “We have an overgrowth of invasive species along the Canadian River, and we have got to stop it!” said Gabe Estrada the 81-year-old commissioner for the Soil and Water Conservation Commission that provides guidance and policy direction to the local districts.

With the same hard work and dedication harking back to 1938, these partners hope to tackle another difficult conservation challenge—restoring the Canadian River, a vital source of water for the region that flows more than nine hundred miles from Colorado to Oklahoma. Starting from New Mexico’s northern border, the soil and water conservation districts of New Mexico alongside NRCS have begun removing invasive trees like the salt cedar and Russian olive that have greatly decreased water flows over the years in the area. Estrada says that the regrowth of native plants and improved water flows are the beginning signs of success for their work. Though they rarely take credit, some members having served more than thirty years, it would be difficult to find a place in the state untouched in some way by the work of the conservation districts and their federal partner.

Even in a place as vast and diverse as New Mexico, the rest of the conservation districts are just like Mesa—deeply rooted in the history, culture, and hearts of each and every community. “These are salt of the earth people. The kind that will give the shirt off their backs to make sure you get home safely,” Estrada said. “To me, this is the best there is.”

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