The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


Attorney General lauds silvery minnow-recovery progress

Attorney General Patricia Madrid applauded the success of the Middle Rio Grande Endangered Species Act Collaborative Program in recovering the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow. The October 2004 population monitoring showed a dramatic increase in the numbers of silvery minnows in the Rio Grande as compared to October 2003.

“I understand that these numbers are statistically sound and show a significant upward trend in the numbers of silvery minnows in the Rio Grande. This is the best news we’ve had and it is especially remarkable that we have achieved this success in the middle of a terrible drought. It shows that the biological opinion is working and that the ESA Collaborative Program is working,” Madrid commented.

The Middle Rio Grande ESA Collaborative Program was founded in 1999 with the dual goal of recovering the endangered species and protecting individuals’ water rights and New Mexico’s ability to meet its interstate compact obligations. Members of the Collaborative Program include farmers, municipalities, environmental groups, business groups, and state and federal agencies. 

“I suspect many people have doubted that this type of collaboration was possible, given the hard-fought litigation, but I have always believed in and supported collaborative solutions among opposing parties. I want to commend the many talented scientists who have joined together to make this success possible and I especially want to commend the members of the Collaborative Program for sticking together through some very tough times. We have much more work to do, but this upswing in the numbers of silvery minnows dramatically shows that all our hard work is worthwhile,” Madrid said.


Las Placitas Association to host Las Huertas watershed meeting, workshop

On Saturday, January 15, Las Placitas Association is hosting a meeting and workshop for stakeholders in the Las Huertas Creek watershed. The meeting will be held at the Las Placitas Presbyterian Church, 636 Highway 165. The event is sponsored by the New Mexico Environment Department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through a Clean Water Act Section 319(h) grant from NMED.

Broadly defined, a "stakeholder" is anyone with an interest in the current and future health of the watershed as an ecological entity and community resource.

The meeting and workshop, titled the Las Huertas Creek Watershed Information and Resource Exchange Workshop, will focus on engaging local residents, property owners, business owners, acequia members, agency officials, government representatives, and other interested parties from the broad stakeholder community in the future protection, conservation, and selective restoration of the Las Huertas Creek watershed.

The workshop is scheduled from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. In the morning there will be presentations by selected speakers on various aspects of the Las Huertas watershed. Peggy Johnson, author of the definitive work on the hydrology of the Placitas area, will present a lecture on the hydrology of Las Huertas Creek, including its relationship to local groundwater aquifers. Longtime Placitas resident Willie Escarcida will speak on the history of the Las Huertas canyon from the perspective of someone who has witnessed and helped shape that history. And Santa Fe river ecologist and restoration expert Rich Schrader will discuss potential restoration projects that may be undertaken to benefit the Las Huertas watershed.

The afternoon session will focus on group work to (a) form a stakeholder's vision for the future of Las Huertas Creek, its tributaries, and associated watershed; and (b) define and share the resources of stakeholders for engaging in watershed-restoration projects. The afternoon session will be conducted by community environmental planning experts Ric Richardson of UNM and Kate Hildebrand of Consensus Builders.

Though the workshop is free of charge, advance registration is required. To register, please call Reid Bandeen, Las Placitas watershed coordinator, at 867-5477, or Jennifer Nelson, Las Placitas public outreach coordinator, at 855-7416. Lunch will be provided and child day care will be available.

Please join Las Placitas Association on January 15 for a valuable day of watershed education and restoration-project design for the future benefit of the Las Huertas watershed.


Protecting Chaco Canyon artifacts

Hibben Center legislation heading to House floor

In September, U.S. Representative Tom Udall, D-N.M., guided legislation through the House Resources Committee that would shelter precious artifacts collected from Chaco Culture National Historical Park and Aztec Ruins National Monument. The bill would authorize funding to complete the construction of the Hibben Center for Archeological Research at the University of New Mexico. The congressional panel agreed to send the measure, H.R. 3258, to the House floor for a vote.

"Archeologists consider Chaco Canyon to be one of the most significant regions of the United States. Unfortunately, the current storage situation poses a threat to the preservation of these world-class artifacts and archives," Udall said. "The enactment of this legislation will help continue the association that Chaco Canyon and UNM have had for decades. I am determined to see this crucial legislation pass the House before Congress adjourns this year."

Chaco Canyon and the University of New Mexico have been partners since Chaco Canyon National Monument was founded in 1907. The university conducted an archeological field school in Chaco Canyon from 1929-1948 and excavated many important sites. Dr. Frank C. Hibben was a teaching assistant at the field school, and remained interested in Chaco throughout his long career. 

In 1970 Congress created the Chaco Project, a multiyear, multidisciplinary research partnership with UNM to study Chacoan archeology. The million-dollar project was the largest research archeological project in the country at that time, and it generated the bulk of the Chaco archeological collections. Unfortunately, the Chaco Project did not address the long-term storage needs of the collections.

Since 1970, the Chaco collection has been housed on the UNM campus, but in many cases the collection has been stored in unsuitable areas. Today the collection contains approximately 1.5 million artifacts, representing nearly six thousand years of prehistory and history. 

Udall said the Hibben Center for Archeological Research Act is supported by the entire New Mexico congressional delegation. The bill authorizes an expenditure of up to $4.238 million to finish construction of the Hibben Center. Once completed, the entire second floor and three quarters of the third floor will house the National Park Service's Chaco collection. The center will become a storage space where researchers and students can study, and work with, the artifacts.

A member of the House Committee on Resources since 1999, Udall is assigned to the Subcommittee on National Parks, Recreation and Public Lands.




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