The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

Public Safety

Bear in the village

A photo and an account from Jim Fish, of Anasazi Fields Winery, in Placitas:

“This bear was seen in the Village of Placitas on the evening of June 19, 2008. Someone called the Game and Fish Department. The officer arrived, told us that he saw it, but that it had put the slip on him, and left. The following evening, the bear wandered through the winery. I was working in the office with the door open and heard a noise. When I went out to investigate, the bear strolled past me, within about five feet. It gave me a look over its shoulder as it calmly exited the side door of the tasting room. Must have been looking for sweet wine!

By the time I got my camera, he had moved on to the neighbor’s yard. Several of us followed it until it slowly made its way back to the arroyo. It did not seem aggressive or up to any particular trouble. Hopefully, the bear is just grazing on the fruit in the village and people will keep their garbage in containers in secure areas.”

Cibola National Forest issues food-storage order to protect bears

The Cibola National Forest has issued a Forest Supervisor’s Order that prohibits leaving food or garbage accessible to bears and other wildlife in the Sandia and Mountainair Ranger Districts of the Cibola National Forest (Order Number 03-0245). This Order is effective immediately and will remain in effect until rescinded or until December 31, 2008, whichever occurs first.

Many of the black bears frequenting and living in and around the Sandia and Mountainair Ranger Districts have become habituated to human food and have become a nuisance and safety concern. An ongoing education program has been aimed at informing the public about proper food storage and disposal of garbage; however, not all forest visitors have cooperated.

Habituated bears alter their natural food gathering activities, searching for easily available food left unattended by campers, picnickers, and other forest users. Human/bear encounters have become more frequent and more dangerous as bears lose their natural fear of humans. In the Sandia and Manzano Mountains, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish personnel have trapped and relocated many bears. In some cases, habituated bears have been euthanized.

The Forest Supervisor’s Order requires visitors to the Mountainair and Sandia Ranger Districts to:

• Make sure food and garbage are unavailable to bears and other wildlife.

Do not leave food unattended on a picnic table, in your campsite, or at your worksite.

Do not leave garbage bags unattended.

• Make sure food and garbage are “acceptably stored” both day and night.

Store food in coolers or other containers and put them inside your vehicle (preferably out of sight). Bears know what coolers are and have broken into vehicles even with empty coolers left in plain view!

Place food in food storage lockers (where available).

Put garbage in the bear-resistant trash cans.

Take your garbage with you if trash cans are full or unavailable.

Food and garbage includes human food and beverages, pet food, personal hygiene products such as toothpaste, shampoo, soap, etc., and their empty containers and wrappings.

Potential fines for violation of this Order could be up to $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for organizations (36 CFR 261.50 (a) and (b)). Do your part to make sure that our bears don’t have to be relocated or euthanized because of human carelessness with food or garbage.

Partial closures begin in forests

Beginning June 13, portions of the Cibola National Forest will be closed. Fire danger remains extreme and warrants closing a number of areas to visitors. “Closures are a last resort and they are not taken lightly. We all must work together to keep our forest as safe as possible, and this includes staying away from areas that have been closed,” stated Forest Supervisor Nancy Rose. “Recent isolated rain showers have brought little, if any, measurable moisture to the forest,” she added.

Beginning at 8:00 a.m. on June 13, the following areas are affected:

Mountainair Ranger District: Red Canyon Campground is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (day use only; no camping) and is accessible only through Forest Road 253. Please note all trails accessible from Red Canyon Campground are closed. All other campgrounds, trails, and trailheads are closed.

The Manzano Mountain Wilderness is closed.

Roads remaining open include Forest Road 55 from NM State Road 55 in Tajique to the Forest Road 321 junction, Forest Road 55 on the south end from NM State Road 55 junction in Torreon to Trail Canyon Trailhead and Forest Road 422 from NM State Road 60 to Pine Shadow Trailhead.

The Gallinas Mountains near Corona are open; however, Red Cloud Campground and Forest Road 99 are closed. Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, charcoal broiler, coal or wood stove are prohibited. All vehicles must remain on Forest roads. Smoking is prohibited, except within an enclosed vehicle or building.

For more information, contact Mark Chavez, Cibola National Forest Supervisor’s Office at (505) 346-3900 or one of the following district offices: Sandia Ranger District at (505) 281-3304 or the Mountainair Ranger District at (505) 847-2990.

Additional fire information for the southwest area is available at


Please note that fireworks are never allowed in the Sandia Ranger District.

Beginning on June 16 at 8:00 a.m., portions of the Sandia Ranger District on the Cibola National Forest will be closed.

“Our fuel moistures on the south end of the district warrant additional restrictions for the safety of the community and resources, “said Cid Morgan, District Ranger. “At this time, the area north of I-40 has received more moisture and we will keep this area open under Stage 2 restrictions for now. If dry weather continues, we will implement additional restrictions north of I-40.”

Beginning at 8:00 a.m. on June 16, the following areas of the Sandia Ranger District are affected:

Sandia Ranger District—south of I-40: Stage 3 restrictions (partial closures)

• Pine Flat Picnic Ground and Cedro Group Campground are the only areas open south of I-40.

• All other areas are closed south of I-40.

• No hiking/motorized vehicles allowed in back-country or on trails.

• No campfires/no charcoal/no stoves. (Cold picnics only are allowed.)

• Smoking in vehicles only.

North of I-40: Stage 2 restrictions

• No campfires/no charcoal.

• Pressurized liquid or gas stoves, lanterns, and heaters meeting safety specifications are allowed.

• Smoking in vehicles only.

• No motorized vehicles off roads.

For more information, contact the Sandia Ranger District at (505) 281-3304.

For further information about closures and restrictions in the Cibola National Forest, visit Additional fire information for the southwest area is available at:

Picnic Area closed due to tree fall

The Cienega Picnic Area in the Sandia Ranger District has been closed due to the falling of hazard trees. “Damage due to massive bug kill during the last few years in the area has weakened these trees to a point where they are falling faster than we can remove the hazard. Unfortunately, the only solution at this point is to close the area until we can remove the hazards and have it safe for visitors,” said Cid Morgan, District Ranger.

While visiting your National Forests be aware. Look up and around before having your picnic or while hiking, just to be safe.

Exit forested areas during high winds and please stay out of the Cienega Picnic area for your safety.

Should you have any questions or concerns please contact the Sandia Ranger District at 505-281-3304.

Signpost Cartoon c. Rudi Klimpert

Save $, save the planet—drive 55!

Drive 55—what does that mean? Did you know there’s a grass-roots movement in this country to drive no more than fifty-five mph on the freeways, instead of our usual sixty-five, seventy-five, or eighty-plus? Now, nobody wants this mandated by law (as it was in the 1970s)—and you should only do it when there is a right-hand lane for slower vehicles—but the website estimates that if enough drivers joined this movement, we could save significant amounts of gasoline and reduce carbon emissions as well. The Kyoto Charts (from show that each gallon of gasoline emits about twenty pounds of carbon dioxide. Another chart from (Department of Energy—EPA) shows that average gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above fifty-five mph. Your truck or SUV will probably be worse.

For example, I have a 2001 Chrysler that usually gets about twenty-five mpg. When I started using the Drive 55 program, the mileage went to thirty mpg. I was amazed at how much difference little changes like this can make. It takes me about $50 to fill up my tank and getting another five mpg (a twenty percent increase) means I save about $10 a couple times a week. That can add up fast. Other comparable stories are on the Drive 55 website.

Of course, not everyone can do this, especially truckers and delivery people, but any significant decrease in gasoline usage will help balance the oil supply/demand formula that is currently stacked against us. Records from the 1970s and 1980s indicate that the accident rates also drop dramatically as more people drive fifty-five mph.

You may be saying, “I don’t have time to go slower.” But maybe you do, if you plan for it. A typical trip from Albuquerque to downtown Santa Fe increases from forty-five minutes to one hour—only fifteen minutes more. A typical trip to Albuquerque from the Bernalillo Bridge goes from twenty minutes to twenty-five minutes—just five minutes more. And I’ll bet once you get used to it, the trip will be a lot less stressful.

At first, however, you’ll feel like you’re crawling and all those cars and trucks whizzing past you will be a little disconcerting. That’s why I got a bumper sticker that says “I Drive 55,” so people don’t think I’m just an enfeebled old codger that shouldn’t be driving any more. Get enough bumper stickers out there, and more people will get the idea. After all, we’re helping decrease pollution, increase gasoline supplies (and hopefully lower or stabilize prices), and doing our bit to decrease global warming by reducing our personal carbon footprint.

So why aren’t the country’s leaders talking this up big-time as they did during the last big energy crisis? Perhaps, they all have too much money invested in big oil company stocks or too many Middle Eastern friends? But you know what? We don’t need a leader from either party to tell us what we could do. We, the people, can take the initiative and join this movement to make a real difference. Drive 55; save money… and save the planet.

For more information, visit;; and



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