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An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

Free water available through New Water Projects Initiative

—Tony Hull

If you’ve ever considered installing rainwater catchment systems and making water-wise improvements to your property, you need to know about our grant program and come to Placitas Water Day. We invite all residents of Eastern Sandoval County to attend Placitas Water Day at the Placitas Community Library (453 Hwy 165) on Saturday, July 21, at 2:00 p.m. 

Even in a dry summer, thousands of “free” and otherwise unavailable gallons a year of water are available to a household. Harvested soft rainwater is taken to catchments for use. Conservation may include replacement of toilets and showerheads and washing machines with lower consumption versions. Even grey water may be diverted from the washing machine to trees and garden. There are many things we can do to make best use of the water available to us as good citizens of the high desert. And we are fortunate to have considerable local expertise both from residents who are proficient in water harvesting, and from New Mexico Water Collaborative (NMWC). 

While the first meeting is in Placitas, the intent of the Program is for all of Eastern Sandoval County, and it applies equally to homes, schools, businesses and government buildings. In collaboration with several people in Placitas, NMWC—a nonprofit corporation—and our local Coronado Soil and Water Conservation District will be seeking a grant in October for a “Pilot Program” initially to help fund approximately ten households set-up to harvest and conserve water.  We believe this is the best way to demonstrate the effectiveness of these measures. Up to 99 percent of the costs of setting up water catchment systems and home efficiency improvements may come from this grant. 

Evaluating the effectiveness of the program is an essential step toward future initiatives, so those who participate will be requested to provide data and other support to NMWC and prospective harvesters and conservers. There will be various criteria for selecting the Pilot Households/Businesses etc., including diversity of construction methods (everything from old adobe to most recent), location, and especially motivation and willingness to help future stages of this project. 

The current and projected domestic water situation will be discussed. Community input is encouraged. Hear the early vision of the Pilot Program, the timeline for proposing this Pilot Program. For those who would like to participate in the Pilot Program, we will also have application forms and describe how they will be used. 

Remember, “El agua es la vida—water is life!”

Placitas Recycling Association wins state award

The New Mexico Recycling Coalition (NMRC) has announced its 2012 Recycling Awards, singling out the Placitas Recycling Association (PRA) as Community Recycler of the Year.

The award was presented during the Coalition’s Recycling: New Mexico’s Expanding Landscape conference on June 19. In its announcement, NMRC recognized the PRA’s success in running a recycling program for over ten years using all volunteer labor and funding operations through material sales. The coalition concluded by saying, “The NMRC applauds this successful, grassroots recycling program and all the people that work hard to make it happen.”

The NMRC award is a testament to the dedication and loyalty of the PRA’s nearly two hundred volunteers. Recruiting new volunteers to replace those who move away or resign for other reasons remains a PRA priority. Volunteers generally work during the Placitas Recycling Center’s Saturday morning operating hours (8:00 to 11:00 a.m.), helping users sort and deposit their materials in the appropriate containers. Typically, a team of six volunteers is assigned to work each Saturday, with more than 150 cars on average visiting the center during the three hours it is open. There are also mid-week opportunities to help with baling and transporting materials to buyers in Albuquerque. The PRA’s goal is to have enough volunteers so they only need to work two to three times per year. Anyone interested in volunteering can sign up at the recycling center on Saturday mornings or call Max Pruneda at 877-7745.

The Placitas Recycling Center is located on the north side of Highway 165, approximately on half mile from the I-25 interchange. It is open on Saturday mornings (except on four posted holidays per years) from 8:00 to 11:00 a.m. The center accepts cardboard, newspaper, white and pastel office paper, mixed paper (e.g., magazines, junk mail), No. 1 (PETE) and No. 2 (HDPE) plastic containers, aluminum, polystyrene peanuts (bagged), printer cartridges, cell phones, and rechargeable batteries. Visitors are asked to separate their materials in advance so they can be deposited in separate containers on site.

The PRA recently set up an account with GoodSearch, an online search engine that makes donations to non-profit organizations when people use the website.  For more information visit:

ATVs coming to your favorite wilderness area

—RRFW Riverwire

The misleadingly named “Sportsmen’s Heritage Act” has wilderness-busting provisions that could be coming to any and all of America’s wilderness areas.

“It’s possibly the biggest threat to this nation’s wilderness areas since the Wilderness Act was passed in 1964,” says Tom Martin, co-director of River Runners for Wilderness. “Even longtime wilderness defenders who thought they’d seen it all are shocked.”

HR4089 is a combination of four previous bills. Although there are many debatable elements, the worst of all of them allows what were previously illegal activities to now occur in all areas managed as wilderness under the National Park Service, the Forest Service, and all of the nation’s Federal land agencies.

Among activities that could be allowed are ATV use, new road construction, mining, logging, and the construction of fixed structures. In fact, the most dangerous element of this bill is that it gives managers a blank check to allow any activities they construe as beneficial to sportsmen.

The bill has passed the House of Representatives and a Senate Companion Bill S2066 has been introduced with supporters such as the National Rifle Association and sports industry groups urging a quick passage.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS), a branch of the Library of Congress that provides in depth analysis to members of Congress and others, outlined the threats in a recent review of the proposal. CRS noted that the bill’s “...language could be construed as opening wilderness areas to virtually any activity related to hunting and fishing, even if otherwise inconsistent with wilderness values. Despite the Wilderness Act’s explicit ban on temporary and permanent roads, if H.R. 4089 were passed, roads arguably could be constructed in wilderness areas...”.

The report also noted that “...while it appears that timber harvest could be allowed, it would seem difficult to harvest timber without roads or machines.”

The entire CRS memo is on the River Runners for Wilderness website at

The wilderness destroying language in this bill could easily be omitted before final passage.

NM Congressional delegation agrees on lizard

The Sand Dune Lizard is found only in the shinnery oak dunes of southeastern New Mexico and adjacent Texas. After initially proposing federal endangered species status for the Sand Dunes Lizard in 2010, pursuant to a litigation settlement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worked with businesses and local interests to establish additional Candidate Conservation Agreements that will stabilize the species’ population, foster habitat restoration, and allow the oil and gas, and agricultural industries to continue to thrive. More than ninety percent of the lizard’s habitat in New Mexico is protected through the agreements.

After the June decision to not give the Sand Dune Lizard endangered species status, NM Congressman Steve Pearce said, “This is a huge victory for the people who have tirelessly fought to save regional jobs and our way of life. I extend my gratitude to the New Mexicans who came to the table, and through good faith efforts, voluntarily protected the lizard’s habitat.”

Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall also welcomed the decision. Udall wrote, “[This] decision is unprecedented in the history of the Endangered Species Act and represents a potential breakthrough in maximizing ecosystem preservation and minimizing conflict. The end-result proves that overheated political rhetoric and conflict are not the most effective way to resolve disputes over conservation.”

SC wins award for solid waste management

The Sandoval County Public Works Department has garnered a national award for its innovative approach to managing solid waste. Each year, the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) awards Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals to organizations that exhibit excellence in fourteen different categories related to solid waste management.

For 2012, Sandoval County Public Works/Solid Waste Management Department was deemed a Silver Medal Winner in the category of Integrated Solid Waste Management Systems.

County Officials will travel to Washington, D.C. to accept the award at WASTECON 2012, SWANA’s annual National Conference, on August 14.

The award recognizes the Public Works Department’s continuing success at operating a comprehensive Solid Waste Management Network that employs state-of-the-art technologies and fosters partnerships with local communities across Sandoval County.

In addition to deploying equipment and processes that minimize waste hauling costs, air emissions, and fuel consumption, the Sandoval County Public Works/Solid Waste Management Department goes to great lengths to promote recycling and create awareness about issues such as managing hazardous waste, cleaning up open spaces, and combating illegal dumping throughout the county.
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