Paddling the ‘real’ world
Out of high school, time to have fun, if only I could get through
It’s eleven twenty two and I’m seven minutes late—freak
traffic jam near Jefferson. “Almost there,” I lie to
myself and stare straight ahead. A few cars lurch forward and my
spirit leaps. I signal right, look twice, here’s my opening,
go! And just then, an old woman in a grey Ford Explorer blares her
horn at me from behind and jumps into the space. She is smoking
with one hand and talking on the phone with the other as I squint
and glare at her through the glass— she doesn’t notice.
Curse you, civilization! Why does it have to be so difficult to
have fun? Slow and steady, almost there.
Avenida Cesar Chavez and I can see the river, hear the river, and
smell the river below me. I’m surprised, as usual, to find
that we still have water flowing though our desert, especially considering
the ever-growing flock of people seeking bluer skies and dryer air
in Rio Rancho’s lovely wide-open meadows and such. The sun,
sky, and expanse of Russian olive trees reflect up to me from the
muddy water and I know I’m close. ‘Just get to the end
of the bridge.’
I fall out of my car at a little dirt parking lot near the bosque,
kissing the soil below me and motioning my friends towards the trunk
of my car. We gather around and I pull the keys from my pocket,
opening the hatch to two banana boats, a pack-cat, a small canoe,
and a few pool floats. Glorious. There’s a stale river and
pack-rat smell to all of them from sitting in our garage at home—as
long as they float, I suppose. Shuttle the cars from Bridge to Rio
Bravo, pump up the boats, carry boats to the river, backpacks, sunscreen,
water, yadda-yadda, and so on.
I wait under the bridge by the river for the shuttle to come back
as angry cars thunder above. I’m thinking that there are too
many complications in the society we live in. We are forced to do
work we hate, we buy things we don’t need, we worry and stress
about issues that shouldn’t affect the way we see things or
act, and in the frenzy of it all, we lose the ability to focus on
things that actually make us happy.
The shuttle car gets back and we can escape. Our feet touch the
water and we are free. ‘That wasn’t too hard.’
My friends Taylor, Kevin, Sarah, Will, and Alex are already reclined
on their boats, asleep and basking away in the sun, it doesn’t
take me long to catch up. The bridge shrinks and shrinks and eventually
disappears, taking with it the sound of rushing and honking, frantic
cars. Ah, happiness is the sound of silence: splashing fish, sand
waves, strainers, and light wind. I open a soda and wave at two
men fishing on the shore. One yells, “I wish I was out there.”
I call back, “Get a tube and hop in.”
As I venture to college and join the infamous ‘real world,’
it’s nice to know that I’ll be able to find solitude
and fun wherever I go.
Pilot Water Leasing Program to Be First of Kind
on Rio Grande
The City of Albuquerque and the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water
Utility Authority, in conjunction with six conservation groups,
have established a first-of-its-kind fund that will allow water
to be leased from farmers and kept in the Rio Grande rather than
being diverted to farm fields.
The $250,000 Living River Fund will be used exclusively to establish
a pilot agricultural water-leasing program, the first of its kind
on the Rio Grande, in an effort to provide sustained flows for the
Rio Grande and the endangered species that depend on it. Fund organizers
have notified the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (which
oversees water management on the Rio Grande from Cochiti Reservoir
to Elephant Butte) of the existence of the fund and the program’s
desire to help identify farmers to voluntarily participate in the
“This is a long overdue and creative solution that will help
restore the Rio Grande,” said John Horning, Executive Director
of Forest Guardians, one of the conservation groups that helped
create the fund. “The Rio Grande is the lifeblood of our state
and its ecological health is vital to the health of our region.”
The Water Authority contributed $225,000 to the fund as part of
a February 2005 agreement with conservation groups. The agreement
settled a portion of an ongoing lawsuit between cities, farmers
and conservation groups over river and endangered species needs
in the Rio Grande.
“This new consensus shows that we can and must protect the
Rio Grande and solve New Mexico’s water problems,” said
Mayor Martin Chavez. “Leasing water from willing farmers to
provide flows for the Rio Grande is a win-win solution.”
Agricultural water leasing is commonly used to meet environmental
flow requirements on many western rivers and while it has been considered
on the Rio Grande it has never before been implemented. Three different
studies, the first funded by the U.S Bureau of Reclamation in 1996
and the most recent authorized by the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy
District in 2006, have shown that leasing water is hydrologically
and administratively feasible.
“Today we are one step closer toward more flexible river
management, by partnering with water users in the middle valley
who can be part of this common sense solution,” said Kara
Gillon of Defenders of Wildlife, another signatory to the agreement.
Martin Heinrich, Water Authority Chair, expressed hope that the
new fund would attract support from other sources.
“This is a unique and historic partnership among the City
of Albuquerque, the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility
Authority, and six regional, local and national conservation groups,”
Heinrich said. “We’d love to see it grow to include
both the State of New Mexico and the federal government. Their support
would be an enormous boost for what promises to be a successful
and innovative program.”
The ongoing lawsuit, Rio Grande Silvery Minnow vs. Martinez, was
originally filed in November 1999 and resulted in a series of legal
rulings that asserted federal agencies must comply with the Endangered
Species Act in their operation of federal water projects. These
controversial rulings created a political firestorm that resulted
in the February 2005 agreement the City of Albuquerque and the Albuquerque-Bernalillo
County Water Utility Authority entered into with the conservation
groups that originally filed the lawsuit.
Other conservation groups that are signatories to the agreement
include National Audubon Society, New Mexico Audubon Council, The
Sierra Club, and The Southwest Environmental Center.
New Mexico Boating Safety Law now requires boaters
to take a class
Storrie Lake State Park in Las Vegas, New Mexico, has released
its schedule of free boating safety classes for 2007 for New Mexico
boaters eighteen years and under who have not yet met the statewide
requirements set forth under the New Mexico Boating Safety Law.
The classes are also open to those who would like a refresher course.
As of January 1, 2007, the Boating Safety Law went into effect,
1. Anyone born on or after January 1, 1989 (anyone eighteen years
old or under, as of January 1, 2007) who operates a motorboat or
personal watercraft on state waters to have completed a safe boating
education course, approved by the National Association of State
Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), and certified by New Mexico
2. Children twelve years old or under to wear a personal flotation
device approved by the United States Coast Guard while on the deck
of a moving vessel.
All boating safety classes will be held at the visitor center,
located at the entrance to Storrie Lake State Park, three miles
north of Las Vegas, NM, via NM 518. A schedule of classes is as
- Saturday, March 31, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Saturday, April 28, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Saturday, May 12, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
NASBLA has approved the eight-hour boating safety course. Classes
are limited, so students are highly encouraged to reserve a spot
Upon successful completion of the free New Mexico Boating Basics
course, participants will receive certification from NASBLA, and
two free nights of camping at any New Mexico State Park. In addition,
many insurance companies offer significant discounts on boat insurance,
with proper certification.
Classes are constantly being updated and the schedule is available
online at New Mexico State Parks’ website. For a complete
list of ongoing class schedules and boating safety information,
log on to www.nmparks.com and click on “boating,” or
call (888) NMPARKS.
For more information or to reserve a spot, contact Dan Rand at (505)