Sandoval Signpost


An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

Trail building

Volunteers help build trails on the Placitas Open Space.

Volunteers sought for open space trail construction, maintenance

—Orin Safier

On Saturday, March 17, join the crew of the Las Placitas Association and City of Albuquerque Open Space Division for a morning of trail construction and maintenance out on the Placitas Open Space. We’re continuing work on the trail system as part of implementing the Placitas Open Space Management Plan, and part of our overall Las Huertas watershed restoration strategy. Volunteers should meet at the Placitas Homesteads Mercantile (The Merc) parking lot at 8:30 a.m. Volunteers will carpool to the site and work until about noon. Las Placitas Association will provide drinks and snacks for this event. This is a free event sponsored by LPA, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving open space, restoring ailing watersheds, and enhancing quality of life in the Placitas area. The Open Space is beautiful this time of year and the working weather should be perfect. Log on to our website at for more information about Las Placitas Association (LPA). Bring plenty of water, work gloves, sun hat, rain gear, and wear sturdy shoes and long sleeves.

New Mexico Tribes receive $1.37 million for renewable energy projects

—Marissa Padilla

On February 16, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) announced that several tribes and tribal organizations in New Mexico will receive a total of $1.37 million for renewable energy development.

The funding comes through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Tribal Energy Program, which has distributed $36 million for tribal energy development since 2002. According to the National Congress of American Indians, tribal lands have enough renewable potential to supply fourteen percent of the nation’s electricity needs with wind power, and more than four times the nation’s electricity needs with solar, in addition to one quarter of the nation’s onshore oil and natural gas resources.

Udall said, “Clean energy technology is already an important driver of New Mexico’s economy, and it has great potential on tribal lands throughout the West. With this funding, tribes will be able to create jobs in their communities and develop dependable, clean energy close to home.”

The projects receiving funds include:

  • Navajo Hopi Land Commission: $347,090 for a feasibility study for renewable energy on the 22,000-acre Paragon-Bisti lands in northwestern New Mexico. The study will examine the viability of developing up to 4,000 MW of solar power and the potential to deploy other forms of renewable energy at the site.
  • Zia Pueblo: $278,987 for feasibility study for integrated solar, geothermal and wind energy at Zia Pueblo and will assess the potential to augment these resources with gas-fired generation to provide a dependable power supply.
  • Jemez Pueblo: $301,113 to complete pre-construction activities for a four-megawatt solar facility. $146,775 to install a cordwood-fired biomass energy system to heat the tribal visitor center.
  • To’Hajilee Econonomic Development Inc: $300,000 for pre-construction activities for the Shandiin Solar Farm Development, a thirty-megawatt solar facility in To’Hajiilee, New Mexico.

Most in New Mexico don’t want toxic waste

—Brendan Barrington / Environment New Mexico

While Joseph Epstein represents the view of some in Carlsbad (“Carlsbad Is the Place for Waste,” op-ed, February 6, 2012, Albuquerque Journal), the vast majority of New Mexicans do not agree that more nuclear waste should come here.

We already have done more than our share with millions of cubic feet of military waste at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (and more coming); millions of cubic feet of waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory, much of which is not going to WIPP (and more generated each month); thousands of cubic feet of waste at Sandia National Labs; and millions of tons of uranium mining and milling waste that continues to contaminate air, water and soil and endanger public health.

Whenever Carlsbad and other nuclear waste boosters have supported expanding WIPP or bringing nuclear waste to other parts of New Mexico for the last 35 years, the large majority of people participating in public hearings and making written comments have opposed such waste.

The Blue Ribbon Commission that Epstein praises itself experienced a little bit of that opposition at its January 28, 2011, hearing in Albuquerque, where the large majority of speakers opposed New Mexico accepting more nuclear waste.

The Commission’s Final Report rightly states: “Experience in the United States and in other nations suggests that any attempt to force a top-down, federally mandated solution over the objections of a state or community—far from being more efficient—will take longer, cost more and have lower odds of ultimate success.”

So by the Commission’s own standards, without statewide support, which does not exist, commercial spent fuel and high-level nuclear waste cannot and should not come to Carlsbad or other places in New Mexico.

The Commission Final Report also states: “Of course, the first requirement in siting any facility centers on the ability to demonstrate adequate protection of public health and safety and the environment.”

Independent scientists, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and other nations have all concluded that salt beds like those near Carlsbad are not safe for physically hot nuclear wastes. The NRC has stated: “Salt formations currently are being considered as hosts only for reprocessed nuclear materials because heat-generating waste, like spent nuclear fuel, exacerbates a process by which salt can rapidly deform. This process could potentially cause problems for keeping drifts stable and open during the operating period of a repository.”

New Mexico has done more than its share in having huge amounts of nuclear waste that will be here forever. The vast majority of New Mexicans have many times said “no” to more nuclear waste!

Environment New Mexico is a citizen-based environmental advocacy organization.

Bill Dunmire

Bill Dunmire

Dunmire speaks on native people of North America

To further commemorate New Mexico’s statehood centennial, on Wednesday, March 28, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., Rancho Public Library is presenting a slide-illustrated talk by William Dunmire in which he will relate the connections between plants and native people of New Mexico, especially Pueblo and Navajo Indians. The presentation “Native People of North America: What They Grew and Gathered,” is a Chautauqua Program that will deal with the earliest farming in America, but also will emphasize the importance of a host of common wild plants that were gathered to supplement diets; furnish medicine; make fabric dye and pottery paint; provide fiber for baskets, blankets and twine; and many other uses.

With degrees in wildlife management and zoology from the University of California-Berkeley, Bill Dunmire enjoyed a 28-year career with the National Park Service.

This free program is at the Loma Colorado Main Library Auditorium, 755 Loma Colorado Drive NE, Rio Rancho. For further information, call 505-891-5013, Ext. 3033. This program is funded by the Friends of the Library of Rio Rancho, Inc. and the New Mexico Humanities Council.

Explore New Mexico at Coronado State Monument

—Claudia Gallardo de Campbell

Step back in time, connect with New Mexico history, culture, and the environment with these three family-friendly programs at Coronado State Monument—the first two on March 25 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Don Bullis, New Mexico’s Centennial Project Author will speak and sign his books. Bring your questions as Bullis has won multiple awards for his books on New Mexican history, including the two-volume New Mexico: A Bibliographic Dictionary. His exceptional insight into all things New Mexican comes from his extensive experience as sheriff (president) of the Albuquerque Corral of the Westerners International, member of the board of directors of the Historical Society of New Mexico, and work in law enforcement, journalism, and politics. Visitors will be able to purchase Bullis’s books.

The popular Yucca Walking Stick Workshop lead by Ranger Annie Campagna, and her assistant Carol Price, will also take place on March 25. Using native vegetation, yucca spears from the yucca plants found at the monument, and locust branches from the Corrales area, you will create your own walking stick embellished with beads, leather, paint, shellac, and feathers. You may want to bring your own materials. Reservations are required for the workshop and are open to the public. Call the monument for details and to reserve your spot: 505-867-5351.

While you’re at the Monument on March 25, visit the historic painted Kiva, and on the portale you’ll find Ralph and Pauline Sarracino selling their pottery and kachinas.

Finally, it’s time for kids to sign up to be Junior Rangers (open to kids six to twelve, but Mom and Dad can take part, too). Learn how you can help protect the cultural and historical sites that are so important to our National Heritage.

Junior Rangers will meet one-on-one with a Coronado Ranger, see the Monument in a new way, complete a series of fun learning activities, share answers with a Monument Ranger, and receive an official Junior Ranger patch and certificate. Call 867-5351 to get in the RangerZONE.

The previous talk by Dirk Van Hart, “Geologic Quirks of the Sandia Mountains” has been rescheduled for  Sunday, March 18, at 2:00 p.m. It will also be held at a new location: the Viva Events Hall, 1420A S. Camino Del Pueblo, Bernalillo (Highway 313, south of town). Doors will open at 1:30 p.m. This lecture/event will be free, because it is a repeat performance. For questions and information, visit:\~friendsofcsm or call 792-4851.

Paging through the past: Signpost article reprints from 20 years ago

Pillaging the last of the Placitas Open Spaces

—Friends of the Placitas Escarpment

Recently the U. S. Forest Service (USFS), responding to a request by the heirs of two land holdings off Forest Road 445 (the Loop Road), agreed to consider granting access to their property through lands of the Cibola National Forest. The stated purpose of this access road is to open both properties for future development, which could include as many as two hundred homes. These land holdings were homesteaded at the turn of the century and access was subsequently abandoned in the 1940s.

The USFS, acting on a largely informal request, used as its justification for considering such an access the recent Alaska National Interest Land Conservation Act of 1980. Although it remains unclear if this act applies to the present situation, the USFS has concluded that the Act mandates provision of access across USFS lands. The Act does, however, state that “the applicant land owner has demonstrated that all legal recourse to obtain reasonable access across adjacent non-Federal lands has been exhausted.” The USFS readily admitted, at a meeting held at the Placitas Elementary School on February 5, that the land holders have made no sincere effort to acquire other access.

Should the USFS proceed on its present course, Forest Road 445 and adjacent USFS lands will virtually be lost for many of its current and traditional recreational uses. Furthermore, at the February meeting, a representative of the Nature Conservancy pointed out that the land surrounding the road is unique in the Southwest for its many varieties of flora and fauna and is in the process of being declared a Research Natural Area by the USFS.

A group of interested residents and supporters have formed an association called The Friends of the Placitas Escarpment to protect this local environment and recreational treasure. Your help is needed! If you wish to save this last vestage of unique open space that literally defines the Placitas area, please attend a community meeting on Wednesday, March 11, 1992, at 7:00 p.m. in the Placitas Elementary School library.

Reprinted from March 1992 Signpost.
[This pillaging never happened. The Friends of the Placitas Escarpment didn’t last long, but they remain one of the many groups formed over the last twenty years to watchdog issues affecting local residents.]

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