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Signpost welcomes letters of all opinions. Letters are subject to editing for length, clarity, libel, and other considerations. Anonymous pen name letters will not be published. Attach your name and contact information. Send to: Signpost, P. O. Box 889, Placitas, NM, 87043 or

c. Rudi Kimpert

Eastern Sandoval Citizens Association (ES-CA) March update

—Chris Daul

The Eastern Sandoval Citizens Association (ES-CA) has been discussing concerns about the soon to be reactivated Western Refining Pipeline with a representative of Western. The existing pipeline, which is approximately sixty years old, will be reactivated and will carry crude oil from the Farmington area to Texas. The pipeline runs through the Placitas area, near the elementary school, the community center, and various residences. Western recently met with the Sandoval County Fire Department and the Placitas Volunteer Fire Brigade to discuss some of the issues. They did report that the line has been tested for leaks and that the line will be monitored remotely to detect any leaks. There are various shutoff valves that can be controlled remotely. Western personnel will respond to any leaks in the pipe. ES-CA has submitted a number of questions to Western and is also expecting a Western representative to attend their next Board meeting.

ES-CA representatives have been meeting with staff members from our Congressional delegation to discuss the fate of the BLM Buffalo Tract, which is the land to the north of Placitas. Our concern, which appears to be the concern of most Placitans, is whether the BLM will permit mining on the land. ES-CA has made clear its opposition to future mining in the area. ES-CA will continue to work hard to insure that this land is not utilized for mining.

ES-CA has worked to develop responsible gravel mining legislation that would help to moderate damaging gravel mining in this area and elsewhere in New Mexico. On February 13, the House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee (HRPAC) met to consider HB188 and HB190 sponsored by Sen John Sapien and Rep Jim Smith. HB188 gives counties the right to fine gravel operators up to one thousand dollars per violation per day instead of the current three hundred dollar, one-time fine, and HB190 would place gravel mines over twenty acres under the NM Mining Act which requires reclamation as well as other business responsible conditions.

In an opening “parliamentary move,” requested by Rep Smith, who is also a member of HRPAC, HB190 was “rolled over” for later consideration by the committee. The committee room was packed to overflowing by both our supporters and many mining operators strongly oppose any regulation of their industry. Some of our supporters had to remain outside until seats opened up. Rep. Smith and Sen. Sapien then summarized HB188 and their support for it. HB188 has been amended to limit to Class A Counties and which there are only about 19 mines affected.

Dick Ulmer, our Land Protection Trust chairperson, was introduced as an “expert witness” and presented why this was important and necessary legislation to protect the health and welfare of our community. Following this testimony, the objectors were each given the opportunity to state their objection, followed by statements from each of the supporters in the room. At the conclusion of comments, the Chair called for a vote and HB 188 was approved by a vote of three to two. While it was a narrow win, from the comments made by the opposition we learned a lot and have a much improved understanding of what we have to do in support of HB 190, which may come up for vote as early as next week. Visit the es-ca forum at to find updates on this very important issue.

The next ES-CA Board meeting is scheduled for March 2, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at La Puerta Realty, located on Rt. 165. The meeting is open to the public.

Native American community dismissed by House Republicans and Governor Martinez

—Marsha Garcia

February 6, 2015] American Indian Day was created as an opportunity for Tribes, Nations, and Pueblo Leaders to address the full New Mexico Legislature. Historically, multiple Pueblo Leaders and Tribal Leaders have addressed the concerns of their communities to the joint session. February 6, 2015, was the first American Indian Day where the House Majority party gave this opportunity to a sitting Governor instead. During the last American Indian Day in 2013, seven leaders from our Native American communities addressed the joint session.

“The opportunity for our Tribal, Nations, and Pueblo Leaders to address our joint session on American Indian Day has never been taken for granted. Today, politics was chosen over our Native American community,” said Representative James Roger Madalena. “American Indian Day has also been a day where Native American legislators are given the opportunity to introduce our honored guest from our Tribes, Nations, and Pueblos. House Republicans took that out of today’s historical ceremony when they did not allow House Democrats to do so. The New Mexico legislature has always honored and treated the Native American community with respect—today that was violated. I am very disappointed that House Speaker Don Tripp allowed this to happen.”

“I am bitterly disappointed that Governor Martinez and House Republicans took away the one opportunity that our Tribes, Nations, and Pueblo Leaders have to address both chambers of our legislature,” said Representative Georgene Louis. “As long as I can remember, American Indian Day is the day that is focused on the dialogue between the Native American Community and our legislators. Today that was taken away from us. The House Majority has always created the program and script of this very special day. House Republicans should never have allowed this day to become a political stunt.”

“Today, I was reminded by many Pueblo Leaders why Senator John Pinto first started American Indian Day,” Said Representative Doreen Wonda Johnson. “They reminded me that it was started to ensure that our Tribes, Nations and Pueblo Leaders could voice their concerns to our law makers. Today that opportunity never happened. American Indian Day is not a day that politics should take over. That became very apparent when House Democrats were not allowed to introduce our honored guests from our Pueblos and Tribes. Speaker Don Tripp and Governor Martinez should not have chosen politics over honoring our Tribes, Nations, and Pueblos.

“Today was a missed opportunity for our Native American community to address every legislator in New Mexico,” said Laurie Weahkee, Executive Director of the Native American Voters Alliance. “American Indian Day has always been a time for our concerns to be heard by the New Mexico Legislative Body. Historically, the program of the joint session has been created by the House Majority Party. House Republicans should have never disregarded our leaders. This year’s American Indian Day was an opportunity for even our Governor to hear our concerns directly from our leaders. Instead, this was used as a political platform. Our concerns should have been heard instead we were given very calculated political rhetoric.”

This was the first year where Pueblo Leaders and Tribal Leaders were not allowed to address the joint session on American Indian Day. The joint session of both chambers on American Indian Day is only held on sixty-day sessions, the next one will be held in 2017.

Heard around the West—Bovine retribution

—Jonathan Thompson, Writers on the Range

Many things define the West: our vast swaths of public land, our fiercely independent spirit and, of course, our cows and the zany—sometimes disturbing—ways we interact with them, whether living or dead. Consider this Salt Lake Tribune headline: “Dead cow clogs Utah slot canyon; rancher’s impromptu barbecue makes things worse.” You know you want to know what happened. Well, in early December, the cow in question ambled down Peek-a-Boo canyon in southern Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, apparently unaware that ungulates of its ilk are forbidden. When the cow’s owner found out, he headed out on his ATV (also forbidden) to retrieve the cow. Slot canyons are skinny; the cow was not, and it became irretrievably jammed. The frustrated rancher then shot and killed the cow. He tried to extract the carcass, first by butchering it, then by burning it. Neither succeeded. As of mid-December, monument staff were still trying to remove the carcass. In the meantime, hikers are forewarned: That thing that smells like a charred, dead cow really is.

And in Pocatello, Idaho, a cow escaped the frying pan in December only to end up in the line of fire. An unhappy heifer bolted from a butcher shop’s chopping block, racing out into the town. Local cops gave chase, and the desperate cow rammed an animal-control truck and two police cars, according to the Idaho State Journal. Police officers, concerned about the safety of residents, shot the cow once, without result, then again, fatally. The former cow was returned to the meat-processing facility from whence it escaped.

Meanwhile, in Salmon, Idaho, cows have been vanishing at an alarming rate. Modern-day rustlers are believed to be trying to cash in on high beef prices. It’s a logical explanation. But then again, with cows elsewhere hiding out in slot canyons and busting out of butcher shops, you gotta wonder… Is the Cow Liberation Moo-vement to blame?


Rural Westerners are so accustomed to seeing bears roam residential streets that they barely notice. Except in suburban Mesa, Arizona, where a single black bear sighting sent everyone into a tizzy. After local television channels showed aerial footage of the bear “on the loose” (as if bears aren’t supposed to be “on the loose”), running from wildlife officials through an alfalfa field, à la O.J. Simpson in his Ford Bronco, folks headed out to watch the show in person. Social media was abuzz, and the bear even got his own Twitter account. Unlike the Pocatello runaway cow, the bear was deemed no threat, and it eluded its tranquilizer-dart-shooting pursuers for several days. Finally, on Christmas Day, it was captured and relocated to more bear-appropriate habitat in nearby mountains.

Jonathan Thompson is a senior editor at High Country News (, working out of Durango, Colorado. Share tips of Western oddities to:

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