An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989

Community Calendar

Grisman Quintet raises funds for NM Wilderness projects

The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance presented the David Grisman Quintet at the Kimo Theater on April 10. The incredibly gifted and prolific mandolin player thrilled a packed house as he always does when performing in Albuquerque. The NMWA made a good choice, as tickets would have sold out even if the show had been presented by the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, which opposes efforts to designate parts of Cabezon country as a federally protected wilderness.

NMWA efforts have been met locally with resolutions from the governing bodies of Sandoval County, the Town of Bernalillo, and the Village of San Ysidro. long-time residents of the Cabezon area oppose wilderness designation because they say it will be harmful to cattle growing and other cherished traditions such as four-wheeling, shooting at beer cans, and simply enjoying the freedom of the Old West without federal supervision. The NMWA is trying to convince people that their worries about the prohibition of ranching and access are unfounded.

While they have so far been unsuccessful in conveying this message to our local officials and ranchers, here’s what the NMWA has to say:

New Mexico’s Cabezon country is nestled in the heart of the Rio Puerco watershed about fifty miles northwest of Albuquerque, and west of the towns of San Ysidro and Cuba. A focal point of the cultural and natural heritage that helped shape New Mexico, this region is especially important given its close proximity to Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Literally thousands of ruins including prehistoric Pueblo sites, petroglyphs, and kivas can be found, as can evidence of early Spanish settlement in the region. The area is home to sacred and religious sites of the Jemez, Zia, and Santa Ana Pueblos.

It provides opportunities for many New Mexicans to explore, enjoy, and learn about their wild heritage. Cabezon Peak is a well-known landmark and destination. From the heavily forested and isolated canyons of Banco Breaks in the south, across the broad Rio Puerco Valley and up into the remote canyons of the La Leña and San Luis areas in the north, the Cabezon region offers great opportunities for recreational activities. These include hunting, horseback riding, birding, backpacking, photography, hiking, climbing, and wildlife viewing.

The unique geology of the region makes it a destination for rockhounding. History buffs can ponder the remnants of ancient cultures and teachers find a superb outdoor classroom only a couple hours drive from our biggest cities.

The Cabezon country is a transition zone between the forested slopes of Mount Taylor and the drainages of Arroyo; Chico and Rio Puerco, and is home to an abundant array of wildlife such as elk, mountain lion, golden eagle, black bear, collared lizards, prairie falcon, red-tail hawk, and much more. Populations of two rare cactus are found here, and cholla, ponderosa pine groves, pinon-juniper woodlands are abundant.

While Cabezon country is still a largely undiscovered wild landscape, pressures from an increasing population and expanding urban centers are putting the region at risk. Irresponsible dirt bike and other off-road vehicle use, poaching, and vandalism of historic sites threaten the area. Potential oil and gas exploration could cause irreparable harm to the area.

For more information, contact the Coalition for New Mexico Wilderness at 242-1522 or, or visit

How will we share the water?

—Kevin Bean, Elaine Moore Hebard, and Bob Wessely,
Volunteers with the Middle Rio Grande Water Assembly

In a nutshell: too much demand, too little supply.

Water, a subject of perennial interest in arid New Mexico, received even more attention than usual in the recent legislative session. Water use in the Middle Rio Grande is over-budget—some fifty to seventy thousand acre-feet per year on average—with the difference made up by groundwater pumping (an acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons). And New Mexico is legally required to deliver the water it owes to Texas.

Our regional water budget consists of our water income (the Rio Grande and its tributaries, imported San Juan/Chama water, storm-water inflow, etc.) and our water expenses (the water used for riparian, agricultural, and municipal purposes, along with water lost to evaporation or owed to downstream users). The only reason we haven't already had a priority call here or faced shortages is that we've been able to mine the groundwater, withdrawing it at a faster rate than it is replenished. As the region grows, so will the water deficit, which if we do nothing is projected to increase to more than one hundred thousand acre-feet per year by 2050—a serious cumulative effect on the aquifer and river flow. Even if we wanted to continue such mining, the state cannot allow us to do so.

Upstream and downstream neighbors face their own shortages and fear that water will be exported to thirstier and wealthier urban users. We are facing an increasing deficit, due to population growth, endangered species, thirsty neighbors, and drought.

We are accustomed to very low costs for water (except in bottles at supermarkets). The result is a serious impending shortfall, especially during drought. The past twenty-five years are known to have been the wettest in the past one thousand years. The average for the last one thousand years is similar to our supply during the drought of the 1950s.

In the planning process, the people of the region will have to make some very difficult decisions. Along with our seven hundred thousand neighbors, we have local commissions and councils, state legislators and agencies, tribal entities, and federal agencies all influencing our water behavior. The Water Assembly, along with the Middle Rio Grande Council of Governments, will be conducting dialogue with official entities—to the extent resources allow—in order to ensure that a completed regional water plan is effectively implemented.

We have a serious mutual problem: we are all drawing on the same limited resource, and we are all living off of the same environment and the same economy. The Water Assembly is seeking a wise, inclusive solution. For the months ahead, the Water Assembly and MRGCOG are asking the community to join us in developing the plan by participating in the public sessions and joining with the working teams to make sure the resulting plan includes everyone’s interests.

Members of the community can participate by volunteering for working teams (public participation and communications team, alternatives working team, external coordination team, analysis team, collaborative modeling team, and the administration and finance team). The Water Assembly is also encouraging members of the public to join constituency groups such as the Urban Users and Economic Development Advocates, Agricultural, Cultural and Historic Water Use Advocates, and Environmental Advocates, Water Managers, and Specialists.

For more information, please contact Bob Wessely, Water Assembly chair, at 867-3889, or Mike Trujillo at MRGCOG, 247-1750.

GreenBuilt Tour 2002

—Susi Marbury

Want a glimpse of a better future? Come on the GreenBuilt tour 2002 to see some of the most innovative and efficient homes in the country. The tour is on Saturday and Sunday, May 18 and May 19, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Tickets are $5 and may be purchased at local First State Bank branches, participating Mail Boxes Etc., and both La Montañita Coop locations. This year’s tour features twenty sites, from a manufactured home with a stand-alone 1,200-watt photovoltaic system to a 4,500-square-foot multilevel straw-bale home in Albuquerque’s northeast heights. The tour also features the highly successful Old Albuquerque High School infill residential project that exhibits green features such as recycled historic buildings, restoration of a former brownfield site to productive use, and design that is friendly to pedestrians and mass transit.

Other green features on the tour include alternative wall construction such as rammed earth, straw bales and RASTRA, recycled and engineered construction materials and blown-in cellulose insulation, water-harvesting and conservation methods, energy-efficient appliances and mechanical systems, radiant floor heat and compact fluorescent lighting, Building America- and Energy Star-certified homes, passive solar design, and photovoltaic arrays.

As one tour participant says, “The GreenBuilt Tour is like a virtual catalogue of green home ideas—nothing compares for sparking the imagination for new home and remodeling ideas. Someday all houses will be built this way. For anyone interested in saving money, reducing energy costs, and conserving the planet’s finite resources, the tour is a must.”

All proceeds benefit the Green Alliance, a nonprofit partnership that supports and promotes green principles. Green Alliance and GreenBuilt tour sponsors include Fannie Mae, PNM, First State Bank, and Sandia Window and Door. For more information on the tour, see our Web site,, or call 764-0037, extension 226

Critical levee repair begins on the Rio Grande

Efforts are now underway to begin urgent repairs at two Rio Grande levees that must be reenforced to reduce the threat of catastrophic flooding in populated areas.

John W. Keys III, commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation,  reported that the Bureau of Reclamation has already begun design and planning work on two critical sites, both north of Albuquerque, that pose the greatest risk to the public. Keys will be providing U. S. Senator Domenici with a report on a long-term schedule and cost estimate for rehabilitating a series of aging Rio Grande levees. 

Keys has personally reviewed the levees on the Rio Grande and will publicly provide a realistic assessment of the health and safety threats posed by the levee system. Keys does not expect a need for federal emergency funding to shore up the twenty-five weakened levees between Española and San Marcial. 

"Should the bureau indicate a need for immediate funding, I am ready to see that they have the operations and maintenance money they need to prevent flooding and correlating damage to water supplies and other basic infrastructure," Domenici said. 

Keys also mentioned the bureau's need to make more progress on completing the channel linking the Rio Grande with Elephant Butte reservoir.

The Bureau of Reclamation has requested $15.463 million in FY2003 for the Middle Rio Grande Project, which includes the levee system on the river. The Middle Rio Grande project goal is to deliver water through 202 miles of the Rio Grande, maintain valley drainage, and provide flood protection while preserving endangered species.

As part of the FY2002 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill, $11.2 million was secured for the Bureau of Reclamation to continue its efforts with the Middle Rio Grande Collaborative Workgroup to promote short- and long-term activities to benefit species and water users along the middle Rio Grande. Overall, $22.9 million was approved for bureau activities on the middle Rio Grande.

Bosque ecology explored

On May 8 at 7:00 p.m. the Corrales Historical Society will present “History and Ecology of the Bosque,” a lecture by Dr. Cliff Crawford, a retired UNMprofessor of biology. Dr. Crawford has been involved in the preservation of the bosque for many years, particularly with the Albuquerque Overbank Project Site. This program is free and open to the public. It will be held at the Historic Old San Ysidro Church in Corrales. Refreshments will be served after the program. For further information, call Mary Harrington, 897-9109.