The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


Indian pottery demonstration

The Sandoval County Historical Society will spotlight Indian pottery in a one-day event at its meeting on May 4, at 3:00 p.m. Indian potter Clarence Cruz of San Juan Pueblo (you may remember him as Popé) will demonstrate the making and decorating of traditional Native American pottery.

In keeping with the theme of the day, exhibit chairman Nan Stackhouse has planned a “living” exhibit of Native American clothing and jewelry and has invited members to wear their turquoise, silver, and traditional Indian garb.

The meeting is free and open to all. It will be held at the DeLavy House, immediately west of the Coronado Monument and east of Santa Ana Casino. Watch for the Historical Society sign. The museum is open Sundays from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.


New museum building will house giant fossils

“Rare Mammoth Tusks Unearthed” and “New Dinosaur Discovered” are the recent headlines highlighting the treasure trove of dinosaur fossils found here in the Land of Enchantment on public lands. Now, thanks to a partnership between the Bureau Land Management and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, a new paleontological building has been dedicated to house oversized excavations from public lands.

The new building will serve as a holding area for oversized materials until they can be prepared for research and display. Dr. Adrian Hunt, director of the Natural History Museum, stated, “This building is a long-needed home for New Mexico’s dinosaur bones, and the project was the result of federal and state agencies working with a generous private supporter whose donation of time and materials made it a reality. New Mexico’s largest and most famous dinosaur, seismosaurus, would not have had a home except for this new building.”

Pat Hester, BLM regional paleontologist, said, “It is extremely important that discoveries from public land are reported, excavated, and properly cared for, studied, and preserved for future generations. This building will help in that effort.” Local businesses that donated materials and labor for the new building include Jaynes Corporation, Bohannan Huston, Flintco, Kleinfelder, Inc., Lofland Company of New Mexico, Gamblin Rodgers Electric, Structural Services, Flatiron Construction, and Elite Electric.


The West’s negligent landlord

Ed Marston

Western Colorado Congressman Scott McInnis occupies a congressional seat that until 1972 was the most powerful in the West. It was owned by the late Wayne Aspinall, a Democrat, who chaired the House Interior Committee in the 1960s and early 1970s, when the federal government was pouring billions into the the Interior West. Federal agencies built dams and interstate highways, and operated nuclear weapons complexes like Los Alamos, Hanford and Rocky Flats.

Aspinall ruled the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, as well as the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. He decided, sometimes single-handedly, which dams should be built, which forests cut, which ore bodies mined. His power was such that he could, and did, hold up the Central Arizona Project for years, letting it go only late in the 1960s. He saw to it that his western Colorado district had $1 billion in dams crammed into it.

Today, throughout the West, several billion dollars’ worth of reservoirs built at Aspinall’s direction are showing their bottoms. Drought and forest fires threaten the region. So I was eager to hear how his successor, McInnis, would respond to the changing times. McInnis had the perfect forum: Club 20, a regional chamber of commerce for western Colorado that is for resource development.

But instead of talking about natural resources, McInnis, a Republican, promoted the Bush administration’s Iraq policy. The crowd was receptive, but not enthusiastic. They had given up their Saturday to learn about the West, rather than about America’s second military reach for empire since the end of World War II.

Had Aspinall spoken to Club 20 during the first reach for empire, Vietnam, he would have promoted that war, but he would also have had a lot to say about the West. That’s because the Congress and the White House under President Lyndon B. Johnson were determined to provide guns and butter - to provide for both the military abroad and the civilians back home.

Western "butter" in the 1960s came in two forms: first, as expanded defense facilities and logging, mining and dam building; and then as the newly created Canyonlands National Park in Utah, the Wilderness Act and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. When Richard M. Nixon became president in 1969, there was more butter for the West: he further expanded our national park and wilderness systems, and signed the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act.

That 15-year dance between dam building and land and water protection laid the foundation for the economic and population boom the West experienced in the 1990s. Environmental laws and activism reined in but didn’t stop logging, mining and dam building. People across the nation saw that the West could have both economic development and a bright, pristine future that writer Wallace Stegner called the "geography of hope." Americans responded by visiting, by moving here, by investing here. Hydropower and water from Glen Canyon and other dams and water from the Central Arizona Project allowed the Southwest and parts of the Mountain West to grow 30 to 40 percent per decade.

That population boom is now petering out, fortunately. Unfortunately, there is no sign that we are building a new foundation on which to base the region’s next advance. Today, there is no butter, no vision, no passion coming from the federal government. All we get is penny pinching. The White House budgeteers have gutted the Forest Service’s permanent firefighting force. When this summer’s fires come, the money to fight them will again come from campgrounds, trails, fisheries, and habitat protection: the underpinnings of our new economy. The White House has also ordered the Forest Service and Park Service to replace many of their permanent employees with corporate contractors – aka rent-a-ranger firms - inevitably weakening the agencies and the federal land.

On the ground, BLM land especially is being hammered by gas drilling; in addition to bombing Iraq, we are bombing San Juan County, N.M., the Powder River Basin of Wyoming, Garfield County, Colo., and Bozeman, Montana.

Unlike the Vietnam era, environmental laws are being weakened and protected lands like the new monuments are being squeezed. A calamity like the 1930s Dust Bowl may be coming, but judging by McInnis’s silence at Club 20, neither Congress nor the White House has plans to help.

We don’t need more dams or clear-cuts. But we do need the balance between environmentalism and development we created in the 1960s. And we need empowered land managers to implement that balance.

Instead, the Forest Service and BLM are being starved and the land they’re supposed to manage is being destroyed. No wonder McInnis wanted to talk Iraq rather than the West.

Ed Marston is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a column service of High Country News in Paonia, Colorado ( He is the newspaper’s senior journalist.


County line—

Tourism vital to economic well-being of SC

Jack E. Thomas
Sandoval County Commission

Spring is a special season for golfers and sightseers. Trees and flowers are in bloom, the air is crisp, and our golf courses are in prime condition. Spring also is the time when tourists begin spending the bulk of vacation dollars that benefit all of us—directly, by creating jobs and salaries and indirectly, by offsetting tax burdens.

Tourism is vital to the economic well-being and stability of Sandoval County. The county commission wholeheartedly supports coordinated efforts to entice more vacationers to turn off I-25 and see all our county has to offer.

All of us have a friend, neighbor, or relative who depends on tourism for a paycheck. The numbers tell the story. Tourists spend an average of $130 a day visiting Sandoval County and bring more than $2 billion into New Mexico's economy each year.

Tourism is New Mexico's largest private sector employer and provides jobs for more than seventy thousand residents, including thousands of workers in Sandoval County. Those needed salaries, in turn, roll through all aspects of our county and state. Lodger taxes imposed on motel rooms, gross receipts taxes on goods purchased, and excise taxes on gasoline generate millions of dollars in added revenues each year.

Two of Sandoval County's relatively new attractions already are paying big dividends for the economy of our county and the entire region.

Take a stroll through the parking area of the New Mexico Soccer Tournament Complex north of NM 528 and US 550 near Bernalillo and the numbers of out-of-state license plates found at any of regular events reinforce the importance of the facility. The twenty-two-field complex was created by Sandoval County, in partnership with Rio Rancho, Bernalillo, Santa Ana, Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, the state, and New Mexico's soccer community.

In addition to being a premier recreational facility, the twenty-two-field complex serves as a leading economic development tool that benefits the entire region.

Later this month, more than twenty thousand visitors will attend the Sandia Cup National Youth Soccer Tournament being held at the complex. The three-day event, May 24-26, will feature three hundred teams of players ages nine to eighteen. Players, families, and friends will saturate motels and restaurants throughout the metropolitan area, spending tourism dollars in the process.

Many of the tournament visitors, too, will remain in Sandoval County for extended vacations or day trips to other attractions, including our nation's newest national monument, Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, northwest of Cochiti.

The diverse geological formations found at Tent Rocks have drawn sightseers for centuries. The area attained monument status just two years ago through a partnership with Sandoval County, Cochiti Pueblo, and the Department of the Interior and now attracts tourists and tour groups from around the world.

Sandoval County this month is being showcased in the four-day National Scenic Byways Conference, May 18-22, that will highlight the county's many scenic byways, which include the Jemez Mountain Trail, El Camino Real, Historic Route 66 and Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byways, and Corrales Road Scenic Byway.

For ideas on a weekend getaway or tips for out-of-town guests, check out the Sandoval County Tourism's Web site,, or pick up a copy of the county's visitors guide. The Web site and the guide both offer vacation ideas that even some old-timers may overlook. This year's guide will be available in a few weeks at many businesses and attractions in Sandoval County or at the county visitors center in Bernalillo. Call the center, 867-TOUR, or send an e-mail to and ask that a copy be mailed to you.

Questions or comments for Commissioner Thomas can be mailed to him in care of Sandoval County Administrative Offices, P.O. Box 40, Bernalillo.


Celebrate Historic Preservation Month with events
at Coronado State Monument

To observe National Historic Preservation Month you can learn to build and cook in an adobe horno at Coronado State Monument on May 2, 3, 9, and 10 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. This is a two-weekend hands-on workshop led by Dave Harkness from the Farm and Ranch Museum in Las Cruces. Space is limited to fifteen people, so the monument urges you to call now to reserve your place. Registration is $50, which includes admission, materials, and an annual pass to the site.

On Saturday, May 31, from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. Dr. Richard Flin will speak on “Coronado’s campsite and the search for a second campsite”; from 11:00 to noon, Chris Wilson, professor of architecture and planning at UNM, will talk about John Gaw Meem; and from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. there will be a display and discussion of documents and artifacts from Francisco de Coronado’s expedition.

For additional information or to register for the workshop, call 867-5351.


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