The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


LPA to host watershed-appraisal workshop, bird hike 

Jennifer Nelson
Las Placitas Association

Is your land healthy? How can you tell? Why does it matter?

Join us on Saturday, May 14, to learn rapid-appraisal techniques for grasslands and riparian areas at a hands-on workshop sponsored by the LPA Watershed Project.

We will begin at the Las Placitas Community Center at 9:00 a.m. with a short discussion of what constitutes a healthy watershed and how residents of Placitas can take steps on their own lands to improve the overall health of the Las Huertas Creek watershed. Then we will venture outside to a reach of the Las Huertas Creek, where we will assess riparian health by looking at vegetation diversity, stream bed characteristics, and the undersides of rocks (for invertebrates).

Indicators of grassland and forest health will be laid out for you to take home.

Come and see how water, plants, soil, and you interact in the Las Huertas Creek watershed. See erosion control in action.

The Rio Puerco Management Committee's Land Health Kiosk will make an appearance. Call Jennifer Nelson, 459-3186, to save a spot. Refreshments will be provided by Las Placitas Association.

On May 7, a birding hike will be led by Hart Swartz, a leading New Mexico bird specialist to study migratory and nesting birds of the Placitas Open Space. Wear sturdy hiking shoes and bring water and a snack. No pets please. Meet at the open space east access at 8:15 a.m.

Admission is free. Las Placitas Association 2005 workshops and field trips. are a great opportunity to enjoy the Placitas outdoors and learn more about what the community has to offer.

For additional information, write to Las Placitas Association, P.O. Box 888, Placitas, NM 87043, or go to


NM Rural Water Association issues annual awards

In the past year, many of New Mexico’s rural and small water systems, operators, and managers have exhibited excellence and dedication in providing safe drinking water to their constituents. Some of them were recognized for their achievements at the twenty-seventh annual New Mexico Rural Water Association Technical Conference. Awards are made to personnel and water and wastewater systems according to system size (small, medium, and large, according to the number of connections) and system type (water, wastewater and tribal).

System of the Year awards went to the Chamberino Mutual Domestic Water Consumers Association and Upper La Plata Water Users Association. The village of Reserve was recognized as Wastewater System of the Year, and the Mescalero Apache Nation as Tribal System of the Year.   

For the second time in three years, Las Acequias de Placitas was judged to have the best-tasting water in the drinking-water contest, and will represent New Mexico in Washington, D.C., later this month in the Great American Taste Test, sponsored by the National Rural Water Association. In 2003, Las Acequias de Placitas placed in the top five in that competition. The trip is sponsored by Bohannan-Huston, Inc.

The New Mexico Rural Water Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing training, technical support, and legislative representation to small and rural water systems throughout the state. For more information about NMRWA or the conference, see or call the Albuquerque office at (505) 884-1031 or (800) 819-9893.


Caution urged along county waterways

Sandoval County Commissioner Joshua Madalena has asked the county's fire and emergency-management staff to closely monitor runoff conditions in the region, especially along the Jemez River, which is flowing at high levels.

“I'm very concerned that warmer weather, heavy rains, and the remaining mountain snowpack could result in flooding in portions of the county's northern mountain areas, especially along the Jemez Corridor,” said Madalena.

“We already are experiencing high water levels in the Jemez River, and flooding has occurred in portions of the Jemez Bosque area between San Ysidro and Jemez Springs,” he added.

Madalena, whose Commission District 5 includes the Jemez region and Sandoval County's northern and western areas, said spring's warmer temperatures bring a “large influx” of visitors to the Jemez Corridor.

“Residents and visitors alike need to be extra careful around our fast-moving streams. Water levels are near record highs in some areas and streams are moving very fast,” Madalena said. “Water also is flowing heavily in some of our normally dry arroyos. People need to be extremely careful and keep a close watch on weather conditions.”

Fire Chief Jon Tibbetts and Deputy Chief/Emergency Manager Jess Lewis toured the Jemez Corridor on April 18 and said they would continue monitoring water levels in the county's waterways.

“The Jemez River is high and moving very fast, and there was noticeable flooding below the confluence of the Jemez and Guadalupe Rivers south of the Cañon area,” said Lewis. “While water levels have receded about two to three feet from the high-water marks over the weekend, additional rain and snow melt could cause concerns in some areas.”


New guide, map for Sandia hikers

Author Mike Coltrin begins each of fifty-seven trail entries in The Sandia Mountain Hiking Guide (UNM Press) with the trail’s length, elevation gain, and degree of difficulty, directions to the trailhead, descriptions of the terrain, tips on scenic viewpoints, an analysis of trails’ vegetation, and suggestions for loop hikes on neighboring trails. The information covers a total distance of about 175 miles and includes twenty-five contour maps of trails in different sections of the Sandias and a separate large, full-color map of the entire mountain, printed on water-resistant paper. A pull-out map, purchased separately, is also available. In this complete and up-to-date resource for Sandia Mountain hikers, Coltrin highlights easier trails for older or novice hikers and more challenging trails for the experienced outdoors person.

Coltrin is a trained physical chemist and a Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories. He has enjoyed hiking in the Sandia Mountains for more than twenty years and is active in conservation of the area.

You can pick up a copy of The Sandia Mountain Hiking Guide at your local bookstore or nature shop or directly from the University of New Mexico Press. To order, call (800) 259-7737 or visit, where you can purchase books and view upcoming author events and news.

On June 12, at 2:00 p.m., Mike Coltrin will sign copies of his book at the Rio Grande Nature Center, 2901 Candelaria Road NW. For further information, call (505) 324-7240.




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