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Rio Grande

Raft Race

Annual Rio Grande raft race and festival set for June 11

The Southwest Environmental Center’s 14th Annual Raft the Rio will be held on Saturday, June 11, on the Rio Grande near Las Cruces. The family-friendly event is open to individuals and teams of all ages willing to get wet and have fun. Creativity and the use of discarded materials in building rafts are highly encouraged.

The three-mile rafting adventure will begin at La Llorona Park beneath the Picacho Street bridge and end just upstream from the Calle del Norte Bridge (“Mesilla Bridge”). There will be refreshments, food vendors, and live music at the finish line.

Prizes will be awarded to homemade boats in the following categories:

  • First to finish
  • Least likely to finish
    (must be floating at start of race)
  • Best use of recycled materials
  • Most spirited (most enthusiastic crew)
  • Best theme (most thorough application of a theme to vessel and crew)
  • Champion of the River (best promotes appreciation for the Rio Grande)

Valles Caldera: Gone fishin’

—Margaret M. Nava

Among all of the outdoor sporting events offered by the Valles Caldera National Preserve, none is more exciting to anglers than fly-fishing on the San Antonio Creek or the East Fork Jemez River. Both streams are formed by cool water that naturally percolates to the surface through a series of ancient springs. Although small—rarely wider than 15 feet—these streams meander through lush meadows and contain thousands of brown trout with a few rainbows scattered about in the East Fork Jemez River. The streams’ meanderings provide many quality places to land a fly, including deep holes and swift riffles. Many of the fish are small, often less than eight inches in length, but 14 or 15-inchers are occasionally taken from some of the deep, cool pools. All of the trout in both streams are stream born. They are wily, cautious, and particular about their food. The fish can also be easily spooked and scattered from a location, but will return a short time later, providing anglers can settle down and sit quietly. The streams of the caldera also support species of native, nongame fish that can be observed in the clear pools and riffles. These include the Rio Grande chub, the Rio Grande sucker, and the fathead minnow.

The San Antonio Reach 2 includes 5.1 miles of San Antonio Creek at the eastern edge of Valle San Antonio. The stream in this reach is very sinuous, with long meanders winding through a flat valley. Riffles are dominated by gravel substrate. There is a maximum number of six anglers for this reach, and state bag limits apply.

Up to 10 anglers per day may enjoy fishing for rainbow and brown trout on 6.5 miles of the East Fork Jemez River and 2.8 miles of the Jaramillo Creek. Although strictly catch and release in these areas, a variety of fishing experiences awaits anglers, including many bows that deeply undercut the bank, inviting a precise placement of a fly to draw some of the bigger trout from their lairs.

Limiting the number of anglers to each area allows for a quality approach, along with offering a sense of solitude. While the fishing is a challenge, the preserve strives to provide a satisfying and memorable experience that also includes wildlife viewing, the chance of observing cowboys work cattle in the distance (the preserve keeps cattle away from perennial streams), or the opportunity to enjoy the scenery of the Valle Grande and the surrounding area.

Less experienced or youthful anglers may wish to take advantage of fly-fishing clinics held in June. On June 25, up to 20 youths, ages eight to 16 years, will get the opportunity to fish the headwaters of the East Fork Jemez River on the preserve. Participants will spend a half-day learning about equipment, tackle, knots, stream insect sampling, and identification. After practicing their casting in the morning, they will head for the fishing hole in the afternoon. Although similar in scope, the adult clinic, held on June 26, will be limited to 20 anglers age 16 or over. All persons 12 years or older must have on their person a current New Mexico fishing license and valid habitat stamp. Everyone participating should bring a lunch to enjoy along the stream and be prepared for weather. These clinics are extremely popular, so sign up early.

Fly-fishing on the Valles Caldera National Preserve is amazing. Streams flowing in the scenic valleys are chock-full of brown and rainbow trout ready to snatch well-placed flies; hundreds of elk roam nearby meadows; and eagles soar high overhead. Since fishing continues through September on the San Antonio Reach and through October on the East Fork Jemez River, there are plenty of opportunities to take advantage of this unique and worthwhile experience on public lands. Come out, and give it a try.

For more information about the fishing programs or fly-fishing clinics, contact the Valles Caldera National Preserve at (866) 382-5537, or log on to

Bob Dylan history event at Esther Bone

The Esther Bone Memorial Library will offer a History of Bob Dylan, part 2, in 75 Minutes! This program will take place on Tuesday, May 17 at 6:30 p.m.

Musician and music historian, Peter Chase, will present the Bob Dylan history program. He will cover the period of Bob’s life from 1970 through today. Peter will open the evening with a live performance of his favorite Dylan songs from that era. He will present a mixed media program with music, video and an entertaining talk about the legendary singer/songwriter.

Mr. Chase is a teacher at Central New Mexico Community College and a well known area musician. He has presented several music history programs at Esther Bone in the past including one on the Woodstock Music Festival, the Beatles, and The History of Bob Dylan, part 1.

The library is located at 950 Pinetree Rd. SE in Rio Rancho. No prior registration is required to attend.

For more information about this event please stop in the library or call 891-5012 and press option 3.

Strange, but true

—Bill Sones and Rich Sones, Ph.D.

Q. What’s become a whale of a problem lately for these massive sea creatures?

A. Lacking the luxury of reaching for sunscreen to protect themselves from the sun’s unrelenting ultraviolet radiation, whales pay the price, says Science magazine. In Proceedings of the Royal Society B, researchers report numerous cases of sunburned and blistered skin on whales in the wild, sparking concern that the thinned ozone layer may be causing them skin cancer.

Q. Doing your “best” is one thing; your “worst” is quite another. But then what happens when your best efforts “worst” those of a friend?

A. By the oddities of language, the two adjectives are opposites, yet their verb forms are synonyms, says Anu Garg in The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two. When you get the best of others, you outdo them, but you’re doing the same when you “worst” them, just as the little-known nuances of the English language have a way of “worsting” many of us. Classic dictionary examples include “seeking to worst his detractors in a court of law...”; “the champion worsted all his opponents”; and “he could easily worst his mother in the medium of words.”

Q. Cremating a human body releases 150 kilograms of carbon dioxide, along with other pollutants such as mercury from dental fillings, while traditional burial uses up scarce land. For a more eco-friendly funeral in the future, you might choose to a) have your body burned in a power station fitted with carbon-capture technology, b) have your body buried deep in a mine, where its carbon will remain locked up, c) have your body interred in an anoxic swamp to prevent carbon release, or d) have your body freeze-dried, finely ground up, and sprinkled onto crop fields.

A. The answer is “d,” says New Scientist magazine. The freeze-drying technique currently being tested involves freezing a body to -195º C using liquid nitrogen. Once brittle, the body is turned into a powder, any metal removed, and the remains dried in a vacuum and sterilized. The powder can then be composted and scattered as a fertilizer. Carbon footprint: 35 kilograms for the vacuum heating, plus 15 more for producing and transporting the liquid nitrogen, totaling 50 kilograms (from the United Kingdom’s Carbon Trust).

Q. Do heavier or lighter ski jumpers jump farther?

A. Even though heavy ski jumpers accelerate faster downhill and thus achieve greater takeoff speeds, lighter jumpers rise much higher into the air and enjoy longer glides, says ScienceIllustrated.commagazine. All things considered, light ski jumpers have the advantage.

To verify this, researchers at the University of Graz in Austria used computer simulations and wind-tunnel testing, varying parameters such as downhill and takeoff speeds, angles, air resistance, and lift—all of them affected by a skier’s weight. Their key finding: As much as an extra foot of jump distance can be gained for each pound a skier loses. For this reason, many ski jumpers maintain a dangerously low body mass index (BMI), and the sport has seen several cases of anorexia and bulimia. To counter this, the International Ski Federation has stipulated that athletes with BMIs below a certain point will be penalized by having to use shorter skis, which makes it harder to jump as far. “Still, computer models show that this handicap does not completely negate the benefit gained by lightness.”

Q. At a restaurant, what’s a common circumstance where nonconformity can leave you with a bad taste in your mouth?

A. “I’ll have the chicken,” your friend says. “Oh,” you think, “that’s what I was going to order. I guess I’ll get something else.” When people dine out together, they often seem to feel under an obligation to order different things, say Roy Baumeister and Brad Bushman in Social Psychology and Human Nature. Research by R. Ariely and J. Levav found that groups ordered different foods—and different beers—more often than would be expected by chance alone. Then, a second experiment showed this didn’t happen when test subjects were instructed to order in secret. In both cases, patron satisfaction fell when diners followed their impulse to order something different. The explanation for this is not entirely clear, but it seems conformity is not always so bad: “The people who order the same item when it is their first choice end up enjoying it more, on average, than the ones who switch to a second choice just to be different.”

Q. Is it true that elephants are the only quadrupeds that cannot jump?

A. Elephants can’t jump from ground level anyway, nor can turtles or large crocodiles, even hippos probably can’t or don’t, says Royal Veterinary College, London, Biomechanics Expert John R. Hutchinson in New Scientist magazine. “However, the truth is no research has looked at this question in a rigorous way, just scattered anecdotes and folklore, like the tired myth that elephants have four knees (they actually have two).”

Adds University of Leeds Zoologist R. McNeil Alexander, racehorses weighing about half a tonne are among the largest quadrupeds that can make impressive jumps, such as the highest fence on the Grand National course at 1.8 meters (6 feet) high. But whether an elephant or hippopotamus can jump depends on the definition used. “A film I took of a white rhino galloping showed that all four feet were off the ground at once. I don’t think of that as jumping, but I can’t think of any clear-cut definition of jumping that would exclude it.”

Really heavy animals can hardly jump or land without injury, notes Jon Richfield of Somerset West, South Africa. So, don’t jump to conclusions if a large animal chases you over a ditch: “J.H. Williams in his book Elephant Bill relates how a stampeding female jumped a ditch handily, though she went lame in both forefeet soon after.”




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