Sandoval Signpost


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letters, opinions, editorials

Photo credit: —Linda Candelaria, Cloud: February 3, 21013

Same location: March 6, 2013

re: alien clouds

In your most recent Signpost, you posted a picture. I believe it was titled, “alien cloud,” and I just wanted to share with you that on February 3, I took a picture of that exact cloud from my house. The cool thing is: on March 6, I took a picture of a cloud almost exact shape in the exact place. I had posted this on my facebook page... the other cool thing about these clouds is that I kept track of them on both occasions, and on both occasions they stayed in that same spot for over two hours. I have included the pictures just to see the differences but then the similarities.

—Linda Candelaria, Placitas

re: free roaming horses in Placitas

Inconvenient truth…

The self-proclaimed “horse haters” all have one goal—eliminate the horses—slaughter or ship to holding pens (maybe worse). They are organized, obsessed, aggressive, retaliatory, and they distort the truth to suit their agenda.

New Mexico is a “fence out” state. We live in a wildlife corridor—if these were free roaming deer, elk, etc., they would migrate thru just the same... simple. Fence your property if you choose.

The Placitas Open Space fence advocate is pro slaughter. The horse sanctuary “cowboy” considers the wild horses vermin. Anyone who questions or opposes gets bullied, even threatened (being encouraged by this editor).

Let the Placitas Open Space remain a haven and passage for the free roaming horses who travel between POS, BLM, and Tribal lands. These horse haters want to remove the horses and then fence, preventing their return, thereby putting more horses back into the subdivision, generating more complaints, chances for accidents and confusion for animals and people. That is their objective—to create more frustration and willingness to take away the horses (slaughter).

There is no activity in the POS that is hampered by the presence of the animals—on the contrary, many people enjoy the POS because of these horses and are delighted to be among them. These “symbols of the West” are in our own backyard. Instead of one more “race to the bottom,” let’s do something New Mexico can be proud of. We should be able to come together for them (including birth control) especially during extreme droughts, dry winters, over development and over fencing.

Horses have simple needs... water, food, safety. If you stay silent, these noble creatures will be gone.

—Annonymous sender

[Ed. note: It is our policy to not publish anonymous letters, but we are making an exception this time for the sake of community dialog. We disagree with this writer’s implication that the Signpost is encouraging bullying.]

c. Rudi Klimpert

re: car accident with horse in Placitas

Dear Signpost,

Carolyn and I were coming home after a concert around 11:00 last night [April 19, 2013]. Someone had hit and killed a horse at the Danielle Romero memorial on 165. We had to slowly make our way between two police cars. As we passed through, other horses ran across the road and the car ahead of us almost hit them. The little foal was one of these. It looks like the dead one was its mother. Coronado District and the County can both issue orders to have the horses removed. The problem is that there will be severe bullying, social attackts, and political retributions from the "wild" horse fanatics that none of us have the time or stomach for. I'm hoping the Sheriff will make a complaint and have them removed. There was some damage and pieces of the car all over the road. There might be injuries. We can't go on this way anymore.

—Lynn Montgomery, Placitas

re: understanding that we have rights, too

I would like to state the situation as clearly and briefly as I can: we have too many horses roaming our roads and our private properties. The horses are destroying wildlife habitats, as well as human habitat, and their own habitat. This is in part being supported by organizations and individuals who continually put out misleading propaganda that furthers an agenda that does nothing for the good of the horses.

The uncontrolled and unmanaged presence of free roaming horses in Placitas has proven a failed experiment that can only harm the horses in the long run. The very fact that the horses are now here and doing irreparable damage to our beloved Placitas lands is due to the misfired actions of a few people.

Feeding and watering the horses is maintaining a nuisance in our subdivisions. Most subdivisions have covenants against this. To date, I have seen no Home Owners Associations address this issue. Sandoval County has an Animal Control Ordinance that also applies to nuisances and public safety issues. To date, I have seen no action on the part of our County Commissioners to address this issue. The State of New Mexico has fence cutting laws and open gate laws and roaming animal laws. To date we have seen no enforcement.

We have been left to solve this problem on our own. Those persons and organizations that contribute to the problem may be liable for damages to our properties and are themselves responsible for the negative effects their actions are having on the horses. Those politicians and organizations that chose to look the other way and not speak up enable a situation that could result in tragedy.

We must do everything in our power to be heard by our neighbors, our Associations, and our elected officials. We have our rights, and they are being trampled, because of the actions of a few. These actions, and these people, are doing great and irrevocable harm to the horses they mean to protect and to the community in which they live.

—Mike Neas, Placitas


Governor vetos new Placitas park, and horse sanctuary

—Marty Clifton

The veto: on April 5, Governor Susana Martinez approved the 2013 Capital Outlay, but vetoed the Placitas park and horse sanctuary funding.

To those who supported the park proposal, including State Senator John Sapien, we say thanks for your work. The first-time capital outlay achieved remarkable Legislative support.

The Federal Recreation and Public Purposes Act (R&PP) allows New Mexico to buy the 3,400-acre BLM Buffalo Track for just $10 per acre or $34,000.

Opposition to the park included the Wild Horse Observers Association (WHOA), who lobbied heavily, the local Pueblos, and no doubt, gravel miners.

Contrary to what the Governor may have heard, the project is not anti-horse, nor are supporters of this purchase anti-horse; the purchase would also protect the property from gravel mining and real estate development. The modest horse sanctuary could also be a model for the State to manage its horse overpopulation.

Moving on: a new strategy to save the horses and Placitas ecology?

Originating mostly on Santa Ana and San Felipe lands, there are about one hundred horses in the Placitas neighborhoods, the Buffalo Track, and Placitas Open Space. Another 150 Pueblo horses are trespassing on the combined Algodones, Baca lands, Diamond Tail Ranch, the BLM Crest of Montezuma, and the 12-section BLM/Ball Ranch. There is a real danger these horses will also range freely into Placitas neighborhoods and the National Forest.         

Regardless of the Pueblos’ pronouncements, they have historically provided care and fenced lands for these horses, and our laws say that is evidence of their ownership. In the past, Pueblo care resulted in their horses remaining on Pueblo lands. But recently, their deteriorating fencing, drought, and heavy grazing that denuded Pueblo lands, caused the horses to migrate to Placitas and surrounding areas. When their horses trespass on Placitas private and public land, they are, under the law, creating a nuisance, damaging public and private property, and clearly being a danger to our community.

The New Mexico Livestock Board and the BLM view the horses in Placitas as mostly of Santa Ana and San Felipe origin. As noted in the Federal Court decision issued in 2012 in the WHOA v. BLM lawsuit, “the BLM believes that the San Felipe Reservation owns these horses.”

While WHOA’s 2012 appeal in their Federal lawsuit percolates in the court, Placitas, and the horses, are in a sort of purgatory. The forage is substantially gone for the horses, but also for local wildlife, and the ecology of Placitas is being destroyed.

Our growing horse population is caused by two factors: births and in-migration. We’ve been told that soon the San Felipes will start to apply PZP, a birth control, to their “wild” horses. They can legally do this because they are a Sovereign Nation. We’ve also been told the Pueblos are going to fix their fences to keep their horses from migrating to Placitas.

The Placitas park and horse sanctuary provide a means to legally “adopt” some of the Placitas horses and a legal “place” for them, where birth control measures and other care could be applied.

We are now planning more options for the park and horse sanctuary, including asking Governor Martinez to have the New Mexico Parks Department submit a timely application and plan for the BLM Buffalo Track. This reserves the property and gets the BLM 18-24 month public review started. We can ask for purchase funding in the next legislative session. A public-private partnership foundation and local planning involvement can also serve the project well. We think the plan needs a second chance.

To stop further horse trespassing into Placitas neighborhoods from tribal lands, we are working to get the BLM to repair the northern fence lines between the BLM, private, San Felipe and Santa Ana lands. The City of Albuquerque is working on similar fencing for the Placitas Open Space.

The trespassing horses (about sixty) on the BLM and the Placitas Open Space are more than the lands can comfortably handle for even the next few months. The horses in the Placitas Open Space are showing stress from dehydration and lack of protein. Our lands and their horses are being pushed on a path to crisis. The Pueblos must take responsibility for their horses and take them home. And they need to care for, feed and water these horses; not just turn them loose on barren landscape. The State’s “Fence Out” law is not an excuse for the Pueblos (and others) to allow horses to trespass or the associated damages that occur. The State’s “Fence Out” laws are to protect livestock and their owners, not free-ranging, feral or “wild” horses. Knowingly allowing or encouraging pets, horses and/or livestock to trespass is illegal.    

Trespassing tribal horses are not unique in New Mexico. The Acoma Pueblo Tribe, for instance, is working with the Navajo Ramah Chapter to deal with Navajo horses that are trespassing on Acoma lands.

Gravel Mining and Real Estate Development?

The BLM’s Rio Puerco Plan, recently submitted to the Department of the Interior contemplates mining a new BLM section of eight-hundred acres on the north side of the Buffalo Track. Members of the community submitted hundreds of letters objecting to this plan. The Santa Ana and San Felipe are already operating major mines near Placitas off I-25. The BLM estimates that the Buffalo Track gravel is worth over a billion dollars. Additionally there are millions of dollars worth of developable real estate property on the Buffalo Track. The US Secretary of Interior and Governor Martinez are required to review the plan and they both have the ability to have significant influence to stop gravel mining on the Buffalo Track. We hope that Placitas leadership, county government, and our US Congressional Delegation use their best judgment and influence to convince them that gravel mining should be avoided, and that the land should be a state park and horse sanctuary, which would also eliminate gravel mining and real estate development on the property.

re: mountain bikes

I recently read a letter sent to the Signpost from someone complaining about mountain bikes in the (FR445) loop road area. We have been enjoying the same wonderful place for the last 13 years. I walk my dogs there, I hike there, and I ride my mountain bike there. I have never had a bad experience there—except for the occasional person who wants it only for themselves and to keep everyone else out altogether. My neighbors ride their horses there—is that also a problem? All of these activities cause erosion issues. I think that the erosion issue is just a good excuse to attempt to control activities that some find intrusive. Come on—lighten up! That area is for all of us. If you don’t want to share it, I’m sure there are some wonderful gated communities around town, with all of the rules and covenants that will suit one’s needs. I, for one, enjoy all of the people and activities that I encounter in that wonderful place.

—Chris Oldham, Placitas

re: Bio Park needs our help!

Please support your BioPark by asking Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry ( and the City Council of Albuquerque ( to make funding available to fill necessary staff positions at ABQ BioPark facilities: the Zoo, Aquarium, Botanic Garden, and Tingley Beach. Currently, the BioPark has 19 open unfilled positions and are told that eight of these positions will be eliminated. These proposed staffing cuts mark the seventh consecutive year of decreased staff at the BioPark. From 2007 to present, the BioPark lost forty positions –an average of over five positions per year! Additional cuts will deal an enormous blow to the BioPark.

—Laura Robbins, Placitas

re: a driving man

Dear Friends Back East:

Yesterday, for some reason, I remembered when all of you found yourselves locked in the Bronx Zoo lion house for an entire night, prayerfully hoping this wouldn’t be the occasion for any of the noisily occupied cages to experience structural metal fatigue. This memory gave a lift to my spirits, made necessary by so many recent tragic national events in your region.

Later, however, when I activated my automatic garage door opener, the major overhead spring snapped, having been desiccated to near powder by the dismayingly low New Mexico humidity (summer average: 12). The fractured spring made it impossible for me to perform a manual-style door lift unless I chose to risk my spinal column ripping out of my back and emerging like a flailing, flopping suckerless squid tentacle.

So, I was trapped inside the garage with my Toyota and, I suspect, one or more mice. Although a remote garage door service, designed to assist those frail of body and mind, secured my liberation, it had then become rush hour—an unappealing time to drive to the big new cheap booze purveyor several miles away as I had planned. And, sadly, the cost of the garage door repair far exceeded the amount I had budgeted for a case of Nagging Doubt Merlot plus a liter of Old Troublemaker bourbon. So I didn’t make the trip, and, as we speak, I suffer greatly from thirst.

Speaking of local driving, you city folks would feel quite comfortable with the spring flurry of road and highway work now occurring in our immediate area. Orange and white striped barricades, barriers, and barrels dominate the edges, shoulders—and sometimes the centers—of our driving routes more than I’ve seen for some time.

I have sympathy for the hard-working people performing this infrastructural work, i.e. they are frequently working in extreme April winds, engulfed in dust, tumbleweeds, and other blowing objects. I personally witnessed an equipment operator knocked from his seat by a helpless, fast moving, airborne coyote. I was happy to see this sturdy man get back up with a grin and reclaim his seat. The coyote, regrettably, was injured and taken to Lovelace.

I admit to having occasional difficulties in determining exactly where I should steer my vehicle among the many orange and white striped barber pole-like stanchions. But there are signs to help decision-challenged drivers like myself, e.g. “Various Improbable Lane Changes Ahead; “Cross Your Fingers for Next 2 Miles”; You Are Approaching Total Orange and White Chaos”; “You Won’t Believe What’s Coming Up”; “Here Be Dragons,” etc. I appreciate all such efforts and am not complaining.

Hopefully this construction activity is a sign of an improving economy occurring in spite of the bizarre hi-jinks of our Congress (Motto: “Malfeasance Without Boundaries.”) I will hold my breath.

And, it is with a breath, richly flavored by turkey and giblets, that Patrick says, “Hi” to all. Stay safe and well.

—Your Friend, Herb, Placitas

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