The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

Public Safety

Nature of Incident:
Bernalillo Police activity, September 2007

—SUBMITTED BY FRED RADOSEVICH, CHIEF, BERNALILLO POLICE DEPARTMENT
The following are statistics from the Bernalillo Police Department for the month of September 2007:

103 OFFENSE INCIDENT REPORTS

• 5 domestic violence (assault)
• 17 burglaries
• 12 thefts
• 5 vandalism
• 8 DWI
74 ARRESTS
• 3 domestic violence
• 14 drug offenses
• 7 DWI
• 18 warrants

669 TRAFFIC CITATIONS

• 243 speeding
• 12 stop sign
• 44 suspended/revoked
• 52 no insurance
• 34 seatbelt violations
• 36 crash reports (accidents)
• 19 on Highway 550
• 4 on Highway 313

 

Drought and insects heighten fire danger in Sandias

—ALLISON WILLIAMS

The epidemic currently killing large stands of trees in the Sandia Mountains is much worse than the piñon die-off a few years ago, Sandia District Ranger Cid Morgan said last week.

Morgan warned, “It may not happen next year—maybe five, ten, fifteen years from now, but people should not be surprised by a catastrophic fire—it’s coming.” He estimated that at least forty thousand acres have been affected. Many stands of two- to three-hundred acres at higher elevations are totally dead. Most of the damage is on the east and west sides of the Sandias north of I-40, but there are also affected areas in the Manzanitas in David Canyon and on Cedro Peak.

The insects involved are natural to the forest. “When you see a woodpecker pecking a tree, these are what they are going for,” Morgan said. The problem is that the bugs have been proliferating because of drought and lack of fire.

The Forest Service believes that three hundred years ago, ponderosa pine stands went three-quarters of the way up the east side of the Sandias. This kind of environment has frequent fires, keeping the forest healthy. As Europeans started settling the area, they grazed sheep, cattle, and goats, thereby changing the composition of trees and plants. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, fire suppression became the norm in the Sandias. Thus, there are a lot more trees now than there would be in a natural system.

During drought, all these trees compete for a lot less water. “If you see two trees whose crowns are touching, their roots are competing for the same water,” Morgan said. Normally, when a beetle starts digging into a tree to lay eggs, the tree covers the bug with sap and pushes it back out in a process called “pitching out.” If the trees do not get enough water, they will not make enough sap and the bug population spirals out of control.

The Forest Service has been cutting down dead trees to protect hikers. To try to improve the health of the forest, it is also putting together proposals for thinning and burning outside the wilderness. They can only use fire management techniques, and current conditions do not allow any fire.

“You can’t take a situation that took three hundred years to create and fix it overnight,” Morgan said. “It’s just that we’ve come in and changed things, put things out of kilter, and now the pendulum is swinging really wildly.”

Morgan stressed that private landowners need to create “defensible space” around houses by clearing brush, cutting lower branches, and thinning trees to make sure crowns aren’t touching. This will not only help reduce forest fire risk and protect the houses from fire, but it will also mean less competition between trees for water and nutrients, resulting in a healthier forest that can withstand bugs.

The current epidemic involves a variety of bugs that are species-specific. They include fir engraver beetles, Douglas-fir tussock moths, Western balsam bark beetles, Western pine beetles, spruce bug worms and Ips beetles. As a result, most of the trees in the forest are susceptible, unlike the piñon epidemic a few years ago. Morgan said that we won’t see the full impact of the epidemic until next year, but that the moisture over the past year has helped.

This article was reprinted with permission from The Independent, a newspaper serving the East Mountain area of Albuquerque.

September scams and frauds reported to Attorney General King’s office

The following is an overview of what has been reported to the Attorney General’s office since the beginning of the month.

“INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE” SCAM:

Last month, the IRS issued its own consumer alert regarding a new two-step email scam that falsely promises recipients they will receive $80 for participating in an online customer satisfaction survey. In the scam, unsuspecting taxpayers receive an unsolicited email that appears to come from the IRS. A URL link to an online “Member Satisfaction Survey” is contained in the email. This month, the scam continues with recipients falsely promised amounts ranging from $80 to $116.40.

LAND SALE SCAM:

As mentioned in the July and September Consumer Advisory reports, land scams are continuing to be reported to the New Mexico Attorney General’s office. As a reminder, if you receive a phone call or letter from a company either offering to purchase your land or to advertise your land to potential buyers, be alert. Oftentimes, a scammer will ask you to pay upfront for service you may never receive.

IMPERSONATING ATTORNEY GENERAL OFFICE STAFF MEMBER SCAM:

A New Mexico resident reports receiving a call from an individual claiming to be an employee of the New Mexico Attorney General’s office. The person was told he had won the lottery and was then asked to send $750 to an address in Jamaica.

FINANCIAL INSTITUTION SCAMS:

Del Norte Credit Union (DNCU) and some of its members continue to be the targets of a “phishing scam.” Northern New Mexico residents have reported receiving phone calls or emails asking them to respond to a toll-free number and provide personal account information, including debit and credit card numbers.

Several Bank of America customers have received email notifications that their accounts have temporarily been suspended. The customer is told in the email to click on a link that is provided and fill out a secure online form.

If Bank of America and DNCU customers should not give out any personal information.

COUNTERFEIT CHECK SCAMS:

New Mexico banks were alerted to several different counterfeit checks schemes that were reported to the office by consumers. The checks had the names of real businesses on them, though the checks did not originate from those businesses. Most checks were accompanied by letters stating the recipient had won a lottery or drawing and the check was included to cover fees needed to claim the winnings. The letter urged that the check be deposited and a large portion of the check wired back to cover costs. This is a scam. Legitimate lotteries do not require a winner to pay to receive winnings.

NIGERIAN AND LOTTERY SCAMS:

New Mexico residents continue to report scams involving banks and individuals that are out of the country. The scammer is asking for financial assistance for a family member who has died. The scam offers to send large sums of money to the recipient in exchange for their help.

This is a typical scam received via email. If you receive a plea for assistance involving financial transactions of any kind, please do not respond.

Consumers are also receiving “official notifications” of lottery winnings accompanied by a check. These letters ask recipients to “kindly” deposit the check, allowing twenty-four to forty-eight hours for the check to clear, following with a phone number to contact “your claims broker.” These checks are fraudulent – if you deposit the check, it will bounce; if you wire any money overnight, you will lose the money.

If you receive such emails, the New Mexico Attorney General’s office encourages you not to respond. Consumers may report scams and frauds they experience by forwarding suspicious emails to: publicinformationoff@ago.state.nm.us.

A fall fire season is upon us

—KAREN P. TAKAI, SANDIA RANGER DISTRICT

In the beginning of October, we have had two fires—one in the Bosque and another on the Mountainair Ranger District. This is a “heads-up” for our communities to please be very careful as we enjoy this beautiful fall weather. Winds and daytime temperatures are drying out grass (lighter fuels) creating a fuse that, if lit, will lead right up to the trees.

Normally when we have a fall fire season, it is not as intense or long as our spring fire season. Still, we need take precautions by following defensible space concepts to lower our risk from fire:

• Do not become complacent.

• Do not burn when it is windy.

• Cut and remove grasses around your home.

• Remove pine needles from gutters.

• Extinguish campfires dead out.

• Extinguish cigarettes.

• Drench fireplace ash with water and let stand for weeks.

• Remove wood from around your home.

• Be careful welding—consider having a fire extinguisher with you.

• Do not park your car on tall weeds.

For additional information, go to firewise.org or call 281-3304, ext. 104.


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