The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


Gravel pit ufo, Illustration ©Rudi Klimpert

Reduce – Reuse – Recycle

The market for recycled materials is an ever changing and evolving thing, and people often express confusion about what materials can be recycled, what items need to be separated, and what needs to be done before items are brought to the Placitas Recycling Center. There are informational fliers available at the center during recycling hours every Saturday from 8:00 to 11:00 a.m. Here are a few requirements:

• Paper that has the same weight and feel as a paper bag needs to be pulled out of newspapers and sorted as mixed paper.
• Only No. 1 and No. 2 plastic can be accepted. Usually the number will be embossed, along with the recycling symbol, on the bottom of the item. Take the caps off the bottles before bringing them to the recycling center. Plastic bags cannot be recycled.
• Only corrugated cardboard can be recycled in the cardboard trailer. And please, no pizza boxes, even if they are corrugated.
• Office paper needs to be separated from mixed paper. If in doubt, sort as mixed paper.
• Only rechargeable batteries wrapped in plastic baggies can be recycled.
• It is important to clean all food out of containers before they are recycled and to rinse out plastic bottles. Food attracts vermin and can create a serious problem for the recycling center.

Additional volunteers are always needed. They are invited to sign up at the recycling center on Saturday mornings or to call Carmen Ketchum, at 771-1311.

Silvery Minnow

Silvery minnow

The harder they spawn, the quicker they die

After three years of stocking efforts—and an unusually wet start to 2005—silvery minnows had a good run this spring in the Middle Rio Grande. Now, as the river recedes, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that more of the endangered fish can legally be allowed to die.

Biologists found millions of the four-inch fish this spring, but this summer, as the river dwindled, they counted far more dead minnows than were allowed under the "incidental take" numbers set by the service. Rather than ordering more water, officials upped the allowable take from 760 minnows to 10,440.

Ironically, the increased take may allow the service to stock minnows for the first time in the San Acacia reach of the river, south of Albuquerque. In the past, officials feared intermittent flows in that reach could cause fish losses to exceed legal take limits. "[The San Acacia reach] is the center of the universe for the silvery minnow now. Why not maintain and rebuild the population down there?" says Jim Brooks, project leader of the Service’s Fisheries Resources Office.

Changing the take numbers could also make room for other changes to the agency’s 2003 minnow plan. That plan was supposed to remain in effect for ten years, according to a provision in a rider passed by Senator Pete Domenici, R-N.M. "[Domenici’s law had] made it very difficult to challenge what they’re doing on the river," says Letty Belin, an attorney who represents conservationists on behalf of the minnow. Now, she says that in her view, Domenici’s provision—and the ten-year requirement it created—no longer apply.

High Country News ( covers the West's communities and natural-resource issues from Paonia, Colorado.

Las Huertas Watershed Project hosts water-harvesting workshop

As part of its ongoing lecture and workshop series, the Las Huertas Watershed Project will host a workshop on water harvesting on Saturday, October 22, from 9:00 a.m. to noon, at the Placitas Community Center.

Learn how to harvest rainwater on your property for a variety of uses while also reducing storm-water erosion. Both home-built and manufactured systems will be discussed. We'll begin with an overview lecture presentation and poster showing of rooftop catchment/cistern storage systems, and proceed to tour a selection of working water-harvesting systems on Placitas homes.

Admission is free, and refreshments will be provided by Las Placitas Association.

A hands-on workshop on building water-harvesting systems is also being offered, beginning at 1:00 p.m. the same day, and continuing through Sunday. Please call Vickie Peck or Reid Bandeen, at 867-1588, to register for the hands-on workshop.

Bingaman says Congress must address global warming

On September 20 U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman participated in the second hearing hosted by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on global warming.

Bingaman, the top Democrat on the Energy Committee, has been a lead advocate in the Senate for taking steps to reduce the greenhouse emissions that cause global warming. Bingaman has said that one of the shortcomings of the recently enacted energy legislation was that it failed to address climate change.

In the hearing, Bingaman said failure to develop a policy to address greenhouse gas emissions will in the long run hurt our nation’s economy.

“I think the true uncertainties in the climate debate revolve around what is to happen if we let this problem go unattended. As time goes on without any effective action, we will lose the ability to respond with measures that are both effective and moderate. Waiting for the day when the only response we can implement would be to drastically alter the way we use energy is not a sensible solution,” he explained.

Bingaman told Energy Committee Chairman Pete Domenici that he appreciated the fact that he was willing to hold congressional hearings on climate change and said he hoped the entire Senate would commit itself to debating this issue in the near future.

Greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere are causing average temperatures to rise at a rate outside the range of natural variability and are posing a substantial risk of rising sea levels, altered patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation, and increased frequency and severity of floods and droughts.

Representative Udall introduces legislation to block drilling in Valle Vidal

On September 15, U.S. Representative Tom Udall, D-N.M., introduced legislation to permanently shield the one-hundred-thousand-acre Valle Vidal Unit of the Carson National Forest from mineral extraction.

"The Valle Vidal is national treasure that is now threatened," Udall said. "Drilling in the Valle Vidal is not a long-term, responsible energy strategy—we cannot drill our way out of our current energy problems. After visiting the area on many occasions and hearing from thousands of Americans, I have reached the inescapable conclusion that the Valle Vidal should be protected in perpetuity from development.”

Udall's measure amends the forest-service management plan for the Valle Vidal and bars mineral extraction. Importantly, the measure does not change the area's status and will ensure that the current recreational uses of the Valle Vidal will continue.

Thirty years ago, the Pennzoil Company purchased nearly five hundred thousand acres of the land which was being used as a hunting park. Pennzoil maintained the area as such until 1982, when it donated a one-hundred-thousand-acre parcel of it to the federal government—at the time, the largest donation in forest-service history. During its ownership, Pennzoil never opened the area for oil and gas drilling.

Udall added, "What an ironic travesty it would be for the government to now turn its back on this precious gift and allow the area to be blighted. Recent economic studies demonstrate that the protection of special public lands like the Valle Vidal is good for local economies and that, in fact, exploitation of these places for a few hours of energy can hurt long-term economic growth and sustainability.”

New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid stated, “I strongly oppose oil and gas development in the Valle Vidal, and that is the message I conveyed to the United States Forest Service. The fight to preserve the Valle Vidal for New Mexico’s families is one that I will vigorously wage.”

The Valle Vidal has important recreational, ecological, and economic benefits. Many New Mexicans use the area to hunt, hike, ski, and fish. The area is home to the state’s largest elk herd and provides some of the best remaining habitat for Rio Grande cutthroat trout. The rivers and streams of the area have been nominated as Outstanding National Resource Waters under the Clean Water Act.”

Despite the importance of the Valle Vidal’s outstanding recreational, scenic, and ecological attributes to New Mexicans, the Carson Forest Plan is the forest service’s first step toward opening the Valle Vidal to drilling. Their preliminary analysis suggests that oil and gas development would result in the construction of nearly two hundred well pads on the eastern portion of the Valle Vidal.

Solar Association presents program on Earthships

The Albuquerque Chapter of the New Mexico Solar Energy Asociation will host a program on October 25, at 6:00 p.m, called “Earthships.” The speaker will be Amy Lay of Earthship Biotecture of Taos. The program will take place at REI, 1550 Mercantile NW, right after announcements from their regular meeting and is open to the public and free of charge. For further information, call 246-0400 or visit their Web site at

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