An investigation by two state agencies found no evidence of “oil
sludge” that was reported in the San Juan River below Navajo
Dam in late August.
The Oil Conservation Division of the Energy, Minerals, and Natural
Resources Department, and the Department of Game and Fish investigated
the report after receiving a video showing a dark-brown substance
in the river about four miles downstream from the trophy trout Quality
Waters section. Site inspections and an analysis of the video turned
up no evidence of oil, and no signs of dead or dying fish or other
Investigators determined that the most likely explanation for the
report was that a large amount of organic debris was flushed out
of an arroyo during a heavy rain storm. Organic materials such as
piñon needles, juniper berries, and salt cedar branches contain
natural oils and could be mistaken for oil field byproducts.
The San Juan basin is a major producer of natural gas. There also
is one oil well in the basin near the Colorado border.
“The San Juan is one of New Mexico’s most prized fisheries,
so we take these kinds of reports seriously,” said Mike Sloane,
Chief of Fisheries for the Department of Game and Fish. “Fortunately,
after a thorough investigation, we are able to say there was no
evidence of oil in the river, and the fishing—as always—is
Marc Wethington, fisheries biologist with the Department, said
fishing usually improves in late September as angling pressure subsides
and cooler, shorter days make the trout more active. He suggests
that anglers check with their favorite guide or fishing shop for
advice on the best tackle and techniques for the season.”All-in-all,
it will be a pretty typical fall for fishing on the San Juan,”
Wanted: citizens‘ participation in habitat
The Department of Game and Fish is seeking individuals interested
in serving as advisors for the Habitat Stamp Program. As volunteers,
advisors review and prioritize habitat improvement proposals and
forward their recommendations to the State Game Commission.
Since 1990, all anglers, hunters, and trappers who use U.S. Forest
Service or Bureau of Land Management lands must purchase a Habitat
Stamp. The Habitat Stamp Program then uses the $5 stamp fee for
on-the-ground habitat improvements.
Citizens have been involved in every aspect of the program, advising
which habitats are most in need of improvement. Citizens represent
sporting, environmental, or public land permittee interests and
meet each spring to prioritize local habitat proposals. Citizens
serve three-year terms.
“We have five regional Citizen Advisory Committees to involve
citizens early on in the project-planning process,” said Dale
Hall, Habitat Stamp Program manager. “What separates this
program from other typical government programs is its citizen participation.
Currently we are looking for volunteers to assist the Department
in incorporating New Mexico’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation
Strategy for New Mexico into project selection and design processes.”
Appointed by the State Game Commission, fourteen current Citizen
Advisory Committee members’ terms expire in December 2008.
Expiring terms include eight sportsmen and two each of environmentalists
and permittees. They meet in April each year and attend field tours
in summer months.
To volunteer, contact Dale Hall at (505) 222-4725 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
before October 15.
Fall and winter gardening tips at Esther Bone
Rio Rancho’s WaterWise Xeriscape Garden (WWG) is a long-term
work in progress. After several years of thoughtful plantings in
a rugged environment, the garden has something green blooming or
of interest all year long.
On October 4, a program on the WaterWise Demonstration Xeriscape
Garden, including a tour of the garden, will be presented at the
Esther Bone Memorial Library at 10:00 a.m. by Linda Poe and the
Sandoval County Master Gardeners. Suggestions for possibilities
for your own landscape plus advice on how to prepare gardens for
the fall and winter months will be given. The Esther Bone Library
is located at 950 Pinetree Road SE in Rio Rancho. The program is
free and no reservations are required. For information, call the
library at 891-5012, extension 3128 or email email@example.com.
"U.S. population stabilization advocates see
high immigration numbers as key to increased pollution, sprawl,
and water and energy shortages."
—FROM THE EDITORS OF E/THE ENVIRONMENTAL MAGAZINE
Dear EarthTalk: Why are some environmental groups
jumping on the immigration issue? What does immigration have to
do with the environment? —Ginna Jones, Darien, CT
What to do about booming legal and illegal immigration rates is
one of the most controversial topics on Americans’ political
agenda these days. More than a million immigrants achieve permanent
resident status in the U.S. every year. Another seven hundred thousand
become full-fledged American citizens. The non-profit Pew Research
Center reports that eighty-two percent of U.S. population growth
is attributable to immigration.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that U.S. population
will grow from 303 million people today to four hundred million
as early as 2040. While many industrialized nations, including Japan
and most of Western Europe, are experiencing population growth slowdowns
due to below-replacement birth levels and little immigration, the
U.S. is growing so fast that it trails only India and China in total
Advocates for U.S. population stabilization, including some environmental
organizations and leaders, fear that this ongoing influx of new
arrivals is forcing the nation to exceed its “carrying capacity,”
stressing an already overburdened physical infrastructure. David
Durham of Population-Environment Balance says that Americans who
care about the environment should insist on reducing immigration,
to recognize “ecological realities such as limited potable
water, topsoil, and infrastructure.” He also cites studies
showing that a permissive U.S. immigration policy drives up fertility
rates in the sending countries, “which is the last thing these
sending countries need.”
To others, the problem is larger than immigration itself. “People
don’t just materialize at our border, or at any border,”
says John Seager of Population Connection. “When you talk
about immigration, you’re talking about the second half of
a process that begins when people decide to leave their homes.”
And they are usually leaving their homes because of hunger, lack
of work, oppression, or any number of other often-desperate reasons.
Seager and many others argue that by helping poor nations better
address the economic and family planning needs of their citizens,
Americans can not only help improve the lot of millions of people
living in dire poverty, but also slow down the tide of immigration.
Groups focusing on the immigration-environment nexus are keen to
get their voices heard, but many mainstream green groups shun the
highly divisive topic, preferring instead to encourage Americans,
who are infamous around the world for their huge homes, gas-guzzling
cars, and extravagant consumption habits, to curb their unsustainable
lifestyles, which they see as more fundamental to U.S. environmental
problems than population pressures. With just five percent of the
world’s people, Americans use a quarter of the world’s
fossil fuels, own more private cars than drivers with licenses,
and live in homes that are on average thirty-eight percent larger
today than they were in 1975. By scaling back, Americans can take
a big bite out of pollution, sprawl, and other environmental problems,
while also setting a good example for those who land in the U.S.
every year, lowering the nation’s collective carbon footprint
significantly in the process.
Do you have an environmental question? Send it to: EarthTalk, c/o
E/The Environmental Magazine, PO Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Federal money available to farmers and ranchers
Federal money is available for cost-share conservation projects
through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) being
administered through the Natural Resources Conservation Service
(NRCS). The application period will have a deadline this year in
late October or early November. Records need to be established with
Farm Service Agency by the deadline.
EQIP is typically used in New Mexico for irrigation system improvements
that conserve water, and rangeland improvements such as water development
for livestock and wildlife, as well as brush management. It provides
incentive payments and also helps promote agricultural production
and environmental quality. It is a voluntary program that is intended
to yield high quality, productive soils; clean and abundant water;
healthy plant and animal communities; clean air; an adequate energy
supply; and working farms and ranchlands.
For assistance in applying for EQIP, visit your local NRCS field
office, or call 761-5444 or 761-4499.
Kyle Tator demonstrates traditional concepts of
rain barrels and olla irrigation.
Valencia County office demonstrates traditional water conservation
Harvesting rainwater for use at a later time has been a practice
for centuries by many societies. As living green and conserving
natural resources has a renewal in our society, the concept of using
a rain barrel is one way people can gather water for gardening instead
of using groundwater.
Kyle Tator, New Mexico State University’s Valencia County
Extension agricultural agent, has established a rainwater harvesting
and water-wise gardening demonstration to introduce the traditional
concepts of rain barrels and olla irrigation to the residents of
his county. With a Rio Grande Basin Initiative grant, Tator is gathering
the rain runoff from the roof of the extension office at 404 Courthouse
Road in Los Lunas.
As the demands for groundwater increase in urban/rural communities,
Tator says residents have asked for ways to conserve water and use
it more efficiently.
“We installed rain gutters on the south side of our building
to collect and direct the rainwater into five fifty-five-gallon
barrels,” he said. “Water collected by this system is
irrigating container gardens using the ancient olla form of irrigation.
Ollas were brought into this region by the Spanish settlers and
adopted by Native Americans for [their] benefit [in] growing crops
in the arid lands of New Mexico.”
Even with the limited rainfall in the Middle Rio Grande Valley,
Tator said his barrels have been full and even overflowing this
summer. For every square foot of roof surface, the harvesting system
gets about six-tenths of a gallon during a one-inch rainfall event.
“During one rainstorm when we had an inch and a half of rain,
our barrels overflowed,” he said, admitting that with 1,600
square feet of roof, larger storage tanks could be used. “But
since this is a demonstration system, we decided we didn’t
need to capture everything that runs off the roof.”
The captured water has been enough to water the container garden
on the front porch of the extension office building. While Tator
manually transferred the water from the barrels to the ollas, Spanish
for “earthen jar,“ he explained how the irrigation system
uses the buried unglazed clay pots as reservoirs for the water,
which then seeps into the soil.
“I fill up the olla once a week, but it depends if there
has been any rain, or if it’s been hot and windy. To determine
if water is needed, I put my finger down into the olla. If the clay
is moist, I don’t add water, as the moisture is absorbed by
the plant roots. The spout of the olla dries out first.”
As the moisture moves into the soil, the plant roots grow toward
and around the olla to be able to absorb the nutrients of the water.
“While no research supports this, it is believed that irrigation
by ollas results in almost one hundred percent of applied irrigation
water being absorbed by plants,” Tator said. “Different
plants have different water requirements, so we are studying which
plants work best with this system.”
The demonstration system and garden is available for viewing during
regular office hours, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through
Friday. “We have a poster in the office window that explains
the system and study. We invite people to stop by and learn more
about this system,” Tator said.
“Our office is having an open house from 9:00 a.m. to noon
on Saturday, October 11. This may be a perfect time for residents
to stop by and see the demonstration system and garden and learn
what else we do in the county.”
excerpt from Mountain Wildflowers of the Southern Rockies
and Central New Mexico
Heliomeris multiflora Nutt.
—CAROLYN DODSON AND WILLIAM W. DUNMIRE
These three-foot-tall branching plants have many sunflower-like
floral heads on wiry stems. A dozen or so yellow rays surround the
golden disk flowers; involucral bracts covered with stiff hairs
are narrow, unequal in length, and arranged in two rows. Rough lance-shaped
leaves are three inches long, with the lower ones paired. Flowering
from summer to late fall, showy goldeneye is common on dry slopes
and along highways at all elevations below the alpine vegetation
HOW BOTANISTS NAME PLANTS
When a plant is discovered that is new to science, a botanist
assigns it a Latinized two-part name. The first word of this binomial
is the genus, designating the group of closely related plants to
which it belongs. The second—in this case multiflora, meaning
“many flowered”—is the specific epithet that distinguishes
this plant from the others of its genus.
To be accepted by the scientific community, the name must be published
with a detailed description of the new plant in Latin, including
an explanation of how the plant differs from closely related plants
along with data on where and when the plant was collected. A specimen
must be preserved, and its place of deposition must be included
in the published account.
Most wildflower enthusiasts refer to plants by their common names,
and botanists often do so informally. Common names are in the local
vernacular, their meaning is apparent, and laypersons can pronounce
them. Nevertheless, lack of specificity can be a problem because
common names often vary geographically. They may refer to more than
one kind of plant (for example, goldeneye is sometimes applied to
Heterotheca ssp., another common genus in the Southern
Rockies), or one plant may have more than one name. Scientists rely
on Latin plant names because each uniquely refers to a single species,
and they are universally understood.