An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988


Photo by David Cramer

David Cramer's photograph "Stallion Chase," depicting two wild horses in the Placitas area, took top honors in the international photography exhibit "All Things Horses" at the Center for Fine Art Photography in Ft. Collins, Colorado. See "Local photographer takes top honors" in Real People.


County planning for Placitas continues

—TY BELKNAP, SIGNPOST

The Sandoval County Development Division continued a long-range development planning process for the Placitas area with a public meeting held on September 17. The plan, scheduled to be completed in December, deals with issues including population growth, water availability, preservation of Placitas Village, acequia issues, infrastructure improvement, open space, transportation, subdivisions, and proposed commercial amenities. County officials say a new plan is necessary because controversy surrounds most all subdivision applications.

Partly as a result of input from the August 14 public meeting, the Sandoval County Commission voted on September 4 to impose a six-month moratorium on subdivision applications in the Placitas area.

Cliff Spirock, an independent planning consultant hired by Sandoval County to facilitate the process, presented an overview of the meeting agenda. Due to the hostile reception given to planners at the initial public meeting, Spirock calls himself a “hired target.” Residents have expressed suspicion that the new plan is a ruse to allow denser residential and commercial development in Placitas. Spirock says that he has attempted to make the process as transparent as possible and to make it easy for residents to provide input. He has provided an online FTP site that contains all public records, technical information, and input regarding the process—including the Tidwell Report commissioned by the Sandoval County Commission in 2002. The report contains 2000 responses from Placitas residents regarding development preferences, but was shelved and forgotten until recently. To access the site, email Spirock at caspirock@communitysciences.com. Spirock is also consulting with smaller groups of stakeholders if requested.

The meeting included four presentations on planning issues, followed by an hour of public input and questions. Hydrologist David Jordon presented a study by Intera Corporation on water availability in Placitas. He said that Intera was commissioned by Sandoval County to evaluate five existing studies, distill the information into layman’s terms, and map relative water availability in the area. The map shows that water supply varies from excellent to poor, but the Intera report made no recommendations about development, nor did it contain any new data. The studies are available online at www.sandovalcounty.com.

Public input on water availability included comments that water availability is drought related, that water quality should be considered along with water quantity, and that planners should consider the water availability data in decision making. There was an inconclusive discussion about who would be liable in the event of a water shortage.

Long-range planner Moises Gonzales outlined drainage issues and problem areas. He pointed out the need for controlling drainage at building sites and enforcing regulations. He suggested the possibility of limiting building size and getting the Eastern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority (ESCAFCA) to review plans as related to impacts on waterways in the area (if ESCAFCA is approved by voters in November).

Tom Gow and Joe Blackmon of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) explained the ongoing Rio Puerco Resource Management Plan revision that will directly affect a long-term development plan for the Placitas area. The BLM recently began the process of inviting public input on the revision of its Resource Management Plan (RMP). The RMP is the document that specifies allowed and disallowed land uses for various parts of the management district. Three major parcels of land under BLM ownership located within and adjacent to the Placitas area fall within this Field Office jurisdiction: the approximately five thousand acres of BLM land north of the Placitas Open Space, a two-hundred-acre parcel located north of the Overlook subdivision, and the Crest of Montezuma, immediately northeast of the old village of Placitas. These RMPs are updated periodically to accommodate changes in resource demand, demographics, and public land use preferences. The RMP now in place was prepared in 1986.

After September 30, 2008, public comment will not be invited until October 2010, after BLM publishes the draft EIS. A final opportunity for public comment occurs in early 2011, when BLM publishes the final EIS in 2012. It is not clear how the RMP will relate to the SC plan.

Potential uses for this land could include:

• continued or expanded gravel mining, uranium mining, oil and gas drilling;

• trade or sale of lands for expanded residential development and/or commercial uses;

• preservation of the lands for a range of managed conservation uses, including but not limited to: public open space, low-impact recreational use, cultural resource protection area, scenic area, wild horse preserve, or wildlife corridor, to name some of the more popular choices.

Gow announced that the Placitas segment has been eliminated from a large-scale energy transmission corridor (see article, this Signpost). For more information, call Gow or Blackmon at 761-8700, or visit www.blm.gov.nm.

Prior to the meeting, Wild Horse Observers Association (wildhorsesnm@yahoo.com) co-founder Patience O’Dowd passed out leaflets warning of a secretive Sandoval County agenda regarding an unwanted loop road through BLM lands between I-25 and NM 14. After the BLM presentation, O’Dowd told the gathering that she had a copy of an application, dated April 24, 2008, submitted by Sandoval County to the BLM for right of way through the BLM land north of Placitas.

Blackmon said he had searched extensively for such an application, but found only a comment submitted confidentially by Sandoval County on a public comment form for the RMP revision. He said that the comment was considered like any other from the public, but was not an alternative that is being addressed, as it is out of the scope of the study. Sandoval County apparently released the comment form to O‘Dowd, in compliance with the Freedom of Information Act. Blackmon said that a formal request for right of way would require an extensive public process.

Sandoval County Development publicly expressed interest in a loop road last winter, but announced in the June Signpost that county staff would back off any plans for a road through the Placitas area until, “at the very least,” the BLM completes its RMP revision in 2112.

Two more public meetings are scheduled for October 1 and October 15, both at El Zócalo in Bernalillo at 6:00 p.m. Both will include presentations on existing conditions and public comment. For more information, contact Moises Gonzales at 867-7656 or mgonzales@sandovalcounty.com or visit www.sandovalcounty.com.

One Placitas, a group of concerned citizens, will meet on October 5 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at Placitas Elementary School. One Placitas encourages all-inclusive attendance in order to reach a strong consensus. Moises Gonzales will also attend the meeting. For more information, visit www.oneplacitas.com.


Mayor sets out to fix town’s aging public services

SIGNPOST STAFF

The Town of Bernalillo Mayor, Patricia A. Chávez, announced that the focus for the upcoming fiscal year is the restoration of the Town’s aging infrastructure. The town council met to discuss the Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan for fiscal years 2009 through 2013 at their September 22 meeting. The projects for consideration included: improvements to the wastewater treatment system, upgrades of water and sewer distribution, water treatment, a new Geographic Information System (GIS), road reconstruction, and a new Westside Public Safety building.

The councilors unanimously approved the expenditure of Community Development Block Grant funds on the replacement of municipal water system lines in the “Cocinitas” area of the town. This area includes Camino del Bosque, Calle San Lorenzo, Calle Don Pedro, Calle Placitas, Calle San Ysidro, Calle Don Rodrigo and Camino del Pueblo. The Public Works Department will oversee the project of replacing the existing lines that are roughly 40 years old. There will be completely new infrastructure of both main and distribution lines to approximately 138 meters. The project will most likely begin in the spring of 2009 with an estimated construction time of 90 days.

A resolution on adopting an Infrastructure Capital Improvements Plan (ICIP) was also unanimously approved by the councilors. The ICIP is a method by which the town establishes planning and funding sources for all anticipated capital expenditures for the next year plus the following four years. This includes infrastructure, facilities, vehicles, and equipment. The town needs to create a strategy for capital improvements and intends to utilize the ICIP as a working document. The councilors agreed that priority should be placed on 5 specific projects:

•Water and sewer improvements to infrastructure and distribution.

•Westside public safety building.

•Senior citizens center.

•Rotary Park master plan improvements & recreational multi-use improvements.

•Geographic Information System (GIS) - a system capable of integrating, storing, editing, analyzing, sharing, and displaying geographically referenced information as it applies to Bernalillo and overall asset inventory.

Other projects on the list included: Downtown Rail Runner station improvements, Town Plaza development and Infrastructure, Transit Department parking facility, ADA compliance requirements, Fire Department ladder truck, child & senior automated identification system, and funding for the veterans memorial.

“The town council is taking the problem of outdated public services very seriously,” said Mayor Chávez. “We’re committed to bringing the services up to standards quickly.

I encourage residents to come out and help us solve these problems.”

Increased gross receipts taxes from new businesses and stores have allowed the Town to start improving public safety by hiring a full-time paid fire department to service the growing needs of the community. The Town has also increased its police force and started a police service aide program.

The Town’s existing fire facility will be inspected this December. The fire truck recently added to the fleet should

decrease the Town’s insurance rating, which will in turn reduce homeowner’s insurance policy premiums. A new Westside fire and police facility is expected to be completed by March 2009. It will complement the emergency response and law enforcement efforts for all residents within the town’s boundaries with an emphasis on protecting senior citizens.

Expansion of the Town’s geographical boundaries will also bring added money to pay for upgrades to the ageing water, sewer, and road systems.

“We are exploring ways to continue to increase gross receipt taxes through new commercial developments,” said Mayor Chávez. “Our community members and new generations of our families should expect a quality of life that includes fire protection, clean water, and top-notch public safety services.”

For the first time in the history of the Town, Bernalillo received a qualified audit report for fiscal year 2007. The audit will enable the Town to get an investment-grade bond rating so the Town can go out for capital financing at an affordable interest rate. This will save the Town a substantial amount of money with lower interest rates.

 


Signpost Cartoon c. Rudi Klimpert

Sandoval County Commission Watch

—SIGNPOST STAFF

On September 4, the Sandoval County Commissioners addressed the growing concerns in the region over development in the Placitas area by implementing a moratorium on land subdivisions and zone map amendments in Placitas within the “Plan Area Boundary” through March 27, 2009. The resolution states that “…the Placitas area has been identified by the County as an area subject to unique circumstances that require further study and review to safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of the residents and property owners within that area.”

The commissioners and the Planning and Zoning commissioners have agreed to undertake the development of a Land Use Plan and Water Assessment for the area in order to accurately address the needs of the Placitas area. Included in this decision are all applications for new subdivisions and requests for zoning changes to existing subdivisions. Not included in the moratorium are roughly six summary plats, two final plats, one preliminary plat, and four lots. These applications were received prior to the adoption of the resolution.

At the August 14 long-range planning meeting, held at El Zócalo and headed by Moises Gonzales and Cliff Spirock (see Signpost, September “Placitas area planning continues”), Orin Safier, president of the Los Ranchos de Placitas Property Owners‘ Association, proposed to the planning and zoning officials the need for a “moratorium on planning, annexation, and rezoning until the area plan is finished.”

It looks like somebody was listening, Orin. It appears that the commission agrees that there needs to be a more cohesive approach when it comes to a Placitas area plan and future development.

Also approved by the commission:

•A resolution supporting the 2008 bond issue for the Eastern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority (ESCAFCA) that would raise roughly $6 million for flood control by asserting a 2.5 mill levy on property. This levy would approximately amount to an additional $70/year in taxes on every $100,000 of assessed property value. ESCAFCA’s domain would apply to areas east of the Rio Grande River and include Placitas, Bernalillo, and Algodones. Voting on ESCAFCA will occur on November 4.

•A resolution supporting the 2008 bond issue for the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority (SSCAFCA) that would replace expiring bonds and raise $18 million for dams, structures, and multi-use facilities.

•An ordinance that would amend articles 3, 4, and 12 of the Sandoval County Subdivision Regulations, which would implement a stricter set of guidelines and procedures for appeals to the Board of County Commissioners relating to development, planning, and zoning.

•Final plat for Diamond Tail subdivision Phase II, consisting of approximately 545.81 acres to be subdivided into 142 lots.

•A proclamation declaring September 22-26 as Detention Officer Employee Appreciation Week. The commissioners applauded the officers on hand for their outstanding duty and gave thanks for their fine work. In his appreciation, Commissioner Jack Thomas said, “I can do a lot of jobs, [but] I couldn’t do your job.”

•A request for the county to contractually engage the services of Shawn Cordova Co., the low bidder, for removal of landscape rock and replacement with crusher fines along Riverside Drive NE in Rio Rancho (Rivers Edge II) and extend the timeframe for the work through December 2008.

•Requests by the Division of Community Services to submit a proposal to the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department for funds to provide cost-effective services and temporary non-secure alternatives to detention through a Juvenile Justice Continuum for $437,450; approval of contracts between the county and the New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department to cover outlay for purchase of three Hot Shot trucks for Homebound Meal Deliveries for $100,000; and for approval to increase the Community Health Worker position from .75 to 1.0 FTE.

•A request to adopt the Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan that would address projects such as the Rio Rancho Estates Community Plan and Phase II of the Detention Center expansion.

•A request by Homes by Hostetler for preliminary plat for Piñon Bluff, consisting of nearly twelve acres, to be subdivided into nine lots, located along Windmill Trail and within Section 30 of Placitas. Also a request to vacate a twenty-foot portion of a forty-foot road easement located within Tract 3-B, Las Huertas Subdivision, in Placitas. This subdivision was in the works prior to the moratorium, but that did not keep some nearby residents from voicing their concerns over property setbacks, drainage, road conditions, and traffic.

Moira Gerety, on behalf of the Oversight Committee, gave the monthly update on the Sandoval County Broadband Project. She explained that the wireless backbone consists of four major relay points: the Cuba Fire Station, Pajarito Peak, the Placitas Fire Station, and the Judicial Complex. The completion date has moved from September to November and the committee estimates the link from the Judicial Complex to Pajarito would be functional somewhere around late October or early November. Currently, the project is still on hold until vendors are re-engaged in October, but it appears to still be within budget.

During the September 18 public comment period, there was some concern over the newly refurbished El Zócalo complex. As it relates to public meetings, the site appears to lack a sufficient public address system, and the exterior lighting could be enhanced to provide safer pedestrian travel, as well as parking.

 


County Line

—JOSHUA MADALENA, CHAIRMAN, SANDOVAL COUNTY COMMISSION

Want to make a difference in our community and nation? The answer is easy. Vote for your choice of candidates and express your opinions on each question in the November General Election.

But time is running out. If you haven’t yet registered to vote, do so before the deadline—5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 7. The process is easy, and voter registration booths are conveniently located in libraries and Motor Vehicle Department locations throughout New Mexico. For a location near you, call the County’s Bureau of Elections at 867-7577.

Voting is one of the most effective and easiest ways to participate in our democratic form of government. In Sandoval County this year, the voting process is easy to use, understandable, and offers many options to cast your ballot.

Have questions? Copy the phone number and Internet address for Sandoval County’s Bureau of Elections and post the information on your refrigerator door or bulletin board for future reference. The Bureau can be reached at 867-7577. Complete information on ways to vote, voting locations, precinct maps and voting requirements can be found on the Bureau’s website, www.boe.sandovalcountynm.gov.

Voting in this year’s General Election begins on Tuesday, October 7—four weeks before the actual Election Day on November 4. Starting on October 7, registered voters can cast ballots early in-person at the County Clerk’s Satellite Office, located at 800 South Hill Road in Bernalillo. The satellite office is open during regular business hours, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and will be also be open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 1.

Also on October 7, voters can begin voting absentee by mail at the County Clerk’s office on the second floor of the County Courthouse in Bernalillo. That office is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Eleven days later, on October 18, early in-person voting will begin at three alternate sites—Rio Rancho City Hall at 3200 Civic Center Circle NE; Meadowlark Senior Center at 4300 Meadowlark Lane SE in Rio Rancho; and at San Ysidro Village offices, Highway 4 in San Ysidro.

The alternate sites will be open until Saturday, November 1 from noon to 8:00 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturdays. The alternate sites will be closed on Mondays.

To request that an absentee ballot be mailed to you, call the County’s Bureau of Elections at 867-7577 or stop by the office in the County Courthouse. Once an application is completed and returned to the office, either by mail or in person, the ballot will be mailed to your home. Then, mark your selections and return the ballot, again either by mail or in person.

The process is quite simple. Voters wishing to cast absentee ballots can make their request in person, sign the application and then cast ballots—all in a matter of a few minutes. It’s important to remember, however, that in order to be counted, absentee ballots must be returned to the Bureau of Elections by 7:00 p.m. on Election Day, which is November 4.

The process that most voters use is to wait to until Election Day, November 4, and go to polls throughout Sandoval County. Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. If you are unsure where to vote on Election Day, call the Bureau of Elections at 867-7577 or check the Bureau’s website.

While the election process is the very heart of our democracy, it is government’s job to make the process fair and accessible to every qualified person who wishes to cast a ballot. Then, as citizens, it’s our responsibility to make our voices heard in each and every election.

Questions or comments for Commissioner Madalena can be mailed to him in care of Sandoval County Administrative Offices, PO Box 40, Bernalillo, NM 87004, or by email to commissionermadalena@yahoo.com.

 


Area codes 505/575

Final phases of 505/575 area code split to begin October 5

AT&T is reminding its customers that the 505/575 area code split relief plan approved by the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (NMPRC) will enter its final phase on October 5, 2008, when mandatory dialing becomes effective. Once mandatory dialing starts, callers must use the correct area code to complete their calls. A recorded announcement will be played when a caller dials the old 505 area code for a number that changed to the new 575 area code, directing callers to hang up and redial using the new 575 area code. Additionally, some callers may hear tones before the recorded announcement which will sound similar to the tones generated by fax machines; these are TTY tones for the hearing impaired which alert their equipment to wait for the recorded announcement.

Who has the new 575 area code? The NMPRC divided the state into two regions. The northwestern region of the state, including Albuquerque, Española, Farmington, Gallup, Las Vegas, Santa Fe, Shiprock, and most of the Navajo Nation will retain the 505 area code. The southern and eastern portions of the state, including Alamogordo, Carlsbad, Clovis, Deming, Hobbs, Las Cruces, Peñasco, Roswell, Raton, Silver City, and Taos will be served by the new 575 area code.

What will not change? Local calling areas will remain the same; the price of a call, coverage area, or other rates and services will not change. Your seven-digit telephone number will remain the same. You can still dial just three digits to reach 911 and 411. If 211, 311, 511, 611, 711, and 811 are currently available in your community, you can still dial them with just three digits.

If you have questions or would like additional information regarding the 505/575 area code split, call 1-866-662-4548 or visit www.att.com/newmexico505. You may also visit the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission at www.nm575.info, call 1-888-427-5772, or write to 1120 Paseo de Peralta, PO Box 1269, Santa Fe, NM 87501. For assistance in Native American languages, call 1-888-427-5772.


Crest of Montezuma saga continues

—TY BELKNAP, SIGNPOST

About a year ago, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a Notice of Decision (NOD) for the Santo Domingo Land Exchange II. The BLM, the New Mexico State Land Office, and Santo Domingo Pueblo negotiated a land exchange that will help each party accomplish land management objectives. It allowed the BLM to meet legislative mandates and consolidate public lands at the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, the Ball Ranch Area of Critical Concern, and the Crest of Montezuma.

Of particular interest to Placitas residents was the acquisition of the Crest of Montezuma by the BLM. The crest is the spectacular hill east of the village of Placitas. The land borders the national forest and is archeologically significant. According to legend, it contains the lost Montezuma Mine. The process of preserving this land for open space began in 2003.

While BLM was interested, the agency did not have the funds to purchase the property within a time frame the landowners could accept. Some quick negotiating by the Trust for Public Land allowed Santo Domingo Pueblo to acquire 1,077 acres of the Crest property in November 2003.

BLM said at the time that they planned to work with area residents to develop a resource-management plan that would protect wildlife habitat and allow for low-impact recreational use.

Singleton told the Signpost that the process was delayed by real estate details and problems reconciling an old land grant survey. He said that barring any new problems or protests over the NOD, the BLM would start preparing the Crest of Montezuma for recreational use during the month of October 2007.

Placitas was ready to celebrate, but as it turned out, BLM didn’t take possession of the Crest until May 2008. During the time it took to iron out the details of the exchange, the BLM formed a loose partnership with Sandoval County to manage the open space. The county recently acquired private land adjacent to the Crest that provides access to the property. A trailhead with an informational kiosk and restrooms is proposed, as well as a new trail to existing trails on the first bench of the Crest.

The BLM avoided a formal announcement of the exchange pending the completion of a legal access. BLM field manager Tom Gow now says that official recreational open space designation will have to wait until the Rio Puerco Resource Management Plan revision is completed in 2012.

Gravel miners have apparently expressed interest in the property, but all applications will be held in abeyance until 2012. Meanwhile, BLM planner Joe Blackmon says that his agency will complete a baseline inventory on geology, wildlife, hydrology, etc. “We need to find out what it looks like and what’s there,” Blackmon explained. “Then we will do a study to determine whether to dispose of or retain the property.” It could become part of the adjacent national forest. The BLM could also impose temporary rules to restrict use and protect the land while the process goes on (and on).

Meanwhile, the Crest of Montezuma is public land, and public access is finally available. Kiosks and restrooms will not be coming any time soon, but adventurous residents can take Camino de Tecolote to Diamond Tail Road, turn immediately onto the rough gravel road to the right, park the car, and start walking. Public interest might eventually result in an official recreational open space designation.


Feds remove Placitas segment from West-wide Energy Corridor

—TY BELKNAP, SIGNPOST

At the September 17 public meeting for Sandoval County’s Placitas Community Area Plan, Bureau of Land Management Albuquerque Field Manager Tom Gow announced that the Placitas segment had been removed from the proposed West-wide Energy Corridor. Gow said that federal planners took this action because of the tremendous public outcry from area residents.

Las Placitas Association (LPA) president Reid Bandeen wrote a series of articles in the Signpost beginning in January of this year concerning the corridor and LPA organized several public meetings to rally opposition to the corridor which might otherwise have cut right through the area.

Bandeen wrote, “In late 2007, the BLM released its Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for the Designation of Energy Corridors on Federal Land in Eleven Western States. Essentially, the plan is an attempt to preauthorize approximately six thousand miles of federal lands corridors to accommodate preferred Rights of Way (ROWs) for future oil, gas, and hydrogen pipelines, and electricity transmission and distribution facilities.

“The plan, authorized by the Bush administration’s Energy Policy Act of 2005, calls for federal energy and land management agencies to consult with states, tribal, and other local governments, utility industries, and other interested parties to:

1) designate the corridors as described;

2) perform any environmental reviews that may be required for designating these corridors; and,

3) incorporate the designated corridors into the relevant agency land use and resource management plans.

The stated purpose and need for the new corridors is due to:

1) increasing energy demand nationwide;

2) aging and potentially unsafe existing pipeline infrastructure;

3) congestion in the current electricity transmission infrastructure; and

4) demand for transmission capacity for potential new energy sources, including coal-to-liquid products, hydrogen, and wind power electricity transmission.

“The plan identifies an average width of thirty-five-hundred feet (two-thirds of a mile) to provide sufficient room to support multiple energy transport systems. For example, such a corridor could accommodate nine individual five-hundred-kilovolt transmission lines, thirty-five liquid petroleum pipelines, or twenty-nine natural gas pipelines.

“Three nominated corridors for New Mexico include an east-west corridor following I-10 in the southwest part of the state; a north-south corridor following I-25 from El Paso to south of Belen; and a northwest-southeast trending corridor traversing the state from the northwest corner to the southeast corner. Somewhat ominously, this third corridor includes tracts of BLM lands within the Placitas area that line up nicely with the major sections of federal land corridors to the southeast and northwest of Placitas.

“One can’t help but think that these corridors might just tend to favor the pathways of existing pipeline ROWs, of which Placitas has two. Little is mentioned about how these ROWs would be secured through private lands. Such a situation tends to arouse speculation about massive condemnation of private lands under government powers of eminent domain, or federal takings in the name of national security and public health and safety.”

Working maps obtained from federal agencies under a Freedom of Information Act request showed pre-planned routes connecting the various federal land segments with additional segments on private, state, and tribal lands. One of these segments included a route through the Placitas area.

As a part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the public process for the corridor was fast-tracked through the system with little public notice. The potential hypothetical local corridor through Placitas passed through parts of the Las Huertas Creek riparian area, the historical and cultural feature of the San Antonio de Las Huertas Land Grant, and established residential areas, including master-planned communities.

Opponents of the project, including Governor Richardson’s Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources, Joanna Prukop, testified before the House Committee on Natural Resources on April 15, urging the Committee to recommend the West-wide Energy Corridor PEIS be revised to properly address the reasonably foreseen environmental impacts from the complete project. Secretary Prukop specifically noted the concerns of Placitans in her testimony.

Tom Gow cautioned residents that, while removal of the Placitas segment is cause for celebration—that Washington had listened—an alternative route through public, tribal, and private lands would have to be found. He encouraged the public to make suggestions.

He also said that several other PEIS processes regarding wind, solar, and geothermal corridors had come through “under the radar” and that it was no secret that the provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 were on a fast track for completion before Bush’s term expires. He said, “The BLM is behind the eight ball and we’re just trying to catch up.”

There is a push for oil and gas drilling, as well as uranium mining, on BLM land including the land around Placitas that is currently included in the Rio Puerco Resource Management Plan revision process. The Rio Puerco is part of the “uranium belt“ that extends west into Navajo country.

Gow said that the open pit uranium mining that proved so devastating to tribal lands is probably a thing of the past. New technology involves drilling, pumping water through uranium deposits to remove ore, and pumping the water back into the ground. Some critics fear that the process could pollute the aquifer. Gow said that the BLM takes the public trust very seriously, and “we will deal with it.”

 

 

TOP OF PAGE

 

 

Ad Rates  Back Issues  Contact Us  Front Page  Up Front  Animal News   Around Town  Arts Business Classifieds Calendar  Community Bits  Community Center   Eco-Beat  Featured Artist  The Gauntlet Health  Community Links  Night Skies  My Wife and Times  Public Safety Puzzles Real People Schoolbag Stereogram  Time Off