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
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
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 email@example.com.
Spirock is also consulting with smaller groups of stakeholders if
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
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
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
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
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
Prior to the meeting, Wild Horse Observers Association (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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 email@example.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,
Mayor sets out to fix town’s aging public
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
•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
Sandoval County Commission Watch
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
•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,
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
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.
—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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
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
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,
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
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
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
—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;
4) demand for transmission capacity for potential new energy sources,
including coal-to-liquid products, hydrogen, and wind power electricity
“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
“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
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