Sandoval Signpost


An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988

The elk herd thrives at Valles Caldera National Preserve in the Jemez Mountains.

Valles Caldera National Preserve—A new addition to the National Park Service, a very old part of New Mexico’s landscape

~Robert Gajkowski, Placitas History Project

The Valles Caldera National Preserve, located in the Jemez Mountains, was created 1.25 million years ago during a massive volcanic eruption. The circular 13-mile long depression created by this eruption evolved over centuries to became a home for native peoples, ranchers, wildlife, and hunters.

In 1876, the US Government gave the caldera to the Baca family as compensation for the termination of a land grant near Las Vegas, New Mexico. The area has witnessed conflicts between the US Army and Native Americans, the over-grazing by up to 30,000 sheep, and the mismanagement of logging rights, which caused severe environmental damage. Today, the caldera is rejuvenating itself with the help of the National Park Service.

On October 7, at 2:00 p.m., the Placitas Community Library will host a program about the Preserve, past and present, presented by its first US National Park Service Superintendent, Jorge Silva-Banuelos. The library is located at 453 Highway 165.

Jorge is a New Mexico native who moved to Placitas with his family in 2014. Local residents may remember the Valles Caldera Trust, which managed today’s Preserve until it was transitioned into the National Park Service in September of 2015. Jorge worked with the Trust on day-to-day management and oversaw the move to the Park Service, so he has a wealth of experience with the resources and recreational activities available at the Preserve. He’ll share beautiful photos of the streams, mountain meadows, and wildlife as well as the latest updates on recreational opportunities such as camping, hunting, skiing, hiking, and more. This is your opportunity to ask questions and learn about this amazing resource so close to home.


Applications to frack to be streamlined by Sandoval County commission

~Lynda Hayes, Architect and Advocate, Rio Rancho

On September 21, the Sandoval County Commission voted to adopt the Stoddard Oil and Gas Ordinance. This ordinance does not provide adequate protections for the aquifer or air quality. It also does not provide adequate financial penalties for environmental damages that might occur due to drilling by the oil and gas industry.

This proposed ordinance will streamline and speed up the applications by the oil and gas industry to frack in Sandoval County. Fracking has enabled large amounts of natural gas to be extracted from shale, and it utilizes chemicals that are toxic to human and animal life. It releases toxic and explosive gases and can contaminate massive amounts of water. It can cause permanent and irreparable damage to aquifers by drilling through, near or under them.

The Sandoval County Commission has decided that they can only regulate what goes on above the surface of the ground and proposes ignoring, and thus allowing, damage done below the surface by oil and gas drilling. They want to allow emissions, noise, and toxic fracking fluids at some prescribed distance away from homes, churches, schools, etc.

Poorly regulated fracking in Sandoval County will affect surrounding counties as well. Citizens from Sandoval, as well as other counties, need to come to Sandoval County Meetings and contact the Sandoval County Commissioners by phone and email.

Call 867-7500 for contact information or go to

[Read other letters on this issue in the Gauntlet, page 22, this Signpost.]

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