Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

  Eco-Beat

Signpost cartoon c. Rudi Klimpert

Sawflies are eating piñon trees in Sandoval County

“What’s eating my piñon trees?” The answer is conifer sawflies, or Neodiprion spp, Zadiprion spp, states Rudy Benavidez, NMSU County Extension Director. “Our office has received several calls this year because something was eating … piñon trees.”

Conifer sawflies can be divided into two groups—the “spring” and “summer” sawflies. Spring species generally feed on old needles so the new foliage remains and trees are never completely defoliated. However, summer sawflies feed on new needles first and then attack older needles. Defoliation by summer sawflies results in greater growth loss and more frequent tree mortality.

To control the infestation, since the insects feed in colonies, simply wash the larvae off with a high pressure hose, prune infested branches, or pick the larvae off by hand. For larger outbreaks, you may need to use a registered insecticide.

Adult sawflies are wasp-like insects less than a half inch (eleven millimeters) long. The female uses a saw-like ovipositor to cut slits into needles where eggs are laid. Most sawfly larvae feed in groups of fifty or more. Young larvae skeletonize the needles. Older larvae consume needles entirely. Larvae resemble caterpillars but have six or more pairs of abdominal prologs and one pair of eye spots on the head. There is wide variation in color; many species are dark green or black.

For more information, contact the Sandoval County Extension Office at (505) 867-2582.


Wild horse and burro advocates set adoption goal

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), wild horse groups, and other animal advocates from across the nation are joining forces for a single cause—to encourage the American public to consider and act on the adoption of a wild horse or burro. A goal of one thousand adoptions has been set for the first National Wild Horse Adoption Day, which will be held September 26, 2009.

More than thirty-six thousand wild horses and burros roam BLM-managed lands across the West. To ensure that the number of animals does not exceed the land’s capacity to support them, the BLM removes several thousand horses and burros from Western rangelands each year and works to place as many animals as possible into private care through public adoptions that are held throughout the United States. Since 1971, more than 220,000 wild horses and burros have been adopted.

Horses between the ages of one and six years old are typically selected from the herds for adoption, but a horse of any age can fit into the right farm or ranch. For many mustang adopters, having the opportunity to work with horses or burros with an intriguing past and unconventional upbringing brings a special element to their relationship.

Groups supporting National Wild Horse Adoption Day, in addition to the BLM, are Wild Horses 4 Ever, the American Horse Protection Association, the Mustang Heritage Foundation, and the Humane Society of the United States. The groups are working together to educate Americans about wild horse management issues while promoting the adoption of wild horses through adoption events, training programs, and motivational experiences.

“Wild horses and burros are living symbols of the Western spirit,” said BLM Acting Director Mike Pool. “I encourage anyone with an interest to consider adopting one of these noble animals, which are known for their intelligence, sure-footedness, strength, and endurance.”

The goal of one thousand horses and burros adopted through the National Adoption Day program, besides creating opportunities for equine enthusiasts, will save money for taxpayers by moving animals from holding facilities into private care.

State BLM offices, wild horse groups, rescue centers, and volunteers will be engaged in activities leading up to and on September 26 to promote awareness of the need to provide new homes for wild horses and burros. For more information on events or how to volunteer: nationalwildhorseadoptionday.org or contact Coordinating Director Angie Grizzell at (817) 559-5650 or email her at angie@nationalwildhorseadoptionday.org. At the BLM, please call Sally Spencer at (202) 452-5196 or send email to Sally_Spencer@blm.gov.


2009 Solar Fiesta showcases changing energy usage

The 2009 Solar Fiesta!, New Mexico’s premier educational fair for energy conservation, renewable energy, and sustainable living takes place September 26-27 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Albuquerque’s Highland High School. The event offers a wide array of classes for adults, activities for children, and exhibits of products and services that can save money on energy, generate renewable energy, and conserve natural resources.

The theme for this year’s event, “Power Shift: It’s Our Planet; It’s Your Choice,” suggests the many ways our relationship to energy is changing. This is the tenth annual Solar Fiesta!, produced by the nonprofit New Mexico Solar Energy Association (NMSEA).

Both days begin with free workshops at 9:30 a.m., offering easy and inexpensive ways to save money by saving energy. Paid workshops will cover solar electricity, solar heating and cooling, federal and state solar tax credits, green building, water conservation, alternative fuels, and more.

For kids, there will be solar car races, a scavenger hunt, exhibits of science projects by local students, and solar-oven-baked cookies. For energy and related business professionals, technical workshops will also be offered.

The Fiesta’s exhibits showcase the latest products for renewable energy, energy conservation and green building.


EarthTalk™

—From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: Since Obama took office, have any new incentives been put in place for homeowners looking to increase energy efficiency and reduce the overall environmental footprints of their homes?
—Rob Felton, Little Rock, AR

In fact, yes. Homeowners can get up to $1,500 back from the federal government for any number of energy efficiency upgrades at home. If you upgrade to energy efficient insulation, windows, doors, heating, air conditioning, or water heaters between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010, you are eligible for a tax credit of up to thirty percent of product costs.

The credit is capped at $1,500 combined; meaning it only applies to $5,000 in total costs. More details are available at the website of the Tax Incentives Assistance Project, a coalition of public interest nonprofit groups, government agencies, and other organizations focused on energy efficiency.

Of course, the Obama administration is also thinking long term, and would like to leave its mark in furthering efforts to wean ourselves off foreign oil and increase our production and use of homegrown clean renewable energy. In light of such priorities, tax credits are also available for thirty percent of the cost—with no upper limit—on the installation of renewable energy equipment at home, such as geothermal heat pumps, solar panels, solar hot water heaters, small wind energy systems, and fuel cells.

Homeowners won’t get the money back when they initially pay for equipment or upgrades, but they can add the credit amount to their overall tax refund, or deduct it from what they owe, when filing their federal income tax forms at the end of the year. Unlike tax deductions, which merely lower the total amount of taxable income, tax credits reduce dollar-for-dollar the amount of tax owed.

Homeowners should know that they can also get federally backed mortgages to pay for a variety of energy efficiency measures, including renewable energy technologies, on their new or existing homes. The federal government supports these loans by insuring them through the Federal Housing Authority or Veterans Affairs programs, allowing borrowers who might otherwise not qualify to pursue upgrades, and securing lending institutions against loan default.

Don’t own a home? Depending upon make and model, you can get between $250 and $3,400 back from the federal government for buying or leasing a new hybrid or high efficiency diesel automobile. And the automakers themselves—through their own “Automotive Stimulus Plan”—are giving consumers up to $4,500 back on the purchase of a new or used vehicle that gets gas mileage of at least two miles per gallon better than their old model.

A number of new energy-efficiency incentives are also available at the state level across the country. The Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy website provides up-to-date listings of what may be available in your neck of the woods. With so much encouragement, how could you not want to go green?

Send your environmental questions to:

EarthTalk, PO Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; earthtalk@emagazine.com. Read past columns at www.emagazine.com/earthtalk/archives.php. EarthTalk is now a book! Details and order information at www.emagazine.com/earthtalkbook.


Heard Around the West: Going to extremes

—Jonathan Thompson/Writers on the Range

At 6 a.m. in the chilly dawn of the second Friday in July, 140 people encumbered with packs and water bottles start running. From the small southwestern Colorado town of Silverton, they head up into the San Juan Mountains, where they will attempt to complete a 100-mile loop across tundra and talus, climbing a total of 33,000 feet.

Some will run all the way, stopping briefly at each aid station to re-supply. Others will walk, stumble and eventually stagger. Many will devour packets of “Gu” -- a scary, melted-plastic-like combination of sugars and caffeine -- at a rate of two to four per hour. Some will puke it back up. Others will hallucinate elk skulls floating above meadows. Their soles will be softened by sweat and cold stream crossings, then torn apart by the impact of steep descents. They will respond by wrapping duct tape around their feet and swallowing handfuls of stomach-chewing ibuprofen. A few unfortunates will eventually notice that their body parts are swelling beyond recognition or their lungs are filling up with fluid due to leaking cells.

Sometime the next morning, the winner of the Hardrock Hundred endurance run will cross the finish line in Silverton. The slower folks will have another long day, and another very long night, before they straggle in.

Karl Meltzer of Sandy, Utah, wowed longtime observers by covering the entire course in just over 24 hours, setting a new record and demolishing the field. Still, according to one onlooker, the strangest things happened in Meltzer’s wake. Chris Nute of Crested Butte, Colo., is a veteran of the run, and of the carnage: He was airlifted out of an aid station in 2001 when his lungs shut down after 82 miles. Describing this year’s event on his Facebook page, Nute noted the following:

“Runner #119 is subject to either a direct or very, very close lightning strike… knocked off feet, rolls a bit … unclear of whether briefly unconscious or a bit dazed and confused … nonetheless, comes around, stands up, shakes it off and continues to the finish line!...”

Which is interesting, given the fact that the “runners’ manual” predicts that the run’s first fatality will be caused by lightning strike or hypothermia. But what about the risk posed by falling fawns? Nute went on to elucidate:

“Grouse Gulch aid station, after most runners through, an eagle is spotted about 300 feet above the aid station with a still-alive fawn (that’s right, a baby deer) struggling in its talons … eagle drops fawn, fawn lands in vicinity of aid station, splatters, remnants everywhere including aid station tent.”

In other news:

And you thought the notion of snakes on a plane was unnerving? On July 19, according to the IndyStar.com, Douglas Herbstommer of Gilbert, Ariz., felt a sudden, sharp sting on his finger while flying from Phoenix to Indianapolis. He quickly realized what the problem was: an Arizona bark scorpion, whose bite, though painful, is very seldom fatal, although “painful” appears to be a euphemism here.  Herbstommer and his fellow humans rounded up the 3-inch arachnid before he found the rest of its family, hanging out in the overhead compartment -- apparently stowaways from somebody’s luggage. Memo to airport security: Quit fussing about those 4-ounce bottles of shampoo and start keeping an eye out for scorpion families on vacation.

 

     

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