Pueblo Design
 La Jicarita

A community advocacy newspaper for northern New Mexico

Box 6 El Valle Route, Chamisal, New Mexico, 87521

Volume V

October 2000

Number IX


Current Issue




About Us




High Road to Taos Art Tour


Grassbanks in the West: Challenges and Opportunities

Come Celebrate with the Taos Valley Acequia Association

Editorial By Mark Schiller and Kay Matthews

¡Stop Genetic Imperialism! Bio Piracy, Mutant Corn, Threaten Mexico's Food Supply By John Ross  

Santa Fe Community Foundation Bestows its Piñon Awards on La Jicarita News and Other Northern New Mexico Nonprofits

Kit Carson Proposes Two New Transmission Lines

La Jicarita News announced at the beginning of the year that because the issues we cover extend beyond the boundaries of the Rio Pueblo/Rio Embudo Watershed it was time to recognize that La Jicarita is a community advocacy newspaper for all of el norte. For over four years we have mailed the paper free of charge to upper watershed boxholders. Now, as we extend our mailing all over northern New Mexico, we will be discontinuing the Peñasco area bulk mailing as of the December issue. If you are not on our subscription list and would like to continue to receive La Jicarita, please let us know and we will put you on the mailing list (if you can afford the $5 subscription fee we would appreciate your support). We will also leave papers in local stores and outlets for people to take free of charge.

You can also check us out on our web site: www.lajicarita.org

Our mailing address is: Box 6 El Valle Route, Chamisal, NM 87521

High Road to Taos Art Tour


• The Picuris/Peñasco Heath Fair has been rescheduled for November 18 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Peñasco Elementary Commons. Information will be available in next month's La Jicarita and in fliers.

• The Camino Real Ranger District proposes to close approximately 1 mile of the upper portion of Forest Road 5, located in the Flechado area of Taos Canyon. Currently FR 5 travels through a sensitive wet meadow. Vehicle use in the area has degraded the watershed condition creating erosion within the road system and increased sedimentation and degraded water quality. FR 5 has also been identified as a focal point for illegal trespass of vehicles onto Taos Pueblo Lands. If you have any comments please contact Steven Miranda or Cecilia Seesholtz at 587-2255.

• 1000 Friends of New Mexico is sponsoring a panel discussion "How to Grow, New Mexico" for their annual meeting on Saturday, October 14, from 2:00 - 6:00 p.m. in Albuquerque at their office, located at 1001 Marquette NW. The panel will include: Rob Dickson, traditional neighborhood developer and new urbanist from Austin, Texas, who is redeveloping the old Albuquerque High School; Paula Garcia, executive director of the New Mexico Acequia Association and student of the Community and Regional Planning program at the University of New Mexico; and V.B Price, poet, environmental critic and teacher. RSVP by October 10 at 848-8232 or 986-3831.

Grassbanks in the West: Challenges and Opportunities

When: Friday-Saturday, November 16-17, 2000

Where: Santa Fe, NM

There are scholarships available to cover the $35 registration fee and overnight accommodations. Please contact Courtney White of the Quivira Coalition for more information or to register: (505) 820-2544.

Agenda for Friday, November 16:

8:15am: Stewart Udall, former Sec. of the Interior

8:30am: Bill deBuys, Director of the Valle Grande Grassbank, A Grassbank Case Study - Can the Model Be Exported?

9:00 am: Panel One: Dr. Craig Allen, USGS, Bandelier Field Station; Bill Miller, rancher, Malpai Borderlands Group; Bruce Runnels, The Nature Conservancy; Ann Bartuska, USFS

• What are the background conditions - environmental, economic, political, and social - that suggest a grassbank as a tool to improve the health and productivity of range and forest land? How do you design a grassbank to respond to those conditions?

10:30am: Panel Two: Gerald Chacon, NMSU Cooperative Extension Service; Palemon Martinez, Northern New Mexico Stockmen's Association; Bart McGuire, City of Tucson; Owen Lopez, The McCune Foundation

• How do you organize a grassbank? How have effective partnerships been formed (and how can they be formed?) among ranchers, agency personnel, donors, and conservationists? What are the essentials of land, agreements, money, people, laws, and public participation and how do they fit together into a whole?


1:15pm: Drum Hadley, The Animas Foundation

1:30pm: Panel Three: Virgil Trujillo, The Quivira Coalition; Leonard Atencio, Santa Fe Forest; Tim Herfel, EPA, Region Six; Bob Alexander, BLM, New Mexico office (invited)

• How do grassbanks meet multiple-use objectives? What regulatory and institutional obstacles might hamper their creation and operation? How can these obstacles be overcome? What new opportunities for public/private partnerships lie ahead?

3pm: Panel Four: Ellie Towns, USFS, Supervisor, Region Three; Dr. Kris Havstad, Supervisory Scientist, USDA, Jornada Experimental Range

• How do we maintain and measure grassbank success economically, ecologically, politically, and socially? Where are we headed from here?

4:15pm: Ed Marston, publisher, High Country News

Agenda for Saturday, November 17: Half-day tour of the Valle Grande Grassbank with a barbeque lunch

Come Celebrate with the Taos Valley Acequia Association

Estimados Amigos y Amigas de las Acequias,

Autumn is in the air again, and on October 8, 2000, the Taos Valley Acequia Association will host its Third Annual Acequia Festival, Nuestras Acequias - Vida, Cultura, Tradición.

This year's event will bring the acequia community together again from noon to 8:00 P.M. at the Juan I. Gonzales Taos County Agricultural Center to celebrate our acequias with music, dancing, activities for all ages, a harvest market, educational booths, a lamb and beef barbecue and prize drawings. Our extraordinary lineup of entertainers will feature a special appearance by internationally known country star Lynn Anderson with Jimmy Stadler, Danza Cariño of Santa Fe, renowned folklorist and musician Cipriano Vigil, y el rey de la musica nueva mexicana Darren Córdova y su grupo Calor!

Entry to the festival and its entertainment program is free. Tickets for a prize drawing to benefit the TVAA are available. Prizes will be drawn throughout the day. This year's grand prize is a fully loaded 2000 4-door Pontiac Grand Am, offered in cooperation with Friday Motors of Taos.

Please accept our invitation to join us on this day of community and celebration. Through the TVAA, the sixty-four acequias of the Taos Valley have been working together for thirteen years to protect the water rights of our four thousand parciante families and to preserve and strengthen the acequia system.

The TVAA was named one of the state's six outstanding nonprofit organizations for 2001 by the New Mexico Community Foundation. With your continued support we will remain one of the state's leading advocates for the acequias and the way of life they have sustained for four hundred years. Esperamos verlos en la fiesta ¡Y que vivan las acequias!

Geoff Bryce, Program Director

Priscilla C. Rael, Associate Director

The Taos County Agricultural Center is located at 202 Chamisa Road; turn west on the north side of the Sagebrush Inn and follow the signs.


By Mark Schiller and Kay Matthews

Reprinted with permission from the Placitas Signpost

Recently the editors of the Placitas Signpost called and asked if we would be interested in writing an article for their paper chronicling the evolution of our environmental values since our days in Placitas, when we were part of a group of people who fought the Forest Service and opposed the development that has transformed Placitas from the small, rural community we moved to in the early 1970s to a burgeoning bedroom suburb of Albuquerque, with all its attendant problems. We suspect they made this request because they think we've undergone a radical change from the days when we worked with people like Sam Hitt of Forest Guardians to oppose paving of the road through Las Huertas Canyon, until now, when we actively oppose Forest Guardians, Forest Conservation Council, and the national Sierra Club's policy demanding an end to all commercial logging and grazing on public lands.

If by our "environmentalism" they mean our politic, we would say it hasn't changed at all. We are both products of the 60s, reared by the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement, the New Left, and the women's movement. As we traveled this political path we were forced to address issues of race, class, and gender; when we added environmentalism to our list of concerns, we brought to it all these same values. Our battles in Placitas were predicated on the rights of the indigenous people who are most directly affected by growth and development that also threaten the natural world. What has changed&emdash;or intensified&emdash;are some perceptions: That there can be both wilderness and inhabited wilderness: that the land grants must achieve restitution to restore their sovereignty; and that their commitment to the land is the only effective fight against globalization. Our neighbors and the norteño activists with whom we work have helped us understand why we have come to have such a different perspective on these issues than more mainstream environmentalists.

The environmental movement, like so many other single issue movements, fails to analyze the underlying causes of environmental degradation and the impacts its absolutist policies like "zero cut", "zero cows", and instream flow have on land-based people and communities. These all or nothing policies don't distinguish between degradation wrought by corporate power and small-scale, community use of resources. By instituting policies that directly affect the economic base of rural communities they also fail to address&emdash;and they often actually promote&emdash;the urbanization and Disneyfication of northern New Mexico. Forest Guardians, by its own admission, has never sued a corporation, while its legal actions against small-scale timber sales and grazing has directly impacted the ability of of the poorest, most disenfranchised people in the state to put food on the table.

The people of el norte have a long history of land stewardship. As heirs to the Spanish and Mexican land grants they have long used the forests and rivers for firewood, building materials, grazing, and irrigation. Because they have a vested interest in maintaining the integrity of these lands, which have sustained them both economically and spiritually for hundreds of years, they should be the natural allies of environmentalists. Instead they are fighting for the right to maintain their "inhabited wilderness" against environmentalists who fail to see human communities as an integral part of natural communities.

Moreover, the environmental community fails to acknowledge that much of the public land they would like to see partitioned off as wilderness was stolen from the land grants by unscrupulous lawyers and government agencies in the 1800s and 1900s. The federal government, which now manages these public lands, has a legal obligation to provide restitution to the communities that still depend upon forest resources. While various bills that address land grant sovereignty work their way through Congress, the communities of northern New Mexico should be comanaging these lands with the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management until the land claims can be settled.

The Pueblo of Sandia land claim is a case in point. We were living in Placitas when the original Sandia Mountains claim was filed. When we expressed our support of the Pueblo we were harassed by the "environmentalists" with whom we had worked on other Cibola forest issues. People who had been previously outspoken in their condemnation of Forest Service mismanagement of the Sandia Mountains were suddenly defending that agency as the rightful administrator of the mountains. Several of the phone calls we received were blatantly racist in tone. Ironically, although the court has ruled in favor of the Pueblo's claim, the Pueblo has essentially abandoned that claim and agreed to settle for access rights rather than sovereignty rights. Nevertheless, the New Mexico congressional delegation, the city of Albuquerque, and the residents of the foothills developments are still not satisfied and continue to demand complete control of Sandia Mountains management.

The rural communities of northern New Mexico are part of a worldwide network that represent the last land-based cultures. Along with the indigenous people throughout the world, they are, as the poet Charles Olson pointed out, "The last first people", the guardians of a culture which spans milleniums and maintains a vital alternative to the rigor mortis of globalization. The landscape that our indigenous cultures have created, with its extensive system of acequias that irrigate crops and recharge the aquifer, will be destroyed if our communities continue to be marginalized by the policies of environmental groups that in effect promote globalization by severing peoples ties to the land.

Fortunately, a growing number of open-minded environmentalists are becoming more sensitive to these concerns. We work with groups like the Quivira Coalition to promote sustainable grazing, the New Mexico Acequia Association to maintain acequias and small-scale agriculture, and community forestry groups engaged in much needed forest restoration. Together, with land grant activists and human rights organizations, we hope to keep people on the land and resources in the communities.






¡Stop Genetic Imperialism! Bio Piracy, Mutant Corn, Threaten Mexico's Food Supply

By John Ross

Editor's Note: John Ross is a journalist headquartered in Mexico City who periodically sends La Jicarita News dispatches on social and environmental issues in Mexico. He is the author of the forthcoming book The War Against Oblivion &endash; Zapatista Chronicles 1994-2000 and will be in New Mexico for a booksigning tour in January.

MEXICO CITY (August 1st) - "Stop Genetic Imperialism" screamed the banner the activists clad in white space suits tried to drape over the gilded Angel of Independence statue on a busy boulevard here before they were hauled off to the hoosegow by Mexico City police. The Greenpeace activists were protesting their government's massive imports of genetically modified U.S. corn - but in Mexico, genetic imperialism is a two-way street.

While huge grain ships off-load controversial corn in the Caribbean port of Veracruz, deep in the heart of Chiapas's Lacandon jungle, transnationals are mining the genome of the rain forest for commercial sale. Savia, a Monsanto-backed joint venture with Mexican seed king Alfonso Romo, the Diversa Corporation (U.S.) and Nature Molecular Ltd. (UK) are currently operating such projects in the Lacandon. Working through Mexican universities, the first-worlders have bought into this green goldmine for a pittance, avows investigator Alejandro Nadal of the prestigious College of Mexico think tank.

Diversa, for example, has gained access with a donation of equipment worth $5,000 U.S. dollars, pays $50 per specimen, and agrees to piece off the national university (UNAM) with .03% of any possible royalties that may accrue from the commercial sale of the secrets of the jungle. According to Nadal, Diversa has ties to Dow Chemical and Roache Bioscience, for whom genetic materials extracted from the Lacandon represent potential multi-million dollar sales.

The infamous case of the Sinaloa yellow bean is an instructive example of transnational bio-piracy of Mexican genetic materials. Cultivated for centuries in the northwest of the nation, "frijoles asufrados" ("sulpherized beans") are a dietary staple in the region. Six years ago, a Colorado bio-prospector, Larry Proctor, bought a bag of the beans in Sonora state, took them home, planted a crop, renamed the bean "Enola" after his wife, and obtained patent #5.894.079 from the U.S. government for the stolen bean. Now his "Pod-Ners" seed company is demanding six U.S. cents in royalties for every pound of bean exported to the U.S. by the Sinaloa state Rio Fuerte farmers association, and the Mexican government has been forced to spend upwards of $200,000 U.S. dollars to defend the Mexican-ness of the legume. "It's a question of national sovereignty" hrrmphs agricultural sub-secretary José Antonio Manza.

In exchange for the pirating of Mexican genetic materials, the global conglomerates that dominate world food production - Monsanto and High-Breed Dupont (seeds), Cargill and Archer Daniels Midlands (grains), and food processors like Nestle, Heinz, and General Mills - are flooding Mexico with transgenic seeds and cereals. About a quarter of the 5,000,000 tons of corn imported by Mexico in 1999 is thought to be genetically modified. Cargill, a major importer which now administers recently privatized grain distribution in many Mexican corn-producing regions, claims that it is impossible to separate transgenic imports from the natural grain.

While the planting of genetically modified corn remains prohibited in Mexico, 100,000 hectares (250,000 acres) of national farmlands are currently sewn with transgenic cotton, soy beans, and tomatoes. Despite the legal constraints, mutant corn is almost certainly sprouting out in the central Mexican countryside this summer - if the Brazilian model is any measure. In Brazil, the world's third largest soy producer, transgenic seed is similarly barred, but almost all Brazilian soy appears to bloom from genetically modified seed smuggled in from next-door Argentina, where they are legal.

In Mexico, which shares a 3,000 kilometer border with the largest producer of transgenic corn on the planet (24 million acres planted in 1999), the "miracle" seed corn is smuggled home from the north by returning migrant workers and diverted from imports supposedly destined for animal feed and human consumption. The International Institute for the Betterment of Maize maintains an experimental station in Texcaco, Mexico state, where hundreds of acres are under tansgenic cultivation.

At last year's 50th anniversary of the Maseca corporation, the world's largest corn flour-for-tortillas processor (Archer Daniels Midland is a partner), founder Roberto Gonzalez Barrera, Mexico's "Tortilla King", mentioned that Maseca had 20,000 hectares under mutant corn production. Maseca, which dominates the industry in a country where the tortilla is the basic food for 40,000 poor Mexicans, makes no bones about mixing transgenic with natural corn in the milling process.

Perhaps the most significant threat that transnational genetic imperialism poses here is the extinction of the bountiful biodiversity of native species through global homogenization. Mexico is known universally as the cradle of maize, with cultivation dating back at least four millennia. Over 300 varieties of maize survive here, one of the richest sources of grain-based genetic materials on earth. But a recent report issued by a blue-ribbon panel of 21 scientists appointed by out-going president Ernesto Zedillo, warned of the danger of the replacement of native corn by uniformly-produced transgenic strains and bemoaned the consequent "increased dependence on the United States producers" to feed the Mexican people.

Up in the mountains of Michoacan, Doña Teresa Garcia sorts through the ears of corn in her rickety store house. Here in these pine-flecked mountains, the purity of the strain of one's corn is a source of great pride for the Purepecha Indian farmers, and the Doña's seed corn has been passed down from the "grandfathers" for a century, she says. Doña Teresa is herself now 90 years old. "This is the best corn," she proudly tells a visitor, displaying a fistful of deep purple cobs she will guard for the next planting. The proud old woman seems oblivious that she is standing square in the path of what the genetic imperialists term "progress."

Santa Fe Community Foundation Bestows its Piñon Awards on La Jicarita News and Other Northern New Mexico Nonprofits

The Santa Fe Community Foundation threw a big bash on September 20 to celebrate the work of northern New Mexico "Community Heroes": Six nonprofit organizations were presented with the Foundation's annual Piñon Awards. The awards include an unrestricted grant of $1,000.

Each group was introduced with a short video that provided an overview of its work. The Gerónima Cruz Montoya Award for Arts and Humanities was presented to the Santa Fe Opera Student-Produced Opera Program, which is a collaboration between the opera and elementary and middle public school students from Santa Fe and Santo Domingo Pueblo. Artists-in-residence work with the kids to create a story, write the music and words, design and build scenery, props, and costumes, and perform the opera and some of the music. Santa Fe Opera's director of education, Andrea Fellows Walter, accepted the award for the organization.

Friends of the Santa Fe Farmers' Market won the John Gaw Meem Award for Civic Affairs. This support organization of the Santa Fe Farmers' Market is staffed by executive director Pam Roy and project director Stan Crawford, Dixon writer and farmer who sold his famous garlic at the market for many years. Stan and Pam work with the organization to promote small family farms, share information and research, and help farmers find markets for their crops. Friends is raising money to develop a permanent site for the market at the city-owned railyard site. Friends also serves as an umbrella organization for the Farm Connection, based in Dixon, an information exchange for farmers. Stan and Pam both accepted the award for the organization.

The Española Valley High School Cultural Heritage Videos Program won the Manuel Luján Sr. Award for Education. The award was graciously accepted by television production teacher Ellen Kaiper, who thanked the Foundation for recognizing a positive force in a community that all too often is portrayed in a negative light. Since 1992 Kaiper's classes have been producing short videos on subjects that highlight the culture and tradition of the Española valley: religion, art, music, cuentos, the land. The students, who are involved in all aspects of the production, have received numerous awards.

Santa Fe City Counselor Chris Moore was brought to the podium to present the John J. Kenny Award for Environment to La Jicarita News. Noting that he was a subscriber to the paper, Moore told the audience how important he thinks it is to keep small-scale ranchers and acequia parciantes involved in efforts to protect the resources of northern New Mexico. Co-editors Kay Matthews and Mark Schiller thanked all the people who contribute articles and editorials to the paper as well as those who work tirelessly to protect the communities, forests, water, and culture of el norte, including their board members, several of whom were in the audience: Lisa Krooth, David Benavides, and Max Córdova.

The Dr. Brian Moynahan Award for Health and Human Services was presented to the New Mexico Suicide Intervention Project, Inc. This program was founded in 1994 by the late Kathryn Lassen, a Santa Fe psychologist who was alarmed at the high rate of suicide among New Mexican youth. One of the most innovative of the organizations projects is the training of peers, teachers, and counselors in Santa Fe's public middle and high schools to recognize suicide risk warning signs and how to listen and respond. Accepting the award for the project were director Cynthia Gonzales and staff members Apryl Miller and JoAnn Sartorius.

Special thanks to: Dottie Indyke, who interviewed all of the grantees and produced the awards ceremony; Jona-thon Lowe, who produced the video clips; and ceremony hosts Tanya Taylor and Pamela Thompson.

Kit Carson Proposes Two New Transmission Lines

Carson National Forest is currently nearing the end of its scoping process for two new transmission lines proposed by Kit Carson Electric "to improve existing service and add fiber optic cable capabilities to a number of small communities in the Cooperative's existing service area." The Cooperative wants to construct a new 69 KV transmission line from Talpa to Peñasco, along with a new substation in Peñasco, and a new 115 KV line from an area south of Carson to Ojo Caliente.

Because the majority of the proposed new lines would cross Forest Service land, that agency will conduct an environmental analysis (EA) for the two projects. In the Talpa-Peñasco project, some of the route lies on private and Picuris Pueblo lands. While the Forest Service EA will include these private and pueblo lands in its analysis, Kit Carson will negotiate the terms and conditions for use of the lands. Ben Kuykendall, Carson biologist on the project, anticipates the EA will be released sometime between the end of October and the Christmas season.

The proposed route for the Talpa-Peñasco transmission line route is currently being reworked, as Kuykendall found a northern goshawk (a federally listed species whose habitat must be protected) nest in the vicinity at the beginning of the summer. This route would have run from the Talpa substation south across the top of McGaffey Ridge, into Miranda Canyon, along the east ridge of Telephone Canyon and south to Borrego Mesa. It then dropped south off the Mesa through a small drainage to NM 518 and onto private lands, tying into the existing distribution corridor. From this point south to the substation, the route crossed private and Picuris Pueblo lands. The new line crossed NM 518 just north of the Camino Real Ranger Station and ran south along the fence line between the State Highway Department maintenance yard and Picuris Pueblo into the new substation, located on private land behind the Highway Department. The three feeder lines to Rodarte, Ojo Sarco, and Picuris Pueblo would be retained but would originate at the new substation.

The Forest Service is still developing the alternatives that will be included in the EA. In addition to a modified proposal alternative, there will be a No Action alternative, an existing corridor alternative (which essentially follows SH 518), and possibly several others.

Many of the comments already submitted to the Forest Service express support of the exisiting corridor alternative, as construction of a more powerful line

will require a 50-foot corridor through the forest to minimize line damage. The proposed route&emdash;or a modification of that route&emdash;would require construction in some areas that are steep and relatively inaccessible.

Picuris Pueblo, however, is opposed to rebuilding the line along the existing corridor because it already passes through sacred and historical sites at Pot Creek. According to Lt. Governor Richard Mermejo, expanding the corridor to 50 feet would impact additional sites at Pot Creek.The Pueblo has recommended an alternative route to the Forest Service, which would go up Miranda Canyon, cross over McGaffey Ridge, and continue across a corner of the Pot Creek private inholding before tying into the existing line near FR 439. It remains to be seen if the Forest Service will propose this route as an alternative in the EA. Pueblo representatives were again meeting with the Forest Service as La Jicarita went to press to consult about possible alternate routes. Lt. Governor Mermejo said that the Pueblo does support the project because they feel there is a need to upgrade the electrical system to provide more technological power to the Pueblo and the Peñasco area. La Jicarita will take a close look at the proposed alternatives and the rational for the project once the Forest Service releases the EA.


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