A community advocacy newspaper for northern New Mexico
Box 6 El Valle Route, Chamisal, NM 87521
Interstate Stream Officials Gather Input for State Water Plan By Kay Matthews
Valles Caldera Coalition Members Meet New Trustee Tracy Hephner By Kay Matthews
La Jicarita News has been keeping you informed about social and environmental justice issues in el norte for over eight years. During this time we've relied almost entirely on the foundation world to financially support our efforts. As most of you know, funding for non-profits has been drastically reduced over the course of the past few years. While we have pending grants for the 2004 fiscal year, we realize we cannot survive without you, our readers, making more of an investment in La Jicarita News, which is also an investment in the health of the communities and forests of northern New Mexico. We have devised several new categories of annual subscriptions:
Through the efforts of our intrepid computer consultant, Robin Collier, you may easily subscribe by credit card at our website: www.lajicarita.org. Your subscription will be renewed automatically until you cancel. You may also subscribe by mail, of course. Mark the appropriate subscription box above, fill out the form below, and send this page and a check to:
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"La Jicarita News is a great vehicle for getting out information on resource management issues to not only rural communities but to city dwellers who need to broaden their interests." - Estevan Lopez, director of the Interstate Stream Commission
Robin Collier, director of Wool Traditions, and Malcolm Ebright, writer and historian
"This unique little paper is a great big weapon against those who would destroy the culture and land of northern New Mexico. Subscribe!" - Lucy Lippard, writer and activist
Dolores Huerta, cofounder of the United Farm Workers Union
Carl Tsosie, former lieutenant governor and sheriff of Picuris Pueblo
"Act Now to Stop War & End Racism (A.N.S.W.E.R.) and United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) are joining forces to call on all those who oppose the war, invasion, and occupation of Iraq to unite on Saturday, October 25 in Washington, D.C., for a massive outpouring reflecting the growing popular opposition to the Bush Administration's foreign and domestic program. It was the peace and antiwar movement in the 1960s and 70s that proved to be one of the decisive factors ending the US war in Vietnam. The October 25th demonstration will be a powerful repudiation by the people of the United States of Bush's criminal war and occupation of Iraq and will be a signal of the new antiwar movement's potent political force countering the Bush Administration.
The protest will also condemn the vast cuts in vital domestic social and economic programs and demand: Money for jobs, education & healthcare, not war and occupation. As the October 25-26 weekend is also the second anniversary of the passage of the so-called Patriot Act, authorizing political arrests, indefinite detentions, domestic spying, and religious and racial profiling, the demonstration will also be a call to Fight Back Against the Patriot Act." For more information contact: www.internationalanswer.org and wwwunitedforpeace.org
Española District Ranger John Miera issued his Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact for the Borrego Salvage Project on September 9, 2003, implementing Alternative B, the Preferred Alternative. This alternative would salvage approximately 9.2 million board feet (mmbf) of dead sawtimber and up to 3,770 cords of other wood products on approximately 1,208 acres. Several clarifications to the Environmental Assessment include:(1) a provision that harvesting in Unit 12 will only occur during the winter when the ground is frozen; (2) avoiding skid trails on slopes greater than 20 percent and winching logs to skid trails on the contour, avoiding pulls straight up or down slopes; and (3) that fuel wood sizes may exceed the 8 to 13 inches in diameter stated in the EA.
With the recent closure of Rio Grande Forests Products in Española, the largest commercial mill in the area, the Forest Service is aware of the need for small sales: "Santa Fe National Forest can subdivide the materials in the selected alternative into a number of offerings in order to satisfy demand for small sales."
This decision is subject to appeal during a 45-day period, September 9 to October 24. An appeal must be filed with the Appeal Deciding Officer, USDA Forest Service, SW Regional Office, 517 Gold Ave. SW, Albuquerque, NM 87102.
Citing numerous inadequacies and procedural errors the Rio Pueblo/Rio Embudo Watershed Protection Coalition, Amigos Bravos, the Santa Fe Group of the Sierra Club and eleven individuals appealed the Sipapu Environmental Assessment (EA) of the expansion the Forest Service illegally authorized in 2000. The appellants urged the Forest Service to withdraw its decision and issue a new assessment that takes a "hard look at the reasonably foreseeable impacts of this expansion, implement[s] specific concrete mitigation measures including monitoring water withdrawals from the Rio Pueblo, and addresses issuance of a new 'Special Use Permit' in a separate decision making conditions that restrict further expansion." A response from the Regional Forester is due by November 12.
The Taos County Regional Water Plan has been designated by Taos County to quantify both the available water supply and the demand for water in the region, presently and for a 40-year projection. A Citizens Advisory Group is being formed and will hold a public meeting in late October or early November at the County Agricultural Building (behind the Sagebrush Inn). For more information, contact Scott Verhines at 263-4520 or Allen Vigil, County Planning Director, at 737-6443.
Yoly Zentella of Springer, New Mexico, is writing her dissertation on the psychological implications of land loss among the Hispanos of Northern New Mexico. She is interested in interviewing Hispano Forest Service workers and asked La Jicarita News to publish her request. If you are interested in participating or would like more information you may contact her at P.O. Box 1026, Springer, NM 87747, 469-7199, dissertation firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Kay Matthews
"Don't assign a monetary value to water because that will separate water from the land." That was the comment of farmer Margaret Campos of Embudo, reflecting a common theme delivered to the Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) at the Santa Fe hearing regarding the State Water Plan: that commodification of water and it's sale on the open market will negate any efforts to insure equity of its use. Joni Arends, director of Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, requested that the ISC assert right at the beginning of the Water Plan: "Water is a human right."
Promulgation of a State Water Plan was mandated by the passage of the State Water Plan Act of 2002. The Interstate Steam Commission, charged with formulating the Plan, has held 29 meetings across the state to gather public input regarding five areas of water management: Stewardship; Balancing Supply and Demand; Drought; Water Administration &emdash; Water Adjudication; and Funding. A draft of the Plan will be completed by the end of the year and presented to the state legislature in 2004. According to Rhea Graham, ISC Director of Planning and Communications, the Plan is a vehicle to make legislators "more comfortable" drafting legislation that will implement the policies laid out in the Plan.
Along with the input gathered at the public meetings across the state, the Plan must also incorporate the information gathered by the 16 water planning regions that have been meeting since the mid-90s to "identify water supply, project demand, and identify where water supply is determined to be inadequate to meet projected demand." Six of these plans have already been accepted by the ISC and six additional plans are scheduled for completion by December of 2003.
As expected, the Santa Fe hearing was attended by an eclectic group of people with diverse agendas. Campos and several other norteños addressed acequia and farming concerns, including the issue of priority, which protects the senior water rights of Native Americans and acequia communities. At the meetings held in Taos and Las Vegas, where most of the attendees were acequia parciantes, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was also invoked as another decree that protects traditional water rights.
Many Santa Feans, including Pat D'An-drea of the Santa Fe Watershed Association and John Buscher of the Santa Group of the Sierra Club expressed their support of agricultural and traditional communities, with Buscher urging city dwellers to be more cognizant of where their food comes from. And although more water is diverted for agriculture than any other use, folks in Taos pointed out that return flow credits, groundwater recharge, and riparian and wildlife benefits must be factored in.
In any discussion involving competing urban and agricultural uses, development issues are fundamental. Many of the folks at the Santa Fe hearing questioned the legitimacy of continued urban growth and development that threatens rural water. Paige Grant of the Santa Fe Watershed Association stated that unmanaged growth is "trying to impose an unrealistic standard of what this landscape can support. We are a desert." Others blamed politicians for promoting outside industry, which attracts more people and places more demands on our water resources as well as other utilities. "Maybe we need to work with what we have," one man said.
There was plenty of Las Campanas and golf course bashing as people pointed out these unsustainable practices are using unprecedented amounts of water. During the discussion on methods of water conservation, several people, including Campos, pointed out that there is little incentive to conserve when people have no control over how the conserved water is used. At the hearing in Taos this was also a common theme: Peter Vigil of Taos County Soil and Water Conservation District urged the state to provide tax incentives for acequia rehabilitation. As he told La Jicarita, "If a parciante spent $2,000 fixing his compuerta or acequia and got that money back in a tax break we'd have lots more people out there doing the work that needs to be done."
Environmentalists were also well represented in Santa Fe. One of the first comments made was "The river has an inherent right to have water in it." Edith Pierpont, a Santa Fe activist, spoke several times of the "need to maintain the basic ecology of the earth" and that moving water around to facilitate demand could lead to an "environmental disaster." There was plenty of verbal sparring between some of the environmentalists and a few people who suggested various means of increasing water supply such as piping in water from other parts of the country or investing in desalination plants. "Technology is not necessarily the fix we need," one person pointed out. "It oftentimes leads to mismanagement."
Past and ongoing mismanagement of our state's water resources was a recurring theme as well. At both the Taos and Santa Fe meetings people questioned not only how the ISC plans to incorporate public concerns into the Plan but how the Plan will be enforced, citing the Office of the State Engineer's inability to enforce existing laws. Several people raised the question of whether the Rio Grande Compact is in our best interest. Tim Murrell, who is the State Water Planner as well as the ISC staff person who deals directly with the compact, answered that he thought it was "a pretty good deal for New Mexico because it allows us to consume almost all the water produced in New Mexico." Others stressed that the state needs to expedite the adjudication process to determine exactly what our water resources are. They asked the ISC staff just how much they know about supply, and the staff responded, "We have some idea of groundwater supplies, but surface water is variable and difficult to assess." A norteño cautioned that adjudications are a double-edged sword: the process essentially privatizes water rights that in traditional communities have been viewed as communal rights and managed to benefit all the parciantes within a water system. That elicited a discussion of water banking: recent legislation gives acequia commissions the right to temporarily bank unused water rights within the community.
The hearing in Santa Fe ended with a discussion of values. As one audience member pointed out, the Western Water Policy Review Commission, drafted several years ago to guide water management in the Upper Rio Grande, states that the "highest and best use" of our water is urban, industrial, and recreational. Where does that leave our acequia communities and Native American communities? If we continue to define the value of water in strictly economic terms, is that what this Plan will ultimately decide is in the best interest of the state?
Many of the folks who have been involved in the Drawing From the Well project over the past few years got together at El Puente Theater in Peñasco on September 24 to celebrate their work with a screening of Viewpoint Production's video highlighting the program.
The project began several years ago with eighth grade students from Peñasco as a way to jump start learning for kids who might be at risk of falling behind or dropping out. Teachers were trained to look at the community as a classroom and to integrate curriculum around a specific project, for example "family" or "water." Student teams were organized to research the subject, look at their studies through a "cultural lens," and learn how to operate the technical equipment necessary to conduct interviews and produce videos. They then went out into the community to gather information from the people who are repositories of history and cultural and traditional work and values.
Attendees at the celebration included: Judy Goldberg, project director and producer of Viewpoint Productions; Marcia Brendan, former Youth Development Specialist for La Jicarita Enterprise, one of the main funders of the project; Miguel Santistevan, former Youth Development Specialist; former and current La Jicarita directors Ron Martinez, John Martinez, and Ben Sanchez; Peñasco sophomore Nikki Rendon, who has worked with the project since eighth grade; Ray Maestas, one of the eighth grade teachers in the project; and community members Esther Romero, Clara Lopez, Nancy and Larry Buechley, Lucy Collier, Peter Malmgren, and Mary Mascareñas.
U.S. Representative Tom Udall
"La Jicarita News is essential reading for anyone wanting the latest hot news of the watershed. If publications like this were emerging all over the country I'd be a lot more optimistic about the way things are going." - Stan Crawford, author, farmer, and former president, Santa Fe Farmers' Market
"La Jicarita News is an open window for people to know what's going on in northern New Mexico about issues that concern all of us." - Moises Morales, Rio Arriba County Commissioner
John Nichols, writer and activist
WHO WE ARE
La Jicarita News is a non-profit newspaper that began publication in 1994 under the auspices of the Rio Pueblo/Rio Embudo Watershed Protection Coalition, a group of parciantes, farmers, ranchers, Picuris Pueblo, and environmentalists concerned about the land, water, culture, and traditions of our watershed communities. The paper received its own non-profit designation in 1999 in order to extend coverage to include all the communities of northern New Mexico. The paper is distributed 11 times a year by subscription mailing and in outlets around northern New Mexico: libraries, community stores, non-profit organizations, and wherever we can leave a few papers.
La Jicarita News is an advocate for sustainable economic development that can help insure the long term viability of rural northern New Mexico communities and the lands they steward.The paper provides in-depth analysis of contentious issues involving the management of land, water, and community resources that the mainstream press often ignores: loss of agricultural lands to infill and development; transfer of water out of agricultural use; loss of land grant tenure; lack of access to forest resources; and the continuing decline in community stability due to lack of economic opportunity and attendant social problems. The paper is a unique organizing vehicle for stakeholders throughout northern New Mexico to demand accountability from public agencies when they fail to consider and mitigate the impacts of their decisions on public lands, waters, and rural communities.
Just about anything relating to issues of social and environmental justice. We publish community voices in our Puntos de Vista column (and pay contributors when we have the funds) and feature regular columns on community-based businesses and land grant issues.
Lisa Krooth: Special Counsel, Hunger and Homelessness, New Mexico Legal Aid
Malcolm Ebright: Historian, author, and director of the Center for Land Grant Studies
Max Córdova: Weaver and president of La Montaña de Truchas Woodyard
Kay Matthews: Co-editor of La Jicarita News
Mark Schiller: Co-editor of La Jicarita News
Moises Gonzales, co-chair of the Mexicano Land Education and Conservation Trust
By Kay Matthews
Newly elected to the Valles Caldera Board of Trustees Fish, Wildlife, & Recreation Seat, Tracy Seidman Hephner, a rancher from Wagon Mound, NM, recently told members of the Valles Caldera Coalition (VCC) what her idea of a "working ranch" (the mandated management goal for the Valles Caldera) is: "It's a balancing act, figuring out the carrying capacity of the land and being conservative in that assessment because of all the variables that affect the land. Most of us have to look beyond straight grazing to make it, running all kinds of things like bed and breakfasts, hunting, fishing, and birdwatching trips, whatever it takes to remain economically viable, and I don't mean making a profit, I mean just getting by."
Legislation approving the Valles Caldera Preserve stipulates that it must be financially self-sustaining in 15 years. If it isn't, the time line can be extended or management may revert to the Forest Service. As Palemon Martinez, another Trustee present at the meeting (who holds the Livestock Management Seat) pointed out, many people feel the initial funding allocated to the Preserve was insufficient and that a 15-year deadline may be too short a time for the Preserve to be sustainable.
Martinez also discussed with the VCC his feelings about the management mandate: "There's a lot of support in northern New Mexico for the Preserve, but there is a need for the Preserve to also be concerned about the needs of the surrounding communities and to rectify some of the past misdeeds. We need to look at the history of the area and problems with the federal government so we can create our own process."
Hephner's concept of "working ranch" is being applied to management of the Preserve under its adaptive management scheme. Livestock grazing is only one integrated part of the activities currently allowed on the Preserve which include hiking, skiing, fishing, and hunting. Barbara Johnson, who holds the Conservation Seat, also attended the meeting and pointed out that every program that has been developed has the word "interim" in front of it while the management team assesses the impacts of that particular activity on other activities and the Preserve resources. "The first priority of the Preserve is to take care of the natural processes," Johnson said.
Much of the ensuing discussion at the meeting centered around the grazing activities that have taken place thus far on the Preserve and how they relate to other Preserve projects, particularly elk management. Because many members of the VCC represent various environmental groups &emdash; the Audubon Society, the Wilderness Society, Trout Unlimited &emdash; the larger question of whether grazing can contribute to making the ranch economically viable or whether the broader societal values it supports justify the program. Johnson told that group that she felt it is "perfectly reasonable to manage cattle for the public good" and that these goals will be articulated in the framework of the management plan that is currently being developed. Martinez and Virgil Trujillo, rangeland manager for Ghost Ranch and a Santa Fe Forest permittee, both expressed their support of the Preserve's decision last summer to institute a grassbank, where northern New Mexico permittees, including the Pueblos, can move their cattle to the Preserve while home allotments are rehabilitated. Due to extreme drought conditions over the past two years, the grassbank idea has not been fully explored, and other grazing programs, such as a lottery and replacement heifer program, were also tried out.
Richard Becker initially raised the issue of elk management on the Preserve. He asked the Trustees how the state game department was getting along with the management team and how elk management on the Preserve interfaced with that of Bandelier National Monument and Santa Fe National Forest, whose lands border the Preserve. The consensus from the Trustee members present and several VCC folks who have worked on the issue, particularly with a group called Seeking Common Ground, is that the relationship with the game department is fraught with difficulty, that the public lands agencies fail to work effectively with the game department, and that there is a lack of information regarding the elk population. Several members also felt that the Preserve has not clearly defined its goals for elk management, and in the meantime, the current elk hunt, with its highly priced fees, is the "cash cow" of the Preserve. Martinez explained that the interim goals regarding hunting on the Preserve are to produce more trophy bulls and keep the overall population stable, which was largely the agenda of the state game department. One member suggested that certain questions need to be answered before elk management goals can be delineated: Are we managing for grass protection? Are we managing to help neighboring communities (elk populations are decimating ranchers hay fields in certain area)? Are we managing primarily for hunting?
Virgil Trujillo ended the meeting with a presentation on the benefits of herding techniques which could be employed in the Preserve grazing program. He also presented his idea of what a working ranch means: That those people who make their living off the land continue to define and communicate to others that wealth is not synonymous with only money, it is synonymous with values such as community, family, and sustainable resources.
The Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) held a special meeting with representatives of acequias and land grant communities in September. The following topics were presented to Estevan Lopez, ISC director, and State Engineer John D'Antonio:
Protecting our water for growth of our agricultural economy.
Protecting our water for local community needs in the future.
Recognition of protections of water rights by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
Planning for the infrastructure needs of our communities.
Recognition of our role as local governments in water management.
Don Bustos, President of the Santa Fe Farmers' Market and an organic grower, provided first-hand testimony that small-scale farming in New Mexico is growing, and that moving water from rural to urban uses will deprive acequia communities of their potential to strengthen the agricultural economy. Paula Garcia, director of the New Mexico Acequia Association (NMAA), supported Bustos' testimony by asserting that infrastructure needs of acequias must not be ignored in the State Water Plan so that acequia communities can plan for agricultural development.
Several other folks, including Geoff Bryce of the Taos Valley Acequia Association, Manuel Trujillo of Acequias Norteñas de Rio Arriba, and Jerry Fuentes of the Truchas Land Grant, all spoke to the issue that Land Grants and Pueblos must be provided the same protection of water rights under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Bryce specifically pointed out that the state recognizes Winters claims by Pueblos, which are often quite large, but continues to adjudicate, i.e. litigate, small claims within Land Grant communities. The NMAA position is that the adjudication procedure is inequitable, lengthy, expensive, and divisive and should be administrative, rather than litigative. For information regarding the meeting you may contact the New Mexico Acequia Association at 995-9644 or 345-7701.
Editor's Note: The Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) sponsored an invitation-only State Water Plan Town Hall meeting on September 23-25 in Albuquerque. An account of the meeting is posted on the Office of the State Engineer website: www.ose.state.nm. This website also offers synopses of all of the individual Water Plan hearings that were held around the state from July through September.
Editor's Note: This article was written collaboratively by Cundiyó Land Grant board members
The Santo Domingo de Cundiyó Land Grant is one of the many land grants in Northern New Mexico that was handed down from the Mexican government. The Cundiyó Land Grant was petitioned for in 1743, but little is known about what took place over the next 150 years. The Court of Private Land Claims issued a patent for the land grant on February 11, 1903 to Capitán José Antonio Vigil. The grant is operated as a community grant (it was classified a quasi-municipal corporation by Santa Fe District Court) and is not used for commercial purposes or for profit.
Although the original petition for approximately 40,000 acres was approved, the patent that was issued in 1903 consisted of only 2,137.08 acres of common lands. The grant is located east of Chimayó. Documents show that the land grant boundaries of the original 1743 petition were the village of Córdova on the north, the Pecos Wilderness on the east, and Nambe Pueblo Grant on the south, and it is believed that the west boundary was what is now Santa Cruz Lake. Most of the land that comprised the original land grant is now Bureau of Land Management or Forest Service land.
Two views of the lovely village of Cundiyó
The name Cundiyó means "the round hill of the little bells". But it has also been called the Village of the Vigils, because for many years the only people who lived here had the surname of Vigil. They were all related, as most of them are today. The Cundiyó Land Grant is comprised of approximately the same acreage that was confirmed by the Court and is governed by a Land Grant Board. The Board (which for many years consisted of a three member Board of Trustees) has always kept up the grant by having its members contribute to pay the taxes. Members want to keep it undeveloped and preserved for future generations.
Because the General Accounting Office (GAO) Study is researching land grant issues with regard to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, there has been a resurgence of interest in the Cundiyó grant, just as there has been in many other grants around the state. This study will be submitted to Congress for recognition and possible remedies for the loss of lands. This year the Santo Domingo de Cundiyó Grant held an election in April and is now made up of a five-member board, which is consistent with state statute. At present, only one board member is a veteran of the previous board and the rest are new. Bertha Rod-riguez, President, was the secretary on the previous board for eight years. Tina Pool-Lopez is Vice-President/Secretary, Gilbert Trujillo Jr. is the Treasurer, and Lillian Martinez and Anastacio Vigil are at large board members. These three women and two men range in age from their early thirties to early seventies. They have been meeting quite often as a group and work well together, learning from each other. The group often takes courses or attends meetings offered by the Land Grant Forum and the Mexicano Land Education and Conservation Trust.
There is a common goal among the new Board to unite the community and protect the grant for members and future generations. It has been a challenge because of the lack of original information and records documenting the grant, but they are piecing together information as they go. There was a great deal of information on the petitioning of the land grant and its confirmation at the State Records and Archives that helped them research the history of the land grant. Church records had valuable information and there are people within the community who have copies of important documents. They also found books that referenced the land grant and spoke with historians interested in land grant history and genealogy.
The new Board is currently working on updating the outdated by-laws of the land grant that have been in effect since 1941. The old by-laws still talk about wagonloads of wood and they are written in very simple terms. They need to be updated because a lot of them do not conform to current laws. One of the goals of the Board is to bring them up to date as quickly as possible.
Another goal is to improve a campground and picnic area within the grant known as El Cañon, which is used for recreation by the members. The Board also wants to have the entire grant surveyed to ensure future generations have accurate records of what the grant legally owns.
Copyright 1996-2002 La Jicarita Box 6 El Valle Route, Chamisal, New Mexico 87521.