A community advocacy newspaper for northern New Mexico
Box 6 El Valle Route, Chamisal, NM 87521
Editorial: Culture Clash in the Forests of Northern New Mexico By Kay Matthews
Water Transfer Protests Highlighted at NMAA Anuual Meeting By Kay Matthews
La Jicarita News: Ten years ago La Jicarita News interviewed you in our very first issue (January, 1996). A lot of things have changed since then and we wanted to revisit some of the issues we talked about with you in that first paper. First off, tell us about what has happened to you personally, in terms of your health and your work with Rio Arriba County and your logging company, La Companía Ocho.
DeVargas: In a nutshell, my health has gone south, I no longer work for the county, and my company no longer exists [Ike laughs]. I see all of that way in the past. I'm no longer active in the forest products industry, I'm no longer active in politics . . . I'm just not active. Unfortunately, I think La Companîa got off on the wrong foot. Instead of starting a company with shareholders where the company owned the equipment, what happened was that everybody bought a piece of equipment. So everybody was an independent contractor competing against his partners. It was a problem I recognized and brought up many times, that we should have consolidated everything and have La Companía buy out the shareholders. So we had internal problems that started from the get-go. Everybody became very invested in their particular niche in the company-trucking, skidding loading, etc. We had a company of eight subcontractors. Maybe it might have worked if we hadn't had so many outside problems: Duke City [Lumber Company] ripping us off, the Forest Service conspiring against us, and then the environmentalists shutting us down continuously. And finally, the community didn't support us. Some people formed a whole other logging group that didn't know a damn thing that was going on. Personal interests prevailed over the interests of the community, which was what La Companía was started for, to preserve the Sustained Yield Unit for the benefit of the community and provide meaningful jobs. It was a nice idea but it didn't work.
LJN: In terms of the county, what were the jobs you held there and what were the circumstances under which you left?
DeVargas: I started out as risk manager. I did that for three years, and then when we won the suit against the environmentalists [over La Manga timber sale] I went back to work for La Companía and got it restarted. Then I went back to the county to work with the planning department after another lawsuit shut La Companía down. I dealt with the county's timber harvest program. We got a timber harvest ordinance in place but I don't consider it a success because the county never adequately funded it. I found myself having to have timber harvest people transport me to the harvest areas for inspection because I didn't have the proper vehicle, particularly in the winter when there were 1,500 or 2,000 acres and you couldn't get through the snow to inspect it. I got discouraged working for the county because I felt it was passing ordinances in order to garner support from the voters without any intention whatever of enforcing them. Some people took the ordinances seriously and spent a lot of money to be in compliance. No reward for them. And for the people who ignored the ordinance, there was never any punishment. For example, after the county passed the agricultural ordinance to protect agricultural land from development, one of the commissioners subdivided 25 acres of irrigated land. These ordinances are selectively enforced and I'm very disappointed because for the most part they're good ordinances.
LJN: You were part of the movement that opposed Rio Arriba County political patron Emilio Naranjo's control of the county. Do you think there's been substantive change under the new county leadership?
DeVargas: Yes, there's been substantive change and yet the more things change the more they stay the same. Now instead of one boss you have five or six, but there's the same kind of cronyism. The thing that has changed is that the people running the county are much more sophisticated. They're smarter and they cover their tracks better. They're not as arrogant as Naranjo was, although they're moving in that direction. It took Naranjo 30 years to become that arrogant; these guys have only been in power for 10 years and they're already running puppets for office. I do see improvements in the county roads. They've been paved or graveled and maintained. This kind of change is good but it's very limited. There's a lot of divisiveness and personal attacks that are totally unjustified. This divides the community and prevents any unity of purpose. You want to get land grants back? You have to have unity of purpose. You want to maintain the Vallecitos Sustained Yield Unit, you have to have unity of purpose. You want to effect policy at the state level, you have to have unity of purpose. This is why I'm not involved in politics anymore. Even the people I felt had the highest levels of integrity have fallen down to the basest levels of corruption.
LJN: When we spoke with you in that first issue you had just helped organize a demonstration in Santa Fe where several environmentalists who had been responsible for lawsuits against La Companía were hung in effigy. We asked if you felt it was the Forest Service or environmentalists who were primarily responsible for mismanagement of the forests and the economic hardship in forest dependent communities. You indicted both the Forest Service and the environmentalists for their policies. What's your answer today?
DeVargas: It's the same. The only thing I would change from that is that I would no longer refer to them as environmentalists but rather as "obstructionists", people with an agenda that has nothing to do with the environment. They lost their moral standing to the claim of being environmentalists. You'll never hear them criticize Ted Turner for what he's doing at the Vermejo Ranch, which was part of the Penzoil property that was donated to the Forest Service. But with regard to public land, you'll hear people like Bryan Bird or Sam Hitt say, I don't want them making money on my land. That's really what it's all about. They don't want anybody to make a nickel off "their" land. That's why loggers and people who want to access forest resources are under fire, regardless of whether the work they do is beneficial. Let me give you an example. The Forest Service and the "obstructionists" say it's the bark beetle that's responsible for the devastation of our piñon forests. The trees would not have been as stressed or vulnerable to the bark beetle if they had not been so thick. If they'd let the community go in there and cut firewood there would have been a much lower mortality rate. I used to pester the Forest Service to issue some commercial piñon permits for firewood, because that's what the people like to burn, but they'd say, Oh no, that's the state tree, we have to protect it. Which leads me to believe that if there is a God he once in a while says f_____ you to the Forest Service and the "obstructionists". When the people in Truchas needed firewood during the spotted owl injunction there was a big old blowdown and suddenly there was plenty of wood for everybody. They didn't want to let us harvest piñon trees so the whole forest is dead now and they're encouraging us to help "clean" the forest. The natural consequences of these stupid actions will ultimately, in a round about way, bring something to the people. To me, the saddest part of all of this is that in a society that is supposed to be the most sophisticated in the world, people are so gullible and ignorant. They have been taken advantage of by groups like Forest Guardians, the Sierra Club- with the exception of the Santa Fe [Northern] Group, who we were able to work with-and the Wilderness Alliance, whose agenda is to ensure there is no local power base established on the use of forest products. Not in northern New Mexico.
LJN: What do you see happening down the line as people continue to be marginalized and can't earn a living in our rural communities?
DeVargas: Well, I'm not sure. The old guys like me are retired but the young guys aren't acquiring our land-based skills. A lot of them are staying in the community but there's high unemployment, high drug abuse, alcohol abuse, gambling addiction, domestic violence, all of the things that go with a lack of opportunity. They have no vision of what can be. I don't know what's going to happen.
LJN: In La Jicarita we've often talked about the hypocrisy of the white urban environmentalists who focus on forestry and rural issues instead their own polluted, consumptive urban environments. While there's certainly less logging going on today for them to complain about, do you think any of them have become more cognizant of issues of race and class that they always failed to address?
DeVargas: Absolutely not. They have their heads in the clouds. That group of people that attacks rural communities in the guise of environmentalism has no awareness about racism, class issues, poverty, and their consequences for rural communities. I don't see anything changing in that community. To me they're like clones. I don't see any difference between someone like Sam Hitt and John Horning. It's a single purpose agenda that fails to make any association with anything else going on in the world. They all want to be a John Muir and have a legacy. So much of it is egotism. Even the ones who we initially thought were altruistic, when they come and pay the guy in the woods eight dollars an hour and they pay their own staff that's working in an office writing grant proposals $25 an hour, that's exploiting the local labor force in the name of environmentalism. It's a travesty. The biggest travesty is that the foundations, with all the money, buy into this. Foundations like to fund community projects that sound sexy but don't have any real substance. There were community-based groups here, like the Vallecitos Association that fought for years to stop unsustainable logging in the Sustained Yield Unit that never got a penny. In fact, I lost money because of standing up. I was banned from logging jobs for three years. None of these so-called environmentalists lost their jobs for trying to stand up for the environment. None of these environmental groups have indigenous people on their boards. In reality, they're no different than corporate logging companies. The loggers don't see a tree that shouldn't be cut and the environmentalists can't see a tree that should be cut. Both hurt the locals.
LJN: In the first interview you said that a large part of the problem is the fact that the Hassell Report, the Forest Service document written in response to community grievances that resulted in the raid on the Rio Arriba County Courthouse in Tierra Amarilla, has never been implemented. Do you think the Forest Service will ever manage the forest in a way that addresses community needs with community input or is it too late for that?
DeVargas: It's not too late but I don't think it's going to happen. The reason it's not going to happen is that the affected communities don't have enough political or financial clout. There's no way for the communities to educate the public to bring enough pressure to bear on the Forest Service to make them change. It would require a very large information campaign. And it would require unity of purpose, which we don't have, and a huge financial investment, which we also don't have. The local community groups can't mobilize to support each other. When we were trying to implement Collaborative Stewardship we couldn't get one organization together to do the proposal for the Community Forestry Restoration Project. All of the groups did their own proposals in competition with each other. Then the Forest Service chose the ones they liked, not necessarily the ones that were going to do the most good. After awhile, the groups that didn't get funded got demoralized and just fell apart. The only ones who survived are the urban organizations that present themselves as technical assistants but that don't do any capacity building. And you're also not going to see any kind of change in Forest Service policy to benefit the communities without some kind of community-based leadership, and there isn't any now. Even the ones who know the business have no leadership skills. Most of them are out for their personal interest, not the community interest. All of the former community leaders have been beaten down and dispirited. People like Max Córdova and I weren't really beaten down by the Forest Service or the environmentalists, we were beaten down by the lack of unity in our own communities. We're old and tired. It's a sad commentary.
LJN: You talked about how the communities are traditionally better stewards of the land than the Forest Service and that the former land grant ejidos [common lands] should be returned. You cautioned, however, against privatization of the land that was deeded by the Spanish and Mexican governments to sustain communities, and that the communities as they exist today should benefit from the return of the commons. How do you feel about the land grant movement today and is there any hope that any of the land will be returned?
DeVargas: I think some communities will get some land but it's probably going to further divide the community. I support the land grant struggle in terms of the injustice that was done. I don't believe the government had a right to take anybody's property. But that happened a long time ago, and since that time the communities have changed. Our complexion has changed. There are a lot more white people here now, some of whom are my family. But the land grant movement today is looking at only the heirs taking personal possession of the land for personal gain and managing it only for themselves. It's the same problem as in the Sustained Yield Unit. There is no sense of community. And I don't see the land grant leadership doing anything to broaden a sense of community. You have to go back to the original purpose of the community land grants. Sure, they were granted to a group of individuals but for the purpose of establishing a community and the commons belonged to the community. If an individual sold his private piece of land the new owner then became a member of the community. I don't want to see the land grants become reservations. It doesn't make sense, from a social point of view, to have these closed communities because you always need diversity. If the people who have bought into the communities are good neighbors why shouldn't they have a say in what happens to the land and the commons? If they try to manage it just for for their own benefit, the community will turn against them. How can these land grant people complain about newcomers when they can't even get along with each other? I'm just thoroughly disgusted with the whole thing, whether it's a struggle for the land grant, the forest, whatever. People are too self-centered, too egotistical, too close-minded. There is no sense of community, whether it's in Vallecitos. El Valle, or Truchas.
The 2006 New Mexico Organic Farming Conference will be held February 24th & 25th in Albuquerque. The conference is sponsored by Farm to Table, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, the New Mexico Organic Commodity Commission, and New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service. Featured speakers include: Fred Kirchenmann of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Miley Gonzales, the New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture; and Jo Ann Baumgartner, Director of the Wild Farm Alliance. There will also be organic production and marketing workshops, a large exhibitor hall, and delicious organic food. For more information call Joan Quinn at 505 841-9067 or e-mail email@example.com.
The Quivira Coalition's 5th Annual Conference, "Bridging the Urban-Rural Divide: Reconnecting People to Land and Each Other," will be held from Thursday through Saturday, January 12-14 at the Hilton Hotel in Albuquerque. The widening divide between urban and rural populations in the West threatens the region's long-term economic and ecological health. Speakers and panelists include: Patricia Limerick, professor of history at the University of Colorado; Ray Powell, former state land commissioner; David Benavides of New Mexico Legal Aid; Terrie Bad Hand and Pati Martinson, directors of the Taos Food Center and Taos County Economic Development Corporation; Rick Knight, professor of conservation biology, Colorado State University, and many more. Cost of the conference is $75 for Quivira coalition members, $100 for non-members, and $35 for student You can register on-line at www.quivira coalition.org or for more information call 505 955-8922.
The Taos Land Trust announces the release of a new publication to aid land conservation: Ensuring a Land Legacy for Future generations: Conservation Opportunities and Planning Tools for the Future of Your Land and Your Community. The book contains the presentations and information from two land trust sponsored community forums held in 2004. Topics covered in the book include estate planning, conservation easements, local property tax assessments, acequia water banking, traditional land tenure and settlement patterns, tax benefits and government subsidies for conservation, Green Infrastructure Planning, economic benefits of conservation, public conservation finance, local agriculture, watershed planning, and traditional communities. Chapters include: "Staying on the Land by Working It-Economic Vitality of Local Agriculture" by Stan Crawford; "Remembering our Predecessors" by Estevan Arellano; "Additional Incentives for Land Conservation" by Edward Archuleta"; and "Keeping Water on the Land" by Geoff Bryce. The book is dedicated to Bryce, former director of the Taos Valley Acequia Association, who died last year in a car accident. The book is available for free (a $10 donation is appreciated) at the Taos Land Trust office in Arroyo Seco, or contact the Trust at 505 751-3138 of by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Kay Matthews
Editor's Note: This editorial was written for a national publication by La Jicarita News co-editor Kay Matthews in 1997 to provide an overview of the escalating conflict that was causing so much anger and hardship in New Mexico at the time. Hopefully, it will help put in context the interview with DeVargas.
The winter snows, not lawsuits, have temporarily quieted the chainsaws in the Vallecitos valley of northern New Mexico. As spring approaches, however, the Indo-Hispano people who traditionally make their living by small-scale logging and ranching on public lands anticipate renewed legal efforts by environmental groups to shut-down these land-based activities. Norteños see the lawsuits as an assault on their livelihood, their traditions, their culture. The environmental groups, led by the Santa Fe-based Forest Guardians, in their zeal to protect biodiversity and threatened species, fail to acknowledge that the land-based people of northern New Mexico are part of the ecosystem.
In a 1997 visit to New Mexico Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt remarked that the Southwest has seen more controversy and strife than other areas of the country where collaborative efforts between government, environmentalists and local forest users have been successful. In fact, the New Mexico battles between environmental groups like Forest Guardians and norteños have engendered internecine fights within the environmental community beyond the boundaries of the Southwest.
Environmental justice issues are not new to the movement. Witness the fracture of Greenpeace over native rights issues or the departure of Dave Foreman from Earth First! because the group was "leaning too far left." However, the conflict in New Mexico adds new dimension to the issue: Here, in the "inhabited wilderness" of former Spanish and Mexican land grants that were supposed to be protected by the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, norteños are the vanguard of la lucha, the struggle to keep people connected to land and community-an invaluable environmental strategy against the encroachment of corporate globalization.
The Vallecitos valley, home to the small logging outfit La Companía Ocho, has been at the epicenter of the controversy: La Companía's right to log the La Manga timber sale was blocked for three years by various lawsuits filed by Forest Guardians. Antonio "Ike" DeVargas, a founding member of La Companía Ocho and long-time norteño activist since the La Raza days of the 1960s, has consistently pointed out the failure of these environmental groups to differentiate between sustainable, community-based logging, which can promote the health of second-growth forests by thinning overcrowded stands (only 1% of trees 24 inches in diameter will be cut in the La Manga sale), and the corporate rape of northern New Mexico forests that exploits both the resources and the people. The Vallecitos valley is also part of a federally mandated Sustained Yield Unit, set aside in the 1940s to directly benefit impoverished rural communities. For years the Forest Service set timber quotas too high for competitive bids from small operators, and Duke City Lumber, a multi-national logging corporation, enjoyed a virtual monopoly in the valley. DeVargas and other activists fought to have Duke City kicked out of the Unit and to reduce the huge numbers of board feet being cut. Finally, in 1994 La Companía filed suit against the Forest Service for failing to meet the requirements of the Sustained Yield Act, and for racial discrimination, and in 1996 were awarded 75% of the La Manga sale. But Forest Guardians had already filed suit against the timber sale, and the battle lines were drawn: Sam Hitt, president of Forest Guardians, has called DeVargas an "environmental outlaw" and promoter of "Green Hate," while DeVargas and other activists have twice hung Hitt in effigy.
In 1995 Forest Guardians filed a lawsuit that resulted in an 18-month shut-down of all logging in northern forests. The group is now spearheading a national movement to prohibit all commercial logging on public lands. To promote this agenda, several national environmental groups, along with Forest Guardians, signed a 1997 July 4th full-page ad in The New York Times called "Zero Cut Now." Despite having passed a referendum which endorsed a commercial logging ban on public lands the previous year, the Sierra Club was conspicuously absent from the ad. The initiative has created controversy within the rank and file of the Club: The Santa Fe Group, among others, has been reluctant to support the ban. In its newsletter one of the members expressed his reservations: "If we kill off rural communities" it is the developers, not "wildlife and other agents of biodiversity" that will step in to fill the vacuum.
In response, David Orr, Chair of the Sierra Club's No Logging Task Force, wrote a scathing letter sent out on the Club's internet listserve calling for censure of the Santa Fe Group and demanding that they stop using "Wise Use" rhetoric. The Wise Use label refers to a politically reactionary movement in the west that advocates a balance between environmental protection and economic need, but has essentially been a smokescreen for corporate attack on environmental laws. Framing the debate as Wise Use versus environmentalism seems to be the favorite tactic of these environmentalists, who, as one critic puts it, "lack a consistent or clear social analysis of the ecology crisis or even a consistent commitment to humane social ethics." (The Club eventually ran its own ad in support of the bill in November.)
San Francisco-based Earth Island Institute was one of the groups that signed the ad. An advisory group member questioned how the Institute could support the no-logging initiative, which is insensitive to the issue of environmental justice. Several members of the Institute's affiliate projects responded by accusing the advisor, a progressive activist since the Civil Rights movement, of being a Wise Use member a participant in the rape of New Mexico's forests. The conflict escalated as other members sought to integrate the principles of environmental justice into the Institute's internal procedures, and eventually several projects, as well as a group of advisory and board members, including the president, resigned from the organization.
Environmental groups like Forest Guardians are also pursuing litigation to rid public lands of cattle grazing, a use they term "uneconomically viable". By reducing a way of life to an economic equation, these environmental groups play into the hands of the subdividers, industrialists and bureaucrats who are waiting in the wings, ready to catapult northern New Mexico into the global economy. If our greatest challenge is to preserve ecosystem diversity-in the broadest and most inclusive context-then this complicity in our own backyard poses a direct threat to the entire environmental movement.
By Kay Matthews
At the 6th Annual Congreso de las Acequias in December I sat on a panel of fellow parciantes and water attorneys to discuss current water transfer protests and how they affect acequia water rights and communities. As stated in the panel announcement, it was at attempt to answer the following questions : 1) How is the State Engineer assessing impairment? What is the method and is it consistent? and 2) How is the State Engineer addressing public welfare? Should the statewide acequia community have a cohesive approach to defining public welfare such as seeking appropriate test cases to define public welfare through policy making?
The stories told by all the panelists revealed the woeful policies and inconsistencies with regard to how the State Engineer deals with both these issues.
Peter White, a former State Engineer (OSE) attorney who now represents parciantes, acequias and individuals in water transfer protests, explained that the OSE purposely tries to dismiss protests through technicalities-for instance, trying to deny protestants standing-placing undue burdens on those seeking to deny transfers. He outlined several areas of concern in OSE policy: 1) the legitimacy and quantity of water rights being transferred need to be determined; 2) the Rio Grande Compact always needs to be raised as an issue of public welfare; 3) the OSE uses a loophole in the state regulations that allows municipalities to hold water rights for 40 years without having to put them to beneficial use; 4) water judges in each district can't be disqualified even though they often have conflicts of interest; and 5) the OSE is always reluctant to enforce priority administration because so many municipalities have junior water rights. White emphasized that water sharing is a more equitable solution to the state's water adjudications, but that sometimes priority must be invoked to protect acequias and rural communities.
Ted Trujillo, Rio Arriba County Attorney, discussed how the county, in protesting the Rancho Lobo water transfer, which would move water from the Willow Creek Ditch to a private recreational lake, is trying to raise the issue of public welfare and the Rio Grande Compact. The county is also protesting two pumping applications that address environmental contamination-using diesel engines to pump out of an acequia-and the appropriateness of pumping water from acequias.
Peter White is currently working on the three water transfer protests that were discussed next. Dan Abercrombie, a member of the Tularosa Community Ditch, explained how the city of Alamogordo is attempting to drill ten 1,000 foot wells above the Tularosa ditch and pipe the water around Tularosa to Alamogordo. He told the group: "We want to have Tularosa Creek rights for our grandchildren, not just the 40 years the city wants for our water."
Lynn Montgomery is one of three protestants who have been fighting a proposed transfer of surface water rights from Valencia County to groundwater wells in a subdivision in Placitas, in Sandoval County (see La Jicarita, November 2005). This protest has been on going since 1998 and recently reached the Supreme Court (a decision probably won't be rendered for at least six months). This is a case that vividly demonstrates the OSE's lack of consistent policy to protect against impairment. The protestants contend that pumping new wells for the subdivision will impair their senior wells, springs, and acequia water rights. They also contend that this constitutes a new appropriation of groundwater because depletions would not be offset at the protestants' sources of water. The OSE counters that it is only necessary to offset depletions at the transfer location and also argues that the depletions from the applicant's pumping are "de minimus" (insubstantial). The protest was denied, but the protestants appealed to District Court, the Court of Appeals, and finally, the Supreme Court. Peter White entered an amicus brief for 1,000 Friends of New Mexico, Amigos Bravos, and the NMAA on behalf of the protestants. The cities of Alamogordo and Las Cruces, the County of Santa Fe, and the El Prado Water and Sanitation District have entered an amicus brief on behalf of the applicants.
The Top of the World water transfer protest has been discussed at length in La Jicarita News (it was first filed in 1999), but has recently heated up because of the offer by Santa Fe County to use the 588 acre feet/year (afy) of groundwater rights from the farm near Questa to help settle the Aamodt adjudication in the Pojoaque Valley. The water rights would be used as part of the 750 afy of future water rights that the County is committed to providing non-Pueblo residents and would not be used below Otowi Gage, which has been one of our main concerns regarding the transfer.
The county has also signed a contract to purchase an additional 1,088 afy from Top of the World to provide part of the water rights stipulated for the Pueblos in the Aamodt settlement. I explained to the group that this is causing great concern to Taos County, which is currently promulgating its Regional Water Plan and has expressly stated in that plan that Taos County Water should remain in Taos County. This proposed transfer could potentially be a test case for the issue of public welfare. In the meantime, the protestants to the 588 afy transfer have not made any decision on the county's offer and the protest remains active.
As expected, the Forest Service Record of Decision for the Invasive Plant Control Project on the Santa Fe and Carson National Forests has chosen the preferred Alternative B-Integrated Strategy as its selected action (see La Jicarita News, June/July 2005). This action calls for a combined use of herbicides, biological methods (insect and plant pathogens), manual methods (hand pulling, digging, cutting), controlled grazing (with goats or sheep), mechanical (mowing and root tilling), prescribed burning, and cultural methods (planting or seeding with desirable native plants).
In the FEIS the Forest Service responds to the many concerns raised in public comment about the use of herbicides. The answer to these concerns is: "Herbicides, when used with the required application methods and following directions for use, can be used without causing harm." The response to the proposed amendment to the Santa Fe National Forest Plan, which will allow use of herbicides in municipal watersheds is: "As with the use of herbicides elsewhere, the hazard exists, but the risk of people being exposed to levels that express a harmful effect is very low. We also recognize that there will be times when the threat to the watershed by invasive plants will outweigh the possible threat to the water posed by the use of herbicides." This decision is subject to appeal; unfortunately, the appeal period begins 45 days from the newspaper publication date of the decision, November 23, and many of us are just now receiving the FEIS in the mail, two weeks later.
Taos Land Trust, Taos County Economic Development Corporation and Taos Valley Acequia Association have forged a groundbreaking collaboration to address the rapid loss of agricultural land and land-based tradition. De la Tierra a la Cosecha (From Earth to Harvest) promotes profitable family farming and greater local food security while helping sustain local lands and land-based culture. De la Tierra includes a baseline inventory of community needs and priorities (with invaluable help from faculty and student interns at Colorado College), extensive community outreach and education, direct technical assistance to farmers, ranchers and landowners, and a series of policy initiatives aimed at institutionalizing land and water conservation and a sustainable local food system.
One phase of the project has already hit the ground running with an appropriation from the state legislature to Taos County Economic Development Corporation for a mobile livestock slaughtering unit. In the rapidly growing market for naturally-produced meat, the mobile unit creates another vehicle for locally-appropriate, agriculturally-based economic development, providing additional incentive for livestock producers to stay on the land and produce local food for local consumption.
For more information, farmers, ranchers, landowners, merchants or the general public can contact Taos Land Trust at 751-3138, Taos County Economic Development Corporation at 758-8731, or Taos Valley Acequia Association at 758-9461.
Copyright 1996-2002 La Jicarita Box 6 El Valle Route, Chamisal, New Mexico 87521.