Pueblo Design
 La Jicarita

A community advocacy newspaper for northern New Mexico

Box 6 El Valle Route, Chamisal, NM 87521

Volume XIV

August 2009

Number VII


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Hazardous Waste Permit for Our Up Wind Neighbor, Los Alamos National Laboratory By Sheri Kotowski, Embudo Valley Environmental Monitoring Group and Joni Arends, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety

Editorial: Taos County Rejects Plan for "Second Homes for the Wealthy" By Kay Matthews  

Forest Service Releases Proposed Action for Travel Management on the Carson National Forest By Kay Matthews

Plan to Pay Sick Nuclear Workers Unfairly Rejects Many, Doctor Says By Laura Frank, Special to ProPublica - July 31, 2009



Hazardous Waste Permit for Our Up Wind Neighbor, Los Alamos National Laboratory

By Sheri Kotowski, Embudo Valley Environmental Monitoring Group and Joni Arends, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety

In August 2007, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) released a draft hazardous waste permit for on-going operations at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The final form of this 10-year permit may allow LANL to handle one-quarter million pounds of hazardous waste annually, including 12,500 pounds of high explosive waste to be burned in the open air. The original permit expired in 1999 and has been administratively extended every year for the past 10 years. Thus, it has been 20 years since the communities downwind and downstream have had the opportunity to provide public comments about their concerns for the generation, treatment, and storage of hazardous waste at LANL.

Following the release of the draft permit, several non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety (CCNS) and the Embudo Valley Environmental Monitoring Group (EVEMG), wrote extensive comments to NMED about our concerns and requested a public hearing. The New Mexico Hazardous Waste Management Regulations allow for the parties to come together in an attempt to resolve their concerns. In order to ensure that the final permit would be as protective as possible of public health and the environment, CCNS and EVEMG spent 40 days over the last 10 months in negotiations with NMED, the Department of Energy (DOE), LANL and other NGOs.

One on-going concern has been the lack of information about compliance with the 2005 Consent Order between NMED and DOE/LANL. The Consent Order documents the requirements for cleaning up the "legacy," or buried wastes. There are 25 legacy dumps at LANL that contain dangerous mixtures of chemical and radioactive wastes. One example is "Area G." These areas also contain operations that will be part of the new permit. The importance of understanding the relationship between the permit and Consent Order is so that none of the waste slips through any regulatory loopholes.

One of our goals is to ensure that information and public participation are an integral part of the process. DOE/LANL have been lax in fulfilling public participation requirements for the Consent Order, such as providing access to documents and opportunities for public input into the decision-making processes and holding public meetings. The Environmental Protection Agency has specific requirements for public participation for cleanup of the legacy dumps where the contact must be early, often, meaningful, and continuous. Contact with the public about cleanup of these dumps will keep the public informed and encourage involvement.

With this new permit we have the opportunity to begin to create avenues of restorative justice in our communities. We need to tell NMED that DOE/LANL must provide an Information Repository in the Española Valley, as well as a web-based one, where permit and Consent Order documents are readily available to urban and rural communities and future generations.

Outstanding issues remain, including open burning and emergency management:

Open Burning

Open burning of hazardous waste releases 100 percent of the poisons into the air we breathe. In 2004, NMED stopped the open burning of household trash because of toxic emissions. In 2006, LANL canceled the air quality permit allowing for open burning at one of the two sites under the draft permit. Together with our colleagues, we are collecting petition signatures encouraging LANL to adopt an alternative to open burning.

Emergency Management, Planning, Preparedness, and Response

Over the past 10 years, serious deficiencies in theDOE/LANL Emergency Management and Response Division have been found by several government auditing agencies. The expert reports described on-going problems with LANL fire protection, some of which existed before the Cerro Grande Fire of 2000. In June, the DOE Inspector General issued the latest report, "Fire Protection Deficiencies at LANL," documenting over 800 unresolved deficiencies. http://www.ig.energy.gov/documents/IG-0816.pdf

Your participation at this time will make a difference. The revised draft permit is available at: http://www.nmenv.state.nm.us/hwb/lanlperm.html#LANLRevised7_6_2009. Comments are due by September 4, 2009. For more information and a comment letter, see www.nuclearactive.org.

Editorial: Taos County Rejects Plan for "Second Homes for the Wealthy"

By Kay Matthews

In last month's La Jicarita News I wrote an editorial called "Rio Arriba County Developments and Subdivisions: Second Homes for the Wealthy, Assuming There's Any Wealth Left." I compared the situation in Rio Arriba County, where the county commission recently approved two such developments in the Tierra Amarilla area, with the pending Weimer family Miranda Canyon Preserve application in Taos County on the former Cristobal de la Serna land grant.

To its credit, the Taos Board of County Commissioners &endash; Nicolas Jaramillo, Andrew Chavez, Joe Mike Duran, and Dan Barone &endash; unanimously rejected the Miranda Canyon plan, which is similar in nature to the Rio Arriba developments: 10 to 30-acre ranchettes, clubhouse amenities for subdivision residents, a conservation easement, etc. The main areas of concern were, of course, impacts on water resources, ingress and egress routes, historical and cultural properties, and fire protection.

It was a marathon meeting, with first the commissioners grilling development spokesman Todd Barbee and Albuquerque attorney John Myers about these concerns. The dialogue got particularly testy when Meyers attempted to instruct the commissioners on what the legal standards were for the commission's administrative decision: "substantial facts", not opinion testimony from the public. Jaramillo immediately shot back that while he would listen to the lawyer's statement of facts, "for you to come up here and tell me not to listen to my constituents is not what I'm going to do."

It took the entire morning for the development to make its case. Even though the hearing before the county commission was de novo, or a new hearing not based on the Taos County Planning Commission's "no" vote on the plan, Barbee and Meyers insisted on refuting the finding of facts made by the planning commission. Things again got testy when Picuris Pueblo's opinion regarding the development came up. According to Barbee, former Governor Craig Quancello provided him with a letter stating the pueblo's approval of the project &endash; with several caveats &endash; and that the governor had told him Serna land grant heirs had "run us off the property for years." I could see the current Governor, Gerald Nailor, who attended the meeting with another former governor Eagle Rael, shake his head in dismay.

Fortunately, after a lunch break, the commission designated Governor Nailor first in line for public comment, and his short but moving statement earned him a standing ovation from the entire audience, including the land grant heirs. Nailor stated that the resolution from former Governor Quancello had not been approved by the people of the pueblo, that the subsequent governor, Richard Mermejo, had presented a letter to the planning commission expressing the pueblo's opposition, and that the present council will be meeting to rescind the resolution. Nailor, who helped guide the pueblo through its protracted &endash; and successful &endash; fight against mineral development on the pueblo's aboriginal land (currently administered by the BLM) and to regain its micaceous clay pit, stressed the pueblo's desire to work with its Hispano neighbors to protect Miranda Canyon resources and maintain their connection to the land. "I am opposed to this development and if we have to take legal action we will."

Another speaker who made a strong impression on the commission was Llano Quemado (which lies at the north end of the proposed subdivision and will suffer the greatest impact) resident Elipio Mondragon. As a firefighter for 30 years who saw duty in some of the most expensive subdivisions in this country, he told the commission, "There is no fire plan in the world that will be able to save this place from a catastrophic fire." He also pointed out that fire resources are busy fighting fires on public lands all over the west and cannot be challenged by one more urban interface subdivision.

Just before lunch, county attorney Adam Baker, after a lengthy questioning about the development's position that their test wells adequately insure water quantity, had informed Barbee that state subdivision regulations require that the New Mexico Environment Department make a determination about water quality before a subdivision can proceed. Barbee admitted this was news to him, that the Taos County Subdivision Ordinance doesn't make this requirement. Obviously rattled, when the meeting was reconvened after lunch the Weimer family requested that the commission defer the hearing so they could have time to address this requirement. If the commission had allowed the deferment it would have meant that the afternoon public comment would have been canceled, to the family's relief but to the consternation of those who patiently sat through four hours to get their turn to speak. Again, to its credit, the commission denied the request for deferment, heard the public testimony, and made its decision.

County attorney Baker has a month to release a finding of fact for the commission's denial of the subdevelopment; the Weimer family can then take its case to District Court. When asked after the meeting if that was their intent, Barbee said it was time for the family to take some time to assess their options.

Forest Service Releases Proposed Action for Travel Management on the Carson National Forest

By Kay Matthews

According to a report by the General Accounting Office (GAO), off-highway vehicle (OHV) use has risen dramatically over the past five years on public lands while Forest Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management budgets have decreased. There are too few employees to enforce existing regulations. The report cited the example of the BLM office in Grand Junction, Colorado, where one law enforcement officer oversees 1.3 million acres.

The Santa Fe and Carson national forests have been working on Travel Management Plans that implement travel management rules promulgated in 2005, and in February of this year the Carson sent out a scoping letter soliciting input on its plan (see March issue of La Jicarita News). Now that the scoping period is over, in July the agency released a combined Environmental Assessment for travel management on the Canjilon, El Rito, and Tres Piedras ranger districts and a separate EA for the Jicarilla Ranger District. EA's for the Questa and Camino Real districts were subsequently released in August. When I spoke with Jack Carpenter at the Carson Forest Supervisor's Office he said that the Camino Real EA was taking the longest time to issue because the district contains the most number of hiking and motorized trails, and that the Forest Service was working to find a compromise to address the many public comments of those who advocated greater restrictions on OHV use and those who wanted more access for off road recreation.

The Canjilon, El Rito, and Tres Piedras districts are geographically linked and receive low to moderate motor vehicle use, mostly associated with fuelwood gathering, hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing. There are approximately 1,764 miles of roads and no miles of motorized trails (designated for OHV use) on the districts. In response to public comment, the Forest Service made several modifications to proposals made during the scoping period in its proposed EA action:

• Keeping additional miles of road open to provide access to disperse camping and fuelwood gathering.

• Removing roads that go through private lands where no easement exists.

• Removing roads within a northern goshawk post-fledgling area.

• Enforcing a seasonal closure on designated roads for wildlife habitat security and soil and watershed protection.

In general the plan for the three districts restricts motor vehicle use to designated open roads and motorized trails and prohibits cross-country travel.

This designation is already enforced on the Questa Ranger District and will be maintained in the new Travel Management Plan for that district. The Questa district contains two wilderness areas &endash; Wheeler Peak and Latir &endash; and the Columbine Hondo Wilderness Study Area, and in 1997 a forest supervisor special order ended cross-country travel on the rest of the district. According to Jack Carpenter, one of the reasons the district has been able to enforce this restriction is because of the many outfitters who take visitors on ORV tours in the Red River area. The plan calls for a modified version of the one proposed during the scoping period. Some of the changes open roads to accommodate access to camping and firewood gathering while another change extends an elk calving seasonal closure.

The 145,517 Jicarilla District is dominated by natural gas production and also used heavily during hunting season. Like Questa, this district has also been closed to OHV use. The proposed Alternative in the EA would remove approximately 30 miles of road and their associated 300 foot corridor (the plans allow for a 300-foot corridor on many roads in all the districts for dispersed camping and big game retrieval) from the transportation database that had been previously gated or decommissioned, and would close 14 miles of existing open road.

The Travel Management Plan for the Camino Real District, which currently experiences the most OHV use, had not been released by press time.

The environmental groups Center for Biological Diversity, Carson Forest Watch, and Amigos Bravos issued press release criticizing the plan on July 29: "Though improved from previous versions, the plan would still threaten wildlife, watersheds, and quiet recreation by making up to 33 miles of routes created by repeated unauthorized off-road travel a permanent part of the road system. Neither located nor engineered to Forest Service standards, these routes are subject to very little environmental analysis. A lack of maintenance funds for roads promises poor road quality, erosion, and habitat destruction." They point out that the plan exceeds by 1,000 miles the Forest Service Travel Analysis Process Report that indicates 1,400 miles of roads are needed in the Carson for travel and natural resource protection. They also claim the proposal is incomplete, particularly with regard to potential impacts on water quality and wildlife habitat. Many rural residents, however, feel the proposal balances their traditional access needs with necessary restrictions on off-road use.

Plan to Pay Sick Nuclear Workers Unfairly Rejects Many, Doctor Says

By Laura Frank, Special to ProPublica - July 31, 2009

Carla McCabe spent a decade building nuclear bombs at the sprawling Rocky Flats complex near Denver. When she developed a brain tumor and asked for help, federal officials told her that none of the toxic substances used at the top-secret bomb factory could have caused her cancer.

Now, on the eighth anniversary of the federal program created to help sick nuclear weapons workers, the man who until recently was the program's top doctor says that McCabe, now 55, and many others like her are being improperly rejected.

The doctor, Eugene Schwartz, recently resigned and in his first interview since quitting, he said many of the complaints that workers, advocates and lawmakers have leveled at the controversial program are valid. For instance, Schwartz said he repeatedly warned the U.S. Department of Labor that it is ignoring established medical knowledge about the dangers of bomb work.

"I was muzzled," said Schwartz, a Harvard-trained doctor with a master's degree in nuclear engineering, whose job was overseeing medical decisions at the federal compensation program.

The Labor Department took charge of the program, the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program, at its creation on July 31, 2001. Today, it boasts that it has paid $5 billion in compensation and medical costs to more than 52,600 former workers or their survivors. That averages to $95,000 each.

But sick workers, who have banded together in multiple advocacy groups across the nation, point out that the Labor Department has denied nearly three out of four claims &endash; 127,000 filed on behalf of sick nuclear weapons workers or their survivors in the past eight years.

The sick workers and their advocates say they feel vindicated that Schwartz confirms many of the complaints they've raised previously about waste, bias and bad science within the program.

"He is saying what we've been saying is true," said Harry Williams, a sick worker from Oak Ridge, Tenn., who helped found the national Alliance for Nuclear Workers Advocacy Groups and has spent more than a decade trying to help others. "With his credentials, the people in power will definitely have to pay attention."

Schwartz said Labor continues to incorrectly tell weapons workers with multiple diseases &endash; including cancers of the brain, breast or bones &endash; that radiation and other toxic substances that permeated the bomb factories could not have made them sick.

"That's madness," said Dr. Daniel Teitelbaum, a nationally recognized toxicologist who helped review cases when the federal government began compensating its sick nuclear weapons workers in 2001. In addition to working for the government, Teitlebaum also has testified on behalf of sick workers in other industries.

Teitelbaum and Schwartz said that multiple studies have found links between brain, breast and bone cancers and exposure to toxic substances such as plutonium, PCBs, and mixtures of chemicals and radiation &endash; all key bomb ingredients.

Those studies were subjected to scrutiny by other experts, what is known as "peer review," before they were published in scientific journals.

But it has not been enough for the Labor Department.

When an official punched McCabe's diagnosis into the Labor Department's $11 million database of nuclear-related illnesses, nothing came back, her records show.

A Labor Department document regarding her case reads: "The research did not identify any toxic substances at the Rocky Flats Plant which are linked to . . . any form of brain tumor."

The database did not include several peer-reviewed studies that have linked glial brain tumors like McCabe's to radiation and chemicals known to have been used at Rocky Flats. At least one of those studies, Teitelbaum said, was done on workers at the now-demolished Rocky Flats site itself. McCabe said she knows of at least eight coworkers who suffered similar brain tumors.

Program officials said they would send her case to another agency for analysis of her radiation exposures. But she's not holding her breath. That process takes on average two years, and none of her coworkers with brain tumors &endash; most of whom are now dead &endash; have been compensated through that process either.

The Labor Department declined to answer questions about its database or make public the grounds on which it includes some diseases and excludes others. It could not be learned how much consideration the peer-reviewed studies of brain cancers received.

"Somebody needs to do something about this," Teitelbaum said.

Schwartz said he tried but failed.

The McCabe case, he said, illustrates the flaws he tried to address. Schwartz said he began documenting his concerns shortly after he began work as medical director at the compensation program in March 2008.

A former epidemiologist for the World Health Organization, the physician and nuclear engineer from South Hadley, Mass., spent more than 30 years working in his field, which assesses the effects of industrial processes on workers. His research has focused on the causes and prevention of cancer and occupational diseases.

But Schwartz said his bosses at the Labor Department largely ignored the issues he raised, and then tried to silence him.

"The program needs scientific oversight," Schwartz said. "I was told they're not going to do that &endash; repeatedly."

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, a freshman Democrat from Colorado, helped push for the program as a congressman in 2000. This year, he introduced legislation to reform it. He said Schwartz's statements confirm what he and others have long believed.

"It is what I've suspected all along &endash; an attempt by the agencies to delay and deny benefits to workers of nuclear facilities," Udall said.

The most serious allegations Schwartz raised involve what are arguably the two most important steps on the path to compensation and medical care.

One involves the very first step: Determining whether a worker was exposed to toxic substances that could have caused the disease in question. The other involves what is often the last step: Seeing whether a government-hired doctor agrees that the worker's exposures did, in fact, cause his or her disease.

In the first step, the Labor Department is supposed to use its database of diseases and exposures to screen which cases deserve further investigation. That initial screening is performed by a Labor Department employee, not a doctor.

Sick workers have previously complained that some cases are wrongly rejected for compensation because the database, created in 2006, is missing information about both exposures and their links to disease.

Schwartz said they have a point.

"Claims are being denied because of these problems," Schwartz said.

Labor Department rules say the database should be used for guidance and that the claims examiners should dig deeper if they suspect an illness arose from work at a bomb factory.

Schwartz, however, said some claims examiners told him they had used the database to decide cases without further review.

"The issue is how it is used &endash; or misused," Schwartz said.

According to Schwartz, the disease-exposure links in the database were decided by one doctor: Jay Brown, an occupational medicine physician from Tacoma, Wash., who has a background in family medicine.

While the database has "this aura of scientific validity," Schwartz said, it has never been peer reviewed and does not take into account the combined effects of low-level radiation and toxic chemicals.

When asked about Schwartz's concerns, Brown replied via e-mail: "I don't work on SEM," the Labor Department's acronym for the database, called the Site Exposure Matrix. He referred all further questions to the Labor Department.

Labor Department officials would comment only through a spokeswoman, who said in an e-mail that Schwartz's concerns "were reviewed, discussed, and addressed appropriately."

The agency spokeswoman added that Labor pays Brown to conduct "independent research to identify established chemical-disease links specifically focused on materials used in the Department of Energy complex." Brown puts the links into a database he developed, called Haz-Map. He began compiling Haz-Map in 1991 as a way to identify and prevent occupational disease, according to his Web site. Haz-Map is published there and on the National Library of Medicine Web site.

The Labor Department says Haz-Map automatically feeds its information into the Labor database. Beyond that, Labor has released very little information about it. Officials there declined to release Brown's contract or give details about it.

Schwartz said that, before he resigned, he learned that the Labor Department was poised to remove from the database more than 100 toxic exposures it previously considered linked to disease.

"I asked about a half-dozen times to see the more than 100 links being removed," Schwartz said. "I was rebuffed." He added, sardonically: "Talk about scientific validity and transparency. Based on what science?"

More than half a million people have worked to build the nation's nuclear arsenal since World War II. Less than 15 percent of them have filed claims for aid, but that's still more than 180,000 former nuclear weapons workers &endash; or their survivors &endash; and they are from every state in the nation.

The compensation program was created after the federal government admitted that nuclear weapons workers had been exposed to dangerous levels of toxic substances at more than 300 weapons sites across the country.

But only 29 percent of those who applied have been approved for aid, and many of those received aid only after years of appealing.

The Labor Department, citing national security, has declined to provide the entire database to sick workers who've asked for it.

As for the government-contracted doctors who help decide who gets compensation, Schwartz said he examined the cases handled by doctors who review claims and found a pattern in the denials from some high-volume doctors. But he says Labor never investigated potential bias among these so-called "district medical consultants."

Labor has never checked the credentials of these 80 or so medical consultants, Schwartz said. He also says Labor was overstating the expertise of some doctors.

"This is no small issue," Schwartz said. "If a doctor were being hired by a hospital, his name would be checked through the National Practitioner Data Bank, state licensure and board certification would be checked, and he'd be asked to provide information on malpractice claims and Medicare sanctions.

"This program hasn't done that."

The compensation program divides sick workers into two groups. Scientists assess whether workers were exposed to high enough doses of radiation so that it was "at least as likely as not" the cause of their cancer.

The cases of workers who believe their cancer or other diseases were caused by chemical exposure &endash; or a combination of chemicals and radiation &endash; are weighed separately.

Schwartz said this second category is where he found most of the problems. According to Schwartz, the Labor Department has decided on its own that radiation exposures can be ignored if they weren't high enough to be the sole cause of a cancer.

Labor's rule book says "DOL has not found scientific evidence to date establishing a synergistic or additive effect" between exposure to radiation and other toxic chemicals.

Schwartz says this flies in the face of known science about how toxic chemicals and radiation can work together.

"It is generally accepted that the effect of combined exposure will likely be greater than either exposure separately," he said.

Schwartz showed ProPublica a document he says Labor sent to a medical contractor who was reviewing the case of a worker with skin cancer that could not be traced to radiation exposure alone.

The Feb. 19, 2009, letter said that in such an instance: "Radiation should not be considered a toxic substance for any cancer and should not be a part of the medical opinion that is being requested of you."

Advocates for the sick workers say that instruction is illegal because the law requires the contribution of all toxic substances be considered &endash; and that includes radiation.

"It is against the law," said Terrie Barrie, who leads the national Alliance for Nuclear Workers Advocacy Groups, from her home in Craig, Colo. "Congress has told them that. But it's like talking to a brick wall."

The Obama administration's new Labor secretary, Hilda Solis, received a detailed letter recently from Barrie's group complaining about what they see as "woefully inaccurate" information being used to wrongly deny claims.

One such case was that of Melissa Webb, whose job at the Mound nuclear facility near Dayton, Ohio, involved taking samples from 55-gallon drums of nuclear weapons waste at a top-secret facility five stories underground.

Webb was 33 when she learned she had Parkinson's disease. When she filed for compensation in 2007, she listed exposure to the solvent carbon disulfide as a possible cause. The Labor Department sent her a letter saying its records showed she was indeed exposed to carbon disulfide at her Ohio nuclear weapons site, but that there were no known links between the poisonous substance and Parkinson's.

However, the Labor Department's own Occupational Safety and Health Administration recognizes carbon disulfide's link to Parkinson's. And a bulletin issued by the same program that denied Webb's claim lists carbon disulfide at the top of its list of toxic links to Parkinson's.

"You'd think mine would be an open and shut case," said Webb, now 48, who first filed for compensation in 2004.

On Jan. 9 of this year, the same day the Labor Department sent Webb a letter saying it could find no toxic link to Parkinson's, Schwartz penned a memo to his bosses at the Labor Department. One of his top concerns was the "scientific integrity and validity" of the database because it failed to find well-known links between toxic exposure and multiple diseases.

In the memo, Schwartz also called for the Labor Department to submit the program to outside peer review, in which independent experts would validate the conclusions in the database.

Schwartz said none of his bosses, all longtime program employees, ever responded.

But after he sent the memo, Labor Department officials put new demands on his work schedule and, records show, planned to have a manager accompany Schwartz on training trips to make sure he didn't raise issues about the scientific validity of the program.

Then, on April 16, Schwartz gave testimony about his allegations to the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, which has a continuing probe into problems with the compensation program.

The day after his GAO testimony, Schwartz got a memo from one of his bosses, policy chief Mike Chance, who had listened in on the GAO call. Chance told Schwartz that Labor was changing his previous work agreement, which had guaranteed he would not be sent on the road more than three times a month. The change was "non-negotiable," Schwartz said he was told.

"My current situation is the response" to his memo, Schwartz said. "I believe I was forced out."

When asked for a response, Rachel Leiton, director of the compensation program, sent this statement through a spokeswoman:

"While it is not our policy to discuss personnel matters, in this case we can emphatically state that Dr. Schwartz was not forced to resign. Rather, he submitted his letter of resignation on a completely voluntary basis."

When asked for elaboration, the same spokeswoman did not reply. But she did send out a press release on the amount of money collected so far by claimants in Colorado, where a bipartisan group of Congress members has introduced legislation to reform the national program.

The payments &endash; some $400 million &endash; are a lot of money, said Carla McCabe, the former bomb builder from Rocky Flats suffering from a brain tumor she believes is linked to her work.

"But they're denying people like crazy," she said. "I don't know how they keep denying us. I hope finally a whistleblower can help us get some answers."

Thanks to ProPublica for the right to reprint this article: http://www.propublica.org























In last month's article about "Farmer of the Year" Clovis Romero we gave the wrong phone number for the orchard. The correct number is: 505 579-4378. Call around Labor Day to see when his apples are ready for sale.

• This August and September New Mexico State University and the New Mexico Organic Commodity Commission are presenting a series of organic farm walks with an emphasis on insect pest management in organic systems. The aim of the program is to provide new or transitioning organic growers with an informal overview of approaches to pest management and an opportunity to meet with other growers and learn from each other. East walk will be led by Dr. Tess Grasswitz (Urban/Small Farm IPM Specialist with NMSU) and Joanie Quinn (Education and Marketing Coordinator with NMOCC). There is no charge for attending any of the farm walks but interested participants should pre-register with Suzanne Despres, NMSU, Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, 1036 Miller St., Los Lunas, NM 87031, 505 865-7340.

1. Tuesday, August 11, 2-5 pm with Barbara Hawn/Trenton Wann, organic tree and cane fruit, Cider Mill Farms, Mountain Park (near Tularosa).

2. Friday, August 21, 2-5 pm with Fred Martinez, who is transitioning to organic tree fruit production, Dixon.

3. Friday, August 28, 2-5 pm with Tomas and Christine Apodaca, mixed vegetables, East Mountain Organics, Tijeras.

4. Friday, September 4, 2-5 pm with Kelley James, organic hay, dairy pasture, pinto beans, Hobbs.

5. Thursday, September 10, 2-5 pm with Ronnie Franzoy, who is considering transitioning to organic pecans, chile, onions, alfala, cotton, Hatch.

6. Friday, September 11, 2-5 pm with Sally Harper, organic pecans, Del Valle Pecans, Las Cruces.

7. Sunday, September 27, 1-4 pm, with Sharlene Grunerud and Michael Alexander, first farm to be certified organic by the NMOCC, The No Cattle Company, San Juan, Mimbres Valley.

• The Hogs & Heifers Motorcycle Club from Peñasco will be hosting its 4th annual Roast & Rally at Sipapu Ski Lodge on Agust 21-23. This year's event is a fund raiser for the Peñasco Community Center and its newly organized Youth Center. According to the club, the group would like to help this small and under-budgeted center that serves all the small communities from Ojo Sarco to the Tres Ritos area and help provide a safe, clean, and comfortable summer and after school center that will help the area youth. The club is asking businesses for donations of pork and/or beef roasts, pinto beans, potatoes, green chile, or any monetary donation to off-set food or enertainment expenses. You can reach the club at Hogs & Heifers Motorcycle Club, P.O. Box 932, Peñasco, NM 87553, 575 770-7817.

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