A community advocacy newspaper for northern New Mexico
Box 6 El Valle Route, Chamisal, NM 87521
Taos County Public Welfare Committee Meets for the First Time By Kay Matthews
Book Review: Down Country, The Tano of the Galisteo Basin, 1250-1782 By Lucy Lippard, Museum of New Mexico Press Reviewed by Kay Matthews
Update on Lower Rio Grande Adjudication By Kay Matthews
Editorial: Power in the Middle East By Kay Matthews
Thinning Project in Las Trampas Watershed By Kay Matthews
By Kay Matthews
The Taos County Advisory and Informational Committee on Public Welfare Impacts of Water Appropriations and Changes in Point of Diversion, Place of Use, or Purpose of Use (Whew. What a title. For this article I will simply refer to it as the Public Welfare Committee.) had its first meeting on January 31 at the Taos County Commission Chamber. As I detailed in the October/November issue of La Jicarita News, the Public Welfare Committee is comprised of nine members selected by the Commission to represent the subregions in Taos County that were defined in the Taos Regional Water Plan. Interested citizens submitted letters to the Commissioners and other potential candidates were recommended to the Commission by members of the Regional Water Plan's Public Welfare subcommittee.
The members chosen by the County are: Glorianna Dominguez Atencio, an acequia commissioner from Arroyo Hondo; Milton Cisneros, a commissioner from Cerro; Ron Gardiner from Questa; Joe Torres from El Salto; Norman Quenzler from Taos; Arthur Coca, a commissioner from Ranchos de Taos; Bob Romero, board member of the El Valle Water and Sanitation District from Ranchos de Taos; Tanya Leherissey, a mayordoma from Llano San Juan; and myself, a commissioner from El Valle.
Simeon Herskovits, a Taos County contract attorney who helped draft the Public Welfare Ordinance, presented draft bylaws for the Committee to review, and discussion at this first meeting centered around the nuts and bolts of how the committee will fulfill its obligation to review transfer applications from or within the county. We will decide whether to establish a de minimus amount of water in a transfer application, perhaps 5 afy or less, that would not require review by the committee, or whether to look at every proposed transfer on a case by case basis. We also discussed the need to convene the committee in a timely fashion once a transfer application has been filed with the County Clerk, as required in the Public Welfare Ordinance, to ensure an adequate review and recommendation to the County as to whether it should protest the application. The committee will abide by the Open Meetings Act, which requires that public notice of meetings be posted with the County Clerk.
Before the meeting I called Santa Fe County Attorney John Utton, who has been handling the Aamodt water rights settlement in the Pojoaque Basin. As La Jicarita readers will recall, this settlement depends on the transfer of Top of the World water rights from the northern portion of Taos County that Santa Fe County purchased over the course of the last decade. The county applied to transfer 588 afy of TOW water rights in 1999; this application was protested by a group of acequias and parciantes and never came to a hearing. According to Utton, the Department of the Interior, along with Santa Fe County, will likely make an application this year for 1,711 afy, the total amount of water rights at TOW. The Interior will ask for the 1,141 afy that it purchased from Santa Fe County as part of the Aamodt settlement agreement, on behalf of Pojoaque, Nambe, Tesuque, and San Ildefonso pueblos, while the county will be applying for 611 afy of non-pueblo water rights.Utton reiterated to me that Santa Fe County had offered to trade TOW water rights to the Abeyta (Taos Pueblo) settlement parties for San Juan/Chama water, but the Pueblo was not interested in the trade because it intends to market some of the San Juan/Chama water. The TOW application will of course come before the Public Welfare Committee for review. It will be the job of the committee to evaluate the impacts of this large transfer on the public welfare of the Taos region using the criteria set out in the Ordinance and present our findings of fact to the Taos County Commission.
The committee met again on March 7 at 4:00 pm. and elected a chair, vice-chair, and secretary and approved its bylaws.
By Lucy Lippard, Museum of New Mexico Press
Reviewed by Kay Matthews
Author Lucy Lippard calls the history of the Galisteo Basin a series of "meetings", the first being the relationship between the Tano pueblo people and the land, then her own "meeting" with what they left behind &endash; shrines, rock art, and architectural remains. When she moved to Galisteo in 1992, Lippard, a well known art and cultural critic, spent years exploring the ancient sites of the Tanos before sitting down to write Down Country, The Tano of the Galisteo Basin, 1250-1782, a 10-year project. Her story is complimented by the luminous black and white photographs of Edward Ranney, who lives in the northern Galisteo on the upper San Marcos Arroyo.
So much remains unknown about the Tano people who settled the Galisteo Basin: exactly where they came from; which other pueblo people they were related to; when they first established their small pueblos or their large villages; and where they went when they left. They are familiar questions in the study of many ancient sites like Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde &endash; archeology often raises more questions than it answers. But with rigorous research of archeological and ethnographic studies, reliance on Pueblo historians such as Alfonso Ortiz, conversations with current Pueblo members, and many walks through the Basin, Lippard has pieced together this five century story of "meetings."
Scattered settlements began in the 1200s, and many of the larger pueblos of the Classic period (1325-1525/1540) were built on top of these smaller communities. There is no clear picture of which pueblo people populated these settlements &endash; Keres, Towa, Tewa, Tano &endash; but then that is the history of the pueblos in New Mexico, a "casual, daily cross-cultural modus operandi" of people with different dialects, traditions, and religious ceremonies. At any rate, these agricultural settlements became known as the Tano, or "people who live down country" or "nearer the sun."
In the Classic period, the larger villages and shrines whose remains are visible today (see photos below) dominated the basin. Both the architecture and the placement of the pueblos reflect the natural landscape while the "shrines and rock art focus space. Their power is invested in their sites . . . ." Many of the shrines have weathered away, but the pictographs and petroglyphs remain, the "fullest record of the Pueblo worldview we have today": beliefs, values, concerns, and relationships.
During this Classic period pueblo populations fluctuated with the good and bad times &endash; years of abundant rain, years of drought, availability of resources such as firewood &endash; with perhaps a high end population of 4,000. Lippard quotes poet and journalist V.B. Price: "Ancestral Puebloans were not 'primitives' or 'environmentalists' in that romantic sense we have come to associate with those words. They were pragmatists, in a life and death struggle with natural forces, who experimented with and refined an array of agricultural and ceremonial forms that allowed them to survive and culturally flourish."
In the fifteenth century a series of disruptions &endash; drought, competition for resources, and perhaps raiding by other native groups &endash; caused the abandonment of some of the villages, but the critical disruption came, of course, with the arrival in the 1500s of the Europeans "clanking across the grasslands with their strange new livestock and wheeled carts, driven by an obsession with gold and souls." Unlike some of the other pueblos along the Rio Grande and west of Santa Fe, the Galisteo Basin pueblos saw little of the Spaniards until the end of the century. There are no accounts of these "meetings" from the Pueblo side, and so Lippard tells us "we must read Pueblo responses to European arrival between the lines" of the records kept by the Spaniards.
As Lippard lays out the story of the fate of the Tano as Franciscan missionaries, Spanish settlers, and the Spanish government made its presence known in the Galisteo Basin she also pays attention to how so few, the Europeans, could have overwhelmed the many, the Puebloans, talking about cultural traits of dominance, the concept of private property, the imposition of enclosures, and the shrinking of an arable land base. The gritty story of the Pueblo Revolt, the reconquest, the second revolt and dispersal of the Pueblo people has been told many times, but the Tano suffered an especially difficult route. During the thirteen years of freedom from Spanish rule no Tanos appear to have reclaimed the four remaining Galisteo mission towns or the pueblos deserted before the arrival of the Spanish. Their dispersal after the reconquest is a long, tortuous tale of resettlement and eviction in villages near Santa Cruz, a failed promise for a settlement near Chimayó, and arrival in Hopi in the late 1600s. Finally, in 1706, Governor Don Francisco Cuervo de Valdes (Don Diego de Vargas's successor) rounded up the remaining Tanos who had been driven out of Santa Fe, the Santa Cruz area, and those who may have been wandering from pueblo to pueblo, and sent them back to Galisteo Pueblo. But surrounded by hostile Plains tribes, fallow lands, and government interference, this repatriation didn't last long, and by the 1780s the few remaining Tanos left, probably downriver to Santo Domingo Pueblo. Their five-century "meeting" in the Galisteo is the story of an "imagined landscape," or "glimpses of the narratives drawn on the land by hundreds of years of interaction."
By Kay Matthews
Once again the Lower Rio Grande adjudication being heard in District Court in Las Cruces has taken an interesting turn. Judge James J. Weschler, who has taken over the case from retired Judge Jerald Valentine, ruled in favor of a motion of the federal government and Elephant Butte Irrigation District to designate a new stream system issue, SS-105. This stream system issue will address the water right claims of the Estate of Nathan Boyd, as well as any related claims by his great-grandson Scott Boyd, as an inter se proceeding. Scott Boyd has until March 4 to file a statement "describing in detail all water rights claimed in the Lower Rio Grande adjudication."
According to a source in the Office of the State Engineer (OSE), this motion was filed because "the State of New Mexico has refused to make an offer of judgment to Mr. Boyd on behalf of the Rio Grande Dam & Irrigation Company." If you'll recall, it is Scott Boyd's belief that his great-grandfather's dam and irrigation company was illegally seized by the federal government under a bogus War Powers Act claim, and that those water rights currently being administered by the OSE are fraudulent. Conceivably, if the court determines that the federal government's water rights are nonexistent, it could proceed with a standard adjudication of senior water rights, invalidating the state's permits for the entire Rio Grande.
There remains a partial stay of trial with ongoing mediation on Stream System 104, the issue of what rights the federal government actually owns on the Rio Grande, until Boyd's rights, and potentially the rights of others who have prior dates, are determined.
As we reported in the July 2010 issue of La Jicarita, another interesting twist to this case arose when it was discovered that the predecessor to the Bureau of Reclamation, which built Elephant Butte Reservoir and Dam and later created the Rio Grande Project to serve what now is called Elephant Butte Irrigation District, did not file a valid application and did not receive a valid permit from the Territory of New Mexico to undertake the Elephant Butte Dam Project. The OSE has come up empty handed after being ordered by the court to produce this Permit 8. Bill Turner, a water broker who has been involved in this adjudication, filed an Inspection of Public Records Act request to the OSE for a copy of Application 8 and Permit 8 and was provided with an improperly filled out application. There apparently is no Permit 8. What implications this has on the case remains to be seen, but Sigmund Silbert, a Sierra Club member who has been covering this issue for the Rio Grande Sierran (see http://nmsierraclub.org/an-inconvenient-adjudication-update-february-3-2011), put forth some interesting scenarios in his latest update:
"Obviously, for the Boyd Estate, they now can make the case of malfeasance by various individuals in the history of the Territory of New Mexico. Thus we may learn about many well known names in both New Mexico and the U.S. And some of these names and their actions may also be related to other historical unresolved issues such as those involving Land Grants."
"We are going to learn a lot about water law. Today a water right is based on applying water to the land. But prior to 1905 there was no Territorial Water Law but a collection of local rules and customs and a water right at that time may have been based on what some call a 'bundle of sticks', i.e., the combination of the application of water to the land plus the community ditch plus the storage of the water (which was the primary function of the Rio Grande Dam and Irrigation Company), which was owned at the end of its corporate existence by Dr. Nathan Boyd and the contracts among the three groups. The definition of water right might have a significant impact on the outcome of this adjudication both for the Boyd Estate and the descendants of other farmers within EBID."
"If the Boyd Estate prevails, many farmers in the adjudication may well end up with much earlier priority dates based on their contracts with the Rio Grande Dam & Irrigation Company."
"There could be a need for and a stimulus for more cooperation among water right holders up and down the Rio Grande and that cooperation could lead to both water quality and other environmental improvements."
"The Rio Grand Project itself and the form of organization of the EBID may be impacted. If the Federal Government used assets owned by the RGD&IC to create the Rio Grande Project, and if those assets are found not to have been forfeited a hundred years ago, the ability of the Federal government to have used those assets to create the Rio Grande Project becomes problematical. How that could be resolved so many years later is an open question."
The court will hold a scheduling conference on April 5 , 2011.
The Obama Administration 2012 Budget proposes $85 billion over the next decade to "modernize" the nuclear weapons research and production complex and $100 billion for new heavy bombers, ballistic missiles, and strategic submarines. What this means in New Mexico is the funding for the Chemical and Metallurgy Research Building Replacement Project (CMRR) at Los Alamos National Laboratory. It's estimated cost is $6.16 billion, but final costs may exceed that. This CMRR request is $300 million more than the $225 million 2011 request (33% more) and more than triple the 2010 appropriation of $97 million.
This dramatic increase, along with increases in other nuclear facilities around the country, was negotiated by the administration in return for ratification by the Republicans of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).
Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety (CCNS) filed a motion to intervene in the New Mexico Court of Appeals regarding the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Permit (Hazard Waste Act) that was negotiated between the Department of Energy, the New Mexico Environment Department, and various nongovernmental agencies. CCNS was one of those parties in this process that led up to the Final Order and Permit, issued at the end of 2010. CCNS is concerned that the permit does not require the immediate closure and post closure plans for disposal sites that contain legacy nuclear, chemical, and mixed hazardous waste, as well an end to "open burning" disposal of hazardous waste. Two representative CCNS members who live in harms way have authorized CCNS and its counsel, the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, to represent them in this proceeding. In its motion to intervene the group has asked that the issue go immediately to mediation.
Final negotiations continue between Communities for Clean Water, a coalition of environmental and social justice groups, and the Department of Energy, on the 2008 Clean Water Act lawsuit filed against the DOE and LANL over contaminated stormwater runoff into the soils, surface water, and shallow groundwater of Los Alamos and Pueblo canyon watersheds and into the Rio Grande. We will publish the results of the settlement as soon as they are made available.
Our stimulus dollars at work building a fake fire lookout at the new Camino Real Ranger Station in Peñasco. The sign in front says, "Project Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act."
Considering that there aren't any fire lookouts left (victims to air surveillance) and not much staff, I guess this new Camino Real Ranger Station is a homage to days gone by. When I was a fire lookout for the Cibola National Forest in the mid-1970s, there was a lookout on every mountaintop, there were fire crews out building trail, wilderness patrols on horseback, fire patrols doing PR out in the woods, and full-time professional staff at every district. But all good things (or not so good things, depending on how you feel about the Forest Service) must come to an end. Except for all things virtual.
Max Córdova of Truchas, former president of the Truchas Land Grant, founder of La Montaña de Truchas, a community forestry non-profit, and longtime community activist, is recovering from a heart transplant he received last summer. While the operation was successful, he of course has to be monitored closely and is taking many anti-rejection drugs and other medications. The operation itself, these costly prescriptions, and travel back and forth to Phoenix for monitoring have contributed to costs beyond what his insurance will cover; an account in his name has been set up for anyone who would like to make a donation to help support his recovery. The necessary information is as follows: Max Albert Córdova Revocable Trust Fund; Account number 457020429557; Bank of America. We send our heartfelt wishes for Max's continuing recovery.
Many thanks to all of you who called, wrote letters, and e-mailed in response to last month's issue dedicated to Mark's life and work. Please know that even if I'm not able to respond to you personally, I appreciate all your kind words and tributes.
Special thanks to Eva, at Vanguard Printing, and Kay, at Summit Trade Bindery, for their contribution to last month's issue.
The hard work and many donated hours of staff time at Peñasco's SPOT office finally paid off. Kresge Foundation awarded the organization a $75,000 planning grant in 2010, and now a three-year $250,000 per year implementation grant to provide interventional services for children from birth to eight years old. The long-term goal of the grant is to also meet the needs of extended family members through work with the children.
The SPOT office will continue to provide the services it has since its inception seven years ago: mental health in coordination with local providers; parenting classes; and resource navigation, helping folks apply for state and county services such as food stamps and Medicaid. The organization originally received a federal grant as a demonstration project for rural health in conjunction with the Picuris/Peñasco Community Coalition. The National Center for Frontier Communities, headed by Carol Miller, served as fiscal sponsor for SPOT. Once the federal monies expired, grants from the McCune and Con Alma foundations provided funding for overhead.
Over the ensuing lean years community members Amanda Bissell, Claudia Yunker, Annabelle Fresquez, Joey Sam, and Enselma Vásquez stepped up and often worked for little or no pay to keep the program functioning. Bissell, who grew up in Peñasco and then left to attend Colorado College, came back to the community three years ago and took charge of fundraising, but soon decided that the organization needed to partner with other service groups to become sustainable. The office formed a partnership with Holy Cross Hospital in Taos, which became its fiscal sponsor. Kelly Shull of the hospital's Community Development Office began working with Bissell to fundraise, and they applied to the Kresge Foundation in 2010 for a planning grant. With this $75,000 grant the SPOT team started working with local agencies and groups to determine what kind of work would best meet the needs of the community. They solicited input from the health clinics, Picuris Pueblo, UNM Health Sciences Center's rural outreach program, and the local school and identified over arching problems that affect many community members: depression, isolation, loss of cultural attachment, decrease in community engagement, drug abuse, and economic hardship. According to a study by the Center for Disease Control, children who are exposed to these kinds of problems at home often end up with lifelong chronic problems like alcoholism, diabetes, heart disease, etc. With this information, and Kresge's guidelines that encourage engagement with a small target group, the office wrote an implementation grant that targeted children from birth to eight years old. As Bissell explained, "Focusing on young children would allow us to engage with extended family members, the schools, clinics, etc., to work with parents on coping skills, child development, health care and maintenance, and education, with family stability in mind."
In competition with 300 organizations across the country they were one of eight programs awarded the three year grant, and the only rural-based organization. The first projects set up under the grant are geared towards finding ways for families to feel less isolated. Parenting classes are being developed in partnership with Paso a Paso, or Step by Step, a Taos organization that focuses on this same age group and that wanted to do county outreach. Parents who have been trained in this program in Taos will come to Peñasco to teach classes.
The Peñasco Valley Birthday Club has also been established for children to share their birthdays with the community. The Birthday Club will host monthly parties on the first Saturday of the month at the Peñasco Community Center. The first party was held on March 5. Fliers have been sent out through the schools, the clinics, and the churches to get word out to the community. The parties will also be a vehicle for SPOT to distribute Family Portfolios for each child as a means for parents to house all the pertinent information regarding their child's development. Prompts will be included in the portfolios: dental screening, immunization schedules, vision testing, etc., along with information about how to access these services. Staff members Joey Sam, Esnselma Vásquez, and Claudia Yunker will track these families, providing case management when needed. To encourage families to participate, the office will be offering passes to the Picuris fitness gym, trapeze lessons, yoga and Zumba classes, Art for the Heart, etc. These activities also help people form relationships and improve communication.
"We want to encourage parents and families to come to the SPOT office to take advantage of these programs and to feel comfortable about looking outside themselves for resources that can help meet their needs," Bissell said. The office is located on State Highway 75 where the old post office used to be. The phone number is 575-587-2690. It's a comfortable place for people to gather, and now, with the Kresge grant, the staff has the resources to meet the community's needs. "After living on a shoestring, it's nice to know we can buy a ream of paper if we need it!" Joey Sam said.
By Kay Matthews
We all watched with joy and a certain amount of trepidation as the citizens of Egypt rose up in revolt against the Mubarak dictatorship. Seeing, and listening to, so many articulate (speaking English, no less) and passionate people from all walks of life demanding an end to the corruption and poverty that pervades Egypt after thirty years of totalitarian rule allowed us to focus on hopeful feelings rather than fearful ones.
Now that the military has reasserted its control (remember, since 1952 the military has essentially ruled the country), promising a transition to a freely elected government, the fearful feelings start creeping in. As much as I try to ignore what I've learned regarding institutionalized power, I can't help but worry about how that transition will take place, who or what will be the beneficiary, and whether it will translate to a "democratic" government. I put "democratic" in quotes because I'm not sure what that means. If the U.S. is taken as an example of a functioning democracy, where citizens participate in "free" and "fair" elections, we're in trouble. All you have to do is look at the incomes of our elected officials, or the billions of corporate dollars used to elect them, to remember that it's the elites who run the country.
Michel Foucault is the go to guy about how society has transitioned from sovereignty, the rule over a territory, to governmentality, or the rule within our institutions, or "micro-power structures." Unfortunately, in modern western democracies, this form of governmentality often takes the form of neoliberalism, based on the predominance of market mechanisms and of the restriction of the action of the state. We now live in a globalized society, and the revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and perhaps the entire Middle East, will unfold in that context.
There is no comparison, of course, between the lack of personal freedom and dire economic situations in the Middle East and the U.S. If the people there achieve freedom of speech, assembly, and the press, and slave wages and benefits are improved, their lives will be enormously better. But if the revolution is "highjacked" by the neoliberals, rather than the Islamists, we will see, just as we are seeing in this country and in Europe, an institutionalized divide between the rich and the poor and an assault on government's basic function in society, that of providing access to basic needs and services. While the divide between the rich and poor in Egypt is already enormous (and already neoliberal, to a certain extent), will global capitalism just allow better access to a more efficient system of exploitation than the one perpetrated by the U.S., which has long worked behind the scenes in that country to ensure both political and economic dependency.
I went to the rally on February 22 at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe to show solidarity with the public employees and teachers in Madison, Wisconsin who are under assault by their Republican governor who wants to do away with collective bargaining. Private unions in this country have already been eviscerated, so now the neoliberalists are after the public unions like AFSMCE and teachers unions. The ultimate goal is to put more money in the hands of the corporate elite, and unfortunately, they've not only been successful in this goal but through the "power of consent" have convinced many of the working class that their interests are the same as the capitalists.
But the thousands of protestors in Wisconsin, those of us supporting them on the streets of Santa Fe, and many of the protestors all over the Middle East, understand that it is power imposed by economic coercion. We must break free of that control in the western world if there is to be any hope of breaking free in the Middle East. But in the meantime, off with their heads!
By Kay Matthews
Despite La Jicarita News' cynical speculation that funding for the Collaborative Forest Restoration Program (CFRP) would dry up (see February 2007 issue), the program is now accepting proposals for 2011, and one of those in consideration is a three-year planning effort by Forest Guild to complete National Environmental Policy (NEPA) and National Historical Preservation Act surveys on 10,000 forest acres of the Rio Trampas watershed. Guild member Eytan Krasilovsky convened a meeting at the Carson National Forest Supervisor's Office in February to present the proposal and solicit input from the agencies that govern the proposed restoration work: the Camino Real Ranger District; Taos Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management; Picuris Pueblo; and the State Land Office. Several Las Trampas community members, including the president of the Trampas Land Grant, Felimon Sanchez, also attended.
In a two-day workshop the Guild, working with these partners, will identify high priority piñon/juniper, ponderosa pine, and mixed confer forests that are in need of restoration. The target acreage is 6,000 on Forest Service land, 2,000 on BLM, 1,300 on Picuris, and 700 on state land. The NEPA process will identify treatments for each forest jurisdiction and will utilize thinning to reduce tree density in each classification to insure maximum forest health and reduction of potential high fire hazards. The project also focuses on restoration of watersheds, which have been degraded by high road densities and erosion and sedimentation.
Forest Guild, in conjunction with the land management agencies, will contract with Rocky Mountain Ecology and Hammerstone Archaeologist Services to conduct the necessary assessments. The contractors will work to meet each agency's rules and regulations regarding NEPA requirements, generating categorical exclusions or environmental assessments for each jurisdiction. All jurisdictions will sign a joint finding of no significant impact (FONSI) statement by the end of the three-year planning period.
At the February meeting I asked about what procedures might be used in the thinning &endash; commercial, fuelwood sales, contract stewardship blocks &endash; and was told that this planning process would not address these kinds of specifics. I also asked how much Forest Service land is currently NEPA ready: the answer was "not much." There are several small ranger sales and the Francisco fuelwood sale, which is currently being utilized. So while this planning work is sorely needed, it's only the first step in a long process that will be dependent on monies for implementation.
Copyright 1996-2010 La Jicarita Box 6 El Valle Route, Chamisal, New Mexico 87521.