A community newspaper for the Jicarita watershed, including the
Rio Mora, Rio Santa Barbara, Rio de las Trampas, Rio Pueblo, & Rio Embudo
On March 12, representatives of 23 New Mexico land grants met in Santa Fe to lobby for passage of several state bills that support the establishment of the Guadalupe-Hidalgo Treaty Land Claims Commission (introduced in the U.S. Congress by Bill Richardson&emdash;see the February issue of La Jicarita). House Bill 464, introduced by Representative Nick Salazar, would establish a state holiday to observe February 2 as the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty Day, in observance of the 1848 treaty establishing "peace, friendship, limits, and settlement" between the United States and Mexico. This bill has already passed the House of Representatives. Another bill, number 23, is a House Joint Memorial, which supports the establishment of the land grant commission, and urges New Mexico's congressional delegation to "assure the adoption and enactment" of that bill.
Several other bills that directly affect the Truchas Land Grant are House Bill 1172 and Senate Bill 340. Bill 1172 will change the number of grant trustees from three to five, and will model elections after state, county, and municipal elections. To be more responsive to community input, these elections will be held biannually and the voting location will be open from 7 am to 7 pm. Bill 340, the Weatherization Bill, asks that 25% of the $500,000 appropriations bill to provide funding to assist families in home weatherization projects be made available to the communities of Cordova, Truchas, and Ojo Sarco.
An alarming report, Water Management Study: Upper Rio Grande River Basin, commissioned by the Western Water Policy Review Advisory Commission, was recently released. This commission was created by the Western Water Review Act of 1992, sponsored by Senator Mark Hatfield, R-Oregon, and was mandated to define the federal role in water policy for the west. The report, among other things, states that "We recommend federal agencies in the [Rio Grande] Basin do more to mitigate the constraints to competition that keep water and other resources in low-value uses while high value demands go unmet." In other words, high-value water uses, such as urban, industrial and recreational, rather than low-value agricultural uses, should dictate how water will be allocated in the future. It goes on to say that acequia associations and irrigation and conservancy districts have exercised undue influence on legislation pertaining to water distribution in the state and that the Rio Grande Compact governing distribution on the Rio Grande between Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado " . . . reflects the agrarian economy . . . that existed at the end of the 1920s, not today's highly urbanized economy." Even new innovations such as the water banking programs being initiated by the Taos Valley Acequia Association and the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, aimed at preserving individual water rights, should, according to the report, only be supported by federal agencies if they determine " . . . that the bank will facilitate voluntary transfer of water to highest-value uses." If the recommendations of this report are implemented, they pose an enormous threat to the culture and traditions of northern New Mexico.
To obtain a copy of this report, you can call: 303 236-6211. Public comment is due by April 6 (you can ask that the date be extended). In conjunction with the second part of our interview with Chellis Glendinning, La Jicarita will do a more extensive analysis of this report discussing how Glendinning's theories about global corporatization apply.
Editor's note: Glendinning, a resident of Chimayó, has written several books on environmental issues, including My Name is Chellis and I'm in Recovery From Western Civilization. She is currently working on a book about imperialism. This interview will be continued in the April issue of La Jicarita.
La Jicarita: A year ago you wrote an open letter, published in The Reporter and The New Mexican, to environmentalists asking them to "embrace and stand behind the politics of land-based peoples" here in New Mexico. Can you explain what motivated you to write that letter?
Glendinning: I'm recognized as an environmentalist through my work in the anti-nuclear movement, in the women's movement, and as an advisor to Earth Island Institute and Earth Trust Foundation. So I come from that movement, that tradition, I understand the psychology of that world. On the other hand, a number of years ago I was taken very deliberately aside by two Native people, one Dine' and one Okanagan, and taught how to think in terms of land-based, indigenous politics. Then I worked with uranium miners from the Navajo Nation and Laguna Pueblo, and I learned how the indigenous perspective manifests in daily politics. So when I moved to Chimayó it wasn't difficult for me to see that what was going on was very much in tune with what I had been taught. And then to be witnessing this terrible conflict between the professional environmentalists of the city and the land-based villagers of the north. So when I went to the first commemoration of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, February 1st and 2nd of 1996, I sat in the back row and I learned about the land grants and history. And by the end of it, I was bursting with a desire to verbalize to my original community, the urban environmental, European-American community, what I was learning. I have in my life participated in seven social change movements, from civil rights to environmentalism, and the amazing thing about each one is the opportunity to learn new things, to think fresh thoughts, to grow. So I decided to write the letter. I wanted to deepen the conversation.
La Jicarita: What was the response to your letter?
Glendinning: The letter did stir up the conversation. I received many phone calls. When I went down to the Capital, people came up to me and said, I agree with this or I disagree with that. On the other side, up here in the Española valley, because of the letter, I ended up meeting a lot of people who have been influential in my life, like Antonio "Ike" DeVargas, Max Córdova, Levi Romero and Santiago Juarez. This opened up a whole world of possibility for affecting change and further deepening the conversation. The letter was also published in the national environmental press, by the Earth Island Journal, and it has contributed to a conversation which is going on internationally about environmental philosophy and strategy that has largely been influenced by Native people around the world. The struggle here reflects struggles that are going on around the world, and people from New York and Mexico and India have also commented on the letter.
La Jicarita: As a result of the new dialogue instigated by your letter, do you feel that we've begun working towards a resolution or that people are becoming more intransigent?
Glendinning: As a result of meeting and working with northern New Mexico community leaders, I was inspired to continue the educational process. What I thought was to have a teach-in, because it seemed to me if we sought to link forces with urban environmentalists, they needed some education about what it means to live up here. So I asked Ike if we might throw a teach-in together. I would bring a group of environmentalists and he would bring a group of Indo-Hispano people, and we would engage in some sort of dialogue or educational process. This happened last August. It was quite successful, about 60 people showed up at the Oñate Center. And out of that 30 people wanted to continue the dialogue. So now we have a group of European-American environmentalists and Indo-Hispanos who have discussed these issues in a mindful way.
La Jicarita: In the letter you put the struggles of local land-based people into the context of the global struggle against the New World Order or the corporatization of the world. Can you talk more specifically about that?
Glendinning: One of the lessons to me as a European-American living in northern New Mexico is that we exist in an empire. This fact is easily forgotten when you are a member of the dominant society, but I think it's one of the great lessons that we need to start grappling with. I think it's also important for us to understand that there have been, in our lifetime, two forms of imperialism. One of them is what I call classical imperialism. That's the colonies and the motherland, the British Empire, New España, Russia, which basically began somewhere in the 1500s and ended in the middle of this century. It ended largely because the overhead of taking care of distant lands was too great and because there were decolonization movements that changed the whole map of the world. During World War II, Allied bankers and corporate leaders and government officials understood that the basic foundation of the imperial life from which they were benefitting was crumbling. So they got together in 1944 in New Hampshire and they laid the framework for a new form of imperialism, whereby people who were in control could benefit economically from using and having access to other peoples' land and resources and labor. This was the beginning of economic globalization. They made agreements that basically gave corporations and governments the upper hand in using resources and people without having to own the country. In 1994, NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement] came in, and in 1995, GATT [General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade]. The law of the land now lays the legal channels for unstoppable exploitation. "Free trade" is not freedom for you and me to trade chiles for kiwi fruit. It is "freedom" for transnational corporations to do whatever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want. One of the greatest threats of this system is the threat to democracy. According to GATT, any corporation can go to the World Trade Organization and challenge any law made on any level, local to federal&emdash;an environmental law, a labor law, a safety and health law&emdash;on the grounds it blocks the will of the marketplace. Every single person on the planet is to be dependent on the corporation for the food that they eat, the clothes they wear, the thoughts they have, and the money they make. There is to be no more relationship to the earth: Everyone is to enter the corporate-run cash economy. So if we look at the struggle of land-based people in northern New Mexico, both Native and Indo-Hispano, we see the incredible importance and the preciousness of these cultures because they are the vanguard of human survival beyond this fascist monoculture that's being created.
To be continued.
La Jicarita recently received Volume I, Number 1 of Acequia!, the official newsletter of the New Mexico Acequia Association. This heralds the return to activity of this group which was formed in 1988 but became inactive during the early 1990s. Underwritten by a grant from the Turner Foundation, the organization hopes to help acequia associations address water policy issues including minimum in-stream flow, water transfers, historic preservation, interpretation of the "public welfare doctrine", and adjudication. Other articles in the newsletter addressed industrial and urban development threats to acequias, water rights forfeiture and abandonment, the high cost of challenging a water rights application through the Office of the State Engineer, and bills pending in the state legislature which could affect acequia users. For more information, parciantes or other interested parties can contact association president Nicasio Romero at P. O. Box 248, Ribera, NM, or treasurer John Carangelo at P. O. Box 24, LaJoya, NM, 87028.
Paul's General Contracting of Vadito has just about finished its portion of the renovation project of the Peñasco Community Center (the old El Norteño building). Since last October the crew has replaced all the windows and doors, poured a concrete floor, installed bathrooms, rewired, and divided the interior space into a large central activity room, a game room, smaller meeting rooms, a future library, and offices. At this point there is not enough money left to partition the offices or cover the concrete with flooring, but Carlos Miera, Taos County Director of Community Development, said these projects will be completed in the next funding cycle. He also said that architectural plans call for a kitchen and dining area on the north side of the building and an exterior face-lift. Before the county can apply for additional funding, however, Miera said he and the county need to meet with community representatives to discuss other needs, particularly who the community center should serve and who will be responsible for operation. Until these decisions are made, Miera said the center can be used on a case by case basis for community meetings, county sponsored youth group sessions, etc. The county will try to schedule an open house in May to show the facility to the community . He also asked that people start thinking about what they want to name the facility.
Renovations of the smaller community centers that were funded by a different county grant also continue. According to Miera, the structural analyses and environmental assessments have been completed. The county is currently meeting with representatives of these communities to present its findings. Notices have been sent out to each community association, and meetings are publicized in the Taos News as well.
The Camino Real Ranger District is accepting public comments until March 27 on its plan to conduct a prescribed burn on Bear Mountain in the Santa Barbara Ecosystem Management Area. The purpose of the burn is to improve wildlife habitat for mule deer, elk, and bighorn sheep. The burn is planned in an area of approximately 2100 acres of Gambel oak and ponderosa pine and mixed conifer understory. Fifty to 70% of the acreage will be treated. According to the district, the burn will stimulate growth of oak, snowberry, and aspen, as well as grass and forbs.
In response to community concerns regarding opportunities for harvesting wood products, the Forest Service states that it will either avoid burning in accessible wood-gathering areas or open them up for collection prior to understory burning. The district also plans to address concerns about excessive smoke by burning only in optimal conditions and burning in stages for brief periods of time.
The district has already consulted with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, and the New Mexico Environment Department. The project has been approved by the Sikes Act Citizens Review Committee, which oversees projects paid for with Sikes Act funding, a five dollar habitat improvement fee paid by New Mexico hunters and fishers. You can contact Ben Kuykendall or Manuel Romero at the Camino Real Ranger Station, P. O. Box 68, Peñasco, NM, 587-2255, if you have comments or questions concerning the plan.
By Kay Matthews
In one of an ongoing series of community meetings, Peter Wilkinson and Dennis Slifer of the New Mexico Environment Department (ED) came to Picuris Pueblo on March 5 to discuss the $250,000 grant that department has received to study nonpoint source pollution in the Rio Pueblo watershed. Representatives from Picuris, Dixon, Embudo and the Peñasco valley were in attendance.
The group worked to prioritize the list of existing or potential pollution problems within the watershed so that the Environment Department could plan monitoring and remediation activities. At the top of the list was liquid waste management, or the problems created by too many septic tanks and systems within the watershed alluvium and the potential for discharge into the river. According to those present, this is a problem in both the Dixon/Embudo and Peñasco valley areas. Both Picuris Pueblo and a recently formed group of Peñasco valley domestic water associations (the Santa Barbara and Rio Pueblo Regional Water and Wastewater Association) have applied to the state legislature for funding to underwrite a feasibility study to establish waste treatment facilities in the area. In conjunction with that, the group decided to pursue the possibility of building one or more demonstration wetlands where existing or potential pollution problems exist. Wetlands are a natural and less costly means of cleaning contaminated waters before returning them to the watershed. Carl Tsosie, Picuris tribal sheriff, volunteered to ask the tribal council to approve using a site on the pueblo for one of the demonstration wetlands. The group also made plans to visit the Sol y Sombre estate in Santa Fe to look at the wetlands project there.
The second priority was to expand community outreach and involve more people in this project. It was agreed that without community volunteers the wetlands project will not be possible, and area people need to provide the Environment Department with concerns about specific sites. La Jicarita agreed to publicize the group's meetings and projects, and everyone in the group planned to call neighbors and friends before the next meeting to encourage participation. Everyone is invited to attend the field trip to Sol y Sombre as well: The trip is tentatively planned for a Saturday in April, and notices will be posted.
Next on the list of priorities was establishing good communication with the government agencies responsible for community and public lands management. Representatives from the Bureau of Land Management, the U. S. Forest Service, Taos County, etc., will be invited to meet with the group to address various concerns.The group decided to invite Crockett Dumas, district ranger at the Camino Real Ranger Station in Peñasco, and the Carson National Forest chief engineer to attend a meeting on April 9 to discuss the problem of RV (recreational vehicle) use in the upper watershed (in the Tres Ritos area). There is no transfer station in the area for RVs to dump their waste, and the group is concerned that the Forest Service continues to promote developed recreation in the area without providing the necessary infrastructure to handle that use.
Another area of concern directly related to the RV issue is that of increased erosion caused by ORV (off-road vehicle) use in the upper watershed. Many of the trails used by ORVs lie next to the Rio Pueblo and its tributaries, and without proper maintenance and supervision by the Forest Service (there is often illegal use of trails by ORVs) waters are being contaminated by both soil erosion from the trails and vehicle emissions. In conjunction with this concern is the erosion caused by historic logging sites (such as the Alamitos timber sale) and the construction of roads too close to rivers and streams.
The group also decided to work with the ED on bank stabilization, a common problem in the lower watershed. The ED will assess where and what kinds of vegetation is lacking and will work with land owners to replant willows, cottonwoods, or other appropriate vegetation along the river and acequias where soil is being lost. The group also discussed meeting with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service to better educate itself about the benefits and/or problems of a beaver population in the watershed. While beavers are causing acequia damage in the Dixon/Embudo area, perhaps their presence in the upper watershed can enhance the riparian area.
The Taos Soil and Water Conservation District has moved to a new location:
314 Don Fernando (across from Enos Garcia Middle School). Their phone number remains the same: 751-0584
The community is invited to meet with the New Mexico State Environment Department at the old mission school in Dixon on Wednesday, April 9 at 7 pm to discuss pollution problems and possible solutions in the Rio Pueblo/Rio Embudo watershed. Representatives of the U. S. Forest Service will be present to address the problem of RV dumping in the upper watershed and the lack of a transfer station.
Your editorial in the last La Jicarita failed to make the connection between preserving the environment and preserving culture. Instead, you see conservationists' attempts to hold the Forest Service accountable to law as somehow a threat to cultural survival.
How can the "sustainable sanctuaries" you call for come into being if the communities of northern New Mexico are exempted from environmental safeguards? The survival of an ecosystem-based culture rests on the laws that protect the land.
You also ignore well documented threats to land health, including loss of standing dead wildlife trees, overgrazed riversides, decline of ponderosa pine old growth and too many open roads. These environmental problems threaten northern NM as much as unregulated development and loss of traditional water rights.
Road densities in the Rio Embudo/Rio Pueblo watershed are over 6 times the limits called for in the Carson National Forest Plan. The number of snags&emdash;standing dead wildlife trees&emdash;are significantly below those needed to maintain natural species diversity. Snags provide habitat for 68 vertebrate species in northern NM, more than 40 of which may be at risk of extinction.
When roads are open, snags disappear, despite regulations to protect them. Large ponderosa pine snags, in theory protected, are already gone from huge sections of the forest. Open roads also bleed sediment into streams and provide access to game poachers.
Of particular concern are birds that build nests in the cavities of snags. Birds eat insects, such as spruce budworm, a pest that regularly reaches epidemic levels on the Carson. Over a million pounds of insecticides, mostly DDT, have been dumped on northern NM in unsuccessful attempts at controlling budworms. Insect eating birds would do a better job of insect control if their home were left standing.
Another serious problem is polluted water and habitat loss caused by overgrazed riversides. Livestock, congregating near water, trample streambanks, prevent regeneration of trees and shrubs and pollute water with their waste. A forest service staff report found southwestern streams "instead of being lush, green oases in a hot dry climate, are void of vegetation, eroding, and frequently, as dry as the uplands."
After decades of industrial logging, overgrazing and fire suppression, less than 3% of ponderosa pine old growth remains on the Carson. Federal biologists recently called southwestern ponderosa pine one of the nation's most endangered ecosystems.
Your call for more old growth research and management, instead of protection, is troubling. This is the position of global corporations that you rightly criticize. Old growth logging is not a traditional forest use and preservation of remaining remnants benefit communities by stabilizing watersheds relied upon by traditional irrigators.
A few positive things La Jicarita could do is ask biologists to write about the value of snags and riverside protection; support for efforts of myself, Max Córdova, Salamon Martinez and others to secure weatherization funds for northern villages would also be appreciated.
A rich and diverse ecosystem is the legacy conservationists want to leave for the future. Traditional villagers want to preserve their communities. Both visions&emdash;ecological sustainability and cultural survival&emdash;are interdependent, not mutually exclusive.
Sam Hitt, Forest Guardians
Mark Schiller replies:
Sam Hitt's letter completely misses the point of our February editorial which was that environmental groups like Forest Guardians must "make a distinction between corporate exploitation, bureaucratic mismanagement, and locally-based sustainable needs." He tries instead to justify the devastating impacts of Forest Guardian's legal actions on the culture and economy of land-based northern New Mexicans with a list of environmental problems and statistics and never once stops to consider the legitimate resource needs of these people. Norteños have long been the victims of public lands exploitation and mismanagement; must they now be the victims of the measures Hitt feels are necessary to redress these problems. He also consistently fails to acknowledge that norteños have a history of environmental sensitivity and activism, which predates his own.
Hitt's attempt to cast the editors of this newspaper into the camp of global corporations is not only ungrounded but preposterous. The editors of La Jicarita are not advocating the cutting of old growth trees; we are simply asking for more substantive dialogue on this and other issues critical to both environmentalists and members of our local communities. While Hitt claims these groups' visions are interdependent, his actions in the La Manga timber sale and other lawsuits speak for themselves.
Operated by Roberto Mondragón and Georgia Roybal, Aspectos Culturales provides bilingual teaching aids&emdash;a monthly publication called Amigos, books, cassettes and videos&emdash;that focus on Hispanic history and culture. They are distributed (by subscription) to schools, teachers, and bilingual programs throughout New Mexico as well as Texas, Arizona, and California.
Amigos, a 28-page monthly publication, is written for four reading levels in English and Spanish. Each issue of the magazine is based on one or two themes that New Mexico students can relate to: For example, last year's fall issue had articles on New Mexico farm products, community gardens, Hispanic Heritage Month and el Día de la Raza. Also included in the magazine was a book review and excerpt from Adobe Angels: The Ghosts of Las Cruces and Southern New Mexico . Glosseries in both English and Spanish are a regular feature. Mondragón and Roybal write and translate most of the articles, as well as edit, publish, and "lick the stamps," according to Mondragón. Roybal, with degrees in education and Spanish, taught special education for 13 years and first worked with Mondragón on a bilingual newspaper column about cultural issues. In their seventh year of publication, they welcome contributions from the community.
Music cassettes, accompanied by books that provide the music, words, or game instructions, are also available. ¿Juguemos Niños? and ¿Juguemos Otra Vez? are collections of children's songs, games, and rhymes. Que Cante Mondragón is a full-length tape of Mondragón's recordings of traditional songs, some of which were recorded with Al Hurricane. El Milagro de Truchas is a recording of Cordelia and Reyes Garcia's songs associated with the movie, The Milagro Beanfield War, and according to Mondragón, communicates the message that if people get together, they can protect their traditions and culture.
Mondragón previously hosted a Santa Fe radio program called El Dicho del Dia. Now those dichos, or sayings, are available in book form: Cada Maestro Con su Librito, a dicho for every day of the year. Another book, Adivinancero Cultural, gives a riddle for every day of the year. Mondragón is currently putting together three radio programs of riddles, dichos, and cultural information that he hopes to market on local radio. La Jicarita asked Mondragón, a member of the Green Party and former candidate for several offices, if he planned on running for Bill Richardson's vacated congressional seat. He laughed and said this time, after so many losses, he had to be realistic and not actively seek another office. He hoped that there will be a viable candidate who would support the Green Party platform of campaign and tax reform. Ideally, he would like to see a Democratic-Green Party fusion candidate who could prevent the election of another Republican congressional delegate. He also said that he had spoken with Eric Serna, the Democratic candidate, about his position on various issues, particularly with regard to the Land Grant Commission bill that Richardson introduced before his resignation. Mondragón said that Serna assured him that he would not only pick up sponsorship of the bill but that he would make sure the bill got the support it needed to pass.
Copyright 1996-2001 La Jicarita Box 6 El Valle Route, Chamisal, New Mexico 87521.