A community newspaper for the Jicarita watershed, including the
Rio Mora, Rio Santa Barbara, Rio de las Trampas, Rio Pueblo, & Rio Embudo
Contract Stewardship on the Camino Real By Mark Schiller
County Commission Candidates Meet in Velarde By Mark Schiller
Puntos de Vista By Catalina Muniz, Community Organizer
By Mark Schiller
As a result of a National Forest initiative to test new and innovative methods of achieving vegetative management goals, the Camino Real Ranger District, in conjunction with the Truchas La Montaño Woodlot, Picuris Pueblo, and Forest Trust, will be implementing a new program it is calling "Contract Stewardship." In essence, this program will allow these groups to go into areas the district has recognized need thinning in order to meet desired management goals, and obtain forest resources such as firewood, vigas, latillas, sawtimber, and wildlings (trees taken for transplant) in exchange for doing the work. These resources can then be sold commercially.
District Ranger Crockett Dumas explained to La Jicarita that this program is being implemented in conjunction with the Collaborative Stewardship program already in operation on the district. That program breaks the district into ecological management areas and then, with public input, analyzes them from the perspective of existing conditions, desired conditions, and possible practices that can be used to obtain the desired conditions. The Contract Stewardship program, Dumas hopes, will allow the district, whose manpower and financial resources have been limited by recent budgetary cutbacks, to determine areas which need work and then have local contractors do the work and reap the benefits. Dumas went on to explain that the Forest Service and Santa Fe nonprofit organization Forest Trust would eventually like to train the groups and individuals with whom they'd be contracting to do their own prescriptions so that the Forest Service would simply be monitoring the projects.
Through this program the Forest Service will underwrite 23 pilot projects nationwide. The Camino Real has received a grant of $47,500 to help finance the costs of the three-year project. Ryan Temple of Forest Trust told La Jicarita that his organization helped La Montaño Woodlot and Picuris Forestry Program obtain initial grants from the New Mexico Community Foundation and the Noyes Foundation to get both programs off the ground. All three groups then approached the Forest Service about obtaining resources and money to help implement the program. The Forest Service has earmarked $10,000 to help underwrite labor costs during the first year. An additional $8,500 will be available the first year to finance the costs of training employees of the forestry crew and woodlot. Additional funds of $14,500 per year will be available each of the next two years. Carol Holland of the Camino Real explained that the Forest Service hopes this program will prove successful both financially and in improving habitat so that it can serve as a model for additional programs in other parts of the community.
The first project these groups will be working on is in the Llano Abeyta area, west of Truchas in the southwest corner of the district. This area is composed of mostly piñon/juniper and the work will entail thinning the trees to produce larger nut-producing piñons and grassier, more savannah-like habitat. Most of the wood will be harvested for firewood to be marketed in Santa Fe and Española. However, some trees may be transplanted to the Entrañas area which was chained during the 1960s and has not been productive ever since. In addition, Ryan Temple hopes that a small amount of sawtimber may also be available in the area. Approximately two-thirds of the harvesting work will be done by the Picuris Pueblo Forestry Crew and the rest will be done by local people working with La Montaño Woodlot. Community members in the Truchas and Peñasco areas interested in applying for jobs at the woodlot can contact Ryan Temple at 505-983-8992; Jerry Fuentes of Truchas was recently hired as woodlot manager. Henry Lopez of the Camino Real and Ryan Temple and Steve Harrington of Forest Trust will work with the forestry crews on the prescription. La Jicarita will follow the progress of this project in upcoming issues.
"Talk/Walk Workshop to Address Grazing Issues on the Camino Real"
On Saturday, June 6, the Quivira Coalition, in conjunction with the Rio Pueblo/Rio Embudo Watershed Protection Coalition and the Camino Real Ranger District, will host a "Talk/Walk" workshop to address grazing issues in the Peñasco area. The workshop will be held at the Peñasco High School Multipurpose Buidling. The Quivira Coalition, formed in 1997, has been sponsoring these workshops all over the state to "demonstrate to ranchers, environmentalists, land managers, and any interested member of the public, that ecologically healthy rangeland and economically robust ranches can coexist. The Speakers intend to teach that, under most circumstances, ecological goals, such as abundant wildlife, clear streams, hardy riparian zones, and healthy grasses can be compatible with the commercial goals of livestock raising."
Speakers scheduled for the morning session, 9:00 am to 12:00 pm, include:
&emdash;Virgil Trujillo, Superintendent of Ranchlands, Ghost Ranch: Moderator
&emdash;Palemon Martinez, Northern New Mexico Stock- man's Association: The rancher's perspective
&emdash;George Maestas and Andy Sanchez, Permittees
&emdash;Bill DeBuys, The Conservation Fund: Grassbanks
&emdash;Craig Allen, United States Geological Survey, Ban- delier: Ecology of grasslands slideshow
&emdash;Ben Kuykendall, Wildlife Biologist, Camino Real Ranger District: Forest Service perspective
Lunch will be served, followed by a tour of the Trampas Burn to demonstrate the effectiveness of fire and thinning projects to increase grasslands and biodiversity.
The New Mexico Rural Water Association (NMRWA) is sponsoring a training seminar on May 14, 1998, from 8:30 am to 4:15 pm at the Peñasco Community Center. The training session is offered at no charge, and will provide 5.5 training credits toward New Mexico Utility Operator Certification Requirements. The day's agenda is as follows:
8:30 am: Registration
9:00 am: RUS Funding, Martha Torrez
10:00 am: Disinfection, Don Childers
11:15 am: Wastewater Alternatives, Leon Romero
12:00 pm: Lunch (on your own)
1:00 pm: Basic Meter Installation & Repair, Bill Baker
2:45 pm: Basic Pipe Installation & Repair
2:45-4:15 pm: Strategic water planning session
For further information call: Terri Baker, 505-884-1031
By Kay Matthews
There's trouble folks, but it's not in River City and it's not about gambling: This time it's in the Sierra Club and it's about immigration. This huge organization, that most people have always perceived as representing mainstream environmentalism, is experiencing the internecine battles that only such an emotionally-charged issue can elicit.
Sierra Club members this April voted on a ballot that included Measure A, which read: "Shall the Sierra Club reverse its decision adopted February 24, 1996, to take no position on immigration levels or on policies governing immigration into the United States and adopt a comprehensive population policy for the United States that continues to advocate an end to U.S. population growth at the earliest possible time through reduction in natural increase (birth minus deaths,) but now also through reduction in net immigration (immigration minus emigration)."
According to Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club in San Francisco, a small faction of club members forced this vote through a petition initiative. In reaction to this, the board of directors, with Anne Ehrlich and Dave Foreman absent, unanimously placed on the ballot a second measure, B, which read: "The Sierra Club reaffirms its commitment to addressing the root causes of global populations problems and offers the following comprehensive approach: 1) The Sierra Club affirms the decision of the Board of Directors to take no position on U.S. immigration levels and policies; 2) The Sierra Club will build upon its effective efforts to champion the right of all families to maternal and reproductive health care, and the empowerment and equity of women; 3) The Sierra Club will continue to address the root causes of migration by encouraging sustainability, economic security, human rights and environmentally responsible consumption."
Before the vote took place, Pope wrote an editorial calling for the membership to remember the environmental mantra "think globally, act locally." By endorsing restricted immigration he warned that they would "turn the environmental mantra on its head. Instead of ameliorating the enormous challenges facing the planet" their approach would focus on symptoms rather than cause, which is global consumption and industrialization. "Erecting fences," he wrote, " to keep people out of this country does nothing to fix the planet's predicament&emdash;it's the equivalent of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic."
Michael Dorsey, a member of the board of directors, points out the fallacy in thinking that reducing immigration will address environmental degradation: "Immigration is not the cause of sprawl. Immigration is not the cause of corporate pollution. Immigration is not the cause of phosphorous loading on Eastern shore farms." While he finds the Club's interest in promoting global family planning programs to address world population growth important, he points to our consumptive habits as the real culprit. The fact is that the U.S., which comprises 5% of the world's population, consumes 32% of the world's petroleum and plastics, produces 25% of the world's greenhouse gasses, and produces more solid waste than China and India combined. "It is patently absurd that here in the U.S. we can consume and destroy our resources like no society on earth and then actually use that as a rationalization against immigration."
It is more than absurd, he goes on. It "smacks as elitist, imperious, jingoist, and paternalistic. But worst of all, a particularly unfeeling strain of racism lurks just under the surface." And the focus of this racism is here in the Southwest, directed at Mexican and Central and South American immigrants, not the European white who immigrated at a much higher percentage rate in the early part of this century. Restricted immigration joins the list of forced assimilation policies that target affirmative action, bilingual education and ethnic studies, and have turned the U.S.-Mexico border into a war zone.
Equally disturbing is the fact that anti-immigration forces outside the Sierra Club may be responsible for actually getting Measure A on the ballot. According to Hunter Cutting, another Sierra Club member, this initiative is being funded by conservative foundations and the same anti-immigration groups in California that are supporting a state-wide anti-immigration initiative. Some of these groups have made openly racist statements and acknowledge their desire to alienate the peace and social justice people from the environmental movement.
George Sessions, a well known California environmentalist and member of the Sierra Club, is one of those supporting restricted immigration. Along with several other prominent Californians, including Gary Snyder, he argues that there is a carrying capacity on the earth and we have already far exceeded it. It's easy to see why this thinking often comes out of California. As Sessions writes in a long letter to the Club's magazine, Sierra, California's carrying capacity was reached in 1965 when the population numbered 10 million ( a figure he claims "most professional biologists would no doubt agree . . . is close to maximum"); today it is three times that amount. He goes on to say that there must be limits not only to population but limits to technology and limits to appetite and greed as well. In the same article, however, he criticizes Marc Reisner's (author of Cadillac Desert) proposal to financially subsidize farmers to keep them from selling their farmland to development. This thinking seems contradictory: Isn't saving farmland from development a limit to both technology and appetite and greed (tourism and entertainment now surpass agriculture as the state's largest industries)? Isn't a questioning of who is doing the developing and who is guilty of appetite and greed also in order? Will limiting immigration from our southern third world neighbors address either of these problems?
Dorsey points out that the issue has become not a question of "carrying capacity" or "quality of life" but a question of "control of which population and by whom." This is the question many others have asked over the years. While Sierra Club members are blurring the line between immigration and population, even the latter issue has long raised debate within the environmental community. In a survey of environmental, feminist, and political leaders in the alternative press publication Utne Reader, Barry Commoner, a world re-nowned biologist and teacher said, "Population has very little to do with the deterioration of the environment. It is rather the choice of productive technologies." Even David Brower, who believes that the overpopulation of the earth is a danger to the planet's life-support system cautions that "While we argue about population, we should remember that it's industrialized nations like us who are putting the biggest drain on the planet's resources."
Frances Moore Lappé (author of Diet for a Small Planet) and J. Baird Callicott point out that we must be careful not to make a "simplistic biological analysis" of the population explosion because it neglects what is unique about human culture and society. When we fail to do this, "family planning programs in themselves contribute only marginally to reducing birthrates. A politically sensitive perspective is thus essential for ecologically motivated activists if they wish to realize their own goals."
Several others in the interview expound upon this idea. Rachel Bagby, of Stanford University, says, "As a black woman, when I hear about population control I always ask who's making the decisions and what populations are being controlled." Ynestra King, an ecofeminist and Green activist, adds, "What happens when you emphasize populations to the exclusion of basic social and economic inequities&emdash;between men and women, between First and Third World, between white people and people of color&emdash;is that the emphasis of the ecology movement simply becomes that non-human nature and human beings are enemies. In this way, the population question has become a way of camouflaging the social and economic injustices that I think are at the root of the ecological crisis."
King also points out how the debate becomes Mal-thusean when it is white males making the decisions. It is presumed that it is the people of color who are over populating the world, and because they cannot meet
their own needs, cannot feed themselves, then they should just starve. This is an imperialistic and racist analysis. It follows the "Gaia" symbiotic network theory first put forward by James Lovelock that sees the world as a self-regulating entity with the capacity to keep healthy by controlling the chemical and physical environment. According to this theory, disease is an agent that works as a defense mechanism to create that balance; therefore AIDS may be the earth's own response to environmental problems. This scenario was put forward in the 1980s by some Earth First! members in their publication Earth First! The Radical Environmental Journal. According to David Brower, that's like saying nuclear war is good for us as well.
Dave Foreman, one of the founders of Earth First! who is now on the board of directors of the Sierra Club, also favors restricted immigration. As the "kinder and gentler Dave Foreman," in an article in a California publication called Wild Duck Review, Foreman coins the phrase Progressive Cornucopianism (called Politically-correct Cornucopianism by the unkind Foreman) to describe the philosophy of "the left and New Liberalis[ts]" who don't believe that restricting immigration addresses environmental issues. He dismisses their concerns because they are essentially "socialists" who are "full of white-middle class guilt" and have no concern for wilderness and endangered species. He also attributes their motives to "Fear of Nature" and "Immaturity": "Humans are special, they all agree." He ends his article by adding that the "race-baiting hooligans of the Left . . . many of whom are opportunists trying to build a political base by peddling fear of racist oppression among immigrant communities" have made it clear that it's impossible to have an "honorable, decent, and fair" discussion. Considering the history of his organization, and the language he uses, it's not surprising that the Sierra Club dialogue is not about whether restricting immigration will help solve our environmental troubles: rather, it is about, as Carl Pope deplores, building fences and borders between people of color and white middle-class conservationists like Dave Foreman.
By Mark Schiller
On April 15 the three candidates for Rio Arriba County Commission, District One, attended a meeting at the Velarde Elementary School to discuss issues of concern with area residents. The three candidates are incumbent Ray Tafoya of Truchas, Max Córdova of Truchas, and A.B. Valdez of Ranchitos.
From the outset of the forum it was clear that many people in attendance felt the most pressing issue was the effect mining and hauling sand and gravel was having on the villages and economy of the area. Many residents have complained about safety, noise and pollution problems associated with the mining and hauling. A community action group Vecinos del Rio, dedicated to the preservation of farmland and rural, agricultural communities along the Rio Grande, has been outspoken in its opposition to the sand and gravel mining. They claim the truck traffic creates a difficult and dangerous situation for local residents who suffer broken windshields from flying rock and near collisions with speeding, overloaded, untarped gravel trucks. Other effects include unrelenting noise from mining equipment and trucks, cracked foundations from truck vibration, adverse
health effects from dust pollution as well as its effect on fields and homes, silt from mining which washes onto the fields of local farms, and effects on quality of life and property values. San Juan Pueblo has also played an active role in the opposition by enforcing weight limits on tribal roads which truckers use to transport sand and gravel to Richard Cook's Española Transit Mix. Truckers, on the other hand, claim they are also members of the community and that their livelihood is dependent on mining and transportation of sand and gravel products.
In response to questions posed by both sides, Ray Tafoya said he didn't want to put anyone out of work. He suggested citizens on both sides of the issue meet with county officials to seek compromise solutions and not resort to litigation. A.B. Valdez cautioned that dividing the community along adversarial lines would not provide a solution satisfactory to either side. Max Córdova felt the county government had been remiss in not planning well to meet the resource needs of this business. He went on to say that since the federal government owns or manages roughly 70% of Rio Arriba County, it has an obligation to area businesses and residences to provide not only sand and gravel but timber and other resources in areas that would not negatively impact local communities. He further amplified on this by stating that 50% of this federal land was formerly land grants and should be managed to address the needs of the communities.
A Velarde resident asked what each candidate would do to promote recreational opportunities for county residents. She felt Commissioner Tafoya had not followed through on promises to complete a baseball field near Velarde. In response Tafoya told her these projects must advance in increments and that he would continue to seek funding to complete the ballfield. Max Córdova claimed that while county taxes had increased, services such as recreational facilities and waste management had not been enhanced. He called for more accountability and better planning from the commission. A.B. Valdez told the audience that recreational opportunities are particularly important for area youth. He cited his previous experience working with youth programs while he was involved with the police force and said if elected he would work with state legislator Debbie Rodella to provide a youth recreation center for the area.
Candidates also responded to several questions about creating more economic opportunity for county businesses. Ray Tafoya, citing his own experience as a small business owner, said the county needs to do a better job of attracting new businesses to the area. He claimed that there are too many restrictions on small businesses and that it was difficult for local people to get a business up and keep it running. Max Córdova felt too many Rio Arriba County residents have to leave the county both to work and to shop. He said the county needs to do more to increase job and consumer opportunities within the county so that it can broaden its tax base. He also stated that is own experience in the weaving business has taught him that new businesses increase the market for everyone's products rather than restricting it. He cautioned, however, that new businesses need to compliment the culture and values of Rio Arriba County's traditional villages rather than trying to suburbanize them. A.B. Valdez said the county needs to take advantage of Northern New Mexico Community College to train county residents for businesses that are willing to locate in Rio Arriba County. He mentioned Intel's subcontractors and WalMart as potential business opportunities he would like to see the county promote.
The primary election is June 2.
"Our first priority must be to preserve our land and water, our way of life. How do we get this message to consumers, which is what marketing is?" This was the message from Lynda Prim of Dixon's Farm Connection at the April 16th organic growing and marketing workshop in Santa Fe. Sponsored by the New Mexico Acequia Association, the workshop brought together organic farmers and representatives of various support organizations to build networks and explore better marketing techniques.
Dan Hobbs of NewFarms, an agricultural and economic development training center as well as research farm in Manuelitas (near Mora), agreed with Prim that keeping water and people on the land is the top priority: NewFarms provides the technological and market support that allows people to develop sustainable agricultural enterprises. They are currently working with 31 farmers in a four-county region, twelve of whom are involved in wheat farming, a good non-perishable crop (along with onions and garlic). As part of its Value Added Crop Association, NewFarms also offers an apprenticeship course and internships at the Manuelitas farm.
Lynda Prim and partner Sarah Grant operate the Farm Connection on seven acres of land in Dixon. In addition to farming full-time they publish the bimonthly Farm Connection, an information exchange, and act as a support base for small farms. They have helped establish farm improvement clubs with small grants from private foundations; the clubs then support farmers by providing research information and technical assistance. Prim also works as in inspector for the New Mexico Commodity Commission, which is responsible for organic certification.
In her presentation at the workshop Prim acknowledged that small farmers are beset by marketing problems: transportation and storage systems are inadequate and restaurants and retailers can be unreliable. But small farmers provide products directly from the producer to the consumer, which is what the growing wave of consumers want. With funding help from the Fund for Rural America, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and smaller foundations, along with better communication among farmers, marketing and distribution problems can be solved. Stan Crawford, of the Santa Fe Farmer's Market, added that farmers' markets enable growers to learn very quickly about what consumers want.
Joren Viers is the director of the New Mexico Organic Commodity Commission (NMOCC), the state agency responsible for organic certification of farmers. According to Viers, "organic certification is a necessary evil&emdash;in the best of all worlds organic farmers would be the majority, not the minority." His agency is unique among state certifiers in that policy is set by five appointed commissioners who are organic farmers. As the only NMOCC state employee, he answers directly to them. He explained the basic procedure for acquiring organic certification: 1) Purchase of the $15 handbook that lists the regulations and requirements; 2) Filling out the application form with a yearly $125 fee; 3) Site visit by a certified inspector paid by the NMOCC; and 4) Payment of one-half of one percent of gross sales if more than $2,500. Currently there are 80 organically certified farms in New Mexico: The majority of them are found in the northern Rio Grande Valley, although the largest farms tend to be in the southern part of the state.
Responding to a question from the audience regarding the issue of instream flow, both Prim and Viers expressed the opinion that organic agriculture can bring the environmental and acequia communities together. Local farming can prevent most of the pollution problems caused by agribusiness. Everywhere that water is diverted out of a river into an acequia, riparian ecosystems are developed, which support wildlife habitat. A parciante from Chimayo pointed out that it is the environmentalists who buy organic food at places like Wild Oats and Alfalfa's, and they need to support local agricultural efforts. Prim added that traditional farmers in the Hispano and Native American communities, who don't necessarily practice organic farming, are an invaluable component in protecting land and water rights.
In an informal afternoon session, workshop participants, including representatives of the New Mexico Acequia Association, discussed how they could collaboratively work together to improve marketing and distribution, protect water rights, and successfully lobby the legislature on agricultural issues. A database will be established as a referral system for farmers, and representatives from the attending groups agreed to meet again in May at NewFarms to further their collaborative efforts.
By Catalina Muniz, Community Organizer
When I graduated from Peñasco High School in 1977, the only thing on my mind was leaving this little town. When I moved back to Rodarte last summer, twenty years had passed. Over the years I had come to appreciate the beautiful valley that we live in. But the Peñasco Valley&emdash;like almost everywhere in New Mexico&emdash;is growing very fast. There are more newcomers moving to the Valley, and there are those like myself who have returned home. I often wonder how we will preserve the resources that are the most precious to us&emdash;our people, our land and our water.
I moved back to the house where I grew up. The house is smaller than I remember and does not have the closet space I grew accustomed to having. But these were the least of my worries. The fourteen-foot shallow well that my family had dug by hand in the 1940s was now contaminated with bacteria and iron. What were we to do for water?
I could buy a water treatment system to treat the bacteria and to remove the iron. But this "solution" was no real answer. I looked into hooking up the house to the Rodarte Mutual Domestic. But we live above their well. There is an old saying that water flows uphill to money. But we didn't have the kind of resources to defy gravity. So we drilled our own well through the rocks that give this valley its name. Finally, during the first week in November and right before the first major snow storm, our well was connected to the house. And we had clean, running water.
Water is one of the most pressing concerns of the people in the Peñasco Valley. Water is probably the most pressing concern throughout New Mexico. Who has it? Who wants it? Who will sell it? How is the water being used? Is the water clean? Who polluted it? Who will clean it up? What will it cost? What about the fish? The fish? What about my hay? Hay? What about the city of Santa Fe? Santa Fe? What about Intel? Intel? We need to deliver some of the water to Texas!
In the Peñasco Valley we have our water troubles. Last summer an effort to create an acequia federation failed. But the State Engineer will continue the process to adjudicate our water rights. The battle lies ahead. For the past two years the citizens from this valley went to the legislature for money to conduct a feasibility study for treating waste water in the valley. Both years the citizens returned empty handed. But the problem of surface water contamination and the danger of ground water contamination remain. The lack of attention from Santa Fe has not safe guarded our waters. The problem remains to be addressed.
And this is just the beginning of the list. There is the water rights fight over the expansion of Sipapu. There is the issue of Picuris Pueblo water quality standards and how the upstream neighbors will comply with new, tougher standards. There is the issue of the possible copper mine and how it would impact the use of water in the community. And the list goes on.
Issues surrounding the quality, quantity and use of water can divide people. But it can also bring people together. I've seen it. I am a member of the New Mexico Water Dialogue. This nonprofit organization brings together diverse points of views in a forum where all the participants can teach each other and learn from each other about issues relating to our water future. That's what we need here&emdash;a dialogue on water that encourages new understanding and new relationships, moving us a little closer to implementing solutions to our mutual water problems.
The good news is that it's already beginning to happen. On the snowy Thursday evening of April 16, a small group of people attended a meeting at the Peñasco Valley Community Center. There was a lively discussion that focused not only on regional water planning but on the problems that are more pressing to some of the citizens of our valley&emdash;our water quality. We cannot begin to estimate the amount of water available for use without also addressing the quality of the water we have and how we can protect for our future use. Both go hand-in-hand.
So there will be meetings over the next several months to begin this process. At this time I do not have the date of the next meeting. People who are interested in participating in a water dialogue can contact me at 587-0472.
Copyright 1996-2001 La Jicarita Box 6 El Valle Route, Chamisal, New Mexico 87521.