Pueblo Design
 La Jicarita

A community advocacy newspaper for northern New Mexico

Box 6 El Valle Route, Chamisal, NM 87521

Volume XVI

December 2011

Number VI

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La Jicarita News: A Retrospective


La Jicarita News: A Retrospective

This is the last hard copy issue of La Jicarita News before the paper transitions to an online journal under the auspices of the University of New Mexico American Studies Department. I think it is altogether fitting and proper that I therefore highlight the work of all those who helped Mark and me over the 16 years of the paper's existence: the community activists, funders, lawyers, Forest Service employees, writers, photographers, acequia parciantes, academics, and assorted misfits who made our work possible and our lives richer for knowing them.

Community Forest Activists

I must begin with these community activists who helped define what a northern New Mexico community is and what was at stake in the politics of natural resource management during the tumultuous 1990s and early 2000s. Many of them belonged to a loosely organized group of us we called, obviously enough, El Grupo.

Chellis Glendinning, Max Córdova, and Ike DeVargas at an Oñate Center celebration

Antonio "Ike" DeVargas is one of the most politically savvy and committed norteño activists we ever worked with. As a founding member of La Companía Ocho, a community based logging company in Vallecitos, he was at the vanguard of the movement to keep control of resources in the "inhabited wilderness" communities of northern New Mexico &endash; former land grants and bastions of land-based settlement stalling suburbanization and extraction development. He worked to provide economic opportunity and sustainability in his community by forcing Duke City Lumber out of the Vallecitos Federal Sustained Yield Unit, suing the Forest Service to manage the land to benefit the communities, and fighting the urban environmentalists who sought to impose their biocentric values on northern New Mexico. Ike came out of the La Raza Unida movement but also worked for Rio Arriba County in several capacities (he ran for sheriff in the late 1990s on a platform of no more jails),was a member of the Democrats for Progress, and is now retired in Servilleta Plaza where he gardens, hunts, and yes, still cuts a lot of wood.

Max Córdova, proprietor of Los Siete, an artist cooperative (Max is a weaver), former president of the Truchas Land Grant, and founder of the logging company La Montaña de Truchas was at the forefront of the battles fought on the east of the Rio Grande, in the Carson and Santa Fe national forests, to hold both the government bureaucracies and the environmentalists accountable. Max was an invaluable resource for La Jicarita News and has served on our board of trustees since its inception. He knew everybody and everything that happened in Truchas and the surrounding villages, and generously schooled us in the ways of his world. He also was able to work with Forest Service employees, like Camino Real District Ranger Crockett Dumas and forester Henry Lopez, to get the agency to listen and respond to community voices. They were largely responsible for the Collaborative Stewardship program established on the Camino Real that actually changed Forest Service policy to reflect community needs. Max still operates Los Siete, sells wood, and keeps a herd of cattle despite health problems that resulted in a heart transplant in 2010.




Chellis Glendinning came to New Mexico with an impressive pedigree of activism: civil rights, free speech in Berkeley, the anti-war movement, the women's movement, the anti-nuclear movement, and environmentalism. In northern New Mexico she fought against the co-option of the latter movement by groups like Forest Guardians (now Wildearth Guardians) who tried to define it as "environmentalism sin gente." Chellis got everyone's attention with her "A Letter to Environmentalists" in the Santa Fe Reporter in 1996 in which she compared the mind set of the environmental community with that of "manifest destiny rationales used to conquer this land in the first place . . ." Chellis wrote articles for La Jicarita, organized meetings and teach-ins, and brought a creative spiritedness to all that transpired.

George Grossman, a retired state employee, was a well know Sierra Club (Santa Fe Group) activist who got caught in the thick of things because of his defense of community forestry when the Sierra Club was advocating for no commercial timbering on public lands. George was intimately familiar with the forests of northern New Mexico, particularly the Carson, and when he wrote comments in support of the controversial Agua/Caballos timber sale in the Vallecitos Federal Sustained Yield Unit, the absolutist environmentalists in the Club censured the Group and struck George's comments from the public record. This same group of environmentalists also tried to get Courtney White and Barbara Johnson, founders of the Quivira Coalition, kicked out of the Group. They failed (the Santa Fe Group of the Sierra Club has always been more conversant with northern New Mexico political and environmental issues), and the Quivira Coalition went on to play an important role bringing ranchers and progressive environmentalists together to work on holistic management of both public and private lands.

Native New Mexican Eric Shultz was the premier documentary photographer during these crazy times (those are many of his photos on pages three and four) and provided La Jicarita with much of its photo work, meaning he attended many meetings, rallies, and demonstrations over the years as both a photographer and activist. Pat D'Andrea, also a member of El Grupo, wrote many articles for La Jicarita as a river and water management expert. Folks like Michael Quintana, Santiago Juarez, and Rio Arriba County officials Lorenzo Valdez and Lauren Richelt were also deeply involved.

Robin Collier of Taos wears several hats as radio producer of Cultural Energy and computer guru to non-profits like La Jicarita, but is an activist at heart. I don't know how many times over the years I've called him in a panic about a computer malfunction, problems with the website, or my appalling lack of computer savvy. He always fixes it. And he's always there at community events &endash; Los Alamos hearings, agricultural workshops, political rallies, whatever &endash; to record for Cultural Energy.


David Benavides and Lisa Krooth, attorneys with Northern New Mexico Legal Aid, were also members of El Grupo and worked with La Jicarita on acequia, land grant, and community forest issues. David was the go-to lawyer for all things relating to acequias, but was also well versed in land grant law and history and was one of the people who wrote the response to the General Accounting Office's report on community land grants, a report that essentially let the federal government off the hook for disenfranchising thousands of land grant heirs. Lisa worked closely with La Companía Ocho to try to keep it economically viable when Forest Guardians was filing all its lawsuits to shut down logging in the Vallecitos Federal Sustained Yield Unit.

Peter White is a longtime water lawyer who retired from a job with the Office of the State Engineer and went to work pro bono for acequia parciantes involved in water disputes with various bureaucracies or within their communities. Peter represented folks in many cases that La Jicarita News covered or was involvedin personally, including our protest of the Top of the World water transfer application, first filed in 1999. Doug Wolf of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center was Peter's co-attorney. That case dragged on for many years; Doug left for a job in Washington D.C., and Peter passed the mantle to Simeon Herskovits, another water lawyer based in Taos, who will soon be faced with a new application by Santa Fe County and the Department of the Interior to transfer 1,700 acre feet per year of Top of the World water rights to settle the Aamodt adjudication.

Richard Rosenstock represented La Companía Ocho in all the lawsuits the environmentalists brought to shut down timber sales in the Vallecitos Federal Sustained Yield Unit. His civil rights work encompassed many, many battles fought to ensure equal rights and justice in northern New Mexico.

Forest Service

While La Jicarita managed to lambast the Forest Service in just about every issue we published back in the 1990s, it was usually the institution that was being targeted (although we certainly never hesitated to take a specific employee to task for incompetency). Over the years, however, we worked with some dedicated employees who were trying to figure out ways to work with community people in honest and innovative ways. Camino Real District Ranger Crockett Dumas and Forestry Technician Henry Lopez were caught in the middle of the wars over the spotted owl and the shut-down of the forest to all logging and wood gathering in 1995. Because of relationships they had forged with folks like Max Córdova they were able to figure out ways to circumvent bureaucratic impediments and make sure communities were able to access the resources they needed. As I mentioned before, the Collaborative Stewardship program implemented on their district began to make some inroads into the paternalistic policy of the Forest Service before the business as usual folks abandoned its tenants after Dumas left the district. The Carson National Forest Planner, Carveth Kramer was instrumental in providing the innovations on the Camino Real with some upper echelon backing despite the lack of leadership displayed by a succession of forest supervisors.

On the Vallecitos side of the forest El Rito District Ranger Kurt Winchester also found himself caught in the maelstrom of the lawsuits filed over the spotted owl by the environmentalists. But he made every effort to work with the local loggers and to draft timber sales that provided sustainable harvesting and environmental protections.


Rio Pueblo/Rio Embudo Watershed Protection Coalition

It all began with a group of folks with this unwieldy name. Carl (Cat) Tsosie, of Picuris Pueblo, pulled us together in 1994 to form an ad hoc river watchdog group that could monitor and lobby for the health of our Rio Pueblo/Rio Embudo watershed: Harvey Frauenglass, Alfredo Martinez, and Clovis Romero, commissioners and mayordomos in Dixon and Embudo; Brian Shields of Amigos Bravos; Antonio Medina and Jose Maestas of the Mora Land and Water Protective Association (Antonio is also president of the New Mexico Acequia Association); George Grossman of the Santa Fe Group of the Sierra Club; Joanie Berde, of Carson Forest Watch; and Mark and I. We did a lot of work over the years: prevented the development of a copper mine next to the Pueblo; opposed the expansion of the Sipapu Ski Area and exposed its use of nonexistent water rights; helped the Santa Barbara Grazing Association improve its allotment; and brought ranchers and environmentalists together for dialogue.

 Los Alamos National Laboratory

In the early 2000s La Jicarita News began to devote more of its time to covering the devastating impactLos Alamos National Laboratory has on the citizens of northern New Mexico: financially, environmentally, and culturally. I also became a board member of Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, under the direction of Joni Arends, an attorney and activist who has worked tirelessly to hold LANL accountable. She, along with a coalition of northern New Mexicans who live in many of the downwind communities that suffer the consequences of LANL's failure to protect our air and water, sued the Lab under the Clean Water Act and attend countless regulatory hearings to try to ensure compliance with health and safety requirements. Sheri Kotowski, who wrote articles for the paper, was one of the founders of the Embudo Valley Environmental Monitoring Group that came together after the Cerro Grande fire to push for better air quality monitoring for our downwind communities. And kudos to the whistle blowers and organizers Chuck Montaño, Manny Trujillo, and Joe Gutierrez.



This is the last hard copy issue of La Jicarita News. We want to welcome all our readers to the website of the new, online La Jicarita journal: www.lajicarita.org, which will be linkedvto the American Studies Department at the University of New Mexico (the entire La Jicarita News archive remains on the website). The new journal will continue to focus on the historical and contemporary conflicts over natural resources in northern New Mexico, but in a weekly online format that allows for more frequent updates, a new outlet for New Mexico authors, and an opportunity for La Jicarita to draw on the expertise and enthusiasm of UNM faculty, staff, and graduate students. The journal will be under the advisement of David Correia, Assistant Professor of American Studies; I will continue as editor. In addition to the online journal, UNM students will participate in developing the theme for an annual scholarly issue of the journal, write a call for papers, receive and vet papers, manage the peer-review process, and design andpublish each online issue.

If you are interested in writing articles for the new journal you may submit them to either David Correia at dcorreia@unm.edu or to me at news@lajicarita.org or kmatthews@gmail.com. We hope to have the La Jicarita website up and running by mid to late January 2012, but we will accept prospective articles at any time.

I want to thank Alex Lubin, former chair of the American Studies Department who is currently on a two-year leave to teach at the American University in Beirut, for opening the door to this transition.

I also want to thank the folks at Vanguard Press, particularly Eva, who over the last fewyears have done such a good job printing the paper in a timely fashion and were always available to troubleshoot any problems. If anyone out there needs a printer, Vanguard is the place to go.



In the August/September issue of La Jicarita I reported on the field trip that Picuris Pueblo leaders and parciantes from the Rio Pueblo and Mora watersheds attended to look at the cross-basin diversions. It was decided at the end of the day that a follow up meeting would be held in Mora to discuss what we had seen at the three diversions that take water from tributaries of the Rio Pueblo and divert them to the Mora Valley communities of Chacon, Holman, and Mora. But New Mexico Acequia Association Director Paula Garcia and Picuris Governor Gerald Nailor decided that the press would not be invited to attend this meeting, so although I am also an acequia commissioner in El Valle, on the Rio Pueblo side of the mountain, I was not informed of the meeting. According to Cordell Arellano of the Picuris Environment Department, no future meetings will take place until after tribal elections. I have a correction to the article I wrote in the August/September issue. The Cañoncito y Encinal Acequia received $22,000 in FEMA funding to return the acequia headgate to its original condition. The acequia received $143,000 in stimulus funding in 2010 for other rehabilitation work .



Jake Kosek, an honorary member of El Grupo, came to Truchas as a graduate student to write his dissertation on forest politics in northern New Mexico. He soon became La Jicarita's friend and ally, and the book that grew out of his dissertation, Understories: The Political Life of Forests in Northern New Mexico, is both a theoretical and narrative accounting of the intense years that La Jicarita and other activists were involved in these forest politics. He is now a professor of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley, andserves on our board of trustees.

David Correia was also a graduate student who came to New Mexico to write a dissertation, this time on the Vallecitos Federal Sustained Yield Unit. He soon contacted La Jicarita News and began writing articles for us on the history of the unit, grazing practices, logging issues, and on what became another area of his expertise, land grants (he's currently writing a book on the Tierra Amarilla land grant). He also became our friend and ally, and now, as a professor of American Studies at the University of New Mexico, will guide the transition of the paper to an online journal under the auspices of his department.

Many other academics have been involved with La Jicarita: written articles for us, expanded on work we've done, or just plain picked our brains about the details of everyday life here in el norte. José Rivera at UNM provided expert testimony regarding the impact of ski area development on traditional communities. Toddi Steelman of North Carolina State University contributed a chapter to a book on the Collaborative Stewardship program on the Camino Real Ranger District. Michael Trujillo, also in the American Studies Department at UNM, designed La Jicarita's first website when he was a graduate student. Carl Wilmsen, at Berkeley, also wrote a dissertation on the Vallecitos Sustained Yield Unit. Maria Varela is at heart a community organizer who has been at the forefront of many movements to improve the economic condition of norteños. She now teaches at Colorado College.

Land Grants

Land grant historian Malcolm Ebright is recognized for his landmark book Land Grants and Lawsuits in Northern New Mexico. He served on the board of trustees of La Jicarita News for many years, wrote numerous articles for us, and is also a friend and ally. He's currently working on another book that highlights his work on Indian and Genîzaro land grants and is collaborating on a book about Pueblo Indian land.

Malcolm is good friends with Virgil Trujillo, a land grant activist from Abiquiu who was also the ranch foreman at Ghost Ranch for many years, instituting holistic range management practices while there. Virgil is on the board of directors of the Quivira Coalition and is well respected in both the Anglo and Hispanic communities for his traditional knowledge, hisprogressive ideas, and his commitment to community. His wife, Isabel Trujillo, is also a community activist and works with the Abiquiu Library.

La Jicarita worked with many other land grant activists over the years, those who took leadership roles statewide and those who organized within their own land grant communities: Filimon Sanchez, Jerry Fuentes, Moises Gonzales, Miguel Santistevan, Shirley Romero Otero, Georgia Roybal, Johnny Sanchez, and many more.


There are many mayordomos and commissioners who work tirelessly to keep their acequias intact and functioning, as well as those who have taken on leadership roles. Lynn Montgomery is an exceptional one. His effort to rejuvenate his acequia in Placitas is legendary: he's taken his fight to protect it all the way to the New Mexico Supreme Court. He's a vocal member of the Middle Rio Grande Water Assembly and has an encyclopedic knowledge of all issues pertaining to water management. He was a founding member of the New Mexico Acequia Association, alongwith Nicasio Romero. Subsequent NMAA members like Josie Lujan, Manny Trujillo, William Gonzalez, Janice Varela, and Michael Coca spent countless hours at the New Mexico legislature trying to implement progressive policies like the 2003 state statute that allows acequia commissioners to review and approve or disapprove all proposed transfers of water from their acequias.

I also want to acknowledge the work of Geoff Bryce, the former director of the Taos Valley Acequia Association who died in a car accident in 2004. Geoff had a vast knowledge of acequias and water issues and the ability to get along with all factions in the community. In the last few years, as the local and federal governments tried to find resolution to the outstanding Indian adjudications &endash; Navajo, Pojoaque Basin pueblos and Taos Pueblo &endash; others stepped up to the plate to advocate for their communities. Paul White, Lynne Velasco, Orlando Romero, Robert Sena, Butchie Denver, and Simeon Herskovits have all been valuable assets to La Jicarita's work.


Oddly enough, La Jicarita News was first published in 1996 with a start-up grant from Patagonia, the recreational corporation. Initially the paper was under the auspices of the Rio Pueblo Rio Embudo Watershed Protection Coalition, a group of activists in the Peñasco area watershed who got together to tackle some issues impacting our land, water, forests, and communities (see below). By the time La Jicarita obtained its own non-profit status in 1998, our main funder was the Mc-Cune Foundation, whose director Owen Lopez was intimately involved with all the environmental, educational, and arts groups seeking funding to do their work. McCune funded the paper's entire life span, and also kicked in some money for the rehabilitation of one of the El Valle acequias. Owen is retiring in January; we thank him for all his efforts on behalf of northern New Mexico.

Trudy and Ed Healy have funded La Jicarita almost as long as the McCune Foundation. Residents of Arroyo Hondo (Trudy is a native Taos Valerio) they have been generous supporters of a wide range of groups and individuals dealing with land grant, water, grazing, arts, electoral politics, and poverty issues. Trudy has been a member of the Water Trust Board for many years and active in Democratic politics at both the county and state levels. Daniel Shreck, of Chimayó, was instrumental in helping La Jicarita obtain funding from Common Counsel, a family foundation based in the Bay Area that has funded many New Mexico groups and projects.

We also received money regularly from several anonymous funders. They know who they are (and we do, too, actually), so thank you for that.


Loyal Subscribers

Lastly, I want to thank all our loyal readers and subscribers who helped support us both financially and personally: Lucy Lippard, Jim Faris, Vickie Gabin, Tamara Teale, Joanne Forman, Lucy Collier, Catherine Jordan, Arturo Sandoval, Peter Malmgren, Monty Joynes, John Nichols, Tom Udall (reading La Jicarita), Lucille Joseph, Gaucho Blue, Marlys Sowell, Joan Quinn, the folks at the Abiquiu Library, and many, many more.

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