A community newspaper for the Jicarita watershed, including the
Rio Mora, Rio Santa Barbara, Rio de las Trampas, Rio Pueblo, & Rio Embudo
Summo Mine Update: To Swap or not to Swap By Kay Matthews
La Manga Timber Sale Controversy Rages On By Kay Matthews
Editorial By Mark Schiller
Puntos de Vista By Max Córdova, President ,Truchas Land Grant
By Kay Matthews
A new group has been formed in the Peñasco/Dixon area to monitor Summo Corporation's proposed copper mine near Picuris Pueblo (Copper Hill). The group, called the Taos/Rio Arriba Mining Reform Alliance (TRAMRA), is comprised of concerned citizens and members of other community and environmental groups such as Amigos Bravos, the Rio Pueblo/Rio Embudo Watershed Protection Coalition, and the Sierra Club. The new group will act as a clearing house for information and will coordinate efforts to stop the proposed mine.
One of the main issues this group is currently dealing with is a proposed land swap that would prevent mining in the Copper Hill area. Mike Ford, Bureau of Land Management Albuquerque District Manager, has proposed that Summo Corporation relinquish all its mining claims in the Copper Hill area in return for title to BLM land in Lisbon Valley, Utah, where it also holds claims. Summo is already involved in copper mining in Lisbon Valley (near Moab), and an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was recently released. According to Ford, the swap would involve about 32,000 acres of land with appraisal values that are about the same. Once Summo relinquished its mining claims in the Copper Hill area, the BLM would then permanently withdraw the area from mineral entry.
There is public ambivalence about this proposal. During a recent teleconference call between New Mexicans and activists from the Lisbon Valley area, it was clear that many participants felt a land swap would essentially be dumping New Mexico problems into the backyard of our Utah neighbors, who have appealed the Summo Lisbon Valley copper mine EIS. Former BLM chief Jim Baca, and former Secretary of Interior Stewart Udall, who were also on the teleconference line, expressed skepticism that Ford's proposal, which requires Washington approval, would ever be heard in those hallowed halls. Subsequently, Ford did have a meeting with the Assistant Secretary at BLM headquarters in Washington, along with representatives from Utah, and officials promised to look into the situation. There is another hurdle to the land swap idea, however. Any interstate land exchange involving patents might fall under a moratorium that currently prevents any new patenting while Congress looks into reforming the Mining Act of 1872.
Rumors about the financial stability of Summo Corporation continue to fly. However, even if Summo lacks the resources to develop its claims, without mineral withdrawal the company can sell these claims to another developer. TRAMRA will continue to explore other withdrawal options. In the meantime, TRAMRA is laying the ground work to fight mine development in case of that eventuality. The consensus at a recent community meeting held in Dixon was that the the two most important mining concerns are water and cultural resources protection. Picuris Pueblo has already make it clear that it will fight against Summo Corporation to protect these culturally sensitive lands it's people regard as their own. Water issues involve both quality and quantity: There is the very real potential for acid leaks into the water table during the processing of the ore, and the amount of water necessary to operate an acid-leach mine will seriously impact area water supplies. TRAMRA is looking into the various ways Summo could attempt to purchase&emdash;or create&emdash;water rights.
Another community meeting will be held sometime in July; for further information you may contact Michael Wildgoose, current coordinator of TRAMRA, at 579-4447, or Robert Templeton, who will soon be taking over those duties from Michael, at 579-4095.
According to M. A. "Crockett" Dumas, Camino Real District Ranger, the Forest Service's decision regarding the Santa Barbara and Hodges Campground Project was a reflection of citizen input that the two campgrounds be restored and maintained for primarily local use. While many people expressed their desire to see Alternative 2 implemented&emdash;the alternative that calls for minimal rehabilitation and no expansion&emdash;the Forest Service chose Alternative 3, which differs from Alternative 2 in several areas: The Forest Service will rehabilitate some sites in Santa Barbara to better accommodate RVs, and will grade and surface all roads in the project with gravel. Neither alternative increases visitor capacity. In contrast, only a few letters from Tres Ritos area residents asked the Forest Service to expand the campgrounds to meet the increasing needs of the public at large; specifically, one writer accused the agency of "rolling over and playing dead before the locals."
Under Alternative 3, there will be extensive rehabilitation in both campgrounds, including replacement of toilets, fire and charcoal grills, and stone and log barriers. Several sites in Santa Barbara will be extended or made into pull-through sites to accommodate RVs. Lower Santa Barbara campground will be closed and replaced with a loop road and turnaround to accommodate day use.
On both the north and south sides of the concrete bridge along FR 716, small parking areas will be provided for fishing and day use; barriers will prohibit vehicle traffic beyond the parking areas. Barriers in Hodges will be installed as needed, and FR 116 will graded, shaped, drained and surfaced with gravel. At the upper end of the campground, FR 116 will be closed approximately 300 feet from the intersection with FR 716, and a trail will be constructed in its place. Heavily used sites within Hodges will be rehabilitated, and those sites too close to the river will be closed and restored to a natural condition. Vehicles will be kept out of dispersed campsites.
In addition, a trail will be developed along Santa Barbara Canyon to connect Hodges with Bear Mountain Trail, Indian Creek Trail, and Santa Barbara Trail. An interpretive plan will be developed to promote understanding of the many cultural, historic, geologic, and ecologic features in the area. This rehabilitation project is planned to be completed in one season.
By Kay Matthews
La Manga Ho&emdash;it sounds like an exhortation. But for La Companía Ocho, the small logging company that has the contract on this Vallecitos Sustained Yield Unit sale, it's been more a plea than a command. For three-years now, various legal challenges by environmental groups have prevented La Companía from logging this first part of three La Manga sales: La Manga Ho, La Manga North, and Bonita.
In the May issue of La Jicarita we reported that District Court Judge Edwin Mechem had dismissed the La Manga timber sale lawsuit filed by Forest Guardians, Carson Forest Watch, and other environmental groups, which claimed that the Forest Service had failed to protect old growth. These same groups then went to the U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco and got an injunction against the sale. On June 27, in a separate ruling, U. S. District Court in Phoenix issued a ruling that La Manga and 22 other timber sales in the southwest do not have to conform to the latest Forest Service amended plans, but must only be consistent with the plans that were in existence at the time the sales were designed. The amended forest plans contain stricter logging restrictions with regard to the protection of the Mexican spotted owl. In light of this ruling, the Forest Service and Richard Rosenstock, attorney for La Companía, will ask the San Francisco court to rescind the La Manga injunction so that the sale may proceed. Forest Guardians already plans to appeal the Phoenix court ruling.
The La Manga legal battle reflects the overall deterioration of the relationship between certain environmental groups and norteños. On one side stand Forest Guardians Sam Hitt and John and Charlotte Talberth, who advocate a "zero cut" timber policy on all public lands, regardless of who is doing the cutting and to what extent. They defend this position by insisting that the national forests belong to the entire American public, and that the majority of this public supports "zero cut." They dismiss concerns that they are being insensitive to local communities because La Companía represents "narrow interests" and "lacks community support. "
Ike DeVargas, a founding member of La Companía and longtime community activist, sees Forest Guardians legal actions against his logging company as an attack upon all northern New Mexico communities. For many years the Vallecitos Sustained Yield Unit, set aside by the federal government in 1940 to directly benefit local communities, was the domain of Duke City, a multi-national logging company. Locally based community groups and activists fought to have Duke City kicked out of the Unit, and to reduce the huge numbers of board feet of timber that were being cut. Finally, La Companía filed suit against the Forest Service for failing to meet the requirements of the Sustained Yield Act, and in 1996 were awarded 75% of the La Manga timber sale. DeVargas's position is that La Companía can set the standard for logging in a sustainable manner while providing badly needed economic relief for local communities.
La Jicarita recently met with DeVargas and toured several of the La Manga Ho units to see how the sale is laid out: new roads, road closures, trees slated to be cut, and trees that will be left for wildlife. Photographer Eric Shultz accompanied the paper and his photos are displayed on page 5.
The 15 or so units of La Manga Ho are accessed off Forest Road 274 northwest of Cañon Plaza. A spur road off FR 274 leads into the Escondida Canyon area; this road will be rerouted into the cutting units and closed off through the riparian area adjacent to Cutting Unit 9. La Companía will be responsible for approximately 7-8 miles of that road reconstruction at an estimated cost of $101,000, which will be credited by the Forest Service (the company must subcontract any of the road building it is incapable of doing). If road construction exceeds this estimate, the difference must be made up by the logging company. As we walked through Unit 9, DeVargas pointed out the trees marked with blue for cutting: they are more than 8 inches in diameter and less than 2 feet. "The nicest, straightest trees are the ones staying," DeVargas said. "From a purely economic standpoint, we'd do better to take the larger ones, of course, but the way the sale is laid out, we'll do fine." These larger trees are marked with yellow, which preserves them for wildlife. DeVargas also showed us some of the smaller trees slated for cutting: "Some of what we will be doing is actually thinning for the Forest Service; these smaller trees are not economically worth our while." The thinning will help produce the desired park-like openings in the predominantly ponderosa pine forest, to better allow for the growth of larger diameter trees and grasses.
According to the Forest Service, the La Manga sale "is a very conservative one." Of the 1.1 million board feet that will be harvested in La Manga Ho, 1 percent of old growth&emdash;defined as trees of 2 feet in diameter&emdash;will be taken. The sale also addresses environmental concerns about road densities by stipulating that 7.4 miles of road will be closed and 17.2 miles of road will be obliterated, as opposed to 8.5 miles of road construction.
Three units may be cut at one time. Typically one of those units will be where the access road is being constructed, while the other two units will be cut and prepared for skidding. As we continued our walk through several of the other units, we noticed that the area had previously been impacted by Forest Service mismanagement. Old-growth snags were cut 30 and 40 years ago as fire prevention. Current management is trying to rectify that situation by directing La Companía to save remaining snags and trees that are potential snags.
Because of Forest Guardians most recent legal actions, DeVargas and other norteños organized several protests, heating up the already volatile situation. On June 19, a protest in Santa Fe resulted in a shouting match between DeVargas and John Talberth of Forest Guardians. Then on June 23, a group of norteños walked into the Ghost Ranch conference grounds where Forest Guardians were holding a membership conference. They did not disrupt the proceedings, but peacefully demonstrated against the "zero cut" policy.
Forest Guardians' actions regarding the La Manga timber sale and it's advocacy of "zero cut" have generated controversy within the environmental movement itself. At the April Board of Directors meeting of the Southwest Forest Alliance, a coalition of 55 environmental groups, Sam Hitt was kicked off the board and chastised for his confrontational style and inability to work with northern New Mexico communities. Members of the Alliance also expressed reservations about supporting the "zero cut" policy. In a recent full-page New York Times ad taken out by Forest Guardians, which calls for this "zero cut", only a few national environmental groups signed on. In doing so, one of these groups, Earth Island Institute, was subjected to an internal protest by members of the group who felt this was inconsistent with the organization's policies that support the efforts of land-based communities.
So the controversy rages on, with no end in sight. Forest Guardians has threatened to file lawsuits against future sales within the Sustained Yield Unit if any large diameter trees are cut. La Companía and other norteños see this as an issue of sovereignty. Attorney Rosenstock concurs: "They [La Companía] just want to carry out logging in a responsible manner and make a living off resources that were traditionally theirs."
This month we begin a new feature, Puntos de Vista&emdash;Points of View. We have invited people involved in northern New Mexico land-based issues to contribute to the next few issues. We will subsequently open this column to others in the community who wish to express their opinions. We plan to run the column in both Spanish and English.
The next meeting of the citizen group working with the New Mexico Environment Department to identify and remediate nonsource point pollution in the Rio Pueblo/Rio Embudo watershed will be held Wednesday, August 6, 7:00 p.m., at the Embudo Valley Library. Project items to be discussed include water quality monitoring, arroyo stabilization, and wetlands construction.
La Jicarita Enterprise Community is inviting all domestic water association officers and interested members to attend a meeting to discuss Safe Drinking Water Act revolving loan funds that may be available to help consolidate area water associations. The meeting will be held Friday, August 1, 10:30 a.m., at the La Jicarita office in Peñasco.
By Mark Schiller
One of the reasons northern New Mexico is so unique is that it contains some of the last land-based communities and cultures left in the United States. Land-based knowledge, skills, and values stand in stark contrast to the knowledge, skills, and values of the market economy of mega-corporations. Most significantly, land-based cultures stress a sustainable relationship between the people, the communities, and the lands they inhabit, while a market economy bases all of its relationships on exploitation of these resources. It is essential during this age of global corporatization that we maintain the last vestiges of the "old ways" so that they are not entirely lost to future generations. That is why it is so distressing that those of us who live in these communities and are committed to their preservation too often fight amongst ourselves, or hide our heads in the sand, while the movers and shakers continue to rip-off our resources and exploit our people. A case in point is the attempt to organize a federation of acequias in our watershed.
There are many threats to our acequias and water rights looming on the horizon. Some of these include adjudication and changes to state and federal laws that could adversely affect water rights in our area. Industry, real estate development, and recreational interests are all lobbying state and federal agencies to change laws and policies which protect agricultural water rights. Acequia federation organizers hoped to unite area acequias so that we could take appropriate actions to protect our
water rights and preserve the rural/agricultural nature of our communities. Despite the fact that this group sponsored many informational meetings, where water law expert David Benavides and long-time Taos Valley Acequia Association president Palemon Martinez answered questions and clarified issues, it was painfully evident at the June 28 meeting that there is still a great deal of misunderstanding and mistrust about the role the federation could play in helping to protect our water rights. Over the course of a year federation organizers made every effort, including using radio, newspapers, mailings, and notices posted within the community to inform residents about these meetings. They also offered to attend individual acequia meetings to discuss the federation and answer questions. Many community members, however, failed to take advantage of these opportunities and subsequently felt they were not in a position to make an informed decision about the federation. Even more disheartening was the fact that 17 acequias didn't send any representative to the meeting, and their lack of participation ultimately cast the deciding votes against the federation.
The communities, culture, and people of our watershed are an endangered species. However, there is no law on the books to ensure our preservation. If we have any hope of preserving our communities for future generations, we must begin arming ourselves with the kind of knowledge and organization that can protect them.
The editors strongly believe that a federation of acequias is a good place to begin and hope, despite the recent setback, that community members will renew their efforts to create a bridge between our communities, our land, our water, and ourselves.
On June 28 and 29 the New Mexico Acequia Association (NMAA) held a series of seminars on acequia sustainable development. The NMAA is a state-wide federation of acequias, acequia associations, parciantes, and individuals concerned with maintaining the acequias. The purpose of the two-day workshop was to give an overview of issues facing acequia users, and to provide a forum for discussion of those issues as well as the opportunity for groups and individuals to begin networking among themselves. Topics included legal issues facing acequias, historical research of acequias, the role of appropriate technology and alternative agricultural techniques, water leasing, and growing and marketing organic commodities.
Association president Nicasio Romero felt the meetings accomplished all of its goals, and the association is now planning another workshop for late August or September which will narrow the focus to three or four topics, including legal issues facing the acequias, dealing with the State Engineer's Office, monitoring the interim legislative committee (which meets monthly to discuss and develop water legislation), organic certification, and marketing of organic goods. Romero also said that the NMAA would like to sponsor seminars focusing on issues facing individual acequias and acequia associations. La Jicarita will publish a full schedule of the fall workshop events when it becomes available. People wanting more information about the NMAA can contact Nicasio Romero at 421-7057 or Michael Coca at 425-3514.
By Max Córdova, President ,Truchas Land Grant
Some of the most important things we have in our communities in northern New Mexico are our people y la floresta. La floresta provides the resources that keep us warm, cook our food, and provide the essentials to make our homes: la leña, vigas, latillas, los venaditos, etc. It also provides income for many.
HOW HAVE WE DEALT WITH OUR FORESTS? Traditional Spanish communities had specific areas that they would go to address their needs. Each community has always been careful as to how it deals with its specific part of the forest. The health and welfare of the community depended and depends on the health and welfare of the forest.
WHO THEN ARE THE TRUE ENVIRONMENTALISTS? Our communities have always tried to protect the environment, taking only what they needed and always concerned about la floresta. For these newcomers, who like to go to court and litigate, to come and say they are "the environmentalists" is wrong. We call them "urban environmentalists." They say that our communities and the Forest Service are destroying the forest, and run ads that imply this idea in New York papers. They do so to raise funds for their organizations. In my opinion, this is wrong and immoral. They should pass this money on to the communities because you are the ones doing their work, keeping these forests as productive and healthy as possible.
DO WE KNOW WHAT WE ARE DOING? There are many who think that because our people do not have BAs, MAs, or PhDs, we do not know what to do with our forests. Our knowledge has been passed down generation to generation. Los viejitos dicen se me ha olvidado lo que ellos están aprendiendo ahora: "Some are learning what I take for granted and have forgotten."
When we started dealing with urban enviros we saw that they could point out all the problems the Forest Service and communities had, but the big problem was they had no solutions to these problems. We had many meetings with them where we pointed out solutions. They took what they learned in the communities and presented it as if they had come up with the ideas. No credit was given to our people.
Where will we go from here? Will we allow urban enviros to dictate their agenda? Do you know what their agenda is? Recently they came out with a "zero cut" policy in the forest. What exactly does this mean? How will it affect you and the 38 forest dependant communities on the Carson National Forest? "Zero cut" for now means no cut of commericial logs; maybe eventually it will mean fuelwood. WHAT IS HAPPENING? Urban enviros have been complaining about our free wood use program on the Carson. Next year we are going to be asked to pay for that permit. Everyone says that it is necessary to thin the forest. We as communities do this good work on the forest, but does anyone consider what our work is worth? Shouldn't we also be paid to keep our forests strong, healthy, and able to sustain all species?
These urban environmentalists, in their fine homes in Santa Fe (and even one in Peñasco), turn knobs to get their heat and milk the public out of its money for being "guardians" of the forests. They need to wake up and see that the real guardians are the people who live in the forests&emdash;traditional communities who have been here for centuries because we care about our forests. We do not care to be spoken to in "forked tongues." When we had the fuelwood shortage in Truchas, urban enviros bought $1,000 worth of fuelwood to clear their guilty consciences. This wood was all snags. Now they say you and I should not cut snags. Why then is it all right for urban enviros to do so? As a community leader I feel communities know how to deal with needs in our forest. We might not have it written down on paper, but to those who have doubts we say, stand aside and let us do what we need to do! Si no me vas ayudar no metas sancadilla.
Each of us must evaluate how important la floresta is in our lives. Is it important enough to stand up for the rights we are entitled to? As a human species, are we just as important as any Mexican spotted owl not found in our forests?
Las cosas más importantes que tenemos en las comunidades del norte de Nuevo Méjico son la gente y la floresta. La foresta nos da la cosas que necesitamos para calentar nuestras casas y cocer las comidas: la leña, las vigas, las latillas, los venaditos. La foresta también da a la gente trabajo para hacer dinerito que se necesita en la vida hoy en día.
¿COMO HEMOS TRATADO CON LAS FLORESTAS? Las comunidades indígenas siempre tenían lugares comunes a donde iba la comunidad por leña u otros cosas. Las comunidades cuidan muy bien sus lugares comunes en la floresta. El bienestar y la salud de la comunidad está amarrada con la salud y benestar de la floresta.
¿Y QUIENES SON LOS "TRUE ENVIRONMENTALISTS?" Las comunidades siempre han sido "environmentalists." Nuestra gente ha usado no mas lo que necesitamos para vivir. No hemos usado mas que lo que se necesita para hacer la vida. Estos que vienen ahora dicen que son "environmentalists", pero están mal&emdash;son "urban environmentalists." A ellos les gustan mucho las courtes para amarrar el trabajo de la floresta. Esta gente anda deciendo que las comunidades y la Agencia de la Floresta está destruyendo la floresta. "Urban environmentalists" están poniendo artículos en el papél de Nueva York que dice esto. Ellos hacen esto para hacer dinero para sus organizaciones. En mi opinión ésto está mal y es "immoral." Esta genta debía de pasar el dinero que les dan a las comunidades porque ustedes son los que están trabajando para mantener el bienestar de las florestas.
¿SABEMOS LO QUE ESTAMOS HACIENDO? Hay muchos que se les hace que proque nuestra gente no tiene "BAs, MAs, o PhDs" que no sabemos que estamos haciendo en las floresta. La sabiduría de nuestra gente ha sido pasada generación a generación. Puede ser que no este escrito lo que sabemos pero es sabiduría. Los viejitos dicen: Se me ha olvidado lo que ellos están aprendiendo ahora.
Cuando nosotros estabamos lidiando con los "urban environmentalists,"miramos que podían apuntar todas las problemas que se les hacía a ellos que tenía la floresta pero no tenían solución para resolver las problemas. Tuvimos muchas juntas con ellos para resolver las dif-ferencias. Los "urban environmentalists" llevaron las soluciones que aprendieron en estas juntas y las presentaron como que si fueron soluciones de ellos. No le dieron nada de crédito a nuerstra gente.
¿PARA DONDE VAMOS DE AQUI? ¿Quién va a decir que se ha de hacer en la floresta? ¿Las comunidades o las "urban environmentalists?" Recientemente salieron con un idea los "urban environmentalists" de "zero cut" en la floresta. ¿Se pregunta que es no cortar nada? En la Floresta Carson hay 38 communidades que necesita la floresta para existir. Zero cut means no cut, be it logs, leña or cualquier otra cosa. ¿QUE ESTA PASANDO AHORA? A "Urban environmentalists" no les gusta el permiso libre de leña del Floresta Carson y han hecho mucho enruedo para quitarlo. El año que venga nos van a cobrar por ese permiso libre. Todos dicen que la floresta necessita trabajo para quitar los muchos piños que hay y dicen que usen las comunidades para "thin" la floresta. ¿Por qué es que el trabajo de nosotros no tiene valor? ¿A mí se me hace que les debían de pagar a la gente por el trabajo que hacen para mantener las florestas?
En Santa Fe, de donde viven estos "urban environmentalists" (tambien una es de Peñasco), no es más que poner más alto el "switch" para más calor. A éstos les gusta ponerse el nombre de "guardians" de la floresta. Ese nombre engaña a la gente que les da el dinero para que hagan los males que hacen en contra de nuestras comunidades y floresta. Nuestras comunidades son los guardianes de verdad. No nos gusta que nos hablen en lengua "forked tongue." Cuando tuvimos el "fuelwood shortage" en las Truchas, estos "urban environmentalists" se sentían culpables y nos compraron $1,000 en leña para la comunidad. La leña que nos trajeron eran puros pinos muertos secos. Ellos dicen que yo y ustedes no corten más pinos secos. ¿Si es así porque esta bien que ellos si utilizen estos pinos? A mí se me hace que las communidades saben como manejar las florestas. Pueda que no lo tenganos escrito pero a los que tengan dudas le decismos: If you will not help stand aside and let us do what we need to do!
Cada uno de nosotros tenemos que pensar/mirar que tal importante está la floresta en sus vidas. Es imporante que se paren las communidades unidas por los derechos&emdash;derechos que merecemos como humanos y gente indígena de la comunidad. ¿Estará más importante el tecolote que yo y usted?
Copyright 1996-2001 La Jicarita Box 6 El Valle Route, Chamisal, New Mexico 87521.