Aug 292014

OK, I did name the wilderness in the photos themselves. These newest photos are the oldest. (I know, it sounds wrong, but it’s true.) We took a trip to the unnamed wilderness in June with friends Melissa and Lew. We camped in a campground, instead of the jack-camping we did in August. Follow the link for all photos (14 from June plus the previously posted 60 from August).

pale wild iris Western Tanager gray jay (not to be confused with a Clark's nutcracker) a snake in a stream (much smaller than it may seem)

all photos


 Posted by at 3:20 pm
Aug 252014

We camped in a magical place. We were just below 10,000 feet altitude among huge aspen on the edge of a wildflower meadow at a wilderness trailhead for 6 days. We hiked down a steep trail into broad canyons with meandering trout streams. We hiked up to open fields with vast views. We hiked straight out through dense aspen among elk. Most of that time, we were alone.

why we love New Mexico
On our way to heaven.

where the camper takes us
Our truck gets us there and our camper keeps us comfortable.

a trail through the aspen
These aspen are young, but we saw many old giants.

Indian paintbrush in front of aspen
The wildflowers were past peak but still wonderful.

Merri in her happy place
Merri in her happy place.

This place isn’t really a secret. Two months ago, a dozen tents occupied our future campsite. (Tent campers have damaged many of the trees. You bastards!) On that hike, we met people coming and going on the trail. This time, not so much. Maybe it was the weather, which was hotter than we expected, though we enjoyed the little rain we got. I’m sure this place is completely different in hunting season and when the snowmobiles arrive. Our biggest disappointment was the surprising frequency of air traffic noise. Wilderness advocates should sue the federal government to demand quiet airspace, at least at times, around these sacred spaces.

More photos (and the location).


 Posted by at 7:47 am
Aug 122014

Aquifer feeding Texas High Plains rapidly shrinks | Albuquerque Journal News

The chief underground water source for irrigating the agriculture-rich Texas High Plains is depleting at a pace that some fear will exhaust it far more quickly than anticipated.

Records examined by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal show the Ogallala Aquifer has dropped about 325 billion gallons every year for at least the past four decades, meaning the 40-foot decline in the water supply amounts to about a foot each year. But at least two Texas counties west of Lubbock — Parmer and Castro — have plunged more than double that amount — 100 feet.

The aquifer covers parts of eight states from the Dakotas to Texas, holds almost 3 billion acre-feet of water and could run out in 50 years, according to a Kansas study last year. An acre-foot of water is the equivalent of 1 acre of surface area covered by water 1 foot deep — 325,853 gallons.

“When anybody tells me it’s going to last for 50 years, I just laugh,” Lucia Barbato, associate director at the Center for Geospatial Technology at Texas Tech University, told the newspaper in a story published Sunday.

“How long the aquifer lasts depends on where you are.”

The Texas Tech center estimates four counties have less than 15 years before groundwater is exhausted for irrigation.

Aquifer feeding Texas High Plains rapidly shrinks | Albuquerque Journal News


 Posted by at 12:45 pm
Aug 072014

Take a hike on the wild side | Albuquerque Journal News

“Wilderness is an anchor to windward. Knowing it is there, we can also know that we are still a rich nation, tending our resources as we should – not a people in despair searching every last nook and cranny of our land for a board of lumber, a barrel of oil, a blade of grass, or a tank of water.”

— Clinton Anderson

Take a hike on the wild side | Albuquerque Journal News


 Posted by at 9:56 am
Jul 252014

This is a huge and surprising change. The best to come out of this is the feds can stop wasting time relocating wolves from suitable habitat. The downside is more people will get a chance to shoot wolves.

Fed proposal gives wolves wider range | Albuquerque Journal News

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service laid out its plan for the future of the endangered Mexican gray wolf on Thursday, which includes allowing the reintroduced wolves to roam a much larger area.

But an environmental group says the plan also makes it too easy for ranchers and state agencies to kill the wolves – a problem the group’s director says has long hindered the recovery effort in New Mexico and Arizona.

“We’re glad Mexican wolves will be allowed to roam more widely and will be introduced directly into New Mexico,” said Michael Robinson with the Silver City-based Center for Biological Diversity. “But increasing the authority to kill wolves is disappointing and will further imperil them.”


Fed proposal gives wolves wider range | Albuquerque Journal News


 Posted by at 7:28 am
Jul 222014

And cows spoil many a creek, trail, and camping site. And cattle raisers are the main opponents of restoring wolves to their rightful place in our environment, while taking advantage of public land.

Beef pollutes more than pork and poultry, study says | Albuquerque Journal News

Raising beef for the American dinner table does far more damage to the environment than producing pork, poultry, eggs or dairy, a new study says.

Compared with the other animal proteins, beef produces five times more heat-trapping gases per calorie, puts out six times as much water-polluting nitrogen, takes 11 times more water for irrigation and uses 28 times the land, according to the study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Cows are not efficient at converting feed to protein for human consumption, said lead author Gidon Eshel, an environmental physics professor at Bard College in New York.

Beef pollutes more than pork and poultry, study says | Albuquerque Journal News


 Posted by at 10:15 am
Jul 192014

Terrible. In the southwestern US, we’ve been luckier this year than in recent years.

A Rash of Fire in Canada and the Pacific Northwest : Image of the Day

In mid-July 2014, a combination of lightning, parched forests, and hot temperatures fueled dozens of wildfires in Canada and the northwestern United States. According to the Canadian government, 102 uncontrolled fires were burning in British Columbia on July 17, and there were 13 more in Alberta. Across the border, 33 uncontrolled fires were active in Washington and Oregon.

A Rash of Fire in Canada and the Pacific Northwest : Image of the Day


 Posted by at 4:44 pm
Jul 032014

The Sky This Week, 2014 July 1 – 8 — Naval Oceanography Portal

Earth reaches aphelion, its farthest point from the Sun, on the 3rd at 4:13 pm EDT.  At this time we’ll be just over 94,550,000 miles (153,000, 000 kilometers) from the day-star.  Six months from now, in early January, we’ll find ourselves closest to the Sun by a mere 3 million miles or so.  Fortunately this annual excursion means that the planet’s orbit is nearly circular, so our climate remains relatively benign throughout the year.

The Sky This Week, 2014 July 1 – 8 — Naval Oceanography Portal


 Posted by at 2:13 pm
Jun 302014

I thought I had another day. (Isn’t that always the case.) Why wouldn’t the Forest Service keep the forest open through the last day of the month, the last day of the fiscal year? I’m not protesting the closing, but when it’s this hot, the only relief starts at 10,000 feet.

Rain is expected this week. Will enough come to prevent the closure of the bosque? How much of New Mexico will be destroyed on the Fourth by idiots celebrating their right to be stupid?

Forests close due to fire danger | Albuquerque Journal News



 Posted by at 11:00 am
Jun 052014

Sessions examine forest plan changes | Albuquerque Journal News

By Journal Staff
PUBLISHED: Wednesday, June 4, 2014 at 12:05 am

Scheduled public sessions

  • June 9 – 6-9 p.m., UNM Continuing Education Bldg. Room C, 1634 University NE, Albuquerque
  • June 10 – 1-4 p.m. and 6-8:30 p.m., Gallup Community Service Center, 410 Bataan Veterans St., Gallup• June 11 – 6-9 p.m., Socorro County Annex, Co-op Extension classroom, 198 Neel Ave., Socorro
  • June 12 – 1-4 p.m. Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, 2401 12th NW, Albuquerque and 6-9 p.m., Mountainair Senior Center
  • June 23 – 6-9 p.m., Mountainair Senior Center
  • June 24 – 1-4 p.m. and 6 – 8:30 p.m., Northwest New Mexico Visitor’s Center, 1900 E. Santa Fe Ave., Grants
  • June 25, 6-9 p.m., Socorro County Annex, Commission Room, 198 Neel Ave., Socorro
  • June 26, 1-4 p.m., Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, 2401 12th St. NW, Albuquerque, and 6-9 p.m., UNM Continuing Education Building, Room C, 1634 University NE, Albuquerque

Officials with the Cibola National Forest will host a series of work sessions this month as they move forward with planned revisions to the forest plan for the Sandia, Mountainair, Magdalena and Mount Taylor Ranger Districts.

The plan will guide future uses of the 1.63 million-acre forest.

The five-year process of revising the current forest plan, implemented in 1985, began in late 2012 when the Forest Service started a detailed assessment of the four districts.

Forest officials recently finished a series of public meetings on the draft Cibola Forest Assessment Report that was completed in April.

This month’s workshops provide another opportunity for the public to discuss any needed changes to the plan.

View the plan at

For more information, call 346-3889.

Sessions examine forest plan changes | Albuquerque Journal News


 Posted by at 7:21 pm
Jun 052014

It’s right thing for our land | Albuquerque Journal News

By Oscar Simpson / State Chair, New Mexico Backcountry Hunters & Anglers
PUBLISHED: Wednesday, June 4, 2014 at 12:05 am

The story of the hunter-conservationist is built on the premise that those of us who take directly from the land have the most obvious incentives and mandates to care for it. We have something tangible at stake when species, habitats, special spots, wildness and natural beauty are in jeopardy of being tamed or compromised. They are our skin in the game.

These are things we know. Things we love. And they are decreasing commodities in a world of growing human pressures.

Regardless of your political leanings, if you are among our ranks as a hunter, angler or outdoors person in North America today, and you are true to your roots as an advocate for the resources we all value, then you have every reason to join in applauding President Obama’s move to designate the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in south-central New Mexico.

He did so by pulling the ultimate trump card of the presidential conservation deck – the American Antiquities Act of 1906.

With the stroke of Obama’s pen, nearly 500,000 acres of our public lands – your public lands – will be afforded a phenomenal degree of protection in perpetuity. Whether anti-conservation opponents like it or not. No Washington, D.C., bickering necessary.

What a fine law it is that allows the right thing to happen in spite of the gridlock that has paralyzed and polarized the political climate today.

It’s the right thing because desert species and ecosystems, like those found in these special acres, are among our most unique and imperiled. Particularly in the face of a changing climate. … [more at the link]

It’s right thing for our land | Albuquerque Journal News


 Posted by at 1:16 pm