Category Archives: Other

Read It and Weep

pelican photo by mjh You have to read this, ripped from

Thursday, June 10, 2010
Our Greed Speaks Louder Than Brown Pelicans
By Amy D. Estelle
Albuquerque resident
       I am sad beyond belief today.
    The photo of an oil-coated brown pelican gasping for air on the front page of Friday’s Albuquerque Journal brought home the abstraction of the Gulf oil spill.
    My heart broke again.
    This is surely not the only magnificent species that will pay the price of no-holds-barred offshore drilling. I have heard similar reports of other birds, dolphins and fish.
    But brown pelicans are a favorite of mine. Their ungainly prehistoric appearance on land is matched by their ability to glide in graceful unison inches above the surf and to dive like arrows shot into the sea to gulp a fish swimming just beneath the surface.
    Thirty years ago on the coast of Georgia I had an experience with a brown pelican that Gulf coast residents may now unfortunately share: an immature pelican died in my arms.
    It wasn’t oil, but a sudden cold spell that doomed the bird’s already impaired immune system.
    An island resident phoned the environmental education center where I worked to report that a brown pelican had landed in their backyard and was unable to fly. A colleague and I drove over to pick up the bird.
    The veterinarian did what he could and sent us back to the environmental education center with instructions to hold the hypothermic bird close to my body and once we arrived to put it in a small warm room. Just as we drove through the center’s gate, the bird stretched its long neck and took its last breath.
    I am not ashamed to say that I cried then and I cried today.
    There is nothing ordinary about a brown pelican. With a wingspan of nearly seven feet, it looks like it descended directly from a pterodactyl.
    Right now in the height of the breeding season, a striking stripe of Hershey-bar-brown feathers outlined in white cloak the bird’s neck and a pastel sunny yellow tops the head. The iris is a pale blue, and the tip of the beak yellow-orange.
    No time would be a good time for an oil spill, but with eggs or hatchlings in the nest, the death rate will be compounded.
    After surviving the widely used pesticide DDT, a comeback which took nearly half a century, the brown pelican, newly removed from the federal endangered species list, faces a 21st century nemesis: corporate power and a timid — if not corporate-owned — U.S. Congress.
    Why do the United States and the United Kingdom not require the same fail-safe measures for offshore oil wells that Norway has successfully mandated for decades?
    An excerpt from Joe Conason’s article at makes clear that there is an alternative arrangement:
    "What makes Norway so different from the United States — and much more likely to install the most protective energy technology — is that the Norwegian state can impose public values on oil producers without fighting off lobbyists and crooked politicians, because it owns and controls the resources. Rather than Halliburton-style corporate management controlling the government and blocking environmental improvement, Norway’s system works the other way around. It isn’t perfect, as any Nordic environmentalist will ardently explain, but the results are considerably better than ours."
    No one knows for sure the impact the BP oil spill will have on the long-term fate of the brown pelicans in the Gulf. Like the fate of the commercial and sport fishing industries, the tourism industry, and the human families who live, work, and play on these shores, the future is as opaque as the Gulf water.
    What I know, living in the New Mexico desert, is that these fibers of life are intertwined. As the brown pelican survives or dies, so will the human families dependent on the Gulf ecosystem.
    But there is a more disturbing message in the photograph the Journal published, and it sickens me to face it and to hear it: A silent scream. A demand for justice.
    As Henry Beston in 1925 wrote so poignantly and radically in "The Outermost House: A Year of Life On The Great Beach of Cape Cod," our relationships with animals are international:
    "We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth."
    This time the travail was preventable: Deregulation, lack of government oversight, powerful lobbyists and corporate greed — there is more than enough blame to go around.
    The BP-TransOcean-Haliburton Gulf oil spill is an unprovoked and entirely preventable attack on another nation, one who has no seat at the U.N.
    Who will speak for the brown pelicans if you and I do not? Who will hear its silent call to act if you and I do not?
    This is our Silent Spring. This is our time to respond.

ABQJOURNAL OPINION/GUEST_COLUMNS: Our Greed Speaks Louder Than Brown Pelicans

NASA – Spectacular Conjunction


At the end of the day, when the horizon is turning red and the zenith is cobalt-blue, step outside and look southwest. You’ll see Venus and Jupiter beaming side-by-side through the twilight. Glittering Venus is absolutely brilliant and Jupiter is nearly as bright as Venus. Together, they’re dynamite…

The two planets are converging, not in the slow motion typical of heavenly phenomena, but in a headlong rush—almost a full degree (two full Moon widths) per night. As the gap shrinks, the beauty increases.

On Nov. 29th (sky map) the two planets will be less than 3 degrees apart and you’ll think to yourself "surely it can’t get any better than this."

And then it will. On Nov. 30th (sky map) a slender 10% crescent Moon leaps up from the horizon to join the show. The delicate crescent hovering just below Venus-Jupiter will have cameras clicking around the world.

Dec. 1st (sky map) is the best night of all. The now-15% crescent Moon moves in closer to form an isosceles triangle with Venus and Jupiter as opposing vertices. The three brightest objects in the night sky will be gathered so tightly together, you can hide them all behind your thumb held at arm’s length.

The celestial triangle will be visible from all parts of the world, even from light-polluted cities.

NASA – Spectacular Conjunction

Outdoor Gear Swap


Gear Swap
Sunday, May 18
A Summer Equipment Swap and a New Mexico Wilderness Festival

The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance presents the 2nd annual Gear Swap to be held Sunday May 18th at our office, located at 142 Truman St. NE.

The public is invited to bring their slightly used outdoor equipment to be sold. Sell your gear and shop for some great bargains. Twenty two percent commission to benefit the NM Wilderness Alliance. Bring your used kayaks, canoes, dry bags or paddles, slightly used backpacks, sleeping bags, tents, or sleeping pads. Please, no used climbing gear or flotation devices.

Sell the stuff that has been collecting dust. Get rid of the old stuff so you can buy new.  Help folks with limited funds, so they can purchase equipment and enjoy the Wilderness with us. “This is the perfect opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts to clean out the garage and sell their previously-loved equipment so you can buy something new,” said Nathan Newcomer, Media Director for the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. “It’s also a great opportunity for the public to learn about sustainability, wilderness first aid and a whole slew of other things.”

The Wilderness Festival is a celebration of New Mexico’s wild public lands and a vision of a more energy efficient future. There will be booths promoting wilderness, wolves, sustainability, and outdoor recreation. Workshops on wildlife tracking, packing light, gourmet wilderness cooking, map reading and much more. Great music and guest speakers!

For more information, please call Craig Chapman at 505-843-8696, ext. 1009

WHAT: Gear Swap 2008

WHEN: Sunday, May 18th—10 AM to 4 PM. For those wishing to sell equipment, Check-in Monday thru Friday, May 12th—9 AM to 4 PM. Day of the event check-in, 7AM to 10AM.

WHERE: Office of New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, 142 Truman St. NE, located one block west of San Mateo in between Central and Copper.

The Encyclopedia of Life


Imagine the Book of All Species: a single volume made up of one-page descriptions of every species known to science. On one page is the blue-footed booby. On another, the Douglas fir. Another, the oyster mushroom. If you owned the Book of All Species, you would need quite a bookshelf to hold it. Just to cover the 1.8 million known species, the book would have to be more than 300 feet long. And you’d have to be ready to expand the bookshelf strikingly, because scientists estimate there are 10 times more species waiting to be discovered.

It sounds surreal, and yet scientists are writing the Book of All Species. Or to be more precise, they are building a Web site called the Encyclopedia of Life ( On Thursday its authors, an international team of scientists, will introduce the first 30,000 pages, and within a decade, they predict, they will have the other 1.77 million.

The Encyclopedia of Life, No Bookshelf Required – New York Times

Upcoming Wilderness Alliance Service Projects

GET OUT and help restore the land. We need your participation in our service
projects and right now we are short of volunteers for our Trampas TH on June
2-4, so if you are free that weekend, please join us! We set up the
logistics and provide the food (on most trips) – you provide the labor. A
great chance to make friends with others who care about tierra del encanto.

The general pattern is to camp out on Friday, do the service project on
Saturday, and hike or do a little more work on Sunday before heading home.
On most projects, we provide meals (with veggie options). You need all your
own camp gear, snacks, and water. We will help to the degree possible with
car-pooling. Contact the person listed for each project for more info or
for general questions contact Michael Scialdone at 505-843-8696, Directions and further details for each project will be
sent when you sign up.

June 2, 3, 4, 2006—National Trails Day Service Project, Pecos Wilderness
We will be working with Karen Cook of the Carson National Forest to prevent
illegal motorized use from occurring in the Pecos Wilderness. The project
will entail installing barriers at the Trampas Lakes trailhead, which is in
the northwest portion of the Wilderness. We will be staying at a Forest
Service campground, but will still need to bring our own drinking water. On
Sunday, we will take the opportunity to enjoy the area by hiking up the
trail as far as time allows, stopping to admire the work we did the day
Maximum participants: 25
Contact: Michael Scialdone at 505-843-8696, for more info.
Driving time: Approximately 2.5 hours drive north of ABQ

June 9,10,11, 2006—Cebolla Wilderness Wetland Restoration
Albuquerque Wildlife Federation is leading this one. Located in the El
Malpais National Monument south of Grants.
Contact: Gene Tatum at 505-255-1960, for more info.
Driving distance: Approximately 1.5 hours drive west of ABQ

June 16, 17, 18, 2006—Bitter Creek—Service Project
We are joining with Amigos Bravos to help in Red River Watershed
restoration. Projects will include closing off illegal ATV routes and
fencing off riparian areas.
Maximum participants: 35
Contact: Michael Scialdone at 505-843-8696, for more info.
Driving distance: Approximately 3 hours drive north of ABQ

July 7, 8, 9 2006—San Pedro Parks Wilderness Trail Work

July 14,15,16, 2006—Comanche Creek Wetland Restoration in Valle Vidal
Contact: Gene Tatum at 505-255-1960, for more info.

July 28, 29, 30, 2006—Apache Kid Wilderness—Membership Appreciation Outing
August 4,5,6, 2006—Middle Fork Trail, Wheeler Peak Wilderness

Southern Colorado’s Drought

ABQJOURNAL: Weather Phenomenon Could Cause Problems for Southern Colorado By Robert Weller, Associated Press

Already parched by drought, southern Colorado could be denied much-needed snowfall for months to come because a strengthening La Nina weather pattern that usually pushes moisture to the northern and central Colorado mountains, forecasters said Tuesday.

Southern and southwestern Colorado mountains have between 34 and 47 percent of their average snowfall and are unlikely to catch up, they said. …

Colorado is in a classic La Nina pattern now, with heavy snow in the north and central mountains, but dry conditions along the Front Range and in the South. Windy conditions also are sucking moisture from the ground and have helped spread several wildfires in the last month.

Nuevo Casas Grandes & Paquimé, Mexico

Nuevo Casas Grandes travel guide

A pleasant small city located in Chihuahua. The two main reasons to visit relate to nearby locations, however: the precolumbian ruins of Paquimé, and the small village of Mata Ortiz, the home of Juan Quezada, Mexico’s most honored potter.


Paquime was the center of the Casas Grandes culture in the northern part of the Republic of Mexico for over 300 years, reaching the peak of its power around the 13th century. It is believed that the population of the city reached 10,000. The buildings of Paquime were constructed of rammed earth. The walls were plastered with mud or caliche and painted white or decorated with colored patterns and designs. Inhabitants of the city enjoyed running water and even a sewer system! Those of us familiar with the ruins of the Southwestern U.S. will recognize the familiar “T-door” shape sprinkled throughout the Paquime ruins.

[mjh: some good pix at the link above]

Homolovi State Park, near Winslow, Arizona

The unexcavated ruins of Homolovi State Park, near Winslow, Arizona, are not nearly as spectacular as, say, nearby Wupatiki National Monument — but, perhaps, more so than also nearby Walnut Canyon. But the location is well worth a visit and the ruins on a butte are pretty cool.

Bear paw petroglyphs seem curious at a desert landmark By LAURIE KAVENAUGH

Homolovi has known human presence for some 11,000 years: Nomadic hunters stopped there early on, then the Hisat’sinom (Anasazi) civilization built villages and lived there until 1400. Within the Tsu’vo loop are about two dozen fading petroglyphs left behind by those who stopped at the Twin Buttes.

Hopi group disputes popular perception of the Flute Player

Salt Lake Tribune – Utah
Hopi group disputes popular perception of the Flute Player, By Lisa Church, Special to The Tribune

In Hopi teachings, Kokopelli – a corruption of the Hopi word “Kookopoli” – is a troublemaker, a lecherous and promiscuous figure who traveled from village to village as a trader, carrying his merchandise in a sack on his back.

Legend holds that as the villagers gathered to see his goods, Kookopoli would entrance them with flute music, then perform lewd acts upon some of the village women.

The exhibit, developed with the help of Hopi Flute Clan members, uses a variety of rock-art images and text based on the teachings of the Hopi to explain the importance of the Hopi Flute Player, and to detail the distinction between the flute player and Kokopelli.

Today, the Hopi sometimes depict Kookopoli in the form of a Katsina – a carved sculpture – called Kokopelli.

The characters of Kookopoli and the female version, Kokopolmana, often are seen during Hopi spring and summer dances meandering through the village feigning lewd acts, usually in the company of a clown figure who taunts Kokopolmana, while resisting her advances.

“They’re used to teach the people about the dangers of promiscuity,” said Leroy Lewis, a member of the Flute Clan who served as a consultant for the exhibit.

Rare Places in a Rare Light: The Wildlands Photography of Robert Turner

Where the wild things are By Chris Bergeron / Daily News Staff

Driving his pickup across the country, photographer Robert Turner spends days, even months looking through his lens for the precise moment primordial splendor shines through the landscape.

He calculates color and light with a painter’s eye and a meteorologist’s attention to nature’s changing moods.

Tripping his shutter of his Toyo large-format camera, Turner aims to “capture the essence of wilderness in a place.”

Cresting waves surge into a rocky cove on the California coast. A gnarled bristlecone pine thrusts upward into a seamless blue sky. Three aligned doorways lead through Anasazi stone ruins in Chaco Canyon.

“I’m looking for places and moments when light, forms and colors come together,” said Turner last week as he set up his show. He hopes his photos preserve the ephemeral moment when “I have witnessed something that has transcended the realm of ordinary experience.” …

The startling colors and panoramic breadth of his images suggest a pictorial amalgam of Claude Monet’s impressionist paintings and William Wordsworth’s lyrical poems.

Like Wordsworth, who sought to convey “spots of time” in poems of heartfelt remembrance, Turner roots his scenes in particular places and times: a sunset at Dead Horse Point near Moab, Utah; red maples reflected in a pond at Arcadia State Park in Maine; or a twisted juniper tree in Valley of the Gods in Arizona. …

The exhibit includes photographs Turner took from 1997 to this year while logging an estimated 40,000 miles annually crisscrossing the country from the Pacific Northwest to the Great Smokey Mountains, from New England to the Colorado Plateau.

Often traveling with his wife, Karen Messer, he drove his Toyota pickup into Canyonlands National Park in Utah and chased thunderstorms across the Great Plains. They trekked together through the Sonoran Desert and Maine’s hardwood forests.

The 62-year-old Turner said he searches for places where he can freeze “a fleeting moment of light, color, motion or stillness that gives the image a sense of heightened reality.”

“The Holy Grail is capturing intense color in soft light,” he said.

Turner said he uses “traditional methods” to take and print his photos. He doesn’t employ lens filters to enhance natural colors and uses commercial film that reveals sharp nuances and contrasts. …

Turner said his recent work reflects his early training as a painter through its nuance of color and composition. He cited the influence of 19th-century artists Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran whose lush paintings caught the Edenic beauty of an unspoiled country that he seeks in his photos.

An ardent conservationist, Turner hopes his work inspires others to protect and preserve natural resources including the public lands where most of his photographs were taken.

A slim, effusive man who looks like he would be as much at home on the Appalachian trail as a darkroom, he compared America’s wild places to “a refuge, a sanctum, an escape from urban chaos.

“I hope my photographs work on several levels,” he said. “I hope they inspire belief in the restorative power of wild places and the importance of protecting them.”

OPENING NOVEMBER 5, 2005 at The Harvard Museum of Natural History

From the San Diego exhibit several years ago:
Rare Places in a Rare Light: The Wildlands Photography of Robert Turner

Help monitor New Mexico’s cultural resources

In brief, 11/03/2005

The state’s Historic Preservation Division is seeking volunteers interested in monitoring endangered cultural resources in New Mexico, many of which are vulnerable to vandalism and looting because of their remote locations .

The New Mexico SiteWatch program is offering training for people interested in becoming site stewards from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 19 at Bandelier National Monument. They will learn how to spot vandalism and monitor for signs of ongoing deterioration or other problems at cultural sites.

SiteWatch units are already operating at Chaco Culture National Historic Park and Gila Cliff Dwellings.

The registration deadline is Nov. 11. To attend the session , contact coordinator Phil Young at 827-6314 or at

Help monitor New Mexico’s cultural resources

In brief, 11/03/2005

The state’s Historic Preservation Division is seeking volunteers interested in monitoring endangered cultural resources in New Mexico, many of which are vulnerable to vandalism and looting because of their remote locations .

The New Mexico SiteWatch program is offering training for people interested in becoming site stewards from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 19 at Bandelier National Monument. They will learn how to spot vandalism and monitor for signs of ongoing deterioration or other problems at cultural sites.

SiteWatch units are already operating at Chaco Culture National Historic Park and Gila Cliff Dwellings.

The registration deadline is Nov. 11. To attend the session , contact coordinator Phil Young at 827-6314 or at