Tell the profiteers “NO! Not this time.”
It’s time for a clean slate at the New Mexico Game Commission. All of these people should go. Their successors should include someone from a city, someone who enjoys hiking without killing. Instead, we have hunters, guides, ranchers, people in oil, people whose livelihood and pleasure derive from exploiting public land for profit.
New Mexico State Game Commissioners, from left:
Alexa Sandoval, Director
Thomas “Dick” Salopek,
Paul M. Kienzle III, Chairman,
William “Bill” Montoya, Vice Chairman,
Elizabeth Atkinson Ryan,
Ralph Ramos, and
Robert Espinoza, Sr.
listen during their meeting at the Santa Fe Community College in Santa Fe, N.M. Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. The New Mexico Game Commission has approved new hunting limits for bears and cougars around the state despite the protests of environmental groups. (Clyde Mueller/Santa Fe New Mexican via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Believe me, I’d love to indulge in Wanted posters of these folks and coy references to hunting them down, but I won’t indulge in the violence they endorse. I wish them peaceful lives out of public “service.” If I see one of them, I will flip him or her off. If I have mustard at hand, I will throw it on them. A better man would stand and stare and shake his head at their shame.
Flash mob, anyone?
A few people decided to take the last wild river in New Mexico away from all of us and sell it to a few. And no one can stop the few from screwing the many.
At Monday’s meeting, Interstate Stream Commission staff acknowledged that evaporation and reservoir seepage will eat up nearly half the water before it ever reaches any farms or cities. The law under which the project would be built authorized 14,000 acre feet per year on average from the Gila, but the actual yield will likely be between 6,000 and 8,000 acre feet, ISC staff member Ali Effati told the commission.
The commission’s vote on the diversion recommendation was not unanimous. Commissioner Blane Sanchez objected and Topper Thorpe chose not to vote, a decision that spurred cheers from people in the audience who have been critical of diversion.
Our new Land Commissioner is likely to regard mineral extraction as more important than Chaco. Keep a sharp eye out and raise Hell over every threat to this treasure.
I like to drive to Chaco by going north out of Grants via Milan. The lower portion of this route is marred by old radioactive tailing ponds. However, my last trip a year or more ago I passed through a hellish landscape of smoke and dust as countless large machines ripped up the land. I’d like to see that on the 10 o’clock news and the front of the newspaper. Instead, this destruction goes on just out of sight of most travelers. Don’t let it get an inch closer to Chaco.
In some ways, it still looks like it did centuries ago.
“Right now, you can stand at Pueblo Alto, look north and see a landscape that is substantially the same as what the Chacoans saw,” said Barbara West, former superintendent of the Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
But that could be changing.
In their typical multi-prong attack, the Republicans cut funding to public land services, then accuse those services of being unable to handle the task. The goal is to pass the lands to local governments where it will be much easier to bribe politicians and cherry-pick the best lands. When the burden of land management falls on local governments, they will fail and throw up their hands and sell the lands. ROBBERY!
If local governments happen to bankrupt themselves trying to manage public lands, all the better, because then local governments will have to beg corporations to take over a wider array of public services. This is the most transparent of vile schemes. [hat tip to Meg Adams]
These types of land-grab schemes are as old as the railroads. But the chief salesman for this latest land seizure campaign, the American Lands Council, is having some success pitching state legislators on “model legislation” to enable these transfers. The legislation was drafted with the help of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, which receives financing from the utility industry and fossil-fuel producers.
It is unclear whether such legislation is even enforceable.
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Still, even the Republican National Committee has bought the snake oil the American Lands Council is selling. Last January, the committee endorsed the transfer of public lands to the states. In addition, the United States House of Representatives, controlled by Republicans, endorsed the outright sale of our public lands.
Like other Westerners who value our shared lands as assets to be used, enjoyed and passed to future generations, I find this dispiriting to see. And for an overwhelming majority of public land users in the West who pay their grazing fees and play by the rules, the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion of Cliven Bundy and the American Lands Council is not so much a movement as another special-interest-financed boondoggle.
Imagine boarding the Rail Runner in Santa Fe or Albuquerque and riding south to Bosque del Apache. Wouldn’t it be fantastic? We have the tracks, we have the trains, we have the natural attraction. More than anything we lack imagination and determination to make it happen.
The people most likely to take this train don’t require a fancy stop. The Durango-Silverton rail simply stops in the middle of wilderness for hikers.
Eventually, I’d like to see a special Crane engine modeled after the lovely Rail Runner. But we could start this run in no time. We have trains going to the Wine Festival in Bernalillo. Why not to the Festival of the Cranes?
[reposted from 10/23/13 every year until we can do this]
Lifted from Tina of the Wilderness Alliance, who is trying to visit all of these in 2014.
Aldo Leopold Wilderness (map)
Apache Kid Wilderness (map)
Bandelier Wilderness (map)
Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness (map)
Blue Range Wilderness (map)
Bosque del Apache Wilderness (map)
Capitan Mountains Wilderness (map)
Carlsbad Caverns Wilderness (map)
Cebolla Wilderness (map)
Chama River Canyon Wilderness (map)
Cruces Basin Wilderness (map)
Dome Wilderness (map)
Gila Wilderness (map)
Latir Peak Wilderness (map)
Manzano Mountain Wilderness (map)
Ojito Wilderness (map)
Pecos Wilderness (map)
Sabinoso Wilderness (map)
Salt Creek Wilderness (map)
San Pedro Parks Wilderness (map)
Sandia Mountain Wilderness (map)
West Malpais Wilderness (map)
Wheeler Peak Wilderness (map)
White Mountain Wilderness (map)
Withington Wilderness (map)
[originally posted Apr 21, 2008]
Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) in New Mexico
Name – acres – date designated
Aden Lava Flow – 25,972 – May-92
Ah-shi-sle-pah – 6,563 – May-92
Alamo Hueco Mountains – 17,244 – May-92
Antelope – 20,710 – May-92
Apache Box – 932 – May-92
Apache Box Add-on – 4,365 –
Big Hatchet Mountains – 67,697 – May-92
Blue Creek – 14,620 – May-92
Brokeoff Mountains – 30,848 – May-92
Cabezon – 8,159 – May-92
Canyons – 4,000
Carrizozo Lava Flow – 10,408 – May-92
Cedar Mountains – 14,908 – May-92
Chain-of-Craters – 18,300 –
Chamisa – 13,692 – May-92
Continental Divide – 68,761 – May-92
Cooke’s Range – 19,872 – May-92
Cowboy Spring – 6,666 – May-92
Culp Canyon – 11,265 – May-92
Devil’s Backbone – 8,904 – May-92
Devil’s Den Canyon – 320 – May-92
Devil’s Reach – 860 –
Eagle Peak – 43,960 – May-92
Empedrado – 9,007 – May-92
Florida Mountains – 22,066 – May-92
Gila Lower Box – 8,178 – May-92
Gray Peak – 14,471 –
Guadalupe Canyon – 4,145 – May-92
Guadalupe Escarpment – 6,957 –
Horse Mountain – 5,032 – May-92
Hoverrocker – 22
Ignacio Chavez – 33,264 – May-92
Jornada del Muerto – 31,147 – May-92
La Lena – 10,438May-92
Las Uvas Mountains – 11,067 – May-92
Little Black Peak – 14,904 – May-92
Lonesome Ridge – 3,505 – May-92
Manzano – 881 – May-92
Mathers – 362 – May-92
McKittrick Canyon – 200 – May-92
Mesita Blanca – 19,414 – May-92
Mount Riley – 8,488 – May-92
Mudgetts – 2,941 – May-92
Ojito – 10,903 – May-92 [made a Wilderness Area in 2005]
Organ Mountains – 7,211 – May-92
Organ Needles – 5,959
Peloncillo Mountains – 3,993 – May-92
Pena Blanca – 4,780 –
Petaca Pinta – 11,668 – May-92
Presilla – 8,680 – May-92
Rio Chama – 11,985 – May-92
Robledo Mountains – 13,379 – May-92
Sabinoso – 15,760 – May-92
Sacramento Escarpment – 3,010 –
San Antonio – 7,050 – May-92
Sierra de las Canas – 12,838 – May-92
Sierra Ladrones – 45,308 – May-92
Stallion – 24,238 – May-92
Veranito – 7,206 – May-92
West Potrillo Mountains – 151,049 -May-92
[originally posted 5/11/06; revised 6/26/06]
My hobby is ‘bagging’ wildernesses, that is, having photos taken of me with wilderness signs. A few are self-portraits, like the one above. Most have been taken by my spirit guide, Merri Rudd. We’ve visited all of the wildernesses in New Mexico, and more than a few in the Four Corners and along the Rockies. I’ve finally gathered some of the photos that identify those wildernesses. More to come, I hope.
Nobody said it more succinctly than Thoreau. We arose from the wildland and have been close to wilderness for most of our existence. Only in the last two centuries have we become a serious threat to wilderness (and, not coincidentally, the Earth itself). I give thanks that 50 years ago today, people had the strength to draw a line and say ‘no farther.’
That first official Wilderness was the Gila here in New Mexico and New Mexicans played key roles in the passage of the Wilderness Act. I can see more than one wilderness from my house in the middle of the largest city in New Mexico. (A hundred mile vista helps, and the closest wilderness towers 5,000 feet above the city.)
There are those who would sell off our shared heritage for quick profit and longterm devastation. The profiteers oppose every effort to expand wilderness beyond the tiny islands remaining from what was an entire continent of wilderness. Those islands are isolated and riven by roads. Their silence is shattered by air traffic. Their lifeblood is coveted by those who would bottle and sell it. Every single day, we need to roar “no farther!”
“The West of which I speak is but another name for the Wild, and what I have been preparing to say is, that in Wildness is the preservation of the World.” – Thoreau
The Wilderness Act is well known for its succinct and poetic definition of wilderness:
“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”
50 years later, Wilderness Act divides ranchers, environmentalists – The Santa Fe New Mexican: Home By Staci Matlock, The New Mexican
Aldo Leopold, an avid hunter and angler who worked for the U.S. Forest Service in New Mexico, convinced his bosses in 1924 to designate 750,000 acres of the Gila National Forest as the world’s first wilderness.
It would be four decades more before a bipartisan Congress, with only one dissenting vote, approved the Wilderness Act. …
Only 2.5 percent of public land is protected wilderness. “We’re not talking about a vast part of our public lands,” said Mark Allison, director of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. “These are places so special that we want to set them aside for future generations.”
The first two wilderness areas approved under the law were both in New Mexico — the Gila and the Pecos Wilderness. Since it was enacted, the act has preserved more than 109 million acres in 756 wilderness areas around the United States.
Over the past 50 years, Congress has approved millions of acres of designated wilderness, with votes of support from both sides of the aisle and presidents from both parties signing the bills into law.
But bipartisan support has changed in the last half dozen years.
Six new cities have been designated as Urban Refuge Partnership sites! Valle de Oro received this honor last year and we are thrilled to see this program expanding.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today it will partner with communities, corporations and nonprofits to help restore the natural environment and boost opportunities for residents in six cities to connect with nature. Together, the Service and partners expect to direct more than $1.7 million to community-led habitat restoration projects and engage thousands of volunteers in the efforts.
Six national wildlife refuges will play a key part in the Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships: Hopper Mountain Refuge in Ventura, CA; Bayou Sauvage Refuge in New Orleans, LA; Rocky Mountain Arsenal Refuge in Denver, CO; John Heinz Refuge at Tinicum in Philadelphia, PA; Wallkill River Refuge in Sussex, NJ; and Santa Ana Refuge in Alamo, TX. The partnerships will encourage participation in conservation and outdoor recreation in residents’ local communities.
“Thanks to our partners, we are expanding beyond our national wildlife refuges and finding new ways to educate and inspire young people living in urban centers, helping raise a new generation of conservationists with a passion to care for our lands, water and wildlife,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.
The Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships, part of the National Wildlife Refuge System’s Urban Wildlife Refuge Program, raises awareness and capacities to engage a new and more diverse constituency in meaningful, collaborative ways to nurture an appreciation of wildlife conservation, both on and off urban refuges.
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).
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.
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).
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.
“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