Jun 062005

ABQjournal: Summer Season Starts Out Strong at State Parks

State parks around New Mexico are celebrating a successful launch of their summer season with a 34 percent increase in Memorial Day week crowds.

“The holiday weekend was terrific in New Mexico State Parks,” said Dave Simon, state parks director. “It was safe and it was fun-filled.”

Visits at all 32 state parks increased from 222,000 for the week leading to Memorial Day in 2004 to 296,000 this year, Simon said.

“With lake levels continuing to rise through June and dozens of programs and special activities scheduled, the 2005 summer excitement in state parks is just getting started,” Simon said.

Elephant Butte Lake State Park saw a 14-foot increase in water levels from a year ago. It experienced an 80 percent increase in visitors from 72,800 in 2004 to 131,000 this year.

Nearby Caballo Lake State Park experienced a 100 percent increase in visitors during the week leading to Memorial Day this year with 18,015. It had only 9,021 visitors during the same period last year.

Sugarite Canyon in northeastern New Mexico also saw a huge increase from 2,477 last year to 5,005 this year.

All totals released by the parks officials are based on visitor numbers from Monday, May 23, through Sunday, May 29.

Despite the large crowds, no major accidents or injuries were reported at state parks over the holiday weekend, officials said.

Navajo Lake State Park had more than 19,000 visitors for the week.

About 6,000 visitors made their way to Eagle Nest Lake State Park for its first Memorial Day weekend as a state park. A free fishing clinic and survival strategy demonstration were credited for drawing some of the visitors, state parks officials said.

More than 5,200 visitors went to Santa Rosa Lake State Park in eastern New Mexico during the week. That’s a 26 percent increase.

Drop Elephant Butte and Caballo and you have an average of over 650 visitors per day per park. If I went to any park and encountered 600 people, I’d leave. New Mexico needs more parks. mjh


 Posted by at 10:35 am
Jun 022005

ABQjournal: Gila Wolf Eludes Pursuers By Tania Soussan, Journal Staff Writer

Efforts to remove a pair of cattle-killing wolves and their pups from the Gila National Forest are continuing.

The Francisco Pack alpha pair of endangered Mexican gray wolves is under a “lethal take” order for killing four cattle on Gila grazing allotments. They also could be removed from the wild through trapping.

The male wolf has avoided sharpshooters and traps for weeks.

Biologists are focusing now on capturing or killing the uncollared male but he remains elusive, said program manager John Morgart of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The agency had intended to kill that male wolf in the trap if he was caught but has reversed its decision.

The male was born in the wild but never can be released again because he has killed so many cows, and he does not have the valuable genetics to make him a candidate for captive breeding, Morgart said.

New Mexico Game Commission Chairman Guy Riordan said he told the Fish and Wildlife Service that the state Game and Fish Department prefers to see the wolf captured rather than killed.

“There’s value in all the animals,” he said.

Morgart said the male could be useful in helping to rear his pups if all the animals are taken into captivity.

Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity said he hopes the male escapes both trapping and shooting, but he praised the decision not to kill him in a trap.

“We’re pleased that New Mexico Game and Fish has won this small concession,” he said.

The female wolf is in a den with four or five young pups, and biologists are using her to lure the male. They also are putting out meat for her to eat.

“We haven’t had any luck drawing him into an area where he can be trapped or where he can be seen to be shot,” Morgart said. “The goal is to remove him from the area in the most efficient way possible.”

Once the male is caught or shot, biologists will try to trap the female and then grab her pups. But she also is under a kill order and that option might need to be used before the pups leave the den five or six weeks from now, Morgart said.

The female also could be hard to trap because she has been caught several times before and is trap savvy, he said. If she is killed, an older pair of wolves already in captivity “would be great surrogate parents,” Morgart said.

A male yearling from the pack was captured two weeks ago and is in captivity. The three adults can never return to the wild but the pups could.

Pay the ranchers enough that they look forward to wolves killing their cows. mjh

ABQjournal: Around New Mexico

Meetings To Examine Gray Wolf Program

The Adaptive Management Work Group for the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction program will hold a series of public meetings this month to discuss a review of the program and proposed changes.

The meetings will be June 15 in Reserve, June 16 in Silver City, June 17 in Truth or Consequences and June 18 in Albuquerque.

The meetings will include a 30-minute presentation on the program five-year review, proposed standard operating procedures and a proposed one-year moratorium on some new wolf releases followed by a 21/2-hour “open forum” session for the public to speak.

Written comments will be accepted through July 31. Details about the meetings and documents about the review and proposals are available at http://azgfd.gov/wolf and http://mexicanwolf.fws.gov or by calling 346-2525.


 Posted by at 1:53 pm
Jun 012005

Premiere of “Remembered Earth – New Mexico’s High Desert” at The Northwest New Mexico Visitor Center

“A breathtaking and poetic journey across one of the most beautiful and
forbidding landscapes in North America.”
The Washington Post
“A remarkable work of great integrity.”
American Society of Cinematographers
“A fabulous film, intelligent and beautiful.”
Smithsonian Institution

The staff of El Malpais National Monument and the Northwest New Mexico
Visitor Center are pleased to announce the premiere of the center’s new
movie, Remembered Earth: New Mexico’s High Desert, on June 9, 2005. The 27
minute film will be screened at 6 and 7 pm, with a maximum of 60 seats per
screening in the center’s theater. This event is free and open to the
public; seats will be filled on a first come, first served basis.

Remembered Earth is a captivating journey through a storied landscape of
the American West, featuring spectacular landscape photography and a
thoughtful interpretation of land ethics by Pulitzer Prize-winning author
N. Scott Momaday. Noted Indian actor Irene Bedard (Smoke Signals,
Pocahontas) narrates the film. The haunting original orchestral score by
Academy Award-winner Todd Boekelheide was recorded at Skywalker Sound.

Remembered Earth explores the relationships between people and the land,
“exemplified by the ingenious use of clips of Hollywood Westerns that
helped mythologize not just the Southwest but America itself.” (Washington
Post) It has been an official selection of environmental film festivals in
Washington, DC, Italy and Greece, and won first place and merit awards for
script and photography at the International Wildlife Film Festival. An HD
version of Remembered Earth will be featured in a national prime time
broadcast on PBS later this year.

Filmmaker John Grabowska will be present at the premiere to discuss the
movie. For more information about this event, contact the Northwest New
Mexico Visitor Center at (505) 876-2783.
Continue reading »


 Posted by at 9:57 pm
May 312005

Discovering the Aldridge petroglyphs By Will Kie

BLM ranger Karen Davis. Davis is a native of Acoma Pueblo, and she cannot wait to show you the many ancient treasures of Cibola County.

Davis will be leading three planned hikes in the El Malpais National Monument area beginning June 4. The first hike will explore the Aldridge petroglyphs. “I talk about the petroglyphs and the journeys or routes the Anasazi people may have taken a long time ago,” said Davis. Davis said she will also talk about the cultural importance of the area and how the ancient ways of life are still carried on today in the traditions of the Acoma people.

Davis said one question she frequently answers concerns the whereabouts of the Anasazi. “People from Chaco did not die, they are still here,” Davis said.

Davis will also talk about the meanings of the petroglyphs. “What I did was go to the elders and ask them what the symbols might mean,” said Davis. Davis said that the petroglyphs visitors will see on the Aldridge hike tell part of the creation story of the Anasazi. To hear the creation story told by Davis while standing in the same spot as the ancient ones and imagining what life was like around 950-1300 A.D. during the Chacoan period, sign up for Davis’ hike. …

Interested hikers can contact Davis at the ranger station at (505) 280-2918. Other hikes to the petroglyph panel are scheduled for July 9 and August 6. To get to the ranger station on state road 117, take I-40 east from Grants or Gallup to exit 89, and drive south for nine miles to the station. Davis said hikers need to arrive at 9 a.m. The hike will start at approximately 9:15 a.m.

El Malpais National Monument (National Park Service)


 Posted by at 5:01 pm
May 312005

ABQjournal: Leaders Save Wilds at the City’s Edge By Bob Howard, Wilderness Advocate

[The Sandia Mountains] loom as timeless sentinels on our horizon, as Albuquerque’s “Acropolis”— so familiar in its beckoning wildness and blissful solitude.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of an important step in preserving the Sandia Mountains. It is a story worth remembering.

Gazing up at Sandia Crest, I think of the leadership that has preserved some of New Mexico’s grandest wilderness areas. In a less frantic and driven world, one might think such gems of public land wilderness could preserve themselves. But as early as the 1920s, farsighted leaders understood that in the face of ever-growing development pressures, wilderness areas would persist for our grandchildren’s children to savor only if we deliberately protect them while we can. …

Who benefits from half a century of bipartisan efforts to preserve areas such as the Sandias? To my Teddy Roosevelt-style Republican conservationist way of thinking, we all do.

We earn the blessing of future generations for our restraint in leaving some of New Mexico’s still-wild landscape for them to know and enjoy. We all benefit, too, from the fact that our wild Sandia “Acropolis” stands above us, visible throughout Albuquerque and the surrounding valley. It enriches our busy lives with the scenic grandeur of its lofty, well protected wildness. Even if we never set foot within its boundaries, the Sandia Mountain Wilderness is a pillar of what makes Albuquerque unique.

What metropolis would not envy us this wilderness setting! …

Viewing the wilderness crest of the Sandias reminds us that it is the land of enchantment we must preserve for all who will follow us.


 Posted by at 11:09 am
May 302005

BLM offers $500 reward for info on ancient art vandalism

The Bureau of Land Management has dangled out a $500 reward for information about vandalism this month at an ancient rock art site near St. George.

The vandalism in the Land Hill area was reported May 16, and is believed to have occurred between then and May 1, when volunteers checking the site last stopped by.
BLM spokesman David Boyd said a man who regularly hikes the area noticed the damage.

Perpetrators scratched names and obscene words throughout the site and littered the area with burned pallets and beer cans.

Land Hill is part of the Santa Clara River Reserve, a 6,500-acre patch of public land jointly managed by the BLM and the cities of Santa Clara and Ivins. It has more than 100 documented archaic, Anasazi and Paiute habitation sites and 51 petroglyph panels estimated to be between 750 and 4,000 years old.


 Posted by at 12:24 pm
May 272005

Ozone, mercury worry League BY JOHN R. CRANE, Journal Staff Writer

Concern about the environmental effects of existing power plants in New Mexico has heightened since Houston-based Sithe Global proposed to build a 1,500-megawatt coal-fired power plant on Navajo Nation land near Farmington. The proposed plant is known as the Desert Rock Energy Project.

Two existing power plants in New Mexico, San Juan Generating Station in Waterflow and Four Corners Power Plant in Fruitland, release tens of thousands of tons of pollutants into the air annually. According to Sithe Global figures, they emit a combined total of 49,600 tons of sulfur dioxide and 70,700 tons of nitrogen oxide a year. Desert Rock would put out 3,400 tons of each of the two substances, according to project estimates. …

The San Juan power plant emits roughly 751 pounds of mercury into the atmosphere annually, according to the Grand Canyon Trust, an environmental group. Just 1 gram of mercury can make the fish in a 15-acre lake unfit for human consumption.

Note that there are about 340,000 grams in 751 pounds, meaning this could contaminate almost 8,000 square MILES of lakes in the Four Corners and beyond. Elephant Butte is less than 50 square miles in area, so we’re poisoning the equivalent of 1500 Elephant Buttes.

This is just part of the pollution already being released before another plant goes online. mjh

(751 pounds / 2.2 pounds per kilogram * 1000 grams per kilogram * 15 acres / 640 acres per square mile)


 Posted by at 2:15 pm
May 272005

Help the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance Close an Illegal ATV Road In the Pecos Wilderness!

June 4th, 2005—Pecos Wilderness, north side

June 4th is NATIONAL TRAILS DAY and we will participate by working on a trail on the north side of the Pecos Wilderness that ATVs have been illegally using. The trail leads to and beyond Serpent Lake. Our main task will be to block access to motorized use while allowing non-motorized users to continue. We will also do some trail clean up and maintenance. We will camp out Fri & Sat eve, do the project on Saturday, and go for a hike on Sunday morning. Driving time is about 2 ½ hours north/northeast of ABQ. We will need around 25 people.

Reply to Michael Scialdone at scial@nmwild.org to let us know you are coming. He will email you on Tuesday with directions and questions on menu preferences. We supply Friday dinner through Sunday breakfast. You will need your own camping gear for car-camping, snacks, beverages, and water.

You can call with questions at 843-8696. Ask for Michael Scialdone or Nathan Newcomer.


 Posted by at 11:45 am
May 272005

Great piece by Chantal Foster on a one or two day trip to Bandelier in the Jemez Mountains and Santa Fe National Forest, featuring waterfalls, ruins and a ceremonial kiva (with photos):
Duke City Fix ROADTRIP: Bandelier Nat’l Monument
Here are some photos by MRudd at Bandelier with visitors Plamen and Susan in May 2002.

Tyonyi Ruins - click for larger pictureTyonyi Ruins

doorway and window in cliff - click for larger picturedoorway and window in cliff

long climb to ceremonial cave & kiva - click for larger picturelong climb to ceremonial cave & kiva

restored kiva in ceremonial cave - click for larger picturerestored kiva in ceremonial cave


 Posted by at 11:12 am
May 262005

First of all, turning 50 is better than the alternative. While I’m no senior citizen, I’m surely not middle aged anymore — unless I’m living to 100. I’m afraid the glass isn’t half empty — it’s 5/8ths empty, maybe 2/3rds.

The Big DayStill it was a good excuse for an in-town party and another party in the woods. In-town, a couple of dozen friends came over for a potluck cookout and cakes. We had a good time and even stayed up past 9pm — woo-hoo.

For the weekend, a dozen of us trekked to a sweet little spot I’d visited the week before. The place is called Resumidero and we all loved it on first sight. It is a long, flat meadow between two rushing streams, surrounded by dense woods on the edge of the San Pedro Parks Wilderness. It was perfect — up until it was ruined. But I get ahead of myself. …
Continue reading »


 Posted by at 9:36 pm
May 102005

ABQjournal: Around New Mexico

Proposed rules to guide the federally led effort to reintroduce endangered wolves into the wild in the Southwest are open for public comment through May 31.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has suggested a one-year moratorium on releases of captive-raised wolves with now wild experience and limits on where depredating wolves can be relocated.

In addition, the wolf program’s interagency Adaptive Management Oversight Committee has proposed five new standard operating procedures addressing supplemental feeding, roadkill salvage, wolf control, helicopter capture and aerial monitoring flights.

The documents are available at www.azgfd.gov by clicking on the link under “What’s New” and then “View the document” or by calling (505) 346-2525.

Comments can be sent to mexwolf@azgfd.gov or Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project, c/o Arizona Game and Fish Department, Attention: Terry B. Johnson, 2221 West Greenway Road, Phoenix, AZ, 85023.


 Posted by at 11:48 am
May 102005

The Great Old Broads for Wilderness have released their calender of events for 2005! The groups unique, passionate voices are needed in many places on many issues that threaten our nation’s wild places. Join the Broads as they do Wilderness events in New Mexico. For more information, contact Rose Chilcoat at: 970-385-9577, rose@greatoldbroads.org

Days in the Desert IV – Jemez Mountains, NM

Date: May 20-22

Cost: $70 incl. meals and camping

If you want to understand the effects of grazing on our desert riparian areas, this is the workshop for you! We gather Friday afternoon at an undeveloped campsite near La Cueva for dinner and to begin our awakening to the way streams in the desert should look. Scientists from the University of New Mexico will train us out in the field to systematically assess the health of a riparian area. We will spend a day visiting an ungrazed stretch of creek as our reference site, where you will be able to see what optimal conditions look like and to practice using the assessment tools. Sunday, we will visit an overgrazed, impacted stream, and continue to learn how to evaluate the health of the stream. Our weekend will conclude with a wrap-up Sunday afternoon. Folks are welcome to arrive early or stay longer to enjoy the beautiful Jemez Mountains, hiking trails, and hot springs.

Valle Vidal Broadwalk – northeast of Taos, NM

Date: June 23-27

Cost: $90 incl. meals and camping

Potential oil and gas leasing threaten the Valle Vidal, a lush mountain basin in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Donated to the American people in 1982 by Pennzoil, the Valle Vidal is managed by the Carson National Forest primarily for its wildlife, as well as its outstanding scenic and recreational opportunities. However, a forest management plan has never been developed for this area. The time for public input into the decision process is now. The Santa Fe Broadband is helping host this Broadwalk, so that Broads from all over can experience this special place and learn to speak for its protection. Folks from the Valle Vidal Coalition will lead us on hikes and talk about this special place. Forest Service District Ranger Ron Thibedeau will give us agency insight and a tour of the Valle. Tweeti Blancett, NM rancher, will share the horrors of oil and gas development on her ranch and adjoining BLM lands. Broads will help the Forest Service with a service project. We’ll be camping at a Forest Service campground. Cost includes camping fees, 4 breakfasts and dinners, and speakers.

To reserve your spot for any of these events, send full payment or a $50 deposit per event per person to Great Old Broads for Wilderness, PO Box 2924, Durango, CO 81302. Please include an email address if you have one. Detailed information on logistics, packing, and agenda will be sent to registered participants. More information is also available at www.greatoldbroads.org


 Posted by at 11:43 am
May 032005

As ancient ruins decay, experts say: Bury them By Katy Human and Electa Draper
Denver Post Staff Writers

[T]his summer, workers will dump tons of desert dirt to protect the original architecture in Chaco’s Pueblo del Arroyo, covering the lower walls to keep wind, water and temperature swings at bay. [Crews have filled in about one-quarter of the rooms at Chaco, some with just a couple of feet of dirt, others with 6 feet.]

At Aztec Ruins National Monument in New Mexico, they’ll continue work on the National Park Service’s largest project to date: the reburial of more than 100 rooms painstakingly excavated a century ago.

And at Chimney Rock, experts will soon decide whether to cover a great house and a kiva, the structures that draw virtually all the site’s annual 10,000 tourists. [Late this year or early next year, the Forest Service will decide whether to leave the site as it is, fill it in or find some middle ground.]

At a few Southwestern sites, backfilling has gone on quietly for several years, said Todd Metzger, a Park Service archaeologist in Arizona.

Now it’s either happening or proposed at almost all federal ruins because of what he calls a “crisis situation” in stabilization.


 Posted by at 7:45 pm
Apr 242005

Cocoposts: Ladrone Mountains

From The Place Names of New Mexico, Robert Julyan:

Sierra Ladrones, Spanish “thieves mountains’” named because Navajo and Apache raiders of the settlement long the Rio Abajo would take stolen stock here, safe from pursuit in the mountains’ steep and treacherous canyons. Later, non-Indian rustlers and highwaymen used these rugged mountains as a hideout, and legends abound of treasure still hidden here. Often called simply Los Ladrones. Highest elevation, 9,210; Ladron Peak is 9,143ft.

The Ladrones is a nice long day trip and even better for car camping if you’re prepared. The road tends to be rocky, not muddy. [keep reading]


 Posted by at 11:21 am