Jul 132005

ABQjournal: Signs of Otters Spark Debate By Felicia Fonseca, The Associated Press

River otters haven’t been seen in northern New Mexico since 1953.

That’s why University of New Mexico researcher Paul Polechla’s discovery of otter feces last fall on the banks of the San Juan River near the Colorado border was news to be celebrated. …

State officials, meanwhile, hope the possibility of spotting an otter at Navajo Lake State Park, where the droppings were found, will boost human visitors to one of New Mexico’s most popular campgrounds. …

The researchers said more analysis is needed to determine which otter subspecies left behind the scat. When that is determined, scientists will make a decision about how to continue.

One of the possibilities includes the Southwestern river otter, which Polechla says should be on the endangered species list. Nonnative or mixed breed otters also could be present, he said.

River otters are sleek animals usually brown in color with short legs, webbed feet and glossy, dense fur, Polechla said.

“Their fur is so highly regarded— in terms of durability, softness, insulation capacity— that it is regarded as the diamond of the fur world,” he said.

The otters, which travel along waterways, produce a litter once a year yielding between one and six kits.

Playfulness is their outstanding characteristic, said Melissa Savage, an ecologist with the New Mexico River Otter Working Group.

“They are very gregarious and social,” she said. …

Bill Dunn, a supervising biologist for the Game and Fish Department, … said public surveys have shown New Mexicans favor reintroduction in the upper Rio Grande, the Rio Chama and the Gila River.


 Posted by at 11:11 am
Jul 122005

Legacy of Acoma Pueblo by: Brenda Norrell / Indian Country Today

This city of Acoma sits atop a 350-foot rock mesa with sheer sides, situated in the middle of a fertile valley 6,300 feet above sea level. ”It was referred to as ‘Haak’u,’ which means ‘prepared,’ because we believe it was there already prepared for us.

”It was there waiting, Ak’u is and always was.” …

Acoma is part of the Keresan people which include the present day tribes of Santa Ana, Zia, Cochiti, Santo Domingo, Laguna and San Felipe Pueblos.

”My people’s origins are from the north. How far north is buried in the collective subconscious, but where the conscious memory begins is at Kashkatruti, Chaco Canyon and from various places, most of them impermanent; momentary, for the people still had not found the place for with they were searching.”

Stone remnants of these settlements, remaining from migrations from the north, can be found at Mount Taylor and near the lava flow known as El Malpais in present-day New Mexico.

Sharing this land of high desert and mountains were the Keres, Towa, Tiwa, Tewa, Zuni, Hopi, Apache and Navajo. In the region, to the east were the Comanche and to the north were Utes. While there were conflicts in the struggle to survive, the people respected one another’s ceremonies and even borrowed certain aspects from one another’s ceremonies.

While trading with the Mayan people to the south in present-day Mexico, Acoma acquired precious stones, sacred parrots and sea shells. Today, Acoma have the Parrot Clan. Trading with the people of the West Coast of California brought abalone shell.

”The people speak of the Warrior Twins who guided the people from Siapapu, our place of emergence in the north. Ak’u (Acoma Pueblo) was the destination.”


 Posted by at 10:49 am
Jun 242005

Mountain Gazette : Vigil — Michael Wolcott

To the Navajo, [the San Francisco Peaks -- actually the collapsed remains of a single giant volcano --] is Dook’o’ sliid, one of four cardinal points in the universe. To the Hopi it is Navatikyaovi. Throughout the year, the Hopi dances lure water from the sky above the mountain and marry it to the soil. This keeps the world in balance.


 Posted by at 11:56 am
Jun 062005

The Daily Inter Lake
Northwest Montana wolves well-behaved
Posted: Sunday, May 22, 2005 – 09:15:33 am PDT
By JIM MANNThe Daily Inter Lake

And for several years now, the packs of Western Montana have shown a strong preference for fleet white-tailed deer over plodding cattle or bison.

Compared to the far more numerous and often-reported livestock depredations carried out by wolves in the Greater Yellowstone Area and Idaho, Western Montana wolves have been keeping a low profile.

“It’s kind of surprising to people that most wolves are around livestock every day of their lives and they kind of choose not to attack them,” said Ed Bangs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s gray wolf recovery coordinator. “Given the unlimited opportunities for wolves to chase livestock, it’s kind of surprising, even to us who work with them, that there’s as few conflicts as there are.”

That observation holds true particularly in Western Montana, where only six cows and one sheep were confirmed as being killed by wolves in 2004. The Cook Pack of Idaho, by contrast, killed 85 sheep last year, an offense so severe that all nine wolves in the pack were destroyed by federal trappers in a helicopter hunt. And just two weeks ago, 11 sheep were confirmed as being killed by wolves in the Paradise Valley north of Yellowstone National Park. …

Sheep, Bangs said, are extremely easy prey not only for wolves, but also for coyotes, mountain lions, even eagles.

Despite the abundant populations of white-tailed deer in Northwest Montana, the region’s wolf populations have remained relatively low for years,

“This year, our estimate of wolves was 835 wolves (throughout Idaho, Wyoming and Montana) and only 59 of those are in Western Montana,” Bangs said. “The vast majority of wolves are in Yellowstone and western Idaho, where there are huge blocks of contiguous public land.”


 Posted by at 11:36 am
Jun 062005

What We Would Lose in AlaskaBy Jonathan Waterman

In the northeastern corner of Alaska is a strange, polygonal-patterned plain that the local Gwich’in people call Vadzaii Googii Vi Dehk’it Gwanlii, or the Sacred Place Where Life Begins. At this cold ocean edge a caribou herd calves, polar bears den and millions of migratory birds roost. Snowy mountains come booming up out of the sea, surrounded by sandy spits and lagoons. The unscarred landscape turns and locks in your eyes. It looks limitless. It also happens to be one of the last places where we can cup our hands to drink pure water, gaze across a skyline uninterrupted by commerce and meet primeval nature. Congress, which calls this protected coastal plain the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, is close to opening 1.5 million of its acres to oil leasing. Pro-oil politicians, who travel north on weekend delegations to shake the hands of a few natives and glance at the tundra, often denigrate this alien-looking landscape to serve their agendas.

I’ve been going to the refuge for 20 years, and I know that the cold and bugs can blind you to the real value of the place, particularly if you’re accompanying a congressional delegation keen to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Since Congress is now operating on a fast track that overlooks and seeks to subdue one of our greatest national treasures, the public needs to know what’s really at stake.
Continue reading »


 Posted by at 11:03 am
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 ˝ 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