Archive for Announcements

Into The Twitterverse

by John Weckerle

New Mexico Central now has a Twitter feed! It’s at:


Mountainair and Sandia Ranger Districts Both in Stage II Fire Restrictions

by Donna Nemeth, Public affairs Officer, USDA Forest Service, Cibola National Forest

Albuquerque, NM, July 13, 2016 – Continued hot and dry weather has increased the potential for fires on the Sandia Ranger District, prompting a change to Stage II fire restrictions.  The Mountainair Ranger District remains in Stage II restrictions.  The following are prohibited:

  • Building or maintaining a fire, campfire, charcoal, coal, or wood stove
  • Explosives, fireworks, or any pyrotechnic device
  • Smoking, except in a vehicle or building or an area that has no vegetation such as a parking lot
  • Chainsaws or other equipment powered by a combustion engine
  • Welding or operating a torch with an open flame
  • Using a motor vehicle off of National Forest System roads, except in developed campgrounds and trailheads and areas within 10 feet of the roadway where there is no vegetation
  • Firearms

The Mount Taylor and Magdalena Ranger Districts remain in Stage 1 fire restrictions.  The following are prohibited:

  • Building or maintaining a fire, campfire, charcoal, coal, or wood stove except in developed areas such as campsites or picnic areas where grills are provided
  • Explosives, fireworks, or any pyrotechnic device
  • Smoking, except in a vehicle or building or an area that has no vegetation such as a parking lot
  • Petroleum-fueled stoves, except an area that has no vegetation such as a parking lot

These orders will remain in effect until December 31, 2016, or until rescinded.  Violations of this order are punishable by a fine of $5,000 for individuals, $10,000 for organizations, and/or 6 months of imprisonment.  If you have any questions about the fire restrictions, please contact the Mountainair Ranger District at 505-847-2990 or the Sandia Ranger District at 505-281-3304, or your local Ranger District.


Major Traffic Alert – I-40 Westbound

A major accident with at least one fatality has blocked I-40 westbound in the Carnuel Facility. Views of show traffic backed up far east of Sedillo Hill Road. We advise westbound travelers to exit no later than Edgewood until the situation is resolved.

Just A Few Days Left For Scholarship Opportunities

by John Weckerle

As reported by the Mountainview Telegraph, the deadline is fast approaching to apply for scholarships awarded by Purina Mills and the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association’s (NMCGA) Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Committee (YCLC).  As the Telegraph reports, The Purina Mills scholarship will go to “a New Mexico student who is a member of the NMCGA, the New Mexico Junior Cattle Growers Association, or the child of an NMCGA member.” Additional scholarships are available to a successful high school senior and a continuing college student, with no reported membership requirements.  For more information, visit the Telegraph’s article.

Estancia Basin Water Planning Committee Meeting

The Estancia Basin Water Planning Committee will hold its regular meeting at the Administrative Offices of Torrance County in the Commission Chambers at 205 9th Street in Estancia on Thursday, October 15, 2015 at 9:30 a.m.

Road Construction/Traffic Alert

by John Weckerle

On Saturday morning, road crews were hard at work on a repaving project involving the bridge over Interstate 40 and the road leading up to the westbound Sedillo entrance to the highway.  Based on the state of construction, we expect that efforts will continue through Monday morning and beyond.  We recommend that readers commuting westbound leave themselves a few extra minutes or find an alternate route – of course, given the difference in speed limits between Old Route 66 and Interstate 40 – the only real alternate route – the value of the trade-off may be minimal.

Apple iOS9 User Alert!

by John Weckerle

Readers using Apple iPhones and iPads with cellular connectivity should take note of a new feature that may end up costing them money.  This feature, Wi-Fi Assist, will cause the device to switch to cellular data when the system perceives that the wi-fi signal being used is “poor.” The new OS comes with this feature turned on by default. To disable it, go to Settings, then Cellular Data, and scroll all the way to the bottom (perhaps not coincidentally, where it’s least obvious) and turn it off.

One has to wonder why Apple would set the default to “on” for this feature – then again, Apple does have business relationships with the cell carriers, so perhaps one doesn’t have to wonder too hard.

Press Release: Cibola National Forest and Talking Talons developing winter recreation programs on the Sandia Mountains

Tijeras, NM – August 19, 2014. The Cibola National Forest and the Talking Talons Youth Leadership program are collaborating to develop a variety of winter recreation programs on the Sandia Ranger District. “We are excited about our collaboration with the Talking Talons because we will be able to offer a wide variety of winter recreation and educational activities on the Sandia Ranger District,” said District Ranger Cid Morgan.

Morgan said that public participation is extremely important to the success of this process and invited all interested parties to participate in upcoming public collaborative workshops. The first workshop will be held on Tuesday, August 26, 2014 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the James McGrane Safety Complex conference room, 48 Public School Rd., in Tijeras.

There are four topics that will be discussed at this meeting:

  1. Management of Capulin Snow Play Area
  2. Management of winter/snow trails
  3. Increasing access to winter recreation sites
  4. Establishing a “Kids in the Winter Woods” conservation education program

For more information, please contact Bob Heiar, Recreation Staff Officer at the Sandia Ranger District at or 505.281.3304, ext. 115.


Adios, et al…

by John Weckerle

We have begun a little fall cleaning, and have made the first of some changes.  We’ve eliminated the “Springergate” category, and have at last thrown in the towel and renamed our “West Mountains” category to “East Mountains.”  Nobody seemed particularly enthused about the West Mountains concept, although we’re keeping references to it elsewhere intact.

County Homeowners to Receive Discounts on Flood Insurance Premiums: Premiums Will Be Discounted 5 to 10 Percent

Editor’s Note: In the midst of daily red flag fire danger warnings, it may be hard not to chuckle at this news, but this is good news for many and obviously took a great deal of work.

by Catherine Lopez, Bernalillo County

Bernalillo County – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has upgraded Bernalillo County’s Community Rating System (CRS) classification. As a result, flood insurance policy holders in Bernalillo County will receive a discount on their insurance premiums.

The CRS rating improved because the county implemented additional floodplain management programs that exceed FEMA requirements.

“This upgrade in our CRS rating is a reflection of the county’s diligent efforts to help people lower flood insurance costs, as Bernalillo County continues to address the impact of how much people pay for flood insurance,” says Commissioner Art De La Cruz.  “The savings will benefit all county residents, who are paying the floodplain premium, whether they live in the city or the unincorporated area.”

The county implemented new programs to receive the upgraded rating including making flood risk information more easily available to the public, implementing an annual outreach program to lenders, real estate agents and surveyors, and the implementation of stricter floodplain development standards.

These additional programs earned Bernalillo County a class 8 rating.  All communities start out with a class 10 rating and as they improve their floodplain management programs, they can raise their class rating.  A class 1 rating is the highest possible rating. The county’s new rating became effective on May 1.

The benefit of a class 8 rating is a discount for flood insurance policy holders.  Flood insurance policy holders that are located within a flood zone will receive a 10 percent discount on their insurance premiums. Flood insurance policy holders that are not within a flood zone will receive a 5 percent discount. The reductions will automatically be applied to all new policies and to existing policies at their time of renewal.

This will result in an average annual savings of $88 per policy for properties within the flood zone and $45 per policy for properties outside the flood zone. Total annual savings for residents in the unincorporated area of the county is projected to be about $68,000.

The community rating system is a voluntary incentive program that’s part of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).  The National Flood Insurance Program recognizes and encourages communities to implement floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP requirements.  Bernalillo County has participated in the NFIP since 1983.

Residents can contact Bernalillo County floodplain administrator Don Briggs at 505-848-1511 for more information.


Reinforcing Sandia Ranger District Mountain Closure

by Karen Takai, Sandia Ranger District


The La Luz Trail is closed!

The Crest Highway from the forest boundary is closed!

Las Huertas Canyon Hwy 165 is closed!

All Sandia District lands from Placitas to Oak Flats and trails within that area are closed north and south of I-40 and including the east and west sides of the mountain.

The City Open Space Trail System (IN Albuquerque)  Foothills Trail 365 including some district lands on that trail system are the only trail systems open on the west side of the mountains.

  • The Foothill Trail No 365 parallels the western foothills of the Sandia’s. It is open south of the Tram to Copper (13 miles). Any trails off this trail system going East off of Trail 365 ARE CLOSED
  • The Tram, High Finance Restaurant and associated observation deck are open.All trails off of the deck are closed.
  • The Sandia Ranger District Administrative Offices and associated Interpretive Archaeological Site on South 337 in Tijeras are open.

We would like to thank everyone who has followed the fire closure restrictions that are in place.  It is due to your vigilance and cooperation that we able to protect this area. If you think about it, this is a very small sacrifice for all of us, to abide by the rules and try to protect this mountain. We want to see it standing at the end of this fire season and 100 years from now. Thank you again!

For additional information contact the Sandia Ranger District


Interesting Questions That Come Up During Closure

Q – Why can’t I go into the forest? I am not going to start a fire.

A- We are concerned for anyone entering the forest when conditions are so extreme and volatile.  We understand that 99% of our visitors plan to be safe but fact is 50% of our fires start from human cause. If we can lower the exposure from human caused starts then we can cut fire starts by %50. The only other start would be from lightning and we work with our patrols to identify, respond and monitor the area of lightning strikes that happen during the storms.

In addition, if a fire started while you were hiking in the area, with conditions like we have, you could not outrun the flames. We would not be able rescue you. Fires in this extreme condition are explosive and ignite a football field size area in a minute. Fire behavior is extreme.

Q – My house abuts the National Forest.   Can I hike out of my property into the forest?

A – No sorry, we have 95 miles of residents that abut the forest. If we allow one person to enter we would have to allow the rest of the homeowners along the 95 miles to enter and then we would have to allow the general public to enter to be fair to everyone. That would defeat the reason for a closure and that is to keep visitors out of a very dangerous area and stop human caused fires.

Q – How long will this closure last?

A – We will be in closure till we get enough rain to heavily blanket all the Sandia and Manzanita Mountains.

Q – What is the fine for breaking the forest closure?

A – Depending on the type of closure CFR Rule broken: hiking, driving , resource damage etc. in a closed area the ticket can go anywhere from $125.00 to $5,000.00.

BernCo Urges Simple Precautions to Prevent West Nile Virus – Peak Mosquito Season Is Late June Through September

by Andrew Lenderman, Bernalillo County Public Information Office

Bernalillo County – Summer is here and so are the mosquitoes, which means common sense precautions are recommended to prevent the spread of West Nile virus.

The peak mosquito season in this region starts now and runs through September, according to Bernalillo County’s Office of Health and Social Services.

West Nile virus, carried by infected mosquitoes, can cause disease in people, birds, horses and other animals. Most cases appear during August and September, state officials report.

Bernalillo County residents can report standing or stagnant water or request mosquito spraying for their neighborhood by calling 311 for response from the City of Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Vector Control Program.

Please call Bernalillo County’s Office of Health and Social Services at 505.314.0310 or download this West Nile virus flier for more information.

Detailed information about this issue can be accessed via the New Mexico Department of Health here.

Additional information from the Albuquerque Urban Biology Division can be viewed here.

The state Department of Health has also recommended the following precautions to prevent the spread of West Nile virus:

To protect against West Nile:

  • Use insect repellent on exposed skin and clothing when outdoors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using insect repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 for use on skin, and permethrin for use on clothing. Always follow label directions when using insect repellents.
  • When weather permits, wear protective clothing such as loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks.
  • The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for mosquitoes. Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing or avoid outdoor activities during these times.
  • Eliminate water-holding containers where mosquitoes lay their eggs, such as empty buckets, flower pots and old tires. Regularly change the water in birdbaths, wading pools and pet water bowls. Make sure rain barrels are tightly screened.
  • Keep windows and doors closed if not screened. When leaving your home’s doors or windows open, make sure they have screens that fit tightly and have no holes.


Sandia Ranger District Closure To Start June 10, 2013

by Karen Takai, Sandia Ranger District

The Sandia Ranger District will close the forest on June 10, 2013 due to very high fire danger. The only open areas will be portions of Forest Trail 365 including secondary trails associated with Forest Trail 365, outside of the Sandia Mountain Wilderness and South of the Tram. In addition, the Tram, High Finance Restaurant /Deck, the Sandia Ranger District Administrative site and the Tijeras Pueblo Interpretive Trail will remain open.

“Our weather is still trending to be dry and our fuel moistures are at very low levels. With these moistures so low the threat of a large fire is quite high. We need to make sure human starts do not happen and that means keeping people out of the forest until fire risk has lessened. We also need to make sure there are no visitors in the back country area if something did start. We would not be able to rescue you. So, please stay out! ”  Matt Rau, Fire Management Officer, Sandia RD.

Fines are being strictly enforced. A single person entering closed areas or using open fire in any manner will be cited up to $5,000 and up to 6 months in jail and for a group fines up to $10,000 and or up to 6 months in jail.

Stage III Fire Closure Restrictions include: Entering Closure Areas by vehicle, hiking, running, horseback riding, motorcycles, roller blades, or flying in.


In the Foot hill trail system (which will still be open) as defined in the first paragraph the following restrictions stand.

  1. Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, charcoal, coal, wood or stove fire
  2. Using an explosive
  3. Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building
  4. Possession, discharging or using any type of firework or pyrotechnic device
  5. Operating a chainsaw or other equipment powered by an internal combustion engine is prohibited.
  6. Welding or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame

The current Fire Restriction orders can be found on the Cibola’s web site: in the “Alerts and Notices” section.

Public Service Announcement: Wildlife Festival at WLW in Edgewood, June 15

Join the celebration of New Mexico’s native wildlife and plants at Wildlife West Nature Park’s Wildlife Festival in Edgewood on Saturday, June 15, 2013.  

Wildlife West’s zoo is one of the few places where people can be close to and observe Mexican Wolves in their natural habitat, get a behind the scenes tour of Koshari, a 500 pound black bear, and learn about 24 other species of wildlife that are native to New Mexico. Tours start each hour during the day.

Representatives from wildlife and environmental organizations will present, including Elke Duerr, Albuquerque filmmaker and conservationist, on Mexican wolves in the wild; Dr. Scott Altenbech on bats; Doug Scott, author of “Waterfalls in New Mexico”, on amazing waterfalls in our arid state; and Dr. Christian Meuli, permaculturalist, on water harvesting.  Visitors will also learn about the life cycle of monarch butterflies presented by Tatia Veltkamp from Wings of Enchantment, and the wonderful world of native bees and other pollinators by Laurie Lange from the Pollinator Nation and Bee Collaborative. Laurie will also bring orchard mason bee houses, seeds for pollinator gardens and seed plan kits.  Plus, join an herb-walk through Wildlife West lead by Mary Jo Hoven.

Participants are invited to stay for the Cowboy Chuckwagon and Western Swing Dinner Show beginning at 6:00 p.m. with a free-flight Peregrine Falcon show, then the barbeque dinner, followed by a live western-swing music performance by Holy Water & Whiskey. Show ends at 9 p.m. The dinner and show are in a covered all-weather amphitheater and includes a free hayride.  Reservations for the dinner show are required by 2 p.m. on the day of the show.  Chuckwagon tickets are $25 for adults, $23 for seniors, $12 for children 5-11, and kids under 5 are free.

All activities throughout the day, except for the Chuckwagon Dinner Show, are included with regular admission to Wildlife West:  $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, $4 students and children under 5 are free, plus free parking.
Wildlife West is located just 25 minutes east of Albuquerque, off Interstate-40 and legendary Route 66 in Edgewood. For more information at visit or call 505-281-7655 or toll-free 1-877-981-WILD (9453).
Schedule of Events:

10am – Gates Open to Wildlife Zoo

11am – Black Bear tours start/repeats hourly plus Butterfly presentation by Tatia Veltkamp/Wings of Enchantment

 Noon – Herb-walk by Mary Jo Hoven

1pm – Waterfalls by Doug Scott

2pm – Mexican Wolves by Elke Duerr

3pm – Water Harvesting by Dr. Christian Meuli

4pm – Bats by Dr. Altenbech

Public Service Announcement: Public Presentation with Brad Lancaster: Rainwater Harvesting

Provided by Christian Meuli

Event: Turning Water Scarcity Into Water Abundance
Date: Friday, June 7
Time: 6 – 8 pm
Place:  George Pearl Hall, UNM School of Architecture and Planning, Central Ave. NE and UNM Cornell Mall, Albuquerque
Sponsors:ErdaGardens and LearningCenter, Kalyx Studio, Querencia Green, and UNM Sustainability Studies Program

Brad Lancaster will present his work on Rainwater Harvesting on Friday, June 7, in George Pearl Hall on the UNM campus at 6 pm, at no cost to the public. The presentation, Turning Water Scarcity Into Water Abundance, will be followed by a book-signing party for Lancaster’s Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond.Event sponsors include ErdaGardens and LearningCenter, Kalyx Studio, Querencia Green, and UNM Sustainability Studies Program. Refreshments will be provided by La Montanita Coop during the book-signing session.

Brad Lancaster is a permaculture teacher, designer, consultant, the author of the award-winning booksRainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond,” Volumes 1 and 2, and co-founder of Desert Harvesters. Brad harvests an average of 100,000 gallons of rainwater a year from his property near downtown Tucson, Arizona, where rainfall is twelve inches on average annually. Brad and his brother Rodd have created an oasis in the desert by incorporating rainwater into living air conditioners of food-bearing shade trees, abundant gardens, and a thriving landscape that includes habitat for wildlife.

Brad has inspired thousands of citizens and numerous businesses in Tucson and across the nation to harvest water and sustainably grow local resources. Joanne McEntire of Querencia Green, a community organization, observes that “Rainwater harvesting from rooftops is encouraged in Tucson, along with stormwater capture from paved areas. In Albuquerque our annual average precipitation is less than ten inches. As we acknowledge long-term drought and fluctuating rainstorm patterns, we’ve begun to practice water harvesting. As more neighbors capture rainwater to support gardens, trees and wildlife, more benefits would result.”

On Sunday, June 9, Brad Lancaster will lead a hands-on workshop at KalyxStudioLearningCenter in BernalilloCounty’s SouthValley. Participants will learn and practice earthwork techniques used in water harvesting systems. The workshop will focus specifically on earthworks that can be implemented to improve the efficiency of acequia irrigation for the home garden. Workshop organizer Leslie Buerk comments: “Although we will be constructing a system that combines traditional desert gardening practices with water harvesting techniques as applied to acequia irrigation, all of the techniques relate directly to working with rainwater and greywater systems.” Additional information is available by e-mail directed to