Archive for November, 2012

Sandia Ranger District Implementing Prescribed Burns

 by Karen Takai, Sandia Ranger District

TIJERAS, NM, November 16, 2012– Sandia Ranger District will tentatively be implementing two prescribed burns, weather permitting, after December 1st 2012, the Casa Loma and Talking Talons Burns. These burns are a continuation of a fuels reduction program on the Sandia Ranger District. The Casa Loma burn is approximately 14 acres and the Talking Talons burn is approximately 80 acres.

Frequent low intensity fires are natural and necessary components of a healthy forest. This ecosystem depends on fire to promote new vegetation, enhance habitat and reduce the threat of large fire. It improves public and firefighter safety by reducing the accumulated fuels that could otherwise contribute to more intense fire behavior under hotter/drier conditions. The broadcast prescribed burning process applies low intensity fire across the forest floor to consume small debris and ground litter.

All prescribed fire activity is dependent on personnel availability, weather (including winds, ventilation) and approval from the New Mexico Smoke Management. They are based upon specific assessments, agency guidelines and safety protocols.  During this burn, managers will continuously monitor weather conditions, including wind, temperature, and relative humidity. Fuel conditions including fuel moisture and the quantity of fuels are also measured. Smoke will be visible and expected to have variable affects to neighboring communities.

Fire managers make every effort to minimize smoke impacts to the communities while continuing to address the critical need to reduce the risk of severe wildfires around those communities. Tactics to keep smoke impacts as minimal as possible include canceling approved burns when conditions aren’t favorable, finding alternative uses for the debris in slash piles, timing daytime ignitions to allow the majority of smoke time to disperse prior to settling overnight, and burning larger sections at a time when conditions are favorable to reduce the overall number of days smoke is in the area.

In addition, the Sandia Ranger District coordinates prescribed fire plans with our partners in the county, city and state, as well as neighboring districts, to reduce the impact of smoke on the communities.

The public can obtain additional prescribed fire information via the following:


Tavern Taxi Program Revved Up For The Holidays

Editor’s note: Be smart and be safe, folks; there are more holidays coming and we want all our readers to be around and healthy to enjoy them!

by Nataura C. Powdrell, Bernalillo County Public Information Department

Bernalillo County – The Tavern Taxi program is once again offering free rides to residents to and from their favorite restaurant or bar during this holiday season.

Bernalillo County Department of Substance Abuse and the New Mexico Hospitality Retailers Association are collaborating again on Thanksgiving Eve to support the Taxi Tavern program.

On Thanksgiving Eve, residents can take advantage of the free rides by calling 505-999-1400 for pick-up. Reservations are encouraged. The server or bartender calls for the taxi when the patron is ready to go home.

“This project has been a great success because it offers a viable alternative to drinking and driving,” says Katrina Hotrum, Department of Substance Abuse Program Director. “It is making a difference in how people plan their evening out and how they get home safely without endangering lives.”

Since joining with the Tavern Taxi program last Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve’s, St. Patrick’s Day, and every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening, Bernalillo County has safely transported 2,843 passengers to and from their destinations.

Bernalillo County Hosts Free Spay/Neuter Clinic and Low Cost Walk-in Shot Clinic

by Larry Gallegos, Bernalillo County Public Information Department

Bernalillo County – Bernalillo County Animal Care Services, New Mexico Dogs Deserve Better, and the Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society are joining together to provide free spay/neuter services to residents of unincorporated Bernalillo County.

“This clinic is a very important step to help in reducing the populations in our community animal shelters,” says Bernalillo County Animal Care Services Director Matt Pepper. “It also provides a service to some in our community that want to do what’s best for their pets but lack the financial means to do so.”

The event will be held on Friday, Nov. 9, Saturday, Nov. 10, and Sunday, Nov, 11, with a free walk-in shot clinic from noon to 3 p.m. each day, at the Bernalillo County Animal Care Offices located at 1126 Gatewood SW. Pet owners must be residents of unincorporated Bernalillo County.

The Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society mobile spay/neuter van will be at the Animal Care Services offices and a total of 40 animals (dogs and cats) will be spayed or neutered each day. Pet owners have already pre-registered for spay/neuter services.

Price list for additional services available during the shot clinic:

Standard deworming $5

Deworming (tapeworms) Cats $10/Dogs up to 25 lbs $10/Dogs 26 to 60 lbs $20/Dogs over 60 lbs $25

Microchipping $6  Nail Trims $5  E-collar $5

Flea/tick prevention $15 per dose (each dose protects your pet for one month)

Heartworm prevention (6 months)

Dogs up to 25 lbs $27/Dogs 26 to 50 lbs $32/Dogs 51 to 100 lbs $37

Vaccinations:  Rabies (one year or three year) $10 Parvo/distemper $10

Feline distemper $10 Bortella $10 Feline Leukemia $15

Tests: Feline leukemia virus/feline immuno virus test $25 Heartworm test $15 Parvo test $25

Bernalillo County Animal Care Services Director Matt Pepper and representatives from New Mexico Dogs Deserve Better and the Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society will be available for interviews on Friday, Nov. 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Barbarism In New Mexico

by John Weckerle

We received an e-mail this morning regarding a coyote slaughtering contest sponsored by Gunhawk Firearms of Los Lunas, New Mexico.  While we support New Mexicans’ right to hunt – this does, after all, put food on a lot of folks’ tables – and we understand that sometimes it can be very difficult to live with wildlife.  However, this is not hunting, or even “animal damage control;” it is slaughter for fun and profit.  We denounce this repulsive and barbaric event and have written to Governor Susana Martinez asking that she do the same.  We are also suggesting that gun owners in New Mexico find somewhere else to purchase their equipment and supplies.  For more information, see the Animal Protection of New Mexico article and the KOAT-TV article.  If you’d like to let the gun shop owners know how you feel about this personally, their number is listed as 505-865-3500 and their address is listed as 1400 Main St., Los Lunas, NM 87031-4812 in case local residents would like to stop in and speak to them directly.

Fire Agencies Warn New Mexicans About Fall Fire Danger

by Arlene Perea, Mountainair Ranger District

As the fall and winter holidays approach and more New Mexicans plan vacations or hunting trips close to home, Federal and State Fire Agencies are urging caution about fire danger across many parts of the state.

Lack of moisture and warm mild conditions this fall have caused fine, grassy fuels and brush to dry, making them susceptible to wildfire.

Here are some suggestions to help prevent wildfires: 

For Campers, Hunters and Drivers: 

  • If you do not need a fire do not build one.
  • Use established camp fire rings when available.
  • Make sure campfires are away from overhanging branches, steep slopes and leaves.
  • Keep water and a shovel near the campfire.
  • Douse campfire with water and stir one hour before leaving.
  • Make sure the fire is cool to the touch before leaving the area-even if you are leaving for a short hike.
  • Children should always be supervised by adults whenever there is a campfire.
  • Only smoke in approved areas and dispose of smoking materials properly.
  • While driving, avoid pulling over into areas with tall grass. Hot catalytic converters or exhaust particles can ignite grasses along the roadway.
  • If pulling a trailer, make sure chains are not dragging along the pavement as the sparks can fly and start a fire.

For Landowners: 

  • Thin trees and brush near structures.
  • Remove weeds and mow dry grasses.
  • Clear twig and leaf litter from roofs and gutters.
  • Stack firewood well away from structures.
  • Surround structures with drought and fire-resistant or irrigated landscape.
  • Have a plan for evacuation

On behalf of your fire response agencies please be fire safe.

Reduce fire risk on your landscape and remember campfires dead out!


by John Weckerle

In the November 1, 2012 edition of the Mountainview Telegraph, Edgewood resident and Tea Party organizer Bob Steiner provides a letter to the editor titled “Property Rights and Edgewood.”  In the letter, Mr. Steiner opens with a lament with respect to the multiplicity of jurisdictions to be encountered near the borders of a small town located near the borders of three counties.  These focus on the multiple jurisdictions as they apply to emergency services and animal control, and the duplication of services.  About halfway through the letter, Mr. Steiner gets to the main point: that Santa Fe County has proposed a Sustainable Land Development Code (SLDC) and “that may really hurt some county residents.”  Mr. Steiner, after stating vaguely that the ordinance “will force land owners to strictly adhere to severe new restrictions that limit where they could erect housing and industrial buildings,” declares that “It also dictates that some multi-family housing (apartments) must be built.”

A sentence or two further on, after suggesting that the County has assembled a sort of ideological goon squad to market the ordinance, Mr. Steiner states: “According to another local press source, this “simple” ordinance has some 350 pages and has still to be vetted by legal authority.”  This would, on the face of it, seem to suggest that Mr. Steiner had not actually seen the ordinance, and we figured that we should take a look.  Employing more of the advanced research techniques that are available to us and not the Tea Party – the County web site, Adobe Reader, and the CTRL and F keys – we were able to isolate all uses of “multi” in the document (there are 75), and determine that there is absolutely nowhere in the document where the use of “multi” involves a requirement to build anything.  Neither do references to “apartments” (7 instances).

There is, however, a requirement that a certain percentage of housing be affordable, which might be part of the confusion, as such requirements tend to cause some heartburn in certain circles – especially circles that have gone on record with the opinion that sustainability is some sort of international socialist conspiracy.  This section of the ordinance – Chapter 13 – also causes some indigestion here, although for different reasons.  Chapter 13 contains references to terms not defined or used in any other place in the ordinance (for example, Major Project and Minor Project).  The ordinance requires the Affordable Housing Administrator to “recommend and present to the Board proposed Affordable Housing Regulations” and appropriate amendments.  The affordable housing requirements in the ordinance rely on income ranges “specified in the affordable housing regulations,” which of course would appear not to have been passed, at least based on the wording of the ordinance.  Proper definitions and regulatory references are vital to any ordinance and, based on this and a quick perusal of other parts of the ordinance, we find it difficult to argue against Mr. Steiner’s suggestion that it has not benefited from a thorough legal review – which we think should happen before, and not after, release to the public.

While we agree that the County should proceed slowly, it is not because of unspecified, probably fictitious, egregious requirements but because the ordinance as currently worded simply does not appear to pass muster as a well-organized and enforceable document.  Because we are staunch supporters of sustainability (which probably brands us as socialist conspirators from Planet Ten), we’d like to suggest that the County engage their attorneys and other specialists in developing sustainable development codes, rework the document to a greater degree of completion, and reissue it for public review.

In case Edgewood residents are concerned about where they fall in all this: we feel it important to point out that this ordinance specifically applies, as pointed out in Section 1.8, to the unincorporated portion of the County, which does not include Edgewood.

Christmas Fair In Mountainair

by John Weckerle

Checking in on our friends at Mountainair Announcements, we find that there will be a Christmas Arts and Crafts Fair in Mountainair on Saturday, November 17 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  For more information, see the Mountainair Announcements article.

Assaulting Battery Grants

by John Weckerle

We turn our baleful eye once again on the writings of the writings of the Sandia Tea Party.  In an article titled “Stimulus Funds: Failing & Falling Into The Tank,” Edgewood Town Councilor and Sandia Tea Party internet spokesman Chuck Ring provides us a link to a Washington Times article that is apparently to be considered evidence that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has been a failure (this despite steady, albeit slow, improvements in key economic indicators): a bankruptcy filing by battery maker A123 Systems, which had “received a nearly quarter-billion-dollar stimulus grant in late 2009, but federal job-tracking figures show only a few hundred positions were created before the company joined a growing list of federally backed energy businesses that ended in bankruptcy.” The Sandia Tea Party article laments: Many a dollar has been wasted and deposited in Obama’s vast wastage pit.

Alarmed, we employed some of the advanced research that is available to New Mexico Central but apparently not to the Sandia Tea Party – Google – and found an article in the Washington Post that provides what may perhaps be a more detailed and less politically focused account of A123’s bankruptcy.  In short, the stimulus-funded facilities were acquired by Johnson Controls, Inc., and are still operating, and no jobs have been lost.  The company had only drawn on $129 million of the grant when it filed for bankruptcy – specifically, Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which allows the company to continue operations while reorganizing.  The ultimate goal of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is not to go out of business, but to emerge from bankruptcy and continue to operate thereafter.  We’ll also note that the stimulus grant has resulted in 400 jobs so far.  We recommend that readers of the Washington Times article also read the Washington Post article before deciding whether reports that the A123 story represents a “failure” are perhaps a trifle overblown.

Monkeys On Trial In The Estancia Valley?

by John Weckerle

We found ourselves not-too-terribly surprised to read recent articles (“Charter School Warned,” “PED warns charter school against religious teachings“) regarding accusations by the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) that the Estancia Valley Classical Academy (ECVA) may have strayed over the line between religious and secular education.  Our lack of surprise – and, to some extent, our amusement – stems from the fact that both articles mention an individual who was featured in the context of his views on “science” (including an apparent bent toward creationism or, at least, anti-evolutionism) in one of our previous articles (See our August 11, 2011 article, An Article About Articles).  That individual, Roger Lenard, is variously described as “one of the school’s founders” and the president of the school’s governing council.

Given the subject of these stories and the concerns reportedly expressed by parents regarding what their children are being taught about science, we find ourselves perplexed that Mr. Lenard’s fame in the creationist universe has thus far been ignored by the journalistic community.  In addition to our article and the New Mexicans for Science and Reason (NMSR) article cited therein, we find references to Mr. Lenard as a “creation scientist” (here), and a “celebrated creationist,” (here).  He is prominently figured in the NMSR article Creationism In New Mexico, and quoted here as saying “Creation scientists hold revealed Truth as supreme, other forms are subordinate.”

Given the many references to Mr. Lenard’s reported creationist beliefs and purported attempts to insert them into academic curricula, we certainly understand why parents would be concerned about what may be taught in science classes at a school over whose curriculum Mr. Lenard likely wields substantial influence.  We urge parents to get involved and continue to engage the PED on this issue and get to the bottom of the matter.