Archive for June, 2013
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.
by John Weckerle
We now turn the baleful eye of New Mexico Central* to none other than the Mountain View Telegraph, the progenitors of lies, deceit, disease, and filth.** In their recent article “Organization lauds 1983 move to N.M.,” the Telegraph opens: “The American Society of Radiologic Technologists threw a grand opening and anniversary party last Friday to unveil its greatly expanded and renovated East MountainsTM © headquarters and to celebrate 30 years in the Land of Enchantment.” The article then goes on to describe the location as “…just west of Carnuel on Old Route 66.”
Ignoring the split infinitive in the first sentence, let us begin with the concept of “East Mountains.”TM © We at New Mexico Central have always taken issue with this moniker, given that the entire “East Mountain”TM © area is, in fact, wholly within the western half of the state. The term is essentially a geoegocentrism propagated by the schweinhunde in Albuquerque.*** However, since most of this area seems perfectly fine with accepting Albuquerque’s self-referential definition of the area to its east as the “East Mountains,”TM © we consider it worthwhile to examine the Telegraph’s description of this organization’s headquarters. The web site for the American Society of Radiologic Technicians (ASRT) lists its address as “15000 Central Ave. SE, Albuquerque, NM 87123-3909.” We performed the inevitable Google Maps search, of course, and found that a line drawn north-south intersects Albuquerque – well, to the north and the south.
There are few who would argue, we think, that any location that is not entirely east of Albuquerque is situated within the East Moutnains.TM ©
Armed with this information, we sought to consult with the appropriate authority on geographic descriptors within New Mexico to put the last nail into the lid of this one. After a protracted**** search, we were surprised to find out that…
That’s right: New Mexico Central is now the only Recognized Authority on the Application of Regional Descriptions in New Mexico, TM © and the first thing we’re doing is copyrighting/trademarking “East Mountain,” TM © and associated plurals, abbreviations and colloquialisms. Communities, businesses, and individuals who wish to describe themselves as being within the East MountainsTM © must contact us and request an application. Following the payment of the fee (which we will determine based on a variety of factors, including the balance in the community’s bank account), Senior Geographic Descriptor Correspondent Wilson will conduct an analysis and render an opinion. As should be expected, the application fee is non-refundable.
* We’re like Sauron. Only worse.
**Just kidding, Telegraph folks. We know you try to do (and generally succeed in doing) a good job at reporting in an environment in which it is increasingly difficult to practice anything that resembles journalism. This does not waive a reasonable expectation of accuracy, though; while we understand that the Telegraph has to do what they can to expand readership, expanding geography is another thing.
*** Just kidding, Albuquerque. We love ya. We’d love ya more if you’d bring in an Ethiopian restaurant, though. No kidding; that is some really great food. Plus, we’d like our own commuter rail system. Thank you.
**** As far as you know.
by Karen Takai, Sandia Ranger District
REMINDER: THE SANDIA RANGER DISTRICT IS CLOSED TO HIKING, BIKING, DRIVING, HORSEBACK RIDING, PICNICKING
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.
by Larry Gallegos, Bernalillo County Public Information Department
Bernalillo County- All of Bernalillo County’s East Mountain open space properties will be closed due to the high fire danger in those areas starting Monday, June 10, at 8 a.m.
Carlito Springs, Ojito de San Antonio, Sandia Knolls, Sedillo Ridge and Sabino Canyon Open Space Properties will be closed until further notice.
“The importance of the closure of the county open spaces in the East Mountains is that it reduces the likelihood of a human-caused fire,” says Bernalillo County Fire Marshal Chris Gober. “It also keeps residents from being trapped on the mountain in case a fire does start.”
Because of the countywide drought conditions, the Bernalillo County Fire Department will go before the Board of County Commissioners next Tuesday, June 11, to ask for a resolution to impose restrictions on fireworks outside the city limits in the unincorporated areas of Bernalillo County.
Those restrictions would ban the sale and use of missile-type rockets, helicopters, aerial spinners, stick-type rockets and ground audible devices. The restrictions would limit the use of ground and hand-held sparkling and smoke devices to areas that are paved or barren or that have a readily accessible source of water for use by the homeowner or general public. There would also be a ban on the use of all fireworks in the bosque and other wildland areas of unincorporated Bernalillo County.
Residents are reminded that open burning restrictions have been in place countywide since May 14.
by John Helmich, EMIFPA Community Education Outreach Coordinator
Reminder: the Sandia and Mountainair Districts of the Cibola National Forest are closed as of 8 am today, Monday June 10. More information regarding these closures is available here.
The Fire Danger Indices rating was raised from “very high” to “extreme” today. This means: “Fires start quickly, spread furiously, and burn intensely. All fires are potentially serious. Development into high intensity burning will usually be faster and occur from smaller fires than in the very high fire danger class. Every fire start has the potential to become large. Expect extreme, erractic behavior. NO OUTDOOR BURNING SHOULD TAKE PLACE IN AREAS WITH EXTREME FIRE BEHAVIOR. Fire restrictions are generally in effect.”
Excellent information concerning heat stroke issues and concerns can be sent to you from Ken Oswald, Plateau Telecom. His email contact is firstname.lastname@example.org. Request the “Safety Alert – Heat Wave.”
by John Weckerle
Having enhanced Bed 5’s ability to deter invasion from above, about a week and a half ago we found ourselves suddenly plagued with visitors from below…
Wabbits. And squiwwews.
We were faced with a nightmare of Fuddian proportions: for the first time, wildlife was digging under the side of the bed, at a point where the bed simply rests on the ground rather than extending beneath the land surface. Casual efforts to halt the incursion – placing rabbit fencing and debris in the way – had no effect, so we dug down to about a foot, set chicken wire and some pieces of 2 x 12 lumber in the trench, and extended chicken wire another 3 feet out along the ground. We then buried the chicken wire under several inches of dirt. Of course, the squirrels, at least, just burrowed in at another spot. In the end, we stapled chicken wire (or, in a couple of places, poultry fencing) to the bed at ground level, and spread it across the surface, extending a barrier three feet across the ground in all directions. We covered this with wood mulch, and this seems to have done the trick as there have been no additional excavations.
Bed 5, inside and out.
The damage was, in some cases, substantial. We think the kale and broccoli will recover, but the future of the Japanese eggplant, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are uncertain. Fortunately for us, the tomatoes, squashes, and peppers (all of them) came through relatively unscathed.
To complete the summer planting, we’ve added eggplant, some more yellow squash and zucchini, mustard greens, dill, and cilantro. Every plant has its own adjustable drip emitter except the string beans, for which we used dripline. The beans have just begun popping up from under the mulch; at last count, five of the twenty positions had a plant above ground. There are also already some tiny fruits on the green bell and hot chile peppers. With luck, we can now leave planting and protection efforts behind us, and look forward to the start of the harvest!
by Arlene Perea and Karen Takai, Fire Information Officers, Mountainair and Sandia Ranger Districts
Attention Fire Information List,
As most of you know by now, the Mountainair and Sandia Ranger Districts are going into closures this Monday, June 10, 2013. As we ratchet up safety issues please be extra cautious with prevention around your home. Have a plan and be ready to go at a moment’s notice.
This is a different climate we are in now. We know the Sandia area has never seen catastrophic fires in the last 100 years but the landscape has changed and we need to change with it. The Manzano and Gallinas Mountains have seen their fair share of catastrophic fire in the last 10 years. Even our firefighters over the last 10 years have had to adjust how they fight fire. It’s a different world. Be Ready and Have a plan!
FYI – The Mountainair and Sandia Ranger Districts currently have additional resources being staged on the districts to assist with prevention and fire suppression. Current resources based upon Wednesdays schedule includes 9 engines, 1 hotshot crew, 3 lookouts in the lookout towers, 2 Fire Information Officers and 1 Prevention Officer. We are staffed early and late hours, 7 days a week until we are out of the extreme fire danger. Our interagency partners City of Albuquerque, NM State, Bernalillo, Sandoval, Santa Fe, Valencia and Torrance County Fire could also assist and support our fire season as we do for them.
The system in place is quite interesting as to how we staff fire season across the nation. We are able to order extra supporting resources during our high/extreme fire season. The crews come from all over the nation dependent on their fire danger at the time. We in turn will go to their states during their fire season and support. The process allows us to have needed crews in the states most of the time. The issue that comes into play is when everyone is under the same high to extreme fire danger. There have been times when there is a competition for air tankers and then decisions get prioritized at a regional or national level as to who will get the resource first. Normally the situation is handled fairly and efficiently. If our national resources start to get depleted, we have the option to call on Canada and Australia for additional resources and there have been times when our fire personnel have traveled to these countries as well.
The availability of resources is constantly subject to change as fire situations throughout the region and nation change. All resources are national resources so they could be relocated at any time.
We have put this short note together with the hope that it has lessened some of the stress knowing that we are here and ready. Please help our fighters. Have a Plan and be ready at all times. Call us with any questions. Be Fire Safe!
by John Weckerle
In a June 3 article titled “Stranger Than Fiction: Which It Appears To Be,” Sandia Tea Party official internet spokesman Chuck Ring denounces the Evangelical Immigration Table – a coalition of evangelical organizations seeking immigration reform – and its logistics partner, the National Immigration Forum, on the basis of a Breitbart.com (once the web site of the late serial liar Andrew Breitbart) article. Mr. Ring and the Breitbart writer, Mike Flynn, take issue with the fact that the coalition had announced a $250,000 ad buy as part of its efforts to support the immigration reform bill currently slogging its way around (note that we did not say “through”) Congress. The criticism is based on two premises: that the coalition “doesn’t legally exist as an incorporated entity or nonprofit organization,” and that the organization is not transparent with respect to its funding and activities to the point that Mr. Ring, speaking for the Sandia Tea Party, accuses the organization of “hiding its true agenda.”
Let’s deal with the legality of the group’s existence first. There is no legal requirement that coalitions or other groups of people exercising their First Amendment right to free speech (and, as legal precedent based on the First Amendment dictates, free association) be registered or recognized by government in any way, and there is no prohibition against such groups purchasing advertising. The Breitbart article states: “There are strict limitations on what (c)3’s (sic) and (c)4’s (sic) can undertake” (somewhat true, but these limits apply primarily to interference with elections and lobbying and can be fairly murky; see the IRS web site on exemption requirements for charitable organizations for more information) “and clear prohibitions on them coordinating on an issue campaign” (an absolute falsehood in the grand tradition of the site’s founder).
As far as transparency is concerned, those who have already clicked through to the two organizations in question will have seen what we did: both organizations list their leadership and/or key members, something that the Sandia Tea Party has neglected to do on their web site. Neither does the Sandia Tea Party publish the names of their contributors and the amounts of their donations. We challenge them to do both. On our own, we can’t gather much information about the latter, but a little research has provided us with some information regarding the Sandia Tea Party, its officers, and its (at least as far as we can find out) “nonexistent” status as a Federally recognized tax-exempt organization.
by John Weckerle
Yesterday afternoon, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department received a call from a concerned citizen reporting that the alarm at a neighbor’s home on Mountain Valley Road had gone off. According to the Department, the attempt to gain entry was aborted when the alarm went off. The suspects are described as “three juveniles, Hispanic.” The Department indicated that “It was unknown if the driver of the get away car was an adult or not.” The the neighbor described the vehicle as “a mid-90s Ford Explorer with faded green paint.” Citizens who have information regarding this incident should contact the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department. The release we received was signed by Lieutenant Broderick Sharp, Watch III North/East Commander, phone 468-7441.
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.
- Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, charcoal, coal, wood or stove fire
- Using an explosive
- Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building
- Possession, discharging or using any type of firework or pyrotechnic device
- Operating a chainsaw or other equipment powered by an internal combustion engine is prohibited.
- Welding or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame
The current Fire Restriction orders can be found on the Cibola’s web site: http://www.fs.usda.gov/cibola in the “Alerts and Notices” section.
by Arlene T. Perea, Mountainair Ranger District
Mountainair, NM – June 4, 2013, 12:00pm: Three (3) of the four fires that were found in the Manzano Mountains after Sundays Lightning Storm have now been extinguished. Eight (8) Smokejumpers remain and are mopping up hotspots on the Pack Trail Fire in the Manzano Wilderness, but expect to have it contained and controlled this evening or tomorrow morning.
No additional fires have been detected at this time but fire personnel are fully aware of the possibility of “sleepers” that may lay low for several days before becoming visible as humidity and moisture levels continue to drop.
Extra severity crews and Engines remain on the Mountainair Ranger District and will continue patrolling both the Manzano and Gallinas Mountains in the next few days. There will be a total of 6 engines today and 5 engines tomorrow on the district. In addition to the extra engines, the 20 person Ruby Mountain Hot Shot Crew is on the district for additional hand crew support.
“We are so appreciative of all the support that the fire fighters (ours and visitors) and the Ranger District are receiving throughout the community” said Karen Lessard, Mountainair District Ranger.
This will be the final update on the lightning fires sparked up after Sunday’s storm unless other fires are detected in the next few days. Thanks for your patience during a very tense couple of days.
All public is asked to use extreme caution when visiting the National Forest. Please be aware, the Mountainair Ranger District will be going into Stage 3, Partial Forest Closure on Monday, June 10. For more information call Arlene Perea or the Mountainair Ranger District at 505-847-2990.
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 www.wildlifewest.org 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