Pueblo Design
 La Jicarita

A community advocacy newspaper for northern New Mexico

Box 6 El Valle Route, Chamisal, NM 87521

Volume VIII

November 2003

Number X


Current Issue




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Dixon/Embudo: A Community on the Move By Kay Matthews


Editorial: Land Grants and the Legacy of the New Deal By Mark Schiller

Salt Cedar: Friend, Foe, or Excuse for Agency and Corporate Control By Kay Matthews

Editorial: What About Comanagement? By Kay Matthews

Draft of State Water Plan Presented to Public By Kay Matthews

Dixon/Embudo: A Community on the Move

By Kay Matthews

On a recent, beautiful fall day, the Rio Grande rocked with the sounds of Valle Son, a Cuban salsa band, playing a benefit for the Embudo Valley Library. Shel Neymark, former library board member, and his wife Liz Riedel, physician's assistant at the Embudo Clinic, hosted the event at their outdoor dance ramada on the banks of the river. The Dixon/Embudo community (and some of us from the upper watershed as well) turned out in full force, and $1,300 was raised to benefit the library.

Cuban band Valle Son plays at benefit

Robert Templeton and Karen Cohen dance to the music

Egloes Jimenez and Shel Neymark show everyone how to salsa

The Embudo Valley Library opened in 1991 in the Atencio family house next to Atencio's store in Dixon through the efforts of Neymark, Jane Kaluta (who was the first librarian), Sandy Funk (who helped catalog the collection), and other community volunteers. In 2002, with an anonymous donation of $200,000 and a matching community grant of $50,000 (according to library board member Karen Cohen, that was raised in a matter of a few months), the non-profit Embudo Valley Library purchased the former Zeller store to house a community center and potential rental space, and the Zeller residence next door to house the library. The property also includes irrigated land behind the house, where heirloom fruit trees have been planted. The library employs two librarians, Elena Arellano and Sandy Funk, and is open Monday through Saturday from 12 to 5 p.m.

The library board received a subsequent grant of $23,000 from the McCune Charitable Foundation to transform the store into a community center, and with additional support of many volunteers, the center opened in May of 2002. According to Cohen, the center has been the hub of community activities, including meetings, family literacy classes, and a tutoring project funded by the Lydia B. Stokes Foundation and an anonymous donation.

The most recent community project is the 2003 Farmers' Market, which ran from July to October in the parking lot of the community center. Nineteen to twenty-three vendors from the Dixon/ Embudo valley, as well as a few producers from Velarde and Taos, sold everything from garlic, apples, and tomatoes to homemade breads, tamales, jams, and vinegars.

Clovis Romero with apples from his orchard

Felicity Fonseca with daughter Emma and garlic crop

Robert Templeton and Stan Crawford, regular shoppers

While the market began under the auspices of the Embudo Valley Library, a separate steering committee has been set up to explore the idea of establishing a cooperative grocery store in conjunction with the market. The Dixon Cooperative Market, which has incorporated as a non-profit, would be a full-line grocery store offering locally produced farm products, staples, such as milk, eggs, and tortillas, and as wide a range of groceries as possible, depending upon space limitations. The steering committee is currently negotiating with the Embudo Valley Library for space in the community center.

Clark Case, a local woodworker and member of the steering committee, told La Jicarita: "I'm tired of watching a million dollars a year leave the community and go to Whole Foods and Wal-Mart. With a community-owned grocery store we could support our local families instead of seeing our profits go Sam Walton's family, the richest family in the country."

Case believes that local producers are ready and willing to support a cooperative grocery. "In just 13 weeks the Farmers' Market generated $15,000 in sales," he said. "There are several growers in the area who can make produce available year-round, and farmers tell us they can keep our shelves filled." He also hopes that folks in the upper watershed will be involved in the store as members or suppliers.

The steering committee is currently conducting a membership drive, offering annual memberships for $25 and lifetime memberships for $200. So far the committee has signed up 50 members and hopes to increase that to 150. Capitalization certificates are also being offered, and if necessary, the cooperative will get a bank loan for start-up capital. The committee is also drafting a business plan and by-laws for approval by the members. Case emphasizes that with "low overhead, member ownership, and the freshest produce anywhere in the world" the store can be a model of how to build a local economy. If anyone would like to join the cooperative or would like additional information they may contact Case at 579-4169 or the cooperative at P.O. Box 250, Dixon, NM 87527.

While community members are duly proud of all these accomplishments, they now face the task of raising additional funds to sustain the projects. "It's not clear how a small community organization without government funding can survive," explains Cohen. Because the library is a non-profit, it cannot receive government support from the county or state because of anti-donation clauses. Rio Arriba County could support the library on a contractual basis, and Neymark thinks this would be appropriate: "The library is really the result of a tremendous grassroots effort of the community and I think that now government could step in and help support us." He is a member of the Rio Arriba Independent Libraries association, which plans to appeal to the county for funding for the four independent rural Rio Arriba libraries in existence - Embudo, El Rito, Abiquiú, and Truchas. The library does receive several thousand dollars a year from the New Mexico State Library to buy books.

The library board continues to raise money through foundation grants and fundraisers like the dance with Valle Son, but has had to cut back library staff to parttime and depends on volunteers to maintain library hours.


• The New Mexico Organic Farming and Gardening Expo 2004 will be held February 13 and 14 in Albuquerque. Sponsored by The Farm Connection and the New Mexico Organic Commodity Commission, this year's expo will feature keynote speaker Michael Abelman, author of On Good Land - The Autobiography of an Urban Farm and workshops on organic production and marketing as well as delicious organic food. For more information please call: 266-9849 or e-mail joan.quinn@state.nm.us.

• Chellis Glendinning will be at the the Embudo Valley Library on Friday, November 21 at 7 p.m.to read from her work-in-progress, Chiva: The Ups and Downs of a Heroin Village - a creative nonfiction book that interweaves the story of a local dealer in a northern New Mexico village with the most dealers, users, and overdose deaths per capita in the U.S with an overview of the global workings of the business of heroin production. Glendinning lives in Chimayó. She is a writer, political activist, and psychotherapist whose books include Off the Map, which won the National Federation of Press Women 2000 book award; My Name Is Chellis and I'm in Recovery from Western Civilization; and When Technology Wounds.

Editorial: Land Grants and the Legacy of the New Deal

By Mark Schiller

There's a specter haunting New Mexico - the specter of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Our federal and state governments have repeatedly broken the treaty's promise to uphold the sovereignty of land grants made to Native Americans and Hispanos by the Spanish and Mexican governments. Moreover, they've refused to accept responsibility for the consequences. Periodically, however, a ground swell of anger, frustration and indignation generated by the loss of land and political marginalization of people surfaces to remind us that this specter is still very much alive. But each time this happens, the government manages to suppress the movement by making more empty promises to redress this injustice or, as was the case in the late 1960s, actually sending in the army to arrest its leaders.

Now the federal government, through its General Accounting Office, is once again attempting to defuse this time bomb by claiming to investigate if the adjudications of these land grants by the federal government were unjust. Anyone who's read the books in the New Mexico Land Grant Series published by the University of New Mexico Press (including Malcolm Ebright's Land Grants and Lawsuits in Northern New Mexico, Victor Westphall's Mercedes Reales, and Land, Water, and Culture, edited by Charles L. Briggs and John R. Van Ness) knows there's ample documentation to demonstrate that injustices and improprieties were common in the proceedings of the Office of the Surveyor General and the Court of Private Land Claims during the second half of the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century. Another book in this series, The Preservation of the Village by Suzanne Forrest, tells the less well known story of how Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal attempted to address this issue during the 1930s and early 40s and how its legacy, tragically, compounded the problem.

According to Forrest, the initial impetus for New Deal land reform in New Mexico came from John Collier, who became Commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1933. In an effort to expand Navaho grazing rights and implement a program to restore degraded land, Collier engineered the purchase of 425,000 acres of eroded land from several Hispano land grants in the upper Rio Puerco drainage whose further degradation threatened to silt up Elephant Butte Reservoir. The partition of this area for the exclusive use of Native Americans drew an immediate reaction from Hipano villagers who petitioned the Bureau of Agricultural Economics to protest the withdrawal of lands they traditionally grazed. Their protest alerted federal and state officials that they could not undertake a program of Native American land reform without considering the interests of rural Hispano settlements as well.

As a result, a series of studies were commissioned by the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) under whose direction all activities regarding soil erosion were consolidated. One such study in north central New Mexico "revealed the acute suffering of the Hispanic villagers, their extremely limited agricultural resources, and the extent to which they depended on wage labor to sustain themselves." Another study concluded "the national interest would be best served by protecting the indigenous non-commercial rural population in the possession of its land and making available to it the feasible maximum of use-rights to renewable resources controlled and administered by the federal government." ("The Availability of Land Resources in the Española Valley", Soil Conservation Service, December 1936. According to Forrest, many of these studies "were ordered destroyed during the conservative McCarthyite backlash of the 1950s".) Interestingly, there was also a study undertaken by the Resettlement Administration to address the issue of Hispano rights under the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Pueblo Lands Board Act of 1924.

As a result, the more progressive advocates for land reform, including Collier and Eshref Shevky (who authored several of these pioneering studies and monographs) realized that the real battle for access to grazing land and natural resources in New Mexico was not between Hispano villagers and Native Americans but between commercial stockmen and timber interests and non-commercial subsistence populations, both Native American and Hispano, throughout the region. Their efforts resulted in the creation of the Interdepartmental Rio Grande Advisory Committee, which was charged with "resolving the land problems of the area for the benefit of the non-commercial population and devising ways and means of protecting and enlarging their basic agricultural resources." In its first report, issued in 1937, the committee recommended expanding use-rights for Native American and Hispano communities on lands already in the federal domain and the acquisition of new lands, for the same purpose, under the recently enacted Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act.

The federal government's land acquisition program targeted old Hispano land grants which had fallen into private hands after their adjudications. (Ironically, many of these grants were for sale because unscrupulous lawyers and land speculators gained control of them by taking advantage of the legitimate owners during the adjudication process. In some cases, because the original owners spoke only Spanish and were often illiterate, they were completely unaware of these legal proceedings.) Under various New Deal programs, the government acquired all or part of the Juan José Lobato Grant, the Polvadera Grant, the Sebastian Martín Grant, the Caja del Rió Grant, the La Majada Grant, the San José Grant, the Gabaldón Grant, the Ramon Vigil Grant, the Ortiz Mine Grant, the Abiquiú Grant, the Tierra Amarilla Grant, the Anton Chico Grant and the F.M. Vigil Grant. By 1943, when the Farm Security Administration's (FSA) Tenant Purchase Program was discontinued because of the war effort, the FSA, Forest Service and SCS were managing several hundred thousand acres under a mandate to benefit the members of these land grant communities.

However, after the war, commercial stockmen and timber interests renewed their efforts to gain access to these lands by bringing political and economic pressure to bear on the Department of Agriculture, which oversaw all of the New Deal Land Utilization Program management agencies. In 1946 Forrest documents "Congress ordered the FSA to transfer its lands to another agency or sell them to the highest bidder. With time running out the FSA passed its lands on to the Forest Service which signed a memorandum of understanding to the effect that it would uphold the Land Utilization policies and terms of the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act under which the lands had been acquired."

While Forrest maintains that there were members of the Forest Service who entered into this agreement in good faith, as early as 1947 the ranger in Vallecitos (where the controversial Vallecitos Sustained Yield Unit was established by an act of Congress in 1948 to specifically benefit the local residents) "suggested that the policy of favoring local residents when allotting grazing and timber resources was a fallacy and should be changed in favor of [a] large operator." In response to this assertion, the Regional Office in Albuquerque replied " . . . any major change should be a slow process rather than to discontinue consideration of the poorer dependents." In other words, the Forest Service intended to gradually discontinue the land utilization policies in order to avoid being held accountable for undermining their intent. (In fact, the Vallecitos Sustained Yield Unit was managed to benefit Duke City Lumber, a subsidiary of a multi-national corporation, until local residents sued both Duke City and the Forest Service in the early 90s and won judgements against both of them.)

Not surprisingly, the growing reactionary forces which led to McCarthyism were also enlisted to discredit the New Deal land reform movement. In a letter to the assistant to the Attorney General, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover wrote, " . . . the entire [FSA] program appeared to be one that was Communistically inspired with the idea in mind of obtaining control of large tracts of land and operating them on the Communistic idea of property being held by the state . . ."

By 1960 most of the New Deal Land Utilization policies had been covertly undermined by the Forest Service in order to benefit commercial stockmen, corporate timber interests, and the newly burgeoning recreation industry. Finally, Forrest points out, "In September 1962 the terms of Title III of the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act were amended [by Congress] to bring the administration of all Land Utilization properties in line with the rules and regulations applying to other National Forest lands." Thus vast tracts of land appropriated from Spanish and Mexican land grants for the purpose of benefiting the original grantees were raped by commercial timber interests, degraded by commercial stockmen, and transformed into playgrounds for privileged urban dwellers. Is it any wonder that a large segment of the Hispano and Native American populations of New Mexico view the Forest Service, "as uniformed occupational troopers guarding the spoils of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo . . . "?





We want to thank all of you who sent in subscriptions to support La Jicarita News. This thank you also extends to those who sent in subscriptions prior to our fund drive and those who have supported us over the years (a special thanks to Vicki Gabin, one of our most loyal readers). We would also like to thank Trudy and Ed Healy of Taos, who came through with foundation funding for us in this critical time (and have supported us over the last few years as well). With your help we plan to be around for 2004, bringing you the latest information about issues that concern all of us who live in el norte.

Mil gracias, compadres

Salt Cedar: Friend, Foe, or Excuse for Agency and Corporate Control

By Kay Matthews

Folks in the Cerrillos area who are opposed to the Army Corps of Engineer's salt cedar (tamarisk) eradication proposal at the Galisteo damn have been passing around a recently published book called Invasion Biology, Critique of a Pseudoscience to gain support for their position. The book, written by conservation biologist David Theodoropoulos, is an indictment of the invasive species "hysteria" that guides not only land management agencies like the Army Corps of Engineers but the academic community as well. According to Theodoropoulos, current attempts to categorize certain species as "native," "alien," "invasive," "irruptive," and "aggressive" is"subjective, superficial, and entirely unbiological." Even more disturbing is his analysis that this language closely resembles that which racists and nationalists use to categorize people on the basis of skin color and rationalize wars on people and nature. Theodoropoulos believes that the pseudoscience of invasion biology is being used by corporations and governments to control the world's diversity and resources.

The Army Corps of Engineers held a public information meeting in August to present its plan to eradicate salt cedar at the Galisteo Dam by spraying the herbicide Arsenal by helicopter. The Dam project is part of a statewide-program to get rid of the so-called "water sucking" salt cedar in New Mexico water systems that they claim threatens our ability to meet Rio Grande Compact deliveries to Texas. The state legislature has already allocated funding for spray programs on the Pecos (184.57 miles have been sprayed) and the Rio Grande (15,000 acres).

Many residents of the Galisteo basin are opposed to the plan and are able to cite extensive analysis and evidence that refutes the Corps' rationale for the spraying:

1. There is no hard evidence that salt cedar eradication actually saves much water. A USGS evaluation determined that there is no conclusive evidence that the eradication of salt cedar increased Pecos River flows.

2. Despite eradication programs, salt cedar consistently regenerates and monitoring and restoration are essential. However, areas sprayed with Arsenal cannot be disturbed for three years, preventing further treatment.

3. Helicopter spraying of Arsenal also kills beneficial plants and soils and may harm area wildlife.

4. Herbicide and regulatory agencies are exploiting invader fears to get contracts for eradication. The herbicide industry intensively lobbied for the chemical spraying program in the Pecos and little consideration was given to other alternatives, particularly goats (see La Jicarita article on Lani Lamming, June 2002).

Jan-Willem Jansens of Earthworks, an organization that has been involved in Galisteo watershed restorations, concurs with this assessment: "The Republican administration is funneling a lot of money into the Department of Agriculture and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which is essentially special interest spending, and these agencies in turn are in bed with the herbicide industry." He believes that because "we have tinkered so much with our landscapes and waterways" salt cedar is one of the only species that can grow in the basin.The agency's plan to eradicate salt cedar on 200 acres, what Jansens calls "symptom mitigation", is only the first step in what may be a many thousand-acre project, and he thinks the agency should undertake an Environmental Impact Statement to analyze cumulative impacts on soils, wildlife populations (the willow flycatcher, an endangered species, lives in salt cedar), archeological sites, people's health, and economics.

Michelle Goodman is an artist who has lived in Cerrillos for 22 years. In the mid-80s she actually made her living off salt cedar, harvesting and selling the stems to interior decorators and furniture makers. When she first became aware of the Corps project, she "bought into the mythology that salt cedar wastes water and that it chokes out 'native species.' But then as my neighbors and I began to educate ourselves and to have rigorous conversations about it based on our personal observations, I began to realize that a lot of what the Corps was saying and newspapers were reporting was propaganda."

While she is not as opposed to any salt cedar removal as some of her neighbors, she says, "I now have a huge mistrust of the information that's out there and the whole eradication program.The notion that getting rid of it will allow us to come up with our water obligation to Texas is ridiculous. I think Earthworks, which has been working in the Galisteo basin for years, has a much better program for restoring waterways."

Goodman shares Theodoropoulos' reservations about the terms invasion biology uses: "What constitutes 'native?' At what point do we consider something native or not native? People are now saying that juniper is not native. Does that mean we're going to go out and eradicate all the juniper? It reminds me of the war in Iraq. We're going to go in and eradicate these 'evil' plants but there's no plan for what we're going to do to replace them. You can't go in for three years after spraying Arsenal. What then?"

Editorial: What About Comanagement?

By Kay Matthews

Mark's land grant editorial in this issue of La Jicarita News underscores the need for a better and more equitable way for the Forest Service to manage the lands of el norte. We would go so far to say, as Daniel Kemmis does in his book This Sovereign Land (reviewed in the March 2003 issue of La Jicarita), that the Forest Service has become incapable of managing our public lands. Kemmis advocates real management collaboration among western stakeholders and claims it is time to "begin thinking about realigning sovereignty to give westerners more control over public lands."

It is especially critical to establish the sovereignty of Indo-Hispanos and Native Americans through collaborative policies. Northern New Mexico lands now in the public domain were the hunting and fishing grounds of the pueblo people and the former ejidos of Hispano land grants, where norteños grazed their livestock, built their acequias, and collected their firewood and building materials. The heirs and diverse people who now inhabit the villages of el norte continue to engage in these land-based activities, only now they must have permits from the Forest Service and BLM to graze their cows and cut their firewood. They have fought many battles with public lands agencies to maintain these rights, including the right to rehabilitate their acequias (see La Jicarita, January 2002).

While land grant heirs and community people continue to lobby the federal government for redress of the loss of their land grants, there have also been many efforts made to collaborate with public lands agencies to establish management practices that maintain the health of both the forests and their dependent communities. Several years ago, for example, the Nuestra Señora del Rosario San Fernando y Santiago Grant (the Truchas Land Grant) drafted an agreement between the grant and the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) to comanage Borrego Mesa, which is currently included in the SFNF boundaries but was originally part of the grant.

The agreement states that "The purpose of this document is to provide the framework for a co-management agreement between the Forest Service and the Grant that serves the mutual interests and objectives of the parties involved" and "will ultimately serve the long-term ecological health of the forests on Borrego Mesa." It also references the 1997 International Union for the Conservation of Nature's and the World Conservation Congress' definition of comanagement as "formal, power sharing agreements between government agencies and communities in such a way that both groups have a direct voice in the decision-making process concerning a specific territory or set of resources at the policy, planning, and management levels."

The agreement calls for a Board of Management that would:1) prepare and approve ecosystem management plans; 2) protect the use rights of local residents and ensure management that supports community activities and needs; 3) ensure long-term sustainable use and management of resources on Borrego Mesa; 4) ensure implementation of the management plan; and 5) promote community involvement in the management of the area through economic development and job opportunities. The agreement also stipulated that any income generated on Borrego Mesa would be reinvested locally.

According to Max Córdova, former president of the Truchas Land Grant (when the comanagement agreement was drafted), the agreement was endorsed but never implemented. "It's the same thing with the memorandums of understanding we signed with the Carson National Forest, to find areas where we could work together." So while land grant heirs wait for restitution, forest communities must also wait for forest management that benefits their health and the lands they steward, whether that stewardship is offical or not.

Draft of State Water Plan Presented to Public

By Kay Matthews

Frank Titus' comment on the draft New Mexico State Water Plan, delivered at the first public hearing on October 22 in Santa Fe, was " it's a great description of motherhood and apple pie." He, and several others at the meeting, expressed their concern that the plan lacks specifics and fails to incorporate much of the public comment made over the course of many meetings around the state, particularly the Town Hall meeting in Albuquerque. In their defense of the plan, Estevan Lopez, director of the Interstate Stream Commission (ISC), and John D'Antonio, State Engineer, both emphasized that the Plan is a "working document" that will evolve over time to incorporate public concerns and technical information that continues to be gathered.

Public comment came after Lopez highlighted the salient points of the Plan and D'Antonio presented an overview of the Office of the State Engineer's (OSE) current resources and workload. It wasn't a pretty picture: understaffed and underfunded, the OSE, whose primary task is the adjudication of the state's stream systems, has completed only 15 to 20% of these adjudications and is in the process of adjudicating 60% of the basins. There is a huge backlog of water right transfer applications, and he showed timeline charts for those transfers that don't get protested at one year's duration, and those that do get protested at least two years' duration.

As well as responding to the contents of the Plan, which everyone in the audience was seeing for the first time, many of the comments were directed at D'Antonio's presentation. Rio Arriba County Water Policy Planning Specialist Felipe Martinez read a position paper from the county urging the OSE to modify the adjudication process to "be more humane and less adversarial, less cumbersome and lengthy, less judicial and more administrative, with reduced burden to individuals with small water rights holdings." The paper also urges the agencies to support water rights of acequias protected under the Treaty of Gualadupe Hidalgo. These points were raised by many of the public speakers at the hearing, including Paula Garcia, a member of the Water Trust Board (a representative board of citizens that participated in the drafting of the Plan) and director of the New Mexico Acequia Association. Garcia said the agencies must address the demands made at the Town Hall meeting in Albuquerque that the Plan define Public Welfare based on the protection of acequia water rights under the Treaty and that acequias be treated as a distinct water entity along with pueblos. Traditions and customs, which provide for local administration based on Spanish and Mexican law, should also be recognized. She objected to the language in the Plan that essentially defines the OSE as a "facilitator" of water markets rather than a "regulator" in this process that threatens the water rights of rural northern New Mexico. Brian Shields of Amigos Bravos agreed with Garcia that there is nothing in the Plan that addresses the potential threat of the privitization of water and that we need a more clear definition of what constitutes Public Welfare.

Garcia, along with several other participants, also asked the agencies to better define and address issues of water conservation to clarify who benefits from conservation practices. She pointed out that until this question is answered the Plan cannot adequately address water transfers, leases, or banking. A Santa Fe County activist claimed that the OSE has previously been unable to regulate the mining of the aquifer and unless the Plan implements policies to regulate growth the county will continue to try to find new sources of conserved water to facilitate that growth.

There was a great diversity of opinion among the public, the Water Trust Board, and the agency representatives regarding the wisdom of developing new sources of water or learning to live with our current water supplies. The Plan proposes to "bring to the state demonstration projects in desalination, conservation, watershed restoration, weather modification and other technological approaches to enhancing water supply and management." This was also a contentious issue at many of the statewide public comment meetings that were held from July through September, with some folks advocating spending millions of dollars on desalination projects and others reminding us that we are a desert state with a carrying capacity that has already been exceeded. It's going to become an even more contentious issue as water marketers and outside water interests propose schemes like the recent proposal to empty Elephant Butte, Cochiti, and Caballo reservoirs into underground aquifers and sell the saved evaporative rights to a Canadian water developer.

The draft of the New Mexico State Water Plan is available to the public on the website of the OSE: www.seo.state.nm.us. You may obtain a hard copy at the ISC office at the Bataan Memorial Building, 407 Galisteo Street, Santa Fe. The OSE will solicit public comment on the Plan until December, at which time it will be submitted to the Governor.

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