A community newspaper for the Jicarita watershed, including the
Rio Mora, Rio Santa Barbara, Rio de las Trampas, Rio Pueblo, & Rio Embudo
Cowbirds & Willow Flycatchers By Ben Kuykendall, Camino Real Ranger District Wildlife Biologist
Think G98jun.htmlobal By Chellis Glendinning
Restoring Economic and Environmental Vitality to Ranching in Northern New Mexico&emdash;Free Workshop in Peñasco
On Saturday, June 6, the Quivira Coalition, in association with the Camino Real Ranger District of the Forest Service and the Rio Pueblo/Rio Embudo Watershed Protection Coalition, will sponsor a free workshop to discuss how healthy rangeland and financially successful ranching can be made compatible and sustainable.
The workshop will include a morning session at the Peñasco High School Multipurpose Building to discuss innovative methods of managing grazing allotments which can help permittees avoid being caught in lawsuits, protect riparian areas, improve forage on their allotments, and produce healthier, more profitable cattle. This will be followed by a free lunch. In the afternoon participants will tour a prescribed burn area to see how thinning and fire can be used to restore grasslands.
Speakers at the morning session will include: Andie Sanchez and George Maestas, permittees on the Santa Barbara allotment; Palemon Martinez of the Northern New Mexico Stockman's Association; Virgil Trujillo, ranch manager at Ghost Ranch; Bill deBuys, author and manager of The Conservation Fund's grassbank; Dr. Craig Allen, ecologist with the
U. S. Geological Survey and expert on grasslands; and Ben Kuydendall, Forest Service biologist. Topics will include: ranching problems particular to northern New Mexico; use of grassbanks; return of grasslands through thinning and fire management; and the implementation of innovative ranching techniques. Lectures will be kept short to allow plenty of time for questions and discussion.
Courtney White and Barbara Johnson, founding members of the Quivira Coalition, told La Jicarita that the guiding principle behind the coalition is to end the fighting which has led to the lawsuits and help ranchers find viable solutions to the problems which are threatening rangelands and their way of life. The coalition has already sponsored a very successful workshop in Silver City in January and has initiated several restoration projects in southern New Mexico.
Virgil Trujillo, a member of the Quivira Coalition's Board of Directors, believes grazing and the culture of northern New Mexico are strongly linked. During an interview in April, he told La Jicarita, "Northern New Mexicans historically have had an economic, cultural, and spiritual dependence on the land, which must be respected and maintained."
For more information contact Ben Kuykendall at the Camino Real Ranger Station, 587-2255; Courtney White of the Quivira Coalition at 982-5502; or the Rio Pueblo/Rio Embudo Watershed Protection Coalition at 689-2200.
Date: Saturday, June 6
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Place: Multipurpose Building Peñasco High School
Morning session: Permittees Andie Sanchez and George Maestas, Ranchers Palemon Martinez and Virgil Trujillo
Ecologist Dr. Craig Allen
Conservationist Bill deBuys, Biologist Ben Kuykendall
Discussion and questions
Afternoon session: Tour of recent burn area to view restored grasslands
By Ben Kuykendall, Camino Real Ranger District Wildlife Biologist
Both of these birds are neotropical migratory species, breeding here and then migrating south into Mexico and Central America for the winters. The Southwestern willow flycatcher nests in the dense willow or similar vegetation occurring along the streams and rivers. This species is considered to be one of the most endangered birds in the Southwest. One of the reasons for this is that we have built towns and farms to the point that we have converted all but about 3% of his habitat type to other uses. Another reason is due to the behavior of the Brown-headed cowbird and its relationship to both livestock and the willow flycatcher.
The "cowbird" is so named because it follows the movement of livestock and feeds on the insects and grains associated with cattle and their manure. The cowbird does not build its own nest or raise its own young. The female cowbird will locate nests of other species, remove an egg and lay one of her eggs in the nest. This is called nest parasitism. The willow flycatcher is very susceptible to this behavior. The flycatcher does not recognize the different egg and will raise the baby cowbird just like its own. The baby cowbird is much larger than the willow flycatcher nestlings and out-competes them for food being delivered to the nest. In fact, the willow flycatcher parent has to work much harder than normal to just meet the demand of a chick that may be 3 to 4 times larger than her own. The competitionof the larger cowbird is so great that many times the baby willow flycatchers do not survive. A female cowbird can lay up to 70 eggs in one breeding season! Cowbirds will parasitize many other native species of birds that do not recognize the different egg. The bird species at greatest risk of extinction are those that will accept the cowbird egg and have special babitat requirements for reproduction, such as the willow flycatcher.
A similar situation occurred in the East with the Kirtland's warbler. The species was almost extinct by 1970 when the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation with other agencies, started a trapping program to control the rapidly growing cowbird populations. Within a few years the fledgling rates of the warblers had tripled. A similar effort has been initiated in the Southwest in an attempt to save the Southwestern willow flycatcher. Experts believe if every effort is not made now, this species may be extinct within the next ten years. There is only one occupied location on the Carson National Forest. The grazing permittee has been very cooperative and agreed to remove all livestock from the riparian habitat back in 1990, several years prior to the species being listed as "Endangered". Gracing practices are also being modified in and near other suitable and potential habitiats to help save this species. A successfull effort will require understanding and cooperation by many people with differing interests, concerns and values.
Located on 50 acres of fertile soil in the beautiful Manuelitas valley between Sapello and Rociada, NewFarms is many things: a demonstration farm; a training center; an association of wheat growers; and most recently, a tortilla maker. All of these projects are consolidated into its Value Added Crops Association (VACA)&emdash;adding value to crops to achieve economic vitality and sustainability.
On May 27 New Farms sponsored the second in a series of meetings among growers and various associations (see May 1998 issue of La Jicarita) intent on promoting local agriculture. Representatives of the New Mexico Acequia Association, the Rio de las Gallinas Acequia Association, and Santa Fe Farmers' Market toured the farm where Greg Shultz and Dan Hobbs, along with three other employees, dry farm spring and winter wheat and grow a wide variety of vegetables&emdash;with drip-irrigation&emdash;including garlic, cabbage, broccoli, Chinese greens, and herbs. In conjunction with a farm in Anton Chico, which produces warm-weather vegetables such as tomatoes, melons, and peppers, New Farms markets its vegetables through a community supported agriculture project, where consumers buy a percentage of the crop. They also sell to area restaurants, schools, stores, and at the Las Vegas Farmers' Market.
Their wheat, along with the wheat grown by 15 members of VACA, is milled on site (whole wheat) and in Belen at the Valencia Mill (white). While there is currently a lack of markets available for locally produced wheat, NewFarms is hopeful that a trend set by several Santa Fe bakers, who are making all their bread with New Mexico wheat, will continue and expand. In the meantime, the farm has leased an old dairy building in Las Vegas for its tortillaría: samples of their delicious tortillas were passed around at the meeting.
During the discussion session Hobbs and Shultz spoke about the history of agriculture in the Las Vegas area and how they are motivated to help in the revitalization of northern New Mexico agriculture. Hobbs pointed out that Storey Dam near Las Vegas was originally developed to provide water for vegetable farming in the 1930s. Because of various problems, including transportation, farms were unable to stay in business. Dairy farming came in and enjoyed success (in other parts of New Mexico as well) until the 1950s when government safety regulations put the small-time dairies out of business. Cattle ranching became the largest land-based industry, and the land was largely used to grow hay and alfalfa.
Today, many ranchers are looking for land-use alternatives as three factors&emdash;economics, cultural traditions, and water rights&emdash;set the stage for change. Widely fluctuating cattle and grain prices, national forest lawsuits, and diminished forage all threaten the economic vitality of local ranches. A strong desire to return to the more diverse, sustainable farming and ranching practiced by previous generations preserves a cultural tradition centuries old. And as urban, industrial, and recreational interests vie for rural water, making water "value added" is a way of keeping it in the communities and on the land.
The group discussed collaborating on a series of workshops in northern New Mexico communities that would provide both information and asses various community needs with regard to water rights, value-added crops, and outlets such as farmers' markets. The group also discussed the need for urban workshops, to educate and gain the support of consumers as well as potential markets like restaurants and bakers. La Jicarita will continue to attend these meetings and provide specific information as to dates and locations of workshops.
By Chellis Glendinning
The tragic riots, fires, and military control unfolding in Indonesia seem distant from the native trout and fields of cota of northern New Mexico&emdash;and yet the forces fueling these events are the same as those causing hardship right here at home. Achieving liberation from Dutch rule in 1950, Indonesians did not enter a world supportive of their return to the sustainable land- and sea-based economies they had enjoyed before colonization. They entered a global economy masterminded by Western bankers and governments: goods and services would be produced to sell to wealthy consumers elsewhere, and local despots would quell the inevitable discontent by mimicking the cruelty of colonial rule. Today corporations like Nike run sweatshop factories and display their wares in lavish shopping malls&emdash;while workers earn 31 cents an hour. In addition, the stringent terms of a $43 billion International Monetary Fund loan require local government to accept more corporate investment, lower wages, wipe out protective laws for workers and the environment, abolish aid to the resulting poor, and squelch all opposition. The desperation expressed in this faraway place called Indonesia is the same pain experienced here as the cash economy tears people from once vibrant land-based cultures, makes everyone dependent on global conglomerates like GTE, Intel, and Wal-Mart, keeps a lid on wages, reduces aid to the resulting poor, and resists all opposition. Think about it.
The Camino Real Ranger District, in conjunction with the Truchas Land Grant, is soliciting public input regarding a proposed project in the West Entrañas Ecosystem Management Area adjacent to the community of Truchas. The "Piñon-Juniper Thinning, Ground Restoration and Rangeland Improvement Project" would: 1) Achieve a stocking level of 10-30 piñon and juniper trees per acre on slopes less than 20% where a savanna-like condition is the future desired condition; 2) Restore some previously chained areas by transplanting piñon in clumpy arrangements where there is a need for cover and vegetative diversity; 3) Restore treated areas to higher forage productivity; 4) Restore the health and vigor of remaining piñon in order to produce larger piñon nut crops; and 5) Correct erosion problems associated with surface and rill erosion due to the lack of surface ground vegetation. The project will employ local crews to plant piñon trees and a stewardship contract will be awarded with a salvage rights provision. If you have concerns or question about this proposed project, please contact Carol Holland or Henry Lopez at the Camino Real Ranger District, P. O. Box 68, Peñasco, NM 87553 or call 587-2255.
The New Mexico Water Dialogue invites the public to spend a day contemplating "A Decade of Regional Water Planning: What Have We Learned? Where Are We Now? What Happens After 40 Years?" The workshop will take place on June 11, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center&emdash;Special Events Building, 2401 12th Street N.W., Albuquerque, NM. In sixteen self-defined regions around the state resident water interests have struggled to bridge their differences in deciding how water resources will be allocated, protected, and conserved for tomorrow's generations. As a result, there are many communities which are using regional water plans as springboards to achieving their goals. But there are also new questions to be answered: "How can individualized regional plans be joined to guard the whole state?" "How will Tribal, environmental, and federal interests be accommodated?" and "What will we do once we reach our short-sighted planning horizons?" Lunch will be catered by the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (price included in the $15 registration fee at the door). If you would like more information, please call Lisa at 505-865-1455.
A Sierra Club effort designed to educate and inform northern New Mexico citizens and club members about the environmental votes our local congressmen cast in Washington D.C. began last month, and will continue throughout the summer. In particular, the Sierra Club's Environmental Voter Education Project is asking concerned individuals to contact Representative Bill Redmond when he votes against the environment. Projects so far have included letters to the editor and radio ad campaigns highlighting Representative Redmond's votes against the EPA's new clean air standards.
On June 14, Flag Day&emdash;and Children's Day&emdash;the Sierra Club and the National Parks and Conservation Association, along with other coalition partners working to preserve the Baca Location No. 1/Valles Caldera will hold a Save the Baca Rally at the Historic Santa Fe Plaza and neighborhood postcard drop. The Rally will include speakers, fun family activities, and information tables where postcards to Representative Redmond can be signed. Everyone is encouraged to bring their family to the Plaza and celebrate this important day!
For more information on these Sierra Club activities, call (505) 982-4806.
By John Brown
It is about time that the welfare of traditional communities (the "communities of origin" of New Mexico's streams) be taken seriously by our state policy makers and by the advocates for environmental values who are interpreting current laws and drafting new water laws in considering what the "public welfare" entails. For as long as people have resided in the river valleys of New Mexico&emdash;before there was a New Mexico&emdash;the acequias have been here. The ditches, and the customary rules and traditions that govern their use, have for centuries enhanced, not diminished, riparian habitats and biodiversity. They have mitigated springtime flooding for downstream inhabitants. They have helped recharge aquifers. They have enabled communities to produce healthy, natural foods locally. They provide the basis for growing organic farming and regional marketing networks that are beginning to bring healthier foods to the table of urban residents. (Do environmentalists, as consumers, actually prefer to purchase from multinational corporations the tasteless, pesticide-contaminated, chemically fortified foodstuffs trucked thousands of miles to our supermarkets?)
Two recent Op-Ed pieces in the Albuquerque Journal on "instream flow" got me thinking about this matter, and I now believe I understand something that has gone wrong with some of my friends in the environmental movement. They have fallen prey to the economists' myth that "free markets" will solve all problems.
The first column (on April 1) was by Steve Harris, of Rio Grande Restoration. He declared the day the New Mexico attorney general's opinion on instream flow was issued one of "renewed hope for the future of New Mexico's rivers." That opinion stated that instream flow should be considered a "beneficial use" of water, so that a farmer's water right could be bought and transferred to such a use. However, Harris said, better "management" and use of federal water rights (not discussed in the AG's opinion) are the appropriate means for protecting environmental values, and his group has no intention to "join a quest to alienate acequia water rights." We may hope this is true. But why, then, did Rio Grande Restoration try to push through the legislature in its last session (without seeking acequia input) the so-called "Water Conservation Incentives Act"? For acequias, that bill would negate its own title, providing instead a disincentive to conserve water. It would take away from the acequias and parciantes the right to use saved water for the benefit of their communities, and instead place it in a state "water bank" for instream flow.
Most acequias and parciantes are not currently allowed to take all the water they're entitled to under law (the state's "duty of water" to each farm). What they actually get in drier years is based on "average historical supply," and amounts to only 60 to 70 percent of their appropriative "rights." Acequias already share the pain in drought years. As a result, farms are not as productive as they might be, and farmers and acequia-based communities are being economically marginalized. I don't think environment-friendly folks who think seriously about this issue really want this to happen, but the policies they advocate will hasten the demise of New Mexico's traditional villages and landscapes, particularly in the north.
The second Op-Ed column, by UNM economist Micha Gisser, appeared in the April 17 Journal. Its headline trumpeted "Market Can Meet Need for Instream Water Flows." Prof. Gisser seems ignorant that much New Mexico water law and custom predates the 20th century. The doctrine of "priority rights" was superimposed on a set of traditional and customary practices of acequias that treated water as a common property resource tied to the land. These practices and the acequia institutions that support them were recognized by the Kearney Code of 1846 and are alive today. Nor does Prof. Gisser quite have his facts straight about what the AG's opinion allows or mandates. (It doesn't permit the state engineer to take water by eminent domain from parciantes and allocate them to environmental uses, as his letter implies.)
But Prof. Gisser is at least no hypocrite. He's unambiguous in advocating the proposition that "instream users" (including rafting interests like Rio Grande Restoration's) should "buy water rights on the open market from the acequias and other appropriators in northern New Mexico." His free market "solution" is actually a clear statement of the problem, as the acequias see it. Notwithstanding the protestations of instream flow advocates that they don't covet acequia water rights, this solution is exactly what the acequias fear.
A fundamental mistake in the thinking of both economists and "free market environmentalists" is the notion that water is just another tradeable commodity, a private good whose highest and best uses will be discovered in the marketplace. They're wrong about that. Water has a community value as well as a commodity price. For many New Mexicans in pueblo and hispano traditional communities, the value of water is stated in spiritual terms. If a cynic is one "who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing," the economic argument is nothing but cynical. Rights to water are use rights, not absolute private property rights. Water is owned by the state in trust for the common good, and water rights depend on beneficial use. Impairment of a third party's right is one bar to transferring a right, as Prof. Gisser notes. But it is not the only one. A transfer can be forbidden if it is contrary to conservation or to the public welfare.
Of course, if you offer enough money to cash-poor people to sell their water rights (to municipal and industrial interests or for instream flow&emdash;it doesn't matter), you may succeed. Then the acequias will cease to function. The farms will dry up. The farmers and their children will move&emdash;maybe to Albuquerque or Rio Rancho, thirsty for water&emdash;and the rural communities will die. This may be the "efficient" result of the calculus of rational economic actors. What can our water policy experts be thinking? How can we buy into such an inhumane view of the way the world works? Who benefits?
Environmentalists (and I consider myself one of you) need to get a whole lot better, fast, at understanding and appreciating the depth of many parciantes' commitment to the way of life, to the values and traditions, that have protected much of New Mexico's precious water so far. We are all beneficiaries of that legacy. The parciantes, the acequias, aren't your enemy. When you fail to respect them and instead work behind their backs to chip away at their water rights, your actions are ultimately self-defeating.
The Forest Service recently sent out the following letter regarding the proposed Angostura Diversity Unit Management Plan:
"It has been approximately 6 years since the original Draft Angostura Diversity Unit Vegetation Management Plan Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was published. During those intervening years a Final EIS was being formulated to incorporate all comments and concerns. After considering all comments it became clear that the alternatives were inadequate in addressing the issues and concerns. They also did not reflect the current old growth standard and guidelines nor the Mexican spotted owl habitat requirements. All the analyzed alternatives are now considered infeasible and a decision has been made to drop the proposal for this project.
Response to the Draft EIS and our desire to be responsive to concerns made us take a longer look at the approach we were taking within this diversity unit. A new way of looking at resource management has evolved into what the Camino Real Ranger District is calling collaborative stewardship. Because there is still a need for some vegetative management within the Angostura Diversity Unit, several small project proposals will be included in future public scoping letters. You will receive letters as these projects are proposed.
Thank you for your interest and participation in the analysis of the Angostura Diversity Unit.
M. A. Dumas, District Forest Ranger"
As Dumas stated in his letter, there were many concerns raised over the proposed Angostura management plan timber sale. The preferred alternative called for a harvest level which would have put it out of competition for local contractors. The amount of road-building proposed in the alternative was also protested: Part of the management unit was included in the RARE II inventory for wilderness inclusion, and access to the sale through Angostura Campground impacted the Antostura Creek area. Many who commented on the plan pointed out the diversity of the unit could better provide for other multiple uses including fishing, snowmobiling and hiking.
George Grossman of the Sierra Club, who has worked for years with the Forest Service to develop a good management plan, applauded Dumas's decison: "I am greatly relieved. It's a sound management decision, and I look forward to working with the Forest Service on future smaller projects in Angostura. "
Copyright 1996-2001 La Jicarita Box 6 El Valle Route, Chamisal, New Mexico 87521.