Flash Flood Watch from Now Until 9 p.m. on Saturday

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for a portion of north and central New Mexico including the Jemez. Slow moving thunderstorms are likely to dump up to 2 inches of rain with locally higher numbers possible, where storms revisit the same area. This could lead to localized flash flooding. Small hail and wind gusts to near 50 mph are possible with the stronger storms.

Locally heavy rainfall potential will increase and become more widespread late Sunday into Monday.

Real Estate Crash in San Ysidro

 

It has been crashing, very slowly, for some years now. At one time the area echoed to the sound of roaring motorcycle engines as they skimmed over a very lumpy and dusty course by the side of U.S. 550, just this side of Cabezon Road. It sure is scenic (if you’re careful which direction you look in), but not very peaceful, what with the mesa being hollowed out for its precious gypsum, and the crazed traffic on what has been declared New Mexico’s most dangerous highway, pouring up and down its four lanes.

Now, the once proud and bold for sale sign is sinking, in painful slow-motion, to be completely gone some time over the next few decades.

Call to Drone Operators for Situational Awareness

Julie Anne Overton

SANTA FE NATIONAL FOREST

Photo Tom Hoefen/USGS, Public Domain.

The annual aerial survey for insect and disease outbreaks on the 1.6- million-acre Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) could begin as early as Monday, July 17, and continue intermittently through Aug. 18.

Forest Service airplanes and helicopters regularly fly over private, state, and National Forest System lands at low altitudes to perform a variety of natural resource management missions, including insect and disease surveys, remote sensing to acquire aerial images and data, and firefighting.Continue reading

Hazardous Weather Outlook for Jemez Area

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE

Update: This forecast was issued at about 2:00 p.m. and is no longer up. Also, the hazardous weather warning has been removed from the regular National Weather Service forecast site.

The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook for portions of north and central New Mexico that includes he Jemez area. Doppler radar indicated thunderstorms producing heavy rain along the western portion of the Thompson Ridge burn scar. Up to 1.35 inches of rain has fallen in the last 30 minutes near Sulphur Springs. Flash flooding is expected to begin shortly. This may impact the Thompson Ridge burn scar including but not limited to Sulphur Creek Road, Sulphur Springs, Freelove Canyon, Mormon Canyon, Deer Canyon, Valles Caldera Preserve Headquarters, Redondo Creek, and Redondo Peak area.

Location Location Location

Some news and activity in the film production scene in New Mexico in the last few days. A current production, “Highway”, is being filmed partly in Moriarty, which makes perfect sense, since there is a highway in Moriarty. But, the NM Film Office also proudly announced that something called “Arizona” has just finished being filmed not just in New Mexico, but even in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.

Film buffs might recall that one of the big all-time hit movies, the 1955 Rogers and Hammerstein musical “Oklahoma” was shot in Nogales, Arizona. This was described as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the U.S. National Film Registry. So if Nogales is more like Oklahoma than Oklahoma is, no doubt Rio Rancho is more like Arizona than Arizona is, which says a lot about Arizona.

Here are some details about the two productions, as provided by the New Mexico Film Office:

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232 Percent Increase in Native Uninsurance Would Devastate New Mexico’s Tribal Communities

By Sharon Kayne

Communications Director, NM VOICES FOR CHILDREN

By slashing Medicaid and making marketplace coverage unaffordable, the U.S. Senate Republican health bill would have devastating consequences for New Mexico’s Native Americans. The uninsured rate among Native Americans in New Mexico would jump an estimated 232 percent under the bill, according to a new report from the Washington, DC-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.“The Senate Republican health bill would be devastating to Native American people living in New Mexico,” said James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children. “Our tribal communities are the cultural backbone of our state and have proven their resiliency despite centuries of challenges. These communities already face significant barriers to getting health care, despite centuries-old treaties and promises. A bill that makes things worse is unacceptable.”

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Forest Plan Revision Open Houses to Take Place in Santa Fe and Pecos.

SANTA FE NATIONAL FOREST

These Open Houses are intended to keep the public involved between our more formal rounds of public meetings and we will keep you informed when we are ready for the next round of evening and technical public meetings. If you can’t make it to an Open House, please call (505-438-5442) or email (santafeforestplan@fs.fed.us) us with any questions.

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IAIA Receives $20,000 Award to Expand Artist in Residence Program

INSTITUTE OF AMERICAN INDIAN ARTS

 Photo © Eric Davis Courtesy of IAIA
Lloyd Kiva New Welcome Center IAIA Campus 

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chuhas approved more than $82 million to fund local arts projects across the country in the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2017. Included in this announcement is an Art Works award of $20,000 to IAIA to expand the IAIA Artist-in-Residence Program. The NEA received 1,728 Art Works applications and will make 1,029 grants ranging from $10,000 to $100,000.

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Gathering Monsoon Both Decreases and Increases Fire Danger

A couple of lightning caused fires that have broken out currently suggest a different pattern of fire danger emerging. The forests are still dry and ready to ignite at any carelessly flicked cigarette butt or abandoned campfire, but the recent weather has brought with it some increased moisture in the forests together with instances of dry lightning storms.

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Riding the Railrunner

A Sunday ride on New Mexico’s outbreak of transportation infrastructure, all the way from Bernalillo to Belen (and back).

The train itself is very pleasant, it hoots a lot, that probably saves lives, it is air-conditioned, which matters on days like this, doesn’t sway too much, builds speed once in a while and travels through some improbable landscapes, stuff you don’t normally see through your car windows, at least not from these angles. The fainthearted I must warn, not all the images below are pretty (and often blurry, taken through clean, but somewhat fuzzy windows on a moving train):

Photos R.W.

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 Record Shattering News for New Mexico

By R.W.

Governor Susana Martinez announces record-shattering tourism numbers at the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum in Albuquerque on Wednesday.

It’s hard to believe good news about any aspect of the New Mexico economy, and yet…!

Governor Martinez announced last Wednesday that 34.4 million trips were made to New Mexico in 2016, nearly a million more than the previous year, breaking another tourism record for the state. According to the governor’s office, overall trips to New Mexico have grown 15.4 percent since 2010.

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Aparejo Burro Packing System Demonstrated at the Nature Center 

By Sandra West

PAJARITO ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER

Photo Sue Barns

Come to the Los Alamos Nature Center on July 12 at 6:30 p.m. and meet burros up close. Thanks to a sponsorship from Del Norte Credit Union, the Aparejo Packing System will demonstrate the old Spanish-style packing system on live burros. Meet the friendly mules face-to-face and learn about their work as cargo-movers along the trails of the Southwest. Staff will also be available to answer any questions. This event is part of PEEC’s Summer Family Evenings program.

Over the course of the summer, a variety of animals and organizations will visit the nature center on Wednesday evenings. There is something for everyone. Here is a list of this year’s remaining Summer Family Evenings schedule:

  • July 19 – Animals from the New Mexico Wildlife Center and
  • July 26 – Solar Eclipse Night.

Summer Family Evenings take place at the Los Alamos Nature Center every Wednesday evening throughout June and July at 6:30 p.m. They are free for PEEC members or $5 per family for non-members. No registration is required. For more information about this and other programs offered by PEEC, visit www.peecnature.org, email programs@peecnature.org or call (505) 662-0460.

 No Buses and Rail Runner on Sunday Schedule for July 4th Holiday

Auguste Meyers

RIO METRO

Rio Metro buses or connecting bus or shuttle service will not be running on Independence Day and  the New Mexico Rail Runner Express will run on a Sunday schedule on Tuesday, July 4th this year.

The Holiday Train Schedule can be found at www.nmrailrunner.com

Rio Metro Customer Service Representatives will be available by phone at 866-795-7245 and 505-245-RAIL (7245) from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesday, July 4th.

Contact: Augusta Meyers, MRCOG Communications Mgr. (505) 239-8612, ameyers@mrcog-nm.gov

Know-Before-You-Go and Celebrate the Fourth in the National Forest

By Julie Anne Overton

SANTA FE NATIONAL FOREST

The Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) is ready to welcome the large number of visitors who traditionally celebrate Independence Day weekend in the great outdoors.  But if you decide to take advantage of the recreational opportunities on the SFNF, it’s always good to “Know Before You Go” (https://www.fs.fed.us/visit/know-before-you-go).

The SFNF remains in Stage 1 fire restrictions.  Campfires are allowed only in developed campgrounds and picnic areas with established fire rings and grills.  Smoking is restricted to enclosed vehicles or buildings, developed recreation sites and areas cleared of all flammable materials.  Fire prevention teams will be patrolling, and anyone who violates Stage 1 restrictions will be ticketed.

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They’re Back and This Time They’re Hungry – Tent Caterpillars Munching Aspens Again        

 

By Julie Anne Overton

SANTA FE NATIONAL FOREST

If you drive up NM State Highway 475 (the road to the Santa Fe Ski Basin) anytime soon, you will probably notice something going on in the aspen groves that create one of the most popular vistas on the Santa Fe National Forest.

To the casual observer, the aspens may appear to be dying.  But those bare branches signal the return of the western tent caterpillars, native defoliators whose larvae feed on a variety of hardwood trees species.  At least here in New Mexico, they seem to be particularly fond of aspen.

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Bandelier Hosting Sixth Annual Naturalization Ceremony on Fourth of July

By Chris Judson

BANDELIER NATIONAL MONUMENT

NPS Photo

 A previous year’s Naturalization Ceremony at Bandelier National Monument.

For Americans, July 4th is traditionally a day to celebrate freedom and independence.  For the sixth year,  Bandelier National Monument is proud to partner with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to host a naturalization ceremony at the park on that day.  Fourteen candidates, after working for years to fulfill their requirements, will be taking the oath and becoming the newest citizens of the United States.

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Udall Calls TrumpCare ‘Catastrophic’ for Indian Country

By U.S. Senator Tom Udall

Curtesy photo.

U.S. Senator Tom Udall, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, released the following statement on the devastating effects of the Senate TrumpCare bill on Native Americans’ access to life-saving health care services:

“Native Americans would be among those hardest hit by this disastrous Senate TrumpCare bill. As vice chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, I’ve heard from many Tribes who are deeply concerned about the lack of Tribal consultation in TrumpCare – and about how devastating this bill would be for access to life-saving health care services in Indian Country.

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Wow Diner

Grants, New Mexico.

Not easy to find, sits in an interesting environment.

Final Update and Some Observations on the Cajete Fire from the New Mexico Fire Information and Santa Fe National Forest Pages

Photo SFNF.
Under the leadership of Type 3 Incident Commander Matt Armantrout, firefighters today are mopping-up hot spots, gridding for residual heat, and addressing fire suppression repair needs, including removing hazardous trees along Highway 4. Crews and overhead personnel are being demobilized and re-assigned to other incidents. Command of the Cajete Fire will transition to a Type 4 organization and the Jemez Ranger District on Tuesday.

Isolated smoke may be visible as concentrations of heavy fuels smolder within the fire perimeter, though no further fire growth is anticipated. Hot and dry conditions persist, with a chance of rain and thunderstorm activity possible for the fire area.

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Los Amigos de Valles Caldera Make a Date Change

Los Amigos in action.

Due to complications from the Cajete Fire, Los Amigos de Valles Caldera, Valles Caldera National Preserve’s industrious friends group, will be celebrating their 10th anniversary and the grand opening of the preserve bookstore on July 22nd during our 17th Preserve Birthday Bash! Between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm, enjoy music, refreshments, artist demonstrations, facepainting, visiting wildlife from the New Mexico Wildlife Center, a 10% discount at the bookstore, souvenirs, and a drawing. A ribbon cutting will be held at the new bookstore at noon.

For additional information about this event and the Preserve Birthday Bash, check out our events calendar, https://www.nps.gov/vall/planyourvisit/calendar.htm. See you at the party!

http://losamigosdevallescaldera.org/events/

El Cajete Fire is contained at 96 percent.

Joshua Szopinski

SANTA FE NATIONAL FOREST

There are still 359 personnel on the site. They consist of 3 Type 1 Crews, 4 Type 2 crews, assisted by 14 engines, 1 dozer, 4 water tenders, 2 Type 1 helicopters, 2 Type 2 helicopters, and 1 Type 3 helicopter

On Thursday, June 22, California Team 3 will transition to a Type 3 organization that will patrol the fire. As containment objectives are met, some crews and overhead are being demobilized or re-assigned to other incidents.

Currently crews on the fireline anticipate minimal fire activity. They continue mop-up and fire suppression repair, working to remove signs of suppression activity and prevent erosion.

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Stargazing and Free Camping at Bandelier 

By Chris Judson

BANDELIER NATIONAL MONUMENT

This Friday and Saturday, June 23-24, will be a great opportunity to get out, go camping at Bandelier, and take a good look at the starry heavens, as the park celebrates their Third Annual Night Sky Fiesta and also the Great American Campout.

For the Night Sky Fiesta, visitors will have the chance to do both daylight and nighttime astronomy. From 10 AM-2 PM on Friday and Saturday, astronomy volunteers will have solar scopes set up on the back porch of the Visitor Center.  These special telescopes have powerful filters that allow observers to safely look directly at the sun.

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Cajete Fire Burn Area Closed to the Public until July 31

The Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) today issued a closure order for the approximately 1,400 acres on the Jemez Ranger District burned by the Cajete Fire.  The restricted area includes:

  • all lands, roads and trails within the fire perimeter (depicted on the closure map),
  • Trail #137 between the last bridge coming from the Las Conchas Trailhead (before the trail ascends) and the East Fork Trailhead, and
  • segments of Forest Road (FR) 270 south of the fire and FR 4G, 4GA and 4GB on the northwestern point of the burned area.

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Nukes and  Marshmallows

By R.W.

Last year, for the third year in a row, the Energy Department and the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board listed the possibility of an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction (criticality) in our neighboring town of Los Alamos as one of the most pressing problems facing the nuclear weapons program.

In a field of zero tolerance for mistakes, the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) appears to be performing a high risk act at great cost not just to its employees, as in the possibility offered above, but also to neighboring communities, the country’s taxpayers and possibly to the whole planet. We in the Jemez are one of those neighboring communities, and liable to be among the first to suffer the consequences of the culture of neglect that pervades the lab. There is no emergency notification system for all of us that live in the backyard of the lab, we need to be prepared for surprises, but it would at least be nice to know what these might be.

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More Abandoned Campfires in Santa Fe National Forest

There will be another community meeting tonight at 6 p.m. June 18, 2017 at the Jemez Mountain Baptist Church, 6 Riverview Court, La Cueva, NM. to give the community latest information on the El Cajete Fire.

It has been determined the fire was started by an abandoned campfire. The carelessness of these campers has disrupted peoples’ lives, cost the taxpayer millions of dollars and endangered the lives of hundreds of firefighters. Three more abandoned campfires that needed the attention of fire crews in the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) were reported on the New Mexico Fire Information site. This is happening as smoke billows over the mountains and over 300 firefighters battle the nearby 1.367 El Cajete blaze.

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El Cajete Fire 55 Percent Contained

Yesterday, at 6:00 p.m. the Santa Fe National Forest issued the following update on the El Cajete Fire:

Location:  The fire is burning in the Jemez Ranger District on the Santa Fe National Forest, on both sides of NM Highway 4 along the southern boundary of the Valles Caldera National Preserve.  The Cajete Fire started approximately one mile northeast of Vallecitos de los Indios.  The fire area runs along the East Fork of the Jemez River and is to the west of the burn scars from the 2011 Las Conchas Fire and the 2013 Thompson Ridge Fire.

Start Date: June 15, 2017     Cause: Abandoned campfire    Size: 1,315 acres     Containment: 55%

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Public Meeting on the Cajete Fire Tonight in La Cueva.

Fire Information

EMNRD-FORESTRY DIVISION

New Mexico Wildfire Update for the Cajete Fire.
6/17/17, 11:40 AM

There will be a public meeting on the Cajete Fire tonight in La Cueva.

When:  6 p.m. today, Saturday, June 17, 2017

Where:  Jemez Mountain Baptist Church in La Cueva.  (The address is 6 Riverview Ct, Jemez Springs, NM 87025 but the Church is in La Cueva.)

The fire is currently 1,315 acres. Evacuations remain in place for several communities, including Ruby Holt Plat, Los Griegos and Sierra de Los Pinos.

Updates will be posted on the New Mexico Fire Information website at NMFireInfo.com and the New Mexico State Forestry Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/NewMexicoStateForestry/

Jemez Fire Slowing but Extent of Blaze Increased to 1,315 Acres     

By R.W.

Photo R.W.

Most of the blaze so far has affected lower level growth, just as in the Pino fire of 2014, shown above, and not been a high intensity crown-top fire.

 

It is still early to tell, but the El Cajete Fire seems to have run into a dead end with burn scars around it, not that much new fuel to feed on and is showing first signs of slowing down.  If the wind does not change direction and pick up too much, the acreage that is currently ablaze might mark most of the extent of this fire.

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