Smoke and Bird Updates

Photos R.W.

A brief smoke event with the wind travelling in the same direction as yesterday, but much less fierce, and picking up much less smoke. The Forest Service update tells us that the affected area has grown to 256 acres.

They also include an interesting explanation for yesterday’s photogenic event: “Fire activity was low to moderate throughout the day Saturday until about 5:30 p.m. when a storm cell brought much stronger winds out of the north, drastically increasing fire activity and pushing the fire to the south. The winds also helped create the very visible smoke column in the late afternoon. The blacklining that crews had worked on over the past several days held the fire in spite of the dramatic shift in wind direction and speed. Today, crews on scene continued to blackline the perimeter and look for spot fires. ”

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(Fake) Drama Above and Below and (Illegal Leaks of) Fire and Water

Photos R.W.


The Peggy Fire as seen from a mesa in Red Rocks.

Do not believe what you hear or what you see. You might have read on these pages chilling warnings against life threatening  walls of storm water rushing down arroyos and calm reassurances about low intensity puffs of smoke lingering through the morning. Well…

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


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.

Rufous Loses Control

Photos R.W.

Ever since he arrived on the scene Mr. Rufous ruled the space around the feeder not allowing any other hummer the slightest sip. His aerial acrobatic reflexes, skills and tactics were quite impressive as he kept swarms of others of his kind at bay.

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Still Smoldering up on Peggy

Photos R.W.

The fire on Peggy Mesa, in its fourth day this Friday is making some slow progress and has grown from 11 acres yesterday to 35 acres today. There have been no more updates from the Forest Service since this morning. The air is pretty still and the smoke appears to be rising and drifting in a northeasterly direction.

Here are a few images of the rising smoke as seen from US Highway 4 this afternoon:



The 2016 Consumer Confidence Report for the Canon Mutual Domestic Water Association is Available for Viewing

By Wayne Punjak

The Canon Water Association Consumer Confidence Report CMDWA Board is pleased to announce availability of the 2016 Consumer Confidence Report (CCR). This report, prepared annually, is designed to provide details about where the association’s water comes from, what it contains, and how it compares to standards set by regulatory agencies. It is a snapshot of last year’s water quality.

We are committed to providing you with information because informed members are our best allies. Members may request a copy of the 2016 CCR by emailing or calling (575) 834-7853. Copies are also posted at the Jemez Valley Community Center in Canon, the Jemez Valley Credit Union, the Jemez Valley Medical Clinic, and Post Offices in Jemez Springs, Jemez Pueblo and San Ysidro, and on the CMDWA Facebook page. Thanks!

Peggy Fire Update

By Julie Anne Overton


The smoke as seen last Tuesday, the day the fire started. Since then there has been some heavy rain in parts of the Jemez Valley, but apparently it did not drench the area, Peggy Mesa, where this low intensity fire continous to smolder.

Update on the Update:    Smoke has increased, with impacts expected in Gilman and Jemez Pueblo. Flame lengths of 1-2 feet are evident.  Afternoon and evening higher humidities continue to moderate the fire activity.  The fire is being monitored with daily patrols.


Start Date: July 18, 2017

Cause: Lightning

Size:  Approximately 11 acres

Location: On the Jemez Ranger District of the Santa Fe National Forest, the fire is located on Peggy Mesa approximately 2 miles northwest of Gilman Tunnels.

Vegetation:  The fire is burning in piñon pines, juniper, ponderosa pine, and oak scrub brush.

Current Situation:  A lightning strike ignited a single standing dead tree (snag) that spread the fire into surrounding slash and nearby dead and down timber.  The low-intensity fire is creeping and smoldering.  The fire is in monitor status.

Smoke/Air Quality:  Smoke may be visible from the US Route 550, and NM Hwy 4 at Jemez Pueblo.  It is not generating a lot of smoke or affecting many communities. Individuals sensitive to smoke, as well as those with respiratory or heart disease, are reminded to take precautionary measures.  Air quality information and health protection measures are available online at the New Mexico Department of Health’s website:

Fire Information:  Fire updates are posted on the New Mexico Fire Information website at and on @SantaFeNF and  Additional information can be obtained from the Jemez Ranger District at 575-829-3535.



Photo R.W. 

Looking west toward Guadalupe/Gilman Valley a fair amount of smoke rising in the air. It decreased as the evening went by, and there was no mention of it on any of the National Forest pages. And now just before 8:30 p.m., a few lonely little drops of rain have been observed hurling themselves to the ground, leaving, for a brief moment, tiny spots of moisture where they fell . Monsoon 2017 (not really).

Hazardous Weather Outlook for Jemez Area


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.

Here It Comes

Thunder and lightening, and streams of water pouring down on the Nacimientos as seen from the Red Rocks.

About time.

Fourth of July in Jemez Springs

Jemez Springs lived up to its high standards this fourth of July. A huge, spirited parade wove its way down the highway in the village with the sidewalk and shoulders lined with spectators.

When it was over the crowds drifted into the village plaza, and milled around the great selection of stalls.

Congratulations to the organizers, the “paraders” and to the crowds in attendance for making this a great day. Here are some images from this morning:

Photos R.W.

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

By Julie Anne Overton


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” (

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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Farmers Market News

By Jennifer Olson


Yes! There will be a market this Saturday with the usual suspects, and maybe some surprises. The past few weeks we have had a number of great goods passing through our market, but I don’t know what different special things will be there this week, so you’ll just have to come find out for yourselves.

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District Calendar Reminders for Jemez Valley Public Schools

By Joline Cruz-Madalena

Programs Coordinator for Indian Education, JEMEZ VALLEY PUBLIC SCHOOLS

August 7th – 1st Day of School


Registration for 2017-2018 will take place in July 2017.  All new and returning students from Pre-K to 12th grade must be registered by their parent/guardian.  All students are required to attend registration with their parent/guardian.  Registration packets must be completed on-site.  New students must provide a copy of their recent immunization record and birth certificate.

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Ice Blobs Fall on Parched Landscape

Welcome hail from heaven (the penny came from my pocket), followed by a brief shower, followed by an even better shower, brought some relief to the Red Rocks area of the Jemez, which has been missing most of the recent outbursts of rain.

Photo taken at great risk of being beaned by one of those. I hope everyone appreciates my courageous, self-sacrificing photo report.

Public Meeting on New Bridge Reconstruction in Jemez Springs


The New Mexico Department of Transportation will hold a public information meeting to obtain input on the proposed NM Highway 4 bridge reconstruction project. This concerns the bridge located at the northern end of the village, just past the Jemez District Ranger Station and before Soda Dam, at mile marker 19.

The meeting will be held in the Madonna Hall, 0040 Legion Drive, Jemez Springs, today (Wednesday, June 21, 2017) from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

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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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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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By R.W.

Mountain Fish.

When I hear the Jemez speak their amazing sounding language I can rarely separate a single word from the flow, let alone catch any of the meaning of what is being said. I have once or twice been coached, by bored Jemez looking for distraction, to utter simple greetings or pronounce the odd name place, only to have my attempts greeted with either puzzlement or total amusement.

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El Cajete Fire Continues to Burn

By R.W.

Photo R.W.

The wind has changed direction from overnight, but otherwise no notable improvements in the behavior of the El Cajete Fire has been observed, with 0 percent of the over 700 acre blaze contained. The good news is that no human casualties or damage to property have been reported, with firefighters taking measures to save structures in the path of the flames. They have been conducting back burns between the fire and people’s homes to create protection zones.

Air temperatures are high, and humidity levels low; forecasts call for these conditions to continue into the foreseeable future, leaving no option but “full suppression” for the fire on part of the firefighting crews. The fire continue to head in a southeasterly direction, just as it was yesterday. Also, just as through most of the day yesterday, NM Highway 4 remains closed from its intersection with  NM Highway 126, above which, on the stretch leading to Valle Grande, the worst fire conditions are occurring.

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El Cajete Fire Still Spreading

By R.W.

Photo R.W.

Heavy smoke drifted down into the Jemez Valley overnight and early this Friday morning.

With the first light of dawn fire crews are back at the El Cajete Fire site. At the moment the fire is reported to have reached the area just west of previous devastation caused by the 2011 Las Conchas Fire, taking out yet another still unburned area of the Jemez Mountain forests. At last report the fire was still 0 percent contained, at about 700 acres and drifting in a southeasterly direction. About 200 hundred people have been evacuated from the area and about 300 structures are considered to be at risk. Thick smoke drifted down the Jemez Valley overnight and into this morning.

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Forest Fire in the Jemez, Highway 4 Closed, Evacuations Taking Place

Update: Julie Anne Overton of the Santa Fe National Forest reports that the Cajete Fire is spreading fast and had reached 600 acres by 6 p.m. About 300 structures, mostly homes, are at risk. The blaze is still about 20 miles from Los Alamos, but burn scars from previous fires in the area may keep it from hitting the city.

 Communities along N.M. 4 are still being evacuated, including Los Griegos, Sierra los Pinos and Ruby Hole. Visitors and employees of the Valles Caldera National Preserve west of Los Alamos were also being evacuated.

State Police have closed N.M. 4 between N.M. 126 and  N.M. 501 and it is expected to remain closed through the night.

This map courtesy of . The moving east surrounded by old burn scars but, there is still timber to feed on.

Smoke was first reported to Santa Fe Dispatch at 10:47 a.m. So far the fire, now called the Cajete Fire, is 0 percent contained, estimated at 100 acres, spreading  fast and moving to the east with high growth potential affecting mostly ponderosa pine with some mixed conifer and aspen on the north slopes.

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Another Rough Weekend on the Jemez Ranger District and Vandalism at the Gilman Tunnels

By Julie Anne Overton


The Gilman Tunnels.

Sometimes called the Albuquerque metropolitan area’s “backyard” because of its proximity to the state’s largest city, the Jemez Ranger District on the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) hosts thousands of visitors on any given weekend between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.

Unfortunately, a small minority of those visitors can cause huge problems for the forest.

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Red Flag Warning Due to Strong Wind and Low Humidity

Another day, another flag.

The National Weather Service warns that a classic mid June break-down of the upper level ridge pattern is shaping up for today and tomorrow (whatever that means). Humidity is expected to be low and wind speeds high.

The red flag warning started  10 a.m. this morning and will continue  to 9  p.m.  Monday.

The forecast calls for the high pressure to continue to dominate the region today, bringing with it dry, windy, and unseasonably warm conditions for most of New Mexico. Temperatures will begin to cool slightly on Tuesday as an upper level weather system moves through. Temperatures are expected to return to above normal by Thursday and remain there through the remainder of the week.

Any kind of outdoor burning is not recommended. There is no moisture in the forecast for the Jemez area over the next few days.