(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.

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:



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:  https://nmtracking.org/fire.

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


Jemez Springs Burglaries Surge

By R.W.

If it wasn’t so tragic, it would be comic, or at least so bizarre as to be improbable.

A horrible report on Jemez Springs appeared in today’s KRQE web page and TV news detailing a surge of burglaries and the circumstances surrounding them. The lovely peaceful village, hidden away from the crime-ridden centers of crime-ridden New Mexico is being publicized in the state as a center of a crime wave. Bizarre can be comic, but here it is tragic. Local residents have been stricken with repeated break-ins, often loosing not just valuables, but deeply treasured and irreplaceable family possessions.

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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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Battle to Save the Internet and Stop Censorship and Corruption

By R.W.

Courtesy image.

Large telecommunication corporations are trying to grab the internet to promote their commercial and political ends, and roll back net neutrality. Comcast, Verizon and AT&T, among others, are moving to make extra charges for what we access online and to have more control over what we see and do.  Free Press, an Open Internet advocacy group notes that recent moves by the Trump administration have aimed to abolish the 2015 FCC decision to regulate internet providers as utilities and to scale back regulations.

These regulations call for the telecommunications companies that provide online access to treat all internet traffic equally and not slow or block some sites. Eliminating them would allow the telecommunications giants to dominate the Internet for financial gain while limiting the freedom and privacy of consumers.

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


 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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National Parks Senior Pass Prices Increase


It’s official, Senior Pass prices are going up August 28th. An annual, and lifetime pass with be available for $20 and $80 respectively.

On August 28, 2017, the price of the America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass will increase for the first time since 1994. The additional revenue will be used to enhance the visitor experience in parks. Learn more about the changes, what they mean for you, and how the additional funds will be used.

Why is the price of the Senior Pass increasing?

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

Auguste Meyers


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

New Mexico Senators Accuse U.S. Secretary of Education of Supporting Extremist Organization

By R.W.

U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos

Both New Mexico senators, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich joined in a statement with other U.S. senators asserting that U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos does not support civil rights or oppose discrimination for students across the country. They signed on to a letter with U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) saying that she has not followed up on assurances that she gave during testimony in front of Congress during her confirmation hearings. There she claimed dedication to the idea that all students have a right to receive an education free from discrimination.

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


By Julie Anne Overton


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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Off-Road Vehicles Will be Impounded if Found Riding Within Designated Wilderness Areas.


Call them what you will – four-wheelers, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) or utility vehicles (UTVs) – but remember that off-road vehicles of any kind are always prohibited within congressionally designated wilderness areas.

This past weekend, ATV tracks were observed within the San Pedro Parks Wilderness on the Coyote Ranger District of the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF).   San Pedro Parks is one of the original wilderness areas created by the Wilderness Act of 1964, which set aside “primeval” federal land to be managed as “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

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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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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!


El Cajete Fire is contained at 96 percent.

Joshua Szopinski


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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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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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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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


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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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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