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.

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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Annual Congestion Festival aka 2017 Racing Southwest Jemez Cruise Road Rally Revisits Jemez Springs

Photos R.W.

It is so pathetic how rarely Jemez Springs experiences choking traffic and pedestrian gridlock. This Sunday afternoon our nearest metro areas gave us all they had: revving, fuming motors encased in glaring metal, waves of strange and unfamiliar looking people, a dense pack of beings and their conveyances as surprised to see one another as we were surprised to see them.

In case you all missed it, cowering in darkened rooms, here are some images from a fraction of the day:

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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, See you at the party!

13 White Male Republicans Make an Offer

By R.W.

The government has just announced a scheme to make cuts to health programs for the poor and middle classes, and give huge tax reductions for the wealthy. It proposes to dramatically cut and restructure Medicaid and eventually lead to another 23 million Americans to lose any health insurance whatsoever. This will allow to finance a broad tax cut for the rich with billions of dollars pulled from Medicaid.

The biggest tax cut is to individuals earning more than $200,000 a year or to married couples with combined incomes of more than $250,000 and applies mostly to the taxation of investment income. This tax is repealed retroactively, to return to rich families tax money they paid over the last year.

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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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Stargazing and Free Camping at Bandelier 

By Chris Judson


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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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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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


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 and the New Mexico State Forestry Facebook page

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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IAIA Poet James Thomas Stevens Reaches Out to Inmates of New Mexico State Penitentiary

By Eric Davis



Roseanna Andrade and poet Jose Gamez in the MRU library at PNM

Five Incarcerated Poets Have their Works Displayed on the IAIA Campus.

IAIA Associate Professor of Creative Writing James Thomas Stevens (Akwesasne Mohawk), recently contacted IAIA alumna Roseanna Andrade (Mexica/Nahua) ’16, to participate in one of IAIA’s community outreach programs — the collection of poems that are posted on the IAIA Health and Wellness Trail. As the poetry instructor in the Creative Writing Program, Stevens is responsible for collecting original poems from invited groups and posting them in wooden display posts along the IAIA Health and Wellness trail, utilized by IAIA students, staff, faculty, and members of the surrounding community. In the past, works from IAIA undergrad writers, graduate students, and students from local Native high schools were utilized; but Stevens recognized that not all writers come from educational institutions. In an effort to reach out to other groups, he wrote to Andrade and requested poems for display on the trail from April 1, 2017 through August 1 2017.

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From Palestine to New Mexico: Connecting Environment, Science, Human Rights and Peace

By Alan Wagman


Albuquerque Jewish Voice for Peace and Friends of Sabeel ABQ invite you to hear from Palestinian scientist, environmental activist, agitator, and conflict resolution specialist, Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh on Tuesday, June 21, at 7:00 pm., at Nahalat Shalom, 3606 Rio Grande NW, Albuquerque.

Drawing from his experience as a Professor at Bethlehem University and the Director of the Palestine Museum of Natural History, Dr. Qumsiyeh will speak on the connections between science and peace, environmental justice and human rights, climate and conflict resolution, Israel and Palestine.

For more information, contact

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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