Rural Conservation Alliance NEWS -- April 2015
Contact RCA: Questions, thoughts? Email: email@example.com & put "La Bajada Mesa Threatened" in the Subject.
-- Preserve La Bajada Mesa & Escarpment -- Water Protest Schedule deferred until after Resolution
of Related Issues in Santa Fe County
An attempt by Buena Vista (BV) to strip the Mesa's basalt,
through acquisition of water rights for mining:
"for sand and gravel washing and dust control on approximately 5217 acres of land . . . ."
Action to Help Protect one of New Mexico's "Most Endangered Places": "Significance: La Bajada represents a key landscape demarcation between what the Spanish colonial world
termed the Rio Abajo and Rio Arriba regions of New Mexico--the lower and upper lands with their distinct ecologies and climates. ...." --NMHPA, 3003.
La Bajada Mesa, Photo by Patrick Allen Mohn © 2004
Reducing [La Bajada Mesa] to crushed basalt for road base would be a travesty in its own right. Overdrawing the regional water budget - which is already over-committed - for such a destructive purpose would be a double travesty. --RCA Protest witness, Kim Sorvig, Professor, UNM School of Architecture and Planning
Most Endangered? See Maps
--The application (noticed in 2012), if approved, would change the purpose of use of water from "irrigation" to "sand and gravel washing" for mining anywhere on over five thousand acres including the eastern gateway of La Bajada Mesa, a NM cultural landscape.
--This could not only lead to the loss of the geological integrity--the grandeur of this oceanic Gateway landmark from I-25 & Waldo Canyon Road, but would result in environmental and cultural degradation of land that has been historically, culturally and environmentally significant to New Mexico for hundreds of years.
--Furthermore, it also could severely impact a vital wildlife corridor from the state of Colorado to Mexico. This "corridor of connectivity" has been recognized and endorsed by the Western Governors Association.
--Development of such an industry poorly sited here would result in new roads, heavy industrial traffic, increased pollution from carbon emissions and fugitive dust.
--It would not only negatively impact the Gateway vista from I-25, and Waldo Canyon Road--the western access to the Cerrillos Hills State Park--but would be a blight from the higher elevations of the Park and adjacent BLM lands and from other recognized scenic vistas from the south and east.
--The arts, including paintings, drawings, pottery, photographs and films attest to the profound significance of La Bajada Mesa to New Mexico's cultural economy.
--Three acre feet of water is woefully insufficient to accomplish the intended uses on a tract of land over 5000 acres
--There is no need for another gravel mining operation as there are several existing gravel mines within reasonable proximity that can provide these materials.
--Speculation? The move-to land is for sale. They are marketing it as a mining area, as if they think the current Santa Fe County staff and commissioners would oblige and ignore New Mexico's heritage.
The Water Protest: wATER RIGHTS TRANSFER APPLICATION BEFORE THE STATE ENGINEER ( Map of Study Area )
PROTESTANTS are opposing the use of ground water resources, as described by Buena Vista "for sand and gravel washing and dust control purposes on approximately 5217 acres of land". The land includes a large part of La Bajada Mesa, of what's known to New Mexicans as the (physical, historical, cultural) "Gateway" to Santa Fe. For more see RCA Letter to the NM Office of the State Engineer (OSE).
APRIL 2015 NEWS
A Joint Status Report issued April, 2015 stays any actions before the Office of the State Engineer until litigation in the First Judicial District Court and other actions are determined. Another Status Report is proposed by October 2, 2015.
Background: having received in 2012 the protests to the Buena Vista application for the transfer of [paper] water rights from Albuquerque to the ~2 mile-long Mesa Gateway area, the NM State Engineer's designated Hearing Examiner, Andrew B. Core, and the OSE have agreed to postpone the schedule 4 times at the request of Buena Vista. The reasons Buena Vista has given for the requested extensions are that they were 1) continuing to explore an alternate source of water which they claimed would obviate the need for this application and 2) subsequently to give time for the resolution to suits filed by BV against the County. The alternative water source turned out to be water sold by the gallon and hauled from the County Water Utility!
After many postponements, a "status conference" was held by the Office of the State Engineer on April 9, 2014. A decision was made to defer any action on the Buena Vista water rights transfer application until 90 days after a possible June 10, 2014 hearing before the Santa Fe County Board of Commissioners (BCC). Since the water rights application is specifically for water-for-mining, there would have been no reason to proceed if the County was to deny them a mining permit. Deferring action would also give Buena Vista (as well as protestants) time after a BCC decision to decide whether or not to appeal. As the County had long been planning to amend their mining regulations, rather than the Commission voting on BV's mining application, the June 2014 hearing led to a mining moratorium that BV subsequently challenged.
Office of the State Engineer SCHEDULES
State Engineer schedules consist of the following: a Status Conference, Exhibits due, Rebuttal witnesses and exhibits due, Close of Discovery, Motions, Objections dates, and Hearing dates. However because litigation is ongoing, the Parties have recommended continuing the stay until District Court action is resolved and the County has made a determination on BV's application. All Parties have agreed that they will jointly or separately file another Status Report by Oct. 2, 2015.
WITNESSES (For Protestants, Applicants, & the Water Rights Division)
PROTESTANTS: The Rural Conservation Alliance (RCA) list 4 Expert &/or Fact Witnesses including:
--Reid Bandeen, hydrologist on hydrologic issues raised by the applications,
--Kim Sorvig, Research Associate Professor, UNM, Architecture and Planning, on geologic, biodiversity, historical & cultural importance of La Bajada, the move-to place of use, and the negative impacts, from a community planning perspective, that would arise from non-renewable extractive industry entailing ground water withdrawals in the area.
--Arnold Valdez, MArch, Principle of Valdez & Associates, Adjunct Associate Professor UNM School of Architecture and Planning. Mr. Valdez may testify on the cultural and historical importance of La Bajada cultural landscape.
--Paul Williams, Archaeologist, on the cultural, historical, archeological and environmental landmarks/view sheds of land worthy of a designation as a national monument, and the detrimental [possible consequential] impacts to the area should the application be approved.
The RCA has also listed FACT Witnesses who may testify against the Buena Vista application. They include: Ross Lockridge as to concerns of the Rural Conservation Alliance whose mission includes the preservation and protection of the natural resources and rural character of the Galisteo Basin area of Santa Fe County including the lack of zoning permits for the uses proposed in the application. Thomas A. Romero, Director, Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area, Inc. regarding the concerns of the affects of the application, if approved would have on La Bajada Mesa and its escarpment, which are in the Northern Rio Grande Heritage Area. Dianne Elise Strauss, Executive Director, Coalition For La Bajada Mesa, regarding the ongoing efforts to protect and preserve La Bajada Mesa including its possible designation as a national monument, and the effects that approval of the application would have on that process. William Clift regarding the ongoing efforts to protect and preserve La Bajada Mesa, and as a possible national monument. Pierre Werbrouck, regarding his personal knowledge of groundwater diversions from his well.
Special thanks to the RCA witnesses, and attorneys Mary Humphrey & Connie Odé.
APPLICANTS: Buena Vista (Peter Naumburg & Hugh J. Graham Jr., owners) & the "move from" party (Center for Educational Initiatives), list 4 Expert Witnesses including:
--Steve Hooper, Buildology Inc., Materials Inc., AVI Inc. to the nature and scope of the Waldo Canyon Quarry Project to the use of the proposed amount of water [sufficient} for dust suppression and . . . is not contrary to the conservation of water . . . or detrimental to the public welfare of the state.
--Greg Gates, CH2MHill, that the proposed transfer will not impair existing water rights, is not contrary to the conservation of water . . . and is not detrimental to the public welfare of the state.
--William Reich, CH2MHill, to the scope of the Project, that the use of the water is not contrary to conservation . . . not detrimental . . . .
--James Siebert, to the scope of the Project, that the use of the water is not contrary to conservation . . . not detrimental . . . .
Applicants' attorneys Jay Stein & Seth Fullerton.
WATER RIGHTS DIVISION: The Division (of the OSE) list 3 Expert &/or Fact Witnesses:
--Joseph Fields, Water Resource Specialist with the OSE, may testify regarding any water rights issues that arise in the consideration of this application. The specifics of his opinions will be disclosed when completed.
--Bruce Richardson, Water Resource Specialist, OSE, may testify regarding any water rights issues that arise . . . . The specifics . . . disclosed when completed.
--Laura Petronis, Hydrologist with the OSE, may testify as an expert witness regarding hydrology issues that arise in the consideration of this application. The specifics . . . disclosed when completed.
>>>>>>>>> ACTION <<<<<<<<< --SUPPORT THE WATER RIGHTS PROTEST. HERE'S HOW: 1) Please download, post, and distribute this flyer (pdf)
and 2) please donate to the RCA for the hydrologist and legal team
so the RCA can continue this action.
Know that this effort in the conservation of New Mexico's heritage is possible only with your support & encouragement. It's with great appreciation to those of you who responded to our Winter requests for financial donations. Many thanks!
But it's time again when we must ask those of you who can afford to--to please write a check so that our hydrologist and legal team can continue with their labors. In that important way you can act to help prevent irreversible degradation to the Mesa & area.
The RCA is an all volunteer organization. Please give tax-deductible donations on line HERE or write check to:
Concerned Citizens of Cerrillos, & put "For RCA Fund" in the memo. And send to: CCC, P.O. Box 245, Cerrillos, NM 87010.
Questions, thoughts? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org & put "La Bajada Mesa Threatened" in the Subject. Thank you for your interest and support to preserve La Bajada Mesa & Escarpment.
--Ross, for the RCA
Mining Application Dodges Water Rights Protest: See RCA News April 2015 Rural Conservation Alliance Archives To: New Mexico Heritage Preservation Alliance, Most Endangered--La Bajada Mesa and Escarpment Posted for the public by the Rural Conservation Alliance, an alliance of community organizations and individuals
dedicated to the preservation and protection of the natural resources and rural character
of the Galisteo Basin area of Santa Fe County, New Mexico.
--Comments, opinions of the RCA, c/o POB 245, Cerrillos, NM 87010-- Site managed by RIII for the RCA
Page Updated Dec. April 9, 2015