Second home subdivisions are lonely places this time of year, full of
ghost houses in woods where bear and deer shuffle around at night and elk
squeals echo. It's getting cold and there's been snow in the high country. The summer people are mostly gone. Not me. I'm stuffing wood into the gaping maw of this open fireplace that sucks more heat out of the Whitelodge than it radiates.
"Outdated" is what some would call our subdivision. That's real estate code for fifty-year old snow-beaten second homes on narrow rutted roads. They call it "charming" too. Properties don't sell fast. That's if you can get warring family factions to agree on selling in the first place. The old places, built by someone's granddad, are always entangled in trust ownership. Things like replacing a roof takes years of haggling with distant cousins or stir old seething resentments and memories. Charming takes work.
There are newer subdivisions in Vallecito* with new shiny houses indistinguishable from those of any upscale California, Florida or Texas neighborhood. No complications of place and history entangle their finance and construction. New owners bring all their toys and stuff garages with ATV's and snowmobiles. They've brought their politics with them too.
Bereft of charm.
*Little Valley is what the Spanish called it. The Ute name was something like crooked water. Some insist on the misprounciation "valley-cito."
Interesting, the engineer's machinations with lake and river levels. I hear he (Mr. PRID) doesn't want water freezing on the floodgates during expected frost on Friday. So the river is up quite a bit since this photo:
Glad you're back! Bummer about the water line and too bad about your tooth. Good luck at the dentist and let me know if you need a ride. Those can be rough.
No kidding about the weeds at your place. No wonder you call it the Weed Ranch. I always thought it was a pot joke. Save me a couple of those tumbleweeds for a Christmas project would you? Tremendous!
Let me know if you want help with those fallen branches. Sorry about your lawn chairs.
Those Franken-stickers are back in that northeast corner (and the SW and SE corners too.) You'll need your leather gloves, chaps and boots for those. They're there in the shed where I moved them from under a leak.
The goatheads were pretty bad but the cows got them good when they got out. The fence fix with the chaise lounge and wire is obviously temporary. I think the shrubs will recover, so no worries there.
You were right to worry about mold around that roof leak in the kitchen. Boy, that dark spot looks bad.
I noticed the ladder was gone or I would have checked on your gutters.
There was some guy hanging around the ditch a few weeks ago and I found a wet sleeping bag back there. But with all those mosquitos I think he's moved on.
That reminds me, I heard something under your shed. Mice? Skunk?
Oh, and your neighbor - the one that was mad at you ... Or the other one that was mad at you after that - he's asking for that lost gate key so you may need a bolt-cutter.
Other than that everything looks fine. Welcome back!
At the Audubon Water, Birds and Conservation Summit on June 15th, participants heard about the Western Rivers Action Network and their efforts to address river health. Insightful presentations by panelists got people thinking. There will be a similar workshop in Las Cruces on June 29th.
It sure got me thinking. Junior water users - primarily municipalities and industries - are not supposed to have priority over senior water users - mostly tribes and farmers. But no one wants to tell a city 'no.' State water administrators bend over backwards to avoid it and appear to have assigned them a nearly unquestioned primacy over others. The agencies, engineers, hydrologists, lawyers, lobbyists and
consultants who represent the 'juniors' are in the pilot's seat of the ship and no court adjudication is on the horizon.
Take Rio Rancho and Intel for example. They don't have all the water rights for the water they're using, but no one is telling them no, or slow. Take the oil and gas industry that consumes and permanently pollutes an un-tracked amount of fresh groundwater. No one is telling them no, or slow, or to collect data (or even follow the law.) Just the farmers. They are hearing 'no' quite a bit these days.
Water data also seems framed to benefit junior users. The huge place in pie charts for agriculture often counts flows in the river and riverside drains, ditches and acequias of the inner valley that support flora, wildlife habitat and, significantly, aquifer recharge from those waterways and farms. All that water is "agriculture." Naturally, the eye is drawn to that magnificently fat pie slice when the need to conserve comes up.
Data presenters also frequently make a distinction between "Economic Development" and "Agriculture." Like farmers are doing it for fun. Industry and the land speculation arts real estate are considered real economic development that must have adequate water supplies. To some, farming is a quaint relic of the 19th century. Like sunbonnets.
Where does birdwatching and New Mexico's huge outdoor economy fit in? Well, if it can't join the Chamber it isn't economic development.
The New Mexico legislature's interim Water and Natural Resources Committee met in Santa Fe recently. The key presentations of dire drought news and water administration "hot spots" were by the State Engineer and the Interstate Stream Commission Chair.
State Engineer Scott Verhines presented an interesting list of legislative "You Wants" that presumably sum-up the direction of water policy for the State. At the top of his list: "You want to aggressively protect our water from other states."
As during the regular session, staff presented a huge pile of sobering
information at the meeting that no one had time to digest. Questions
were not substantive, no actual work plan was established beyond meeting dates and the Committee Chairman Senator Phil Griego diverted a great deal of the committee's time to listening to lamentations about the Lesser Prairie Chicken and dry boat ramps on Conchas Lake - both of which seemed out of context and far less important than basic water policy. One might almost suspect that committee attention was
purposefully diverted to avoid the giant, tough, ugly questions.
Is it wise to rely on unproven
technology to bail us out? Does desalinization of brackish water from
deep aquifers offer anything more than a temporary fix? Can we build a
pipeline from the Mississippi Valley to move millions of acre feet
uphill—and does that make economic, environmental or social sense? Would
systems for water recycling and reuse change the situation enough to
justify the capital investments required? Is cloud seeding anything more
than a pipe dream?
Great questions. But don't expect to hear anything about them at the next interim Water and Natural Resources Committee meeting.