Posts in Category: 2021.08.07 | AUGUST 07 ISSUE


By Sandi Hoover

As one of many birders in the United States, I can attest to what a weird bunch we are. Behavior can be extreme in pursuit of our avocation. Some are occasional, casual birders, content to see birds in their backyard or nearby. Others are fanatics to the point of obsession. Here are some things to know if you take up birding. Today, birders add an unbelievable $85 billion to the U.S. economy every year! These dollars are spent on equipment and clothing, travel, food, lodging, plus professional guides to help locate birds. According to estimates, nearly one in four Americans considers him or herself a bird watcher.

In appearance, you can expect to be dressed in specialized attire never shown on designers’ runways. It’s amazing how many dollars can be spent to look dorky. Starting at ground level, shoes range from tennis shoes to expensive hiking boots built to repel water and muck collected from trekking through marshes and swamps. Footwear is like a field vehicle —choose carefully because it will get dirty or ruined. The truism about the perfect car for a field trip —take someone else’s— works when thinking about shoes as well. Wear those you would toss.

Moving upward, another essential item is a pair of pants with pockets to carry the necessities of life to ward off the wilderness —even if venturing into the backwoods only 50 feet. The pants should be made of lightweight, quick-drying material with pockets upon pockets to hold sunscreen, bug repellent, lip balm, car keys, a birding guide, identification, tissues, water bottle (hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!), lens cleaner for binoculars, and possibly an iPad. Those pants usually have a zipper to convert them into unflattering shorts. However, in parts of the world where chiggers and ticks exist, one never removes the bottom, no matter how hot it might be. People have a valid concern about ticks, but they are far more visible than chiggers, and it’s relatively easy to eliminate them with a thorough check at home after a day pursuing birds. The real fear is the pain of chiggers.

So the pant legs stay on, tucked into white cotton socks (a look not imitated on fashion pages) to minimize the opportunity to provide a meal for those microscopic mites. Known as red bugs or %@!!*# chiggers, these tiny arachnids worm their way into garments, and onto skin, where they travel until they find a constricted spot —underwear edges preferred. There they bury their proboscis in tasty flesh and inject their digestive mix. If this sounds awful, it is! After dissolving part of a person, they suck up the juices —another lovely image.

The aftermath is worse, leaving you itching for several days with a reaction to mite saliva. If you have never met a chigger, you cannot understand the lengths one will go to avoid being lunch for those almost invisible creatures. Bug sprays on socks, sulfur powder, clothes soaked in DEET (rather death by poisons than the misery of itching and scratching for days on end), all are fair game for chigger avoidance. The wilderness demands toughness —or chemicals. Moving upward. You will want a long-sleeved shirt. Best if sun-and-bug-repellent coated, as well as water-resistant, and anti-microbial, so fellow birders are not offended by odors. Color? Beige or green, and the least flattering shades. Birds won’t smell you coming soaked in bug repellent. Most —excepting vultures have no sense of smell.

Next, a vest replete with pockets, homes for whatever didn’t fit in the pants. Pencil and notebook and at least one zippered pocket for money or keys. Who knows what you can tuck in one of the innumerable inner pockets —a several-course meal at the very least. A hat, again beige, or dull green; camo is mostly taboo, since it has been taken over by gun-toting non-birders. Large picture brim hats are verboten. Now you are properly attired and can proceed to hunt the feathered creatures. No longer do you hunt them as John James Audubon did, with shotgun or rifle. You go afield with ‘bins’ (binoculars) and spotting scopes.

Behavior is the way to identify fanatics. They are beyond the “committed” birders, defined as those who can identify forty different birds. They are unstoppable in pursuit of birds, perhaps obsessive-compulsive. They are the tickers. The movie, The Big Year, poignantly funny, was based on real people who were well-known in the birding community. Tickers need to count the different birds they see and tally them on their score card. The yearlong record was broken in 2016 when one person saw 783 species, dramatically surpassing the previous record of 749.

Scoring these rarities on the owner’s life list counts more than other sightings. Is it the thrill of the chase…perhaps the difficulty involved in spotting? Many people collect coins, stamps, porcelain, antiques, or tractors, if they live in Corrales. These are things occupying space, requiring dusting or maintaining in some way. Birders also collect —experiences and an assemblage that, while it grows, takes no dusting and no space other than bytes on a computer or words on paper. The goal is not just a number; this collection reminds us of our connection to the natural world, and the fragility of its ecosystems.

Birding is a way to observe creatures as they go about their lives. It is voyeurism of a sort, as we peer through binoculars to have a magnified look at their activities. We grab a snapshot of their world; a brief time when we glimpse their abilities. There is irony in that the number of birders is increasing while the number of birds is declining rapidly. The populations of many bird species have dropped by seventy percent or more based on data gathered for a century. This decrease is felt in ways people are not aware of. Birds play important roles in pest control, in pollination, and some are intimately entwined with the creation or propagation of forests. All will be missed if they disappear.

Do we only value things as they become rarer?


By Meredith Hughes
Green chiles are roasting! And—-was it only last month that masks were tossed overboard? Remember? They are back, strongly suggested for indoor use in both Sandoval and Bernalillo counties. That Delta variant —remember “Delta is ready when you are”, from 1968 and 1984? ( Also back, ban on tossable plastic bags in stores.) But this pesky pandemic is no joke. Masks are required inside all APS schools, and Corrales municipal buildings. Positive local news? The redoing of Corrales Road is complete. Bye bye July’s go-to road, Loma Larga.

Do visit the websites of your favorite museums/galleries/organizations to check opening and closing times under the once again revised guidelines. Email event suggestions to Published the first issue of the month, What’s On? invites suggestions one week before the publication date.

• Entry to the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA) in Santa Fe is free the entire month of August thanks to a generous donation from Jeff Bezos’ ex, MacKenzie Scott, and her husband Dan Jewett. Experience this remarkable gallery at 108 Cathedral Place.

• The Santa Fe Indian Market is on, August 21 and 22, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. But, visitors must buy tickets online. This is a COVID-19 precaution, as numbers must be controlled, alas. Masking up is not confirmed, as the market will be outdoors. Check here for FAQ:
Go here for tickets: https://tickets.

• Art Exhibit NM Landscapes, is the current exhibit at Open Space. Artist Gwen Entz Peterson works predominantly with serigraphy (also known as silkscreen).  Since 1973, Peterson has worked on images great and small. The body of her work is predominantly contemporary landscape, but sometimes also is totally abstract. The exhibit runs through September 18. Open Space Visitor Center, 6500 Coors.

• Shakespeare in the Garden returns to the Santa Fe Botanical Garden, after a 2020 hiatus, with As You Like It. (The garden is open Thursday-Monday, 9 to 5 p.m.) Seats are available Thursday-Sunday through August 22. 715 Camino Lejo. Seating is limited so get your tickets at The performances begin at 6:45 p.m.

• Albuquerque Concert Band Summer Concert, August 11, 7 p.m. Free and easy! New Mexico Veterans Memorial Park, 1100 Louisiana.

• The 27th annual Santa Fe Wine Festival at Las Golondrinas, August 14 and 15, starting at noon each day. 334 Los Pinos Road, Santa Fe. Tickets: https://tickets.holdmyticket. com/tickets/376047

• Steven Michael Quezada’s Comedy Showcase, September 2, 7:30 p.m. at Tableau in the Hotel Albuquerque. Best known for his work in "Breaking Bad,” Quezada introduces stand-up comics from all over, once a month, as well as himself. Tickets are $25:

• Another World: The Transcendental Painting Group, on exhibit through September 26 at the Albuquerque Museum. Take a meditative stroll through this exhibition—the “group” came together in Taos in 1938, “to discuss and perpetuate an alternative to the social realism and homespun Americana that had been promoted by Regionalism and the Ash Can school.” While the artists involved kept working, Agnes Pelton having moved to California, the group itself disbanded after the Second World War. 2000 Mountain.

• Albuquerque Little Theatre has resumed live performances, through August 29. Its third production, Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park, runs August 19-29, Thursday- Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. 224 San Pasquale SW. Tickets: https://click4

• Ready, Set, Grow, via NMSU. August 18, 3 to 4 p.m. Planning for Fall Vegetables, with John Garlish. Register at

Did You Know?
It’s back, the longest running, biggest such event here, Albuquerque Home & Garden Show at Expo New Mexico—plants and garden plans, home improvement/decor, demos, artisans (?), food, and multiple promotions…hot tub sales! Masks likely will be encouraged. August 14, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. August 15, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. $5 admission, unless you are a child 12 and under. 265-3976.
Plus: Be sure to explore the colorful, clear, and completely new and revised website for Corrales Main Street. Brava and bravo to those involved.
In Corrales

• Corrales Arts Center is bursting with offerings this month. Into wine? Visit each of the four Corrales wineries, experience interviews of the owners by Jim Hammond, enjoy tastings. $75. And/or try “The World of Japanese Sumi-E Painting with George Leone,” Japanese ink painting, August 7,14 and 21, 9 a.m. to 4 the Community Center, 4324 Corrales Road. Fee is $50. Register at

• Village Council meeting, August 17, 6:30 p.m., still posted as via Zoom.

• Heidi’s Raspberry Farm has opened for U-Pick, but, it’s possible few spots will be available by this issue’s publication date… Still, people drop out, so there’s always hope. Saturdays, 9 a.m. Check 62xfhws3

• Planning and Zoning meeting, August 18, 6:30 p.m., still posted as via Zoom.

• Corrales Library Book Club, August 30, 2:30 p.m., “The Sparrow,” by Mary Doria Russell, a 1996 provocative sci fi and philosophy tale centered on a Jesuit priest exploring a new planet. Author series, August 31, 7 p.m., Paul and Carlos Meyer on their book “Under the Cottonwood Tree.” A full color Latinx children’s adventure graphic novel set in Algodones, New Mexico, illustrated by Margaret Hardy. Please contact Sandra Baldonado for Zoom event details.

• Music in Corrales is ready to sell you tickets to its 35th season, kicking off with the Bobby Shew Jazz Sextet, September 18, at 7 p.m. “Our current plan is to hold the first two concerts – September and October – in La Entrada Park, near the Corrales Community Library, then move into the Old San Ysidro Church in December.” To buy season tickets see To view the season’s offerings, see http://www.musicincor

• Corrales Growers’ Market. Weekly Sunday sessions in August, 9 to noon. August 8, 15, 22, 29. Wednesdays, also 9 to noon. August 11, 18, 25. Still no dogs allowed… no music, either.

• Village in the Village. Coffee hour, Fridays, 9 to 11 a.m. in person at Corrales Bistro. Reservations are required. Call 274-6206 or email corrales.viv Book Club, August 16, via Zoom, 3-4 p.m.“City of Thieves,” by David Benioff, set in Leningrad during WW2.


Dear Editor:
Just read the 24 July issue of Corrales Comment, and found it to be an especially good read, with articles that were not only interesting, but informative on issues of the day.
The climate change article was especially interesting to me, and let’s hope that the increasing prominence in the press will finally convince the public to get serious about it.
Thanks for the good work!
Paul Stokes

Dear Editor:
Because of preexisting medical conditions in my family, I have been, and continue to be, very cautious to avoid exposure to COVID and its variants.  I was recently referred to physical therapy due to some spinal problems.  During my evaluation, I answered the many questions of the therapist, then I asked her a question: are all the therapists here fully vaccinated?  I was quite surprised when the answer was “we don’t ask our employees if they are vaccinated.”  I was shocked. 
I followed up with Presbyterian Healthcare to find out if that was indeed their policy and the answer was yes and it’s not clear if patients are discouraged from asking.  I have had Pres Healthcare for many years, and never had a complaint with them before now. 
I find their policy to be outrageous.  I appreciate that we each have rights.  But physical therapy is not a procedure that can be done safely distanced and the sessions are not quick. Pres has put me in an untenable situation, and I find it to be unacceptable.  Pres is not taking account of their patients’ right to be treated in safety.  
I suggest that you ask questions of your healthcare providers. Take nothing for granted.
Sam Thompson


Terry Brown’s new book, A Vietnam Journal: Life at the End of the War, is illustrated with 40 pen and ink drawings and 75 photographs.The book recapping his service in Viet Nam was recently published by Sunstone Press in Santa Fe. “The original journal has been sitting on my closet shelf for 50 years and is now published,” the retired architect said.  Sunstone Press also published his previous book, Sketchbook on the World, illustrations from which were published in Corrales Comment.

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The new book is then-Lieutenant Brown’s recollections and depictions of the U.S. war effort in its closing years. From a base near Saigon, he flew almost daily to gather information about the conditions of roads, bridges, outposts and jungle clearing operations. It also tells of close calls with disaster and “the utter feeling of boredom while serving during the end of the war.”

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By Mary P. Davis
Historic Old San Ysidro church might not be standing today and the Corrales Historical Society might not exist if Ward Alan Minge hadn’t moved to Corrales nearly 70 years ago. Minge died this May at his home in Kansas and the well-deserved tributes to his accomplishments were many, but they rarely mentioned his crucial role in saving Corrales history and its landmark Old Church. He was better known for his home, Casa San Ysidro, with its outstanding collection of rare New Mexican artifacts and architectural elements, and for his role in founding New Mexico’s State Records and Archives. Saving Corrales history might not rank with those achievements, but for us in Corrales, it’s right up there at the top.

In the 1960s the Old Church was home to the Adobe Theater group that first leased the building from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in 1963 and presented plays there each summer during the succeeding years. The Adobe Theater was a vital part of Albuquerque’s theater scene, but the group had little extra money to put into renovating the building. They did what they could to make it function as a theater, sometimes at the expense of the historic character of the building. In 1964 Minge, concerned about the deterioration of the historic church just across Old Church Road from Casa San Ysidro, offered to buy it, an offer he repeated in 1967.

In 1973 Oscar Carter, the chair of the recently recreated Parks and Recreation Board (the Village had incorporated in 1971), asked Minge to form a non-profit historical society to be the recipient of the sale of the church. The Archdiocese of Santa Fe was concerned that the church be owned by a group that would respect its historic role as a house of worship and the interments under its floor. As a result, the Corrales Historical Society was officially formed in 1974; Minge was president and others on the board were Dulce Curtis, Helen Mattison, Lil Kellogg, Mrs. Van Deren Coke, and Alice Glover. Minge served as the society’s president for the first five years and continued on the board for several more, serving as president for another term in the mid-1980s. His early tenure as president was dedicated to raising money to buy and then renovate the building.

They needed $1,500 down and income to pay $2,000 yearly until the $9,500 purchase price was met. They met the initial sum primarily with payment from a movie company for the church’s use in the “burning” of the building for an episode in the TV series Nakia. They held numerous fundraisers —bake sales, musical programs, raffles, postcard sales— and researched the history of the church as well, interviewing old timers for memories of how the church looked earlier in the century. In 1976 the Village, with the full support of Mayor Barbara Tenorio Christianson and the Village Council, provided the rest of the purchase price and became the official owner of the property while the Historical Society was tasked with its management and renovation.

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The society could only work on the exterior of the building while it was being used by the Adobe Theater-repairing the roof and removing the cement plaster on the exterior walls and replastering them with adobe mud. Concerned with the church’s interior, Minge wrote a proposal in the early 1980s outlining what was needed for its renovation; he hoped that CHS could continue the work begun in 1981 when they had removed the 1920s tin ceiling. The society asked the Village to not allow the theater to use the church in the summer of 1982 to permit this work to be done, but the Village would not approve it, saying the contract with the Adobe Theater precluded any renovation work.

In these 1982 discussions with the Village, the Adobe Theater was given a five-year lease, extending its tenancy through the 1987 season. However, acrimony about the fate of the church continued and came to a head in late 1986 with the result that a mediation process was organized by the Village. Four contentious meetings with representatives of the theater, the society, and the Village were held in January and February 1987. Ward Alan Minge, Barbara Pijoan and Evelyn Losack represented the society. The outcome was that the summer of 1987 was the last Adobe Theater season in the Old Church.

A June 1, 1987 letter from CHS President Alan Minge to the Village outlined the renovation steps to be taken following the Adobe Theater’s last summer season. The work included installing heating, removing the theatre’s risers and expanded stage, refinishing the interior walls, and redoing the floor. Besides renovating the interior, CHS began construction of an annex to supply restrooms, a kitchen and storage to allow the church to be used for a greater number of functions. The annex was completed in 1988; that same year the annual mudding day was established.

Besides his work with the renovation of the church, Minge also researched and shared information about the history of Corrales. He was not the first Corrales resident to love and write about our history, but he was probably the most effective. The Village owes him a huge debt of gratitude for his successful campaign to save the church and to place her history at the center of the story of Corrales. Alan Minge died May 5, 2021. On November 28, 2021, Corrales Historical Society will present a tribute to his significant contributions to CHS and to the Village of Corrales.

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Five new canine candidates have joined the Peacock and Canada Goose for this year’s Pet Mayor election. Jewel, a Standard Poodle, owned by Elizabeth Gutierrez, is the first dog to enter the race. Jewel’s campaign slogan is “The world needs more love, belly rubs, and paws-itivity!” She wants to show the entire village that you can get things done with a little more love. The second dog is Skittle, a Labrador owned by Allison Coulombe. Skittle’s campaign slogan “She’s not just any Labrador, she’s a LOVE-a-dore!”

Odin is the next candidate, and is owned by Laura Arciniegas. He is a Great Pyrenees and a big lovable boy. Odin’s campaign slogan is “Sun’s out, tongue’s out, vote for me!” He’s laid back, but can really get things done when he wants to. His sheer size alone will command attention. Nessie is the fourth candidate, and she’s just a baby. She’s a Newfoundland puppy owned also by Laura Arciniegas. Nessie’s campaign slogan is, “Enough happy to go around.” She might be young now, but she will be a force to be reckoned with. The latest candidate, a three-month-old Lab puppy named Bliss, is already in training to become a service dog. Her campaign slogan is “Future Service Dog Will Serve Disabled. But Ready Now to Help Corrales.”

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Voting for the six candidates so far is already underway. You can cast your vote (money) online at, or at the Growers’ Market beginning August 1. As always, voting is $1 per vote, ($2 per vote online) and you can vote as often as you want, and with as much money as you want. Elections can be bought when it comes to our Pet Mayor! Voting boxes will also be placed at local businesses around the village. The Pet Mayor election is a fundraiser benefitting local organizations.

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Marijuana growing in Corrales for personal use and commercial production will come under new rules as a probable outcome at the August 17 Village Council meeting. Ordinance 21-06 is the proposed municipal law to bring the Village of Corrales into compliance with the State of New Mexico’s Cannabis Regulation Act that took effect July 1. Commercial production of marijuana, or cannabis, has been under way in Corrales for more than five years for use in medical treatments, as permitted by the N.M. Legislature’s passage of the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act. State permits to grow and sell medical marijuana have been issued in increasing numbers as the number of patients being treated with prescription cannabis has soared.

As widely predicted, the N.M. Legislature moved ahead to legalize recreational marijuana in early 2021; the governor signed the Cannabis Regulation Act in April 2021. Among the changes: local governments such as the Village of Corrales cannot set civil or criminal penalties for the possession or use of cannabis or products made with it. That state law also prevents the Village from prosecuting individuals who grow their own marijuana as long as the crop is limited to six plants per person or 12 plants per household without a permit or any other local regulation. State law opens up normal retail sales of recreational marijuana under certain restrictions beginning April 1, 2022. Corrales’ Ordinance 21-06 primarily addresses those restrictions for retail sales and where and how commercial growers can operate. Much of the debate here tracks earlier controversies about growing cannabis as “intensive agriculture” operations. Those earlier concerns focused on odors, night time light pollution and water use.

The preamble statements of the proposed ordinance capture residents’ concerns arising from Corrales’ most recent and lucrative cash crop. “Whereas, the Village of Corrales Comprehensive Land Use Plan (2009) currently addresses the growth of cannabis pursuant to medical marijuana grown under the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, and; Whereas, the State of New Mexico passed the Cannabis Regulation Act (CRA) in April of 2021, providing for the legal use of cannabis and cannabis products by all individuals over the age of 21, and; Whereas, the Village of Corrales anticipates an increased volume of cannabis-related activity within village limits pursuant to the CRA, and; Whereas, the Village Code provides criminal and civil penalties for cannabis production and use which conflict with the new State Statute and must be repealed, and; Whereas, New Mexico State Statute under §26-2C-12 directs that local jurisdictions may “adopt time, place and manner rules that do not conflict with the Cannabis Regulation Act or the Dee Johnson Clean Indoor Air Act [Chapter 24, Article 16 NMSA 1978], including rules that reasonably limit density of licenses and operating times consistent with neighborhood uses,” and;

Whereas, the Village finds it necessary to promulgate regulations which reasonably limit the outdoor production of cannabis and the manufacture of cannabis products to prevent nuisances such as noxious odors, and; Whereas, the Village finds that high-yield crop raising, often referred to as “intensive agriculture,” is a common practice with cannabis production and has potential adverse impacts, such as increased discharge of pollutants and light or odiferous nuisances, on the Village if not properly regulated; and, Whereas, as per Village Code Section 18-28 (a) “any use not classified as a permissive use or a use by review within a particular zone is hereby prohibited from that zone”.

“Now therefore be it ordained that the following amendments to the zoning ordinance shall be adopted to provide regulations for the growth, manufacture, and sale of cannabis and cannabis- derived products pursuant to the New Mexico Cannabis Regulation Act of the Village of Corrales Comprehensive Plan and the zoning ordinances, shall be amended and revised” to accommodate the recent changes in state law regarding cannabis production and sale. The ordinance adds new material related to nuisances, as follows.

Section 14-116. Environmental Nuisances. Added a new Section to the Nuisance Ordinance
A. Any owner or occupant planting or allowing to grow weeds and noxious vegetable growth on the owner's or occupant's lot or parcel of ground, or on the sidewalks and lawn-strips or land areas abutting such lot or parcel of ground. This shall not include any activity reasonably related to a permissive agricultural use as established in 18-33 through 18-38. Agricultural uses when reasonably conducted pursuant to common agricultural practices shall not constitute a Nuisance. An agricultural use negligently or illegally performed may constitute a Nuisance.
B. All unnecessary or unauthorized noises and annoying vibrations, including animal noise, excepting those reasonably related to permissive uses under 18-33 through 18-38.
C. All disagreeable or obnoxious odors and stenches, as well as the conditions, substances or other causes which give rise to the emission or generation of such odors and stenches, except those reasonably related to permissive uses under 18-33 through 18-38.
D. The intentional application or unintentional drifting of pesticides, herbicides, other biocides, fertilizers, or other chemicals onto neighboring property.
Section 18-29. Definitions. Amended as follows:
Greenhouse means a completely enclosed structure whose structural members are made of pre-formed, rigid construction materials. Greenhouse also means an accessory structure, with transparent or translucent roof and/or wall panels intended for the raising of plants or crops.
Integrated cannabis microbusiness shall have the same definition as set forth in Section 26-2C-2(GG) of the Cannabis Regulation Act.
Intensive agriculture means any agricultural activities, including those conducted in greenhouses, which involve raising crops on a land-intensive basis and includes activities which require heightened utilization of pesticides, concentrated fertilizers, and water usage from irrigation.
Section 18-33. - A-1 - Agricultural and rural residential zone.
The following regulations shall apply to the A-1 - Agricultural and rural residential zone:
(1) Purpose and intent. The purpose of this zone is to maintain a rural and open space character of lands within the Village with low density residential and agricultural development.
(2) Permissive uses. Any of the following permissive uses are allowed in the A-1 zone:
a. One single-family dwelling unit per lot (permit required, see Section 18-45(a)).
b. One single-family manufactured house per lot (permit required, see Section 18-45(a)).
c. One single-family mobile home dwelling unit per lot (permit required, see Section 18-45(a)).
d. Raising crops; provided, however, that the cultivation, intentional growth, manufacture and distribution of cannabis and cannabis-derived products, except for personal production of cannabis, are prohibited in the A-1 zone.
d. Agricultural uses, including the planting, growing and harvesting of crops for consumption, provided that any cannabis-related agriculture is conducted in compliance with the Cannabis Regulation Act and other applicable state law, and:
1. Any diseased, dead, or dying agricultural products be disposed of promptly and appropriately,
2. Agricultural activities reasonably conducted pursuant to common agricultural practices on the property do not create a nuisance as set forth in Sections 14-71 through 14-116.
3. Greenhouses greater than 120 square feet require evidence of State engineer's approval of the well and water usage for the quantity and type of crop(s) to be raised.
(7) Setback requirements. Front setbacks shall be no less than twenty-five (25) feet. Other setbacks shall be no less than ten (10) feet, except in the case of intensive agriculture, in which all setbacks shall be no less than twenty-five (25) feet.

d. Agricultural uses, including the planting, growing and harvesting of crops for consumption, provided that any cannabis-related agriculture is conducted in compliance with the Cannabis Regulation Act and other applicable state law, and:
1. Any diseased, dead, or dying agricultural products be disposed of promptly and appropriately,
2. Agricultural activities reasonably conducted pursuant to common agricultural practices on the property do not create a nuisance as set forth in Sections 14-71 through 14-116.
3. Greenhouses greater than 120 square feet require evidence of State engineer's approval of the well and water usage for the quantity and type of crop(s) to be raised.
Section 18-35. - H - Historical area zone.
The following regulations shall apply to the H - Historical area zone:
(1) Purpose and intent. The H zone preserves and promotes the educational, cultural and general welfare of the public through preservation and protection of the traditional architectural character of historic Corrales.
(2) Permissive uses. Any of the following permissive uses are allowed in the H zone:
a. One single-family dwelling unit per lot (permit required, see Section 18-45(a)).
b. Agricultural uses; provided, however, that the cultivation, intentional growth, manufacture and distribution of cannabis and cannabis-derived products, except for personal production of cannabis as permitted by the Cannabis Regulation Act, is prohibited in the H zone.
Section 18-37. - C - Neighborhood commercial zone.
The following regulations shall apply in the C - Neighborhood commercial zone:
(1) Purpose and intent. To provide for the development of local business, commercial and personal service activities within the Village, two areas exist:
a. The Corrales Road Commercial Area (CRCA) and
b. The Neighborhood Commercial and Office District (NCOD).
All proposed development shall be integrated with existing, adjoining land uses and shall be compatible with the existing character of the surrounding area.
(2) Lot dimensions and location.
a. For the CRCA:
1. All lots shall be contiguous to Corrales Road having frontage on Corrales Road;
2. All lots shall be located on the east side of Corrales Road between East Meadowlark Lane on the south and Wagner Lane on the north, and on the west side of Corrales Road between West Meadowlark Lane on the south and Old Church Road on the north; and shall also include the lots south of and immediately adjacent to Meadowlark Lane on each side of Corrales Road
3. The depth of commercial zoning shall be limited to 350 feet from Corrales Road on each side, measured perpendicular to the right-of-way. No variance shall be allowed from this provision;
4. For any lot or portion of a lot zoned commercial prior to the date of the enactment of the ordinance from which this article derives, the maximum depth east and west of Corrales Road shall be the limits of the existing commercially zoned boundaries of the lot.
b. For the NCOD, all lots shall be totally within the Neighborhood Commercial and Office District as defined in the Far Northwest Sector Plan Addendum to the Northwest Sector Plan, Ordinance No. 342, dated February 12, 2002, as amended.
c. For other properties with C zoning designation granted prior to adoption of this ordinance, the maximum lot dimension shall be the limits of the existing commercially zoned boundaries of the lot. 

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(3) Permissive uses. The following permissive uses shall be allowed in this zone upon the approval of a site development plan by the Commission:
a. One single-family dwelling unit per lot (permit required, see Section 18-45(a)).
b. One single-family manufactured house per lot (permit required, see Section 18-45(a)).
c. One single-family mobile home dwelling unit per lot (permit required, see Section 18-45(a))
d. Raising crops. Agricultural uses, including the planting, growing and harvesting of crops for consumption, provided that any cannabis-related agriculture is conducted in compliance with the Cannabis Regulation Act and other applicable state law, and:
1. Any diseased, dead, or dying agricultural products be disposed of promptly and appropriately,
2. Agricultural activities reasonably conducted pursuant to common agricultural practices on the property do not create a nuisance as set forth in Sections 14-71 through 14-116.
3. Greenhouses greater than 120 square feet require evidence of State engineer's approval of the well and water usage for the quantity and type of crop(s) to be raised.

[The ordinance adds “Cannabis retailers” to the list of permissive uses in ther Neighborhood Commercial, C-zone, areas among some of the others listed.
1. Antiques.
2. Bicycle shops.
3. Books.
4. Cannabis retailers.
4. 5. Clothing.
5. 6. Flowers and plants.
6. 7. Furniture.
7. 8. Gifts.
8. 9. Jewelry.
9. 10. Livestock field, tack and accessories.
11. Pet shops.
12. Rugs.
13. Sporting goods stores.

(4) Uses by review. The following uses are allowed in the C zone district only upon the approval of a site development plan by the Commission:
a. Group homes having a maximum capacity and occupancy of no more than eight (8) patients or residents residing on the premises.
b. The applicant must provide a traffic engineering analysis showing to the satisfaction of the Village Engineer that the operation as proposed will not adversely affect the public safety either because of increased traffic or on street parking.
c. Supervised outpatient treatment facility:
1. A supervised outpatient treatment facility shall provide counseling and rehabilitative therapies for patients who do not reside on the premises.
2. At the time of application for approval as a Use by Review, the owner must demonstrate compliance with all State of New Mexico licensures for the counseling and/or therapies to be provided on the premises of the supervised outpatient treatment facility.
3. A supervised outpatient treatment facility may not be located closer than 300 feet to an educational or recreational use (nearest lot boundary) primarily serving children.
d. Cannabis manufacturing or cannabis-derived product manufacturing. Applicant must provide all requirements as set forth in Subsection 18-45(d) pursuant to Special Use Permits within the Village of Corrales.
e. Cannabis consumption areas. Applicant must provide all requirements as set forth in Subsection 18- 45(d) pursuant to Special Use Permits within the Village and be located on the same premises as a licensed cannabis retailer in a standalone building, unless otherwise permitted in accordance with the Cannabis Regulation Act. No smoking shall be permitted outdoors.
Section 18-45 shall be amended to create a new subsection, (h), providing for permit procedures pursuant to cannabis related activity.
(h) Cannabis-related activities, approval and permit required.
For purposes of this section, all measurements for the purpose of determining the location of a cannabis retail establishment, cannabis consumption area, or cannabis courier in relation to schools or daycare centers shall be the shortest direct line measurement between the actual limits of the real property of the school or daycare center and the actual limits of the real property of the proposed cannabis establishment, cannabis consumption area, or cannabis courier.

(1) No person(s) or entity shall engage in the production, manufacture, or sale of cannabis or cannabis products cannabis permit issued by the Village of Corrales, permitting the specific cannabis-related activity or activities sought to be permitted on the premises. Cannabis permits are issued to the applicant(s) and are not assignable or transferable. Compliance with this section does not alleviate the applicant(s) from requiring approval from the Planning Administrator for all other applicable sections of 18-45.

(2) Application and fee. Anyone wishing to conduct cannabis-related activity must submit a completed application. The application shall be returned to the Administrator accompanied by the appropriate application fee for the use(s) to be permitted, and must show, at a minimum:
(a) the cannabis-related activity or activities are appropriately licensed by the State Regulation and Licensing Department pursuant to the Cannabis Regulation Act.
(b) the cannabis retailer, cannabis consumption area, or cannabis courier facility to be permitted may not be located within 300 feet of a school or daycare center in existence at the time a permit was sought.
(c) the cannabis retailer and cannabis consumption area seeking a permit may not be located within 200 feet of another cannabis retailer or cannabis consumption area in existence at the time a permit was sought.
(d) a floorplan, including all greenhouse(s) proposed for the growth of cannabis and any accessory structure(s) located on the premises.
(e) valid proof of identity of the person(s) seeking the permit, indicating they are at least 21 years of age.
(f) proof of ownership or legal occupancy of the premises to be permitted, including an affidavit from the owner of the property that the applicant has permission to conduct cannabis- related activity on the premises if the property is not owned by the applicant.
(g) a valid New Mexico gross receipts tax number
(h) the name, mailing address, email address, and contact phone numbers (including 24- hour emergency contact numbers) of the owner of the property for which the permit will be issued.
(i) The name, mailing address, email address, and contact phone numbers (including 24- hour emergency contact numbers) of the applicant, if different than the owner of the property. (j) all other legal requirements as provided for according to the regulations set forth by
the Regulation and Licensing Division pertaining to cannabis and cannabis-related activity

(3) Compliance with 18-45(a) and 18-45(b) required. Any cannabis establishment seeking to construct or occupy a building or structure requiring a site development plan pursuant to 18-45(a)-(b) of the Village Code must provide documentation of Site Plan approval at the time of permit application.
(a) Greenhouses or other structures incidental to the production of cannabis or cannabis- derived products shall be equipped with an activated carbon HVAC filtration system sized to effectively abate odor emissions.
(b) Applicants must provide a valid permit from the Office of the State Engineer at the time of application certifying access to water rights sufficient to conduct the activity or activities for which the Village permit is sought.
Section 24-23 shall be repealed in its entirety:
Controlled substance: [possession of marijuana prohibited]; less and than eight ounces
(a)It is unlawful for any person, while in the Village of Corrales, to intentionally possess a controlled substance, unless the substance was obtained pursuant to a valid prescription or order of a licensed medical professional while acting in the course of his/her professional practice or except as otherwise authorized by the Controlled Substance Act, NMSA 1978, Chapter 30, Article 31 Sections 1 through 42 (b)Any person who violates this section with respect to:(1)More than two ounces but up to and including eight ounces of marijuana is, for the first offense, guilty of a petty misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not less than fifty dollars ($50) or more than one hundred dollars ($100) and imprisonment for not more than fifteen days and for the second and subsequent offenses, guilty of a petty misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100) or more than five hundred dollars ($500) or by imprisonment for not more than ninety days, or both.(2)More than eight ounces of marijuana is guilty of a petty misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100) or more than five hundred dollars ($500), or by imprisonment of not more than ninety (90) days, or both.(c)Exceptions. The foregoing provisions do not apply to conduct which is declared to be lawful under Section 26-2B-4 of the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, nor to the cultivation or testing of hemp and hemp products as allowed by applicable law.” In a sense, Village officials have anticipated the changes now being implemented for more than five years. In 2017, the Village invited state regulators to explain what lay ahead. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXVI No.17 November 11, 2017 “Marijuana Farm Rules.”)

Back then, well before legalizing marijuana, the controvesy was over medical marijuana cultivation and sale and what kind of ordinance should be enacted to regulate it. Three officials from the N.M. Department of Health addressed a council-P&Z work-study session October 24, 2017. A month earlier the Village Council passed a 90-day moratorium on new applications from medical cannabis growers. The resulting law did not intend to ban marijuana for medical use outright, but would indicate what areas of the community might be appropriate for that use. Most emphasis was setting industry “best practices” for growing and processing marijuana without creating nuisances or disturbances for residents. At the work-study session, the Health Department’s (DOH) public information officer, Kenny Vigil clarified that the agency’s rules did not require any particular height for perimeter fences around cannabis sites, nor that the plants must be grown indoors. “We approved an outdoor grow earlier this year,” Vigil said in 2017. At that time, a total of 14,500 licensed marijuana plants were being grown around the state. The product was sold at 60 authorized dispensaries. Between 200 and 600 applications were received every day, he reported. New Mexico then had approximately 49,000 medical cannabis users, about half of whom were registered as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

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About 50 people turned out July 19 for presentations by the Corrales Fire Department on how to prepare to evacuate animals in emergencies. During two hours, Fire Chief Anthony Martinez and Battalion Commander Tanya Lattin stressed the need for each owner of large animals to prepare a thorough plan that includes a central meeting place, trailers, medications and communications. Neighbors, relatives and other animal owners should be informed of such evacuation plans, they pointed out, in case an emergency arises while the owner is away from Corrales.

Villagers were encouraged to sign up for a volunteer list so emergency officials can organize horse trailer task forces in the event that large animals need to be moved quickly. All were urged to sign up for Sandoval County Code Red, an emergency notification system. Visit for Sandoval County.

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The class held at the Sandia Christian School gym was organized by the Corrales Equestrian Advisory Commission and Corrales Horse and Mule People, CHAMP, in response to recent wildfires in California and flooding in western Europe.

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Plans are nearly complete for a new, full-size, multi-purpose gymnasium at the Corrales Recreation Center that may be built next year. Corrales voters approved issuance of municipal bonds for it two years ago, but early estimates put the cost at around $5 million for all that was desired. The existing gym went up in 1998 only about a quarter of the size of a regulation high school facility. Even then, funding was tight; it could not have been done without contributions from both Sandoval and Bernalillo County governments. (The south end of Corrales was within Bernalillo County back then.) The new gym would be built between the old gym (which would become an exercise and weight room, along with lockers) and the TopForm Arena. It would not encroach at all on the riding arena, but would extend about 25 feet into what is now the west athletic field.

“The design is pretty much on its way,” Parks and Recreation Director Lynn Siverts said, “so we’ll be ready to go when we get the bond money, which I think will be next February.” Siverts said he was told construction costs may come down next spring, but they are extraordinarily high right now. So available funds may go farther than seems likely at this stage. He was told the project will take about a year to complete once underway. Village Administrator Ron Curry said August 2 that $4 million worth of municipal bonds were approved at the last Village election, of which $2.5 million was earmarked for the gym. (See Corrales Comment Vol. XXXVIII No.4 April 6, 2019 “How Will Villagers’ GO Bond Money Be Used?”) Other funds for the project presumably be drawn from other sources. Siverts and the firm designing the new gym anticipate at least $2.5 million can be used from the GO bonds to be issued.

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Corrales’ Brian Kilcup, president of FacilityBuild, the Albuquerque firm designing the gym and related features, said July 26 that he has been told the Village will have $2.5 million to work with. “I’m told they have the money for phase one, about $2.5 million.” As currently discussed, a phase two might cost another $2 million for meeting rooms. It would be between the old gym, the new gym and the pool house, “tying it all together with a beautiful exterior, facade and walkways.” Kilcup said he was not aware that funding has been found for phase two.

Siverts said the new gym would be “full high school-size, so we’ll be able to do real volleyball in there and several pickle ball courts, and for the basketball leagues, you won’t be sitting or leaning against the wall to watch.” The new gym will have movable bleechers for spectators. Another big selling point is that the new gym would be available for a wide variety of community events, including voting at election times. The Parks & Rec director said a survey conducted by the Parks and Recreation Commission revealed citizens gave a high priority to building a new gym. The old gym is clearly too small for the more than 200 participants in youth basketball, he said, in addition to the popular over-40 basketball program. “And when we had soccer meetings, we had tons of people in there.”

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A protected species of bird, rare in Corrales, was shot and killed recently, which has local bird-lovers demanding a crackdown on discharging guns in the Bosque Preserve. In mid-July, a Mississippi Kite, a medium-sized raptor, was found killed by gunshot near the preserve. The dead bird was taken to Corrales’ Mikal Deese, wild bird rehabilitator and director of On a Wing and a Prayer, who is preserving it and x-rays as evidence for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigators. “The plumage reveals that this bird was in its second year. No doubt it had been hatched and raised here, migrated to South America with its parents, and then flew all the way back to Corrales this spring,” Deese told Village officials July 26. “Mississippi Kites are rare here, but have established a small breeding population in the Corrales Bosque.”

Deese said the Mississippi Kite is protected by the U.S. Migratory Bird Act, so the killing was reported to federal and state wildlife officials. Corrales ornithologist Janet Ruth has been studying the birds nesting here for several years. “One of the birds I watch for daily in the spring here in Corrales is the Mississippi Kite. It is a raptor in the Accipitridae family (related to hawks and eagles). They are medium-sized raptors.… “I am always amazed at the distances these birds travel twice a year. Mississippi Kites winter in South America, as far south as Argentina and Paraguay. Their breeding distribution in North America is primarily the southern half of the United States, mostly the southeastern U.S., the southern Great Plains, and north along the Mississippi River.”

Ruth said the bird is seen in the arid Southwest, but is limited to riparian areas (in New Mexico predominantly the Río Grande and the lower Pecos River). “Like many raptors, it has experienced historical population fluctuations due to shooting, egg-collecting and habitat change (especially deforestation). Thanks to the efforts of conservation groups, informed citizens and legislation protecting them, much of the loss of raptors to shooting and egg-collecting is a thing of the past. “Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, it’s illegal to shoot a raptor. Raptor populations have again expanded across the U.S., even into areas where they had not been seen before. In fact, Mississippi Kites were not recorded in New Mexico before 1955 and Jim Findley (2013) noted that his first record for Corrales was in 1966. Since then, they have become uncommon but regular summer breeders in Corrales. “Given that the shooting of raptors by uninformed citizens is generally a tragedy of the past, I was stunned to hear that a Mississippi Kite was shot in the Corrales area. I cannot imagine what reason someone could have for shooting such a beautiful and harmless (even helpful) bird.

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“Besides, it’s also illegal to discharge a firearm anywhere within Corrales Village limits (Section 24-11 in the Code of Ordinances). “I want you to know something about this lovely bird that graces our trees and skies for about five months every year. From the data I gathered to write The Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Corrales (2020) Mississippi Kites arrive in early May and leave for the south in mid-September. There are usually a couple pairs nesting in the Corrales area, some in trees by the river and some as far west as the Loma Larga acequia. Most of the following information is from the Birds of North America account. By the time the kites arrive here, they have usually already formed a pair bond with a mate. Males present females with prey as presents during their mating displays.

“They build their nests out of branches and twigs and line them with leaves; sometimes they refurbish a previous nest or build another in the same tree. Although we’ve never spotted the actual nest, we have been watching a pair of Mississippi Kites that frequent an area along Loma Larga for almost a decade. They usually lay two eggs; incubation lasts for 30 days; nestlings stay in the nest for 30 more days and then fledge (leave the nest) at the age of 30-35 days. But they are hesitant to fly much until they are about 50 days old and the parents continue to feed them until they are 60 days old. That suggests that when that Mississippi Kite was shot here in Corrales somewhere about mid-July, there were one or two nestlings or fledglings and a mate left without a second parent to support them during this crucial growing time.

“These amazingly acrobatic birds can capture prey while they (and their prey) are flying and they can pluck prey from the leaves and branches of trees and shrubs. The majority of their diet is many kinds of insects, especially cicadas, grasshoppers, dragonflies and beetles; they will also take vertebrates like lizards, frogs, toads and bats. Again, I say, why would someone shoot a bird with that diet? Watch for them soaring when the sun has heated up the air —graceful with pointed wings— or perched on a dead branch in a tall tree. Listen for their high-pitched whistle. Their heads and underparts are light gray; their backs and flight feathers are dark gray to almost black. Because of their dark backs, their heads can look almost white. Their tails are uniformly black and squared off; adult eyes are scarlet and the beak and area around the eye is black, giving it almost a masked appearance. The young birds can look quite different. Their underparts are streaked brown, rufous and gray; their upperparts are dull black and they have 2-3 white bands on their tails. They do not reach adult plumage until fall of their second year.”

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Volunteers are needed for next month’s return of the Corrales Harvest Festival. As in recent years, the festival will be organized and managed by the Kiwanis Club of Corrales which announced August 2 that a “complete return to normal” is planned for the event Saturday and Sunday, September 25 and 26. But volunteers are still needed for at least a dozen functions, including the Pet Parade, hay ride tractor drivers and the hootenanny dance. Sign up to volunteer at the club’s website, volunteer, where you can register for one or more shifts.

“The food trucks for the food courts are lined up, the Kids’ Korner will have a climbing wall, bounce houses and el Toro Loco,” Kiwanis Club President-elect Deb Dapson said. “The musicians are booked, artists and craftspersons have registered to show their work; the Old Church and Casa San Ysidro have a ton of fun and informative activities planned.”

New this year will be a second parade, following the Pet Parade, which will celebrate the Village of Corrales’ 50th anniversary as an incorporated municipality. 

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Dapson said volunteers are needed for the following
• Admissions, selling wristbands and providing information
• Merchandise, selling T-shirts
• Wagon masters to manage the haywagon stops;
• The Pet Parade, mainly to keep the parade moving safely;
• Traffic control, mainly directing vehicles on Corrales Road;
• Parking, directing vehicles to parking spaces;
• Food Courts, keeping them clean and attractive;
• Kids’ Korner, protecting children and helping them have fun;
• Tractor drivers, who need to be experienced, as well as tractors and trailers;
• Hay wagon conductors, to assist riders getting on and off, to answer questions and point out attractions at each stop; and
• Hootenanny, with various activities including clean-up.
“Volunteering for the Corrales Harvest Festival is one of my favorite things to do, with all the people, the fun activities. The hay wagons!” Dapson enthused. “I love being part of the fall festivities. It starts the season for me.”

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First in a series
Long term, a changing climate in the already arid Southwest likely will send less mountain snowmelt and monsoon rain down the Rio Grande to Corrales. Warnings already have been issued about a drying riverbed along this stretch of the Middle Rio Grande Valley with obvious implications for fish and vegetation here. Less obvious are implications for the wells from which Corraleños draw water for their homes. Water authorities are working on a plan for the next 50 years that is scheduled for release next year. Will changing conditions require re-negotiation of the 1938 interstate treaty, the Rio Grande Compact, that requires New Mexico to send river water to Texas?

For millennia, flows in the Rio  Grande have recharged aquifers, including those from which your home’s water is drawn.
When that recharge is diminished, the upper water table is expected to drop. What is the effect, over time, on deeper aquifers? Infrequently, Corrales Comment checks in with well drillers who serve this area to ask whether water levels below are steady or receding. Usually the answers are reassuring: despite a major increase in pumping at homes and businesses —such as Intel, farmers and brewers— aquifers from which most Corraleños draw are in good shape —for now.

By Scott Manning
To better understand the challenges posed by climate change to water resources in New Mexico, the Interstate Stream Commission is conducting a 50-Year Plan that assesses the impacts of climate change. It aims at determining the resiliency of New Mexico communities to these changes, and proposes adaptation strategies, where needed.
Development of the 50-Year Water Plan will occur in four phases. Phase 1 of the plan began in January 2021 and ended by March 1. This phase involved assessing the process itself with the New Mexico Water Dialogue, coordinating experts with the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources (NMBGMR), and building consensus on approaches to the plan.

Phase 2, referred to as “The Leap Ahead Analysis,” began on March 1 and ended on June 30. The purpose of the analysis was for experts, led by the bureau, to compile scientific information about the impact of climate change on New Mexico communities and water supplies. The plan is currently in Phase 3, the outreach and assessment phase, where the Interstate Stream Commission intends to host meetings with citizens of New Mexico to explain the findings of the “Leap Ahead Analysis,” and to interview citizens to determine the degree of resilience New Mexico communities have to the challenges posed by climate change. Other partners in the effort, the US Army Corps of Engineers, the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute, and the State Indian Affairs Department, will all play a role. This phase will continue through January 2022.
During Phase 4 of the plan, scheduled for spring 2022, the ISC and collaborating authorities will produce, review and finalize a 50-Year Water Plan that will contain guidelines for preparing for climate change, adopting efficient water usage strategies, and improving water resiliency throughout the state. The Bureau of Geology and the Interstate Stream Commission shared summary-level scientific results from the “Leap Ahead Analysis” during their first outreach meeting on July 21.

The water shortages in New Mexico are driven by both a multi-decade climate cycle and a warming climate. In the coming half-century, the bureau reported the average temperature in New Mexico is expected to increase by 5-7 degrees Fahrenheit. Even so, average precipitation is expected to stay relatively constant.
But the warmer climate will accelerate processes such as evaporation and transpiration that remove water from the ecosystem and environment. Therefore, a hotter climate, even with constant levels f precipitation, will further strain New Mexico’s water supplies. And the hotter climate will impact the environment in other ways as well. A warmer climate will stress vegetation and allow fires to proliferate, thereby reducing plant cover in New Mexico biomes.

This biome damage makes the environment less resilient to erosion and flooding, meaning that storms will cause greater environmental damage. The damage could disrupt normal drainage systems and damage water infrastructure, further straining water resources. Water quality will decrease as well, the study indicates, with the increase of water temperature and potential growth of bacteria in water supplies.
This climate change analysis demonstrates the need for the state to continue to assess its vulnerabilities to climate change. The ongoing drought in the state causes short-term water shortages that strain farmers and New Mexico residents. But water concerns are unlikely to go away as New Mexico becomes hotter and dryer in the coming decades.

In the face of a serious drought throughout New Mexico, officials at the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD), the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission and the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA) are taking steps to conserve water and to conduct studies about the impact of climate change on the future water supply in the state. Interstate Stream Commission Director Rolf Schmidt-Petersen explained that New Mexico is currently enduring a second year of water shortage caused by severe drought. In 2020, poor mountain snowpack and reduced runoff water created a severe drought situation. The issue was then compounded by a poor monsoon season last year.

These water shortages have created problems for New Mexico’s water-sharing agreements with neighboring states. One such agreement, the Rio Grande Compact, was signed by New Mexico, Texas and Colorado in 1938; it sets out the water-sharing promises between the three states. The agreement operates through water delivery debits and credits in which states are held responsible for delivering the correct amount of water “payments” to other states. Colorado is expected to deliver water to New Mexico, and New Mexico is expected to discharge water to Elephant Butte reservoir and from there, deliver water to southern New Mexico and Texas. Currently, New Mexico is in compliance with its delivery requirements up to an “accrued debit” of 200,000 acre-feet of water.

The 2020 drought was severe enough to warrant the release of stored Rio Grande Compact debit water from the El Vado Reservoir to supplement Rio Grande flows. New Mexico is required to retain water in storage to the extent of its accrued debit in deliveries to Elephant Butte Reservoir, and it may not store any Rio Grande water when Elephant Butte storage is low. Schmidt-Petersen explained that the water shortages last summer developed rapidly and that without releasing the debit water, the Rio Grande would have dried up at Albuquerque and farmers would have struggled through the rest of the irrigation season.z

Water officials hoped that the depleted water stores and severe drought situation last summer would be resolved over the year with modifications in MRGCD operations, a strong fall rainy period, and better snowpack in 2021. Although the MRGCD made the intended modifications to its operations, the rest of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 continued to be dry, leading to further water supply concerns this summer. That problem was compounded by reduced avalability of water from the San Juan-Chama River system which also has decreased in recent years.

New Mexico began 2020 with a water debit of 40,000 acre-feet, meaning the state was meeting its water-sharing obligations but that 40,000 acre-feet of Rio Grande water would need to be stored upstream before any water could be stored for later release to the middle valley. But the severe drought last summer and subsequent debit water release yielded an increased water debit for 2021 of 96,000 acre-feet.
No snowmelt runoff was stored in New Mexico during the 2020-2021 winter because Elephant Butte remained low, New Mexico had a 96,000 acre-foot accrued debit, and the 2021 snowmelt runoff was poor. This meant that New Mexico began summer 2021 in a drought with little water storage. Schmidt-Peterson said New Mexico has not experienced this degree of water deficit since the early 1980s. This makes the recent drought unprecedented in terms of modern New Mexico water policy.

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Despite that, there has been little discussion of revising the water-sharing terms in the Rio Grande Compact. In general, water shortages lead to litigation over the terms of preexisting interstate compacts, not the adoption of new water agreements. Schmidt-Petersen suggests that such litigation is the more common negotiation strategy because renegotiation is difficult: the current Rio Grande Compact was adopted into state law by New Mexico, Colorado and Texas before also becoming federal law. This long legislative process makes it unlikely that water agreements can be completely reworked and replaced in times of water shortages because different parties will disagree about the terms of the renegotiation.

The Rio Grande Compact has three cases of litigation in its history. First in the 1950s, Texas pursued legal action against New Mexico over the operations of El Vado Reservoir. Then in 1966, New Mexico and Texas took legal action against Colorado contending that the state had not adhered to its water-sharing agreements. The third case began in 2014 when Texas filed a lawsuit against New Mexico, claiming that New Mexico had misused the water released from Elephant Butte that was supposed to be delivered to Texas.

Instead of revising the Rio Grande Compact, agencies like the ISC, MRGCD, and ABCWUA currently implement strategies to protect farmers from droughts, reduce water usage among New Mexico residents and within the river system, improve water deliveries to Elephant Butte, and protect endangered species and the environment that depend on the water supply. Last fall, the MRGCD and ISC notified farmers of the ongoing drought crisis and advised that farmers in the Middle Rio Grande District refrain from farming this year. These early notifications provided farmers with time to plan their 2021 growing season accordingly.

According to Corrales’ Mike Hamman, chief executive and engineer for the Conservancy District, the MRGCD has also implemented an annual program in which farmers can choose to leave fields unseeded in exchange for a payment during drought years. He said this program has been used to leave 1,000 acres of farmland fallowed. More generally, the MRGCD is applying for grants to fund improvement to water infrastructure throughout the district to improve water efficiency. And the MRGCD has helped fund the Upper Rio Grande Basin Study that aims to address the impacts of climate change on water resources.

Carlos Bustos, the program manager for water conservation at the ABCWUA, affirms that his agency is also doing its part to mitigate the risks of water shortages in the Albuquerque area.
Given the current drought, Albuquerque residents are no longer using surface water to meet the water needs of the metropolitan area. Instead, the City of Albuquerque is drawing on water in the aquifer to meet its citizens’ needs. Bustos explains that water usage per capita in the region is below the water target set by ABCWUA, meaning that Albuquerque residents are using the groundwater resources responsibly.

This responsible water usage means that the ABCWUA has not observed reductions to the aquifer greater than their models predicted.
This good news, however, does not mean that water conservation efforts cannot be further improved. According to Bustos, the authority has adopted strategies to further reduce water consumption in Bernalillo County. The program focuses on community outreach and education about water usage in the community. It conducts frequent outreach to the top 5-10 percent of residential water users in the city and encourages these residents to cut back usage.

Bustos pointed out that the authority provides free consultations and 40-50 audits each week to help residents become more water efficient. It also provides an online educational training course that informs residents about ways to cut back on their water usage. The course includes lessons on how residents can repair and re-landscape their yards to be more efficient. The class has had more than 600 participants to date, and the ABCWUA records that the residents who have attended, indeed have cut back their water usage. When these outreach efforts fail to reduce water usage, the authority may issue warnings and fines. Bustos explains that the ABCWUA tries to avoid these punitive actions and restrictive measures by promoting education as much as possible.

The authority has also entered water-sharing agreements with the MRGCD in the past in which stored water is released in the Albuquerque region to extend the irrigation season for farmers. Bustos says that more of these agreements may be implemented in the future to supplement the region’s water vulnerabilities. The ABCWUA continues to consider new programs that encourage water conservation in Bernalillo County. In the short term, Bustos is hopeful that the rest of the year can be endured without further restrictions. But water authorities fear that New Mexico will experience ongoing water concerns in the long term due to climate change.

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Intense rainfall here in late July seemed to have broken a drought through which most of the Southwest had suffered in recent years. But with those monsoon downpours came flood damage here, some of it unusual. While most of the stormwater damage Friday July 23 hit properties below the escarpment, especially between Camino Arco Iris and West Meadowlark Lane, erosion of the ditchbank along the Corrales Interior Drain was largely unexpected. Rain and stormwater flooding threatened Casa San Ysidro Museu, leading to its closure August 3. “Thanks to the professiional work of the Albuquerque Museum collections management team, historical objects, furniture and other collection items were moved, and are safe and secure, while repairs are being made,” museum officials said. “We are assessing what steps need to come next before we are able to reopen to the public.”

Yet other flood-prone neighborhoods fared better than in previous heavy rains due to long-sought drainage improvements. Among those were areas below Intel’s east property line following major drainage upgrades along its paved Skyview Trail and within the Salce Basin watershed along Sagebrush Drive and nearby neighborhoods. “The hardest hit areas are from Mission Valley south to Meadowlark lane,” Corrales Public Works Director Mike Chavez told Corrales Comment. “When we get from two to three inches of rain in half an hour, the ground has no time to absorb the water and run-off will occur.” Chavez said that was the reason the Interior Drain ditch bank eroded in an unusual manner near its intersection with Rincon Road. Typically that doesn’t happen much in the valley bottomlands east of Corrales Road. “What a storm we had last Friday afternoon!” Mayor Jo Anne Roake posted on the Village website. “Many villagers noted the quick response by Public Works, Fire and Police Departments as they worked to remove mud and earth from the roads.”

Results of the intense downpour should motivate homeowners here to clear out and maintain stormwater ponding sites on their property, she advised. “It’s time for the citizens of the village to inspect the retention ponding on their properties, especially if you live west of Loma Larga on a sloped lot… but know that anywhere in the village is subject to flooding.” the Village warned on its website. “Because the Village of Corrales has no storm sewers, on-site stormwater reetention is the method we use to help reduce that flood risk.” No official data is available for the intensity of rains in Corrales over the weekend of July 23, but clearly the amount and duration of rains were exceptional. The storm also brought torrents of hail higher up in the sandhills. The late Ernest Alary kept meticulous records of precipitation on his farm at the north end of the valley, but Corrales Comment is not aware of anyone here currently collecting that data.

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Monsoon rains are expected to continue through this month and next; Corraleños may recall that some of the village’s most intense storms have come in August and September. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXII, No.15 September 21, 2013 “Raging Stormwater in Jones Channel Threatens.”) After the weekend rains July 23-25 and subsequent storms, about nine percent of New Mexico still was considered in “exceptional drought,” an improvement from 21 percent the week before and 53 percent as the summer began. Although Public Works Director Chavez’s suggestion that Corrales may have gotten two to three inches of rain in a half-hour span has not been corroborated, it would not be improbable.

Chuck Thomas, executive director of the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority (SSCAFCA), reported that an August 22, 2018 storm had “measured peak rainfall intensities in excess of .33 inches in five minutes, or close to four inches per hour.” That 2018 storm lasted a little less than three hours, although most of the rain fell in the first hour. (See Corrales Comment Vol. XXXVII No.11 August 11, 2018 “Monsoons Dump Tons of Silt.”) Cumulative rainfall measured in SSCAFCA’s gauges from July 1 to August 3, 2018 reached 3.73 inches in a station near Southern and Unser in Rio Rancho. Another gauge at Northern and Rainbow indicated 3.03 inches had fallen.

A SSCAFCA gauge at the north end of the Corrales Valley measured a cumulative 2.22 inches during that same period. Corrales homeowners experienced minor wash-outs along driveways and roadways in steeper terrain. As silt-laden stormwater drained from the areas west of Loma Larga, quantities of sediment were deposited at points such as Camino Arco Iris and Loma Larga as well as West Ella. A homeowner on Ashley Lane measured one and a quarter inches of rain in 2o minutes. A neighbor’s rain gauge showed two inches in 90 minutes which produced run-off that flowed into a home there.

In the past, concerns over intemse storms focused on water pouring through the Harvey Jones Channel in the Montoyas Arroyo which drains a good portion of Rio Rancho. Since the channel was built in the early 1990s, the biggest danger was at the Corrales Road bridge over the channel. Analysis by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers demonstrated conclusively that the two box culverts under the bridge were too small to convey rushing stormwater pouring down from Rio Rancho. A series of corrective actions were finally taken in 2015-16 which seem to have resolved those risks. (See Corrales Comment Vol. XXXV No.8 June 11, 2016 “Corrales Arroyo Project  Hailed as Model for Southwest.”)

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