Glasgow, Scotland November 2021
High anxiety accompanied planning for a trip to Scotland for the United Nations climate conference, but not for fear of catching COVID-19 at what had all the makings of a coronavirus super-spreader event.
Rather, it was doubt that my COVID test results would be reported back from the lab in time to be allowed on the trans-Atlantic flight.
Testing protocol demanded that I do the nasal swab for a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test no earlier than 72 hours before the flight, so there was a narrow window to get a negative result back. What if I tested positive for the coronavirus, or the report was a false positive? Or inconclusive? Or if the test report came in a half-hour after take-off?
With very little in the world seeming to function these days —from internet service and macro-economics to my trusty ballpoint pen and my troubled office supply store— I had little faith that my COVID test result would come back in time.
Twenty-four hours passed with no report. Forty-eight, and still no result. Would I be making the trip or not? It had been planned for at least six months, but a modicum of inefficiency at the last moment could crash everything.
Growing desperate, I put my packing aside to head out in search of the quicker but less persuasive antigen test even though it probably would not be accepted by the airline when I checked in. A Walgreens pharmacist in Rio Rancho said what I was looking for was the BinaxNow kit… but they were sold out and did not expect more for some time.
With little hope, I tried the CVS Pharmacy across the street. Success! So the night before my flight, I rushed home to take the self-test, and while I was opening the package, my cell phone buzzed. Results for the original PCR were in and negative. I resumed packing, remembering to include those results.
Enormous relief… not that I was COVID-free but that the results had flown in through that narrow window.
Finally onboard and in the air, headed from Dallas to London, I was surprised to find I had a row of seats all to myself, so I had mininal concerns about breathing coronavirus from fellow passengers.
Further COVID protocols in the United Kingdom required that I take another test before heading to Glasgow’s Scottish Event Centre where the UN meeting, COP-26, was getting under way. A welcome packet distributed by the UN secretariat to accredited news media included a Brisish version of the BinaxNow test… which had to be self-administered and reported via internet every day before admission to the conference center’s “Blue Zone” reserved for national government delegations, news media and invited or approved guests such as Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Al Gore.
What if I had caught COVID on the plane, or in an airport, or in one of the long lines just trying to show a test result, or waiting to go through tight security? If positive, I was supposed to quarantine for 10 days, basically the remainder of COP-26.
On the second day in Glasgow, I was required to self-administer another PCR test and find a way to get it to a lab where it would be analyzed. Again, a narrow window to get the test to a lab and get results back in time to be admitted to the Blue Zone. But again, it worked, just barely.
So every morning for the next 10 days, I swabbed my nostrils, dipped the results in a chemical and waited for results to show before emailing the proof that I was coronavirus free. At the first of several security gates outside the conference center, I had to call up that day’s antigen test results on my cell phone to show a guard.
And so it went day after day, before mingling with tens of thousands of people from all over the world, including those from countries where public health safeguards were rudimentary and even grossly inadequate.
Face masks were required everywhere, except when participants were eating, of course. Long lines prevailed at the mostly cafeteria-style eateries inside the conference center. People sat nearly cheek-to-jowl, to have meals in vast dining areas where no one enforced social distancing, and members of national delegations typically clustered maskless to compare notes or devise negotiating strategies.
To my knowledge, no one attending COP-26 came down with COVID, but I’m not sure that would have been widely publicized if it had happened.
As I prepared to leave Glasgow and return to Corrales, one last COVID-related anxiety lay ahead. I had to take another PCR test no earlier than 72 hours before the flight home.
But nothing had been arranged by the UN secretariat to accommodate that required testing, and no guidance was provided at the conference’s information desks. Finally I was told a pre-departure test could be given at an office just outside the event center’s main entrance. That turned out not to be true: a security guard there notified me the site was for people who suspected they might have come down with COVID. I left quickly.
A Google search eventually led to an unlikely storefront in the center of Glasgow where massages and other bodywork were carried out. Still, a reassuring attendant said I had come to the right place. After a short wait, he led me and two other people downstairs to a more clinical setting.
After payment of a steep fee and submitting to an inside-the-cheek swab, I was assured that test results would be emailed to me in time to catch the flight home. Again, just in the nick of time, a negative result did come in.
After a grueling journey home followed by persistent jet lag, I continued to test negative for COVID-19 over the next two weeks.
By Steve Komadina
Where To Next?
As November draws to a close and the holidays will whisk December aside in a flurry, we ask what is next for our little horse world of Corrales. As many of us age we are amazed at the speed with which each day and week and month slides by.
Wasn’t it just yesterday we were worrying about Y2K?
Just as every day seems the same in Corrales, it has many subtle and not so subtle changes taking place continually. I often wonder what the village will be like when my great-grandchildren live here as parents. That granddaughter who rode her pony at the farm in the 90s is now the mother of two children! The circle of life continues with the gold in the cotton woods and the return of the sandhill cranes and geese each year. The river rises and falls with the whim of El Niño and raptors look for their lunch along the bosque.
An intriguing question is whether the land is stronger than the people in Corrales?
How long would it take nature to retake the village were we to disappear? When would all evidence of our existence be gone?
Most are aware that there was a bustling civilization in our village prior to the “discovery” by Coronado. Pot sherds can still be found as reminders when fields are turned, or a new foundation dug. What would be left in 100, 200, 500, 1,000 years if we all were wiped out by biological warfare agents?
I see patients daily recovering from COVID. Last week, a doctor I had employed to join me February 1, died of COVID after a mild disease of a few days. Mark was healthy, vaccinated, young, and with no co-morbidities. What is this crazy virus?
I am given to much reflection as to the nature of our “civilization.”
I have traveled the world and visited many ancient sites and have wondered who they were and what caused them to disappear. Tiahuanaco in Bolivia, primitive cave art in Torres del Paine in the Chilean Patagonia, Egypt, Turkey, the Temples of India and Nepal, Central American ruins, Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, the home of australopithecine, and even our own Chaco Canyon.
Are we on the brink of another mass kill off of the human race? Will Corrales have a future beyond the memory of my offspring?
Lots of weighty questions for the end of the year.
I do know that man is the most dangerous of the animals and to be feared the most. The evils of government are testified in history. Time for each of us to reflect on how we can do our small part to make the world and Corrales a wonderful place to live and even die.
Here is my prayer for each to have a joyous December and then resolve to not let the governments of the world destroy us in 2022.
By Meredith Hughes
Anticipating rummaging through the bins of free pine branches removed from Christmas trees at Lowes! (The mantle is empty.) And, Ace Hardware began playing Christmas carols before Thanksgiving, but now, okay, anything goes.
Do visit the websites of your favorite museums, galleries and organizations to check opening times and any new regulations. Published the first issue of the month, What’s On? invites suggestions one week before the publication date. firstname.lastname@example.org
Did You Know?
COVID protocols have deeply affected Music in Corrales, which announced it has “significantly limited ticket sales to allow audience members to distance themselves from each other. Ticket sales for all indoor concerts are currently suspended.” This new plan begins with the December 11 performance by Crys Matthews, blues singer/songwriter, at 7:30 p.m., and runs through the last concert of the season with NOVA Guitar Duo, scheduled for April 23.
President Lance Osier posted that “If at some point we can safely increase the seating, we will re-open ticket sales, so please check back periodically for availability.”
“Proof of full vaccination against Covid, or proof of a negative Covid test within 72 hours prior to the concert will be required for admission. And masks must be worn at all times while within the Old Church.
“If you have purchased tickets to any Music in Corrales concert scheduled for the Old Church and cannot comply with these requirements, please notify us at email@example.com and we will refund the cost of your tickets.”
The Village seeks to improve the viewing experience on Corrales Road by implementing a fence/wall restriction. Proponents cite to Los Ranchos as a model. But, setting a height restriction was only a part of Los Ranchos’ solution to traffic and beautification.
First they took over control of Rio Rancho Boulevard from the State and reduced the speed limit to 25 miles per hour for its entire length. Then they had strict enforcement. This got rid of the folks who used that road for rush hour. Even though the lower speed limit did not significantly increase the time to get to work, it acted as a psychological barrier to many drivers (plus all the tickets people got).
Next they put in three stop sign intersections.This effectively broke up the long chains of cars preventing residents from getting onto or crossing over Rio Grande.These stops created gaps in the traffic allowing for safe egress, and again it discouraged those who simply wanted a quick route to work.
Then they had their height restriction on fences to encourage the scenic pleasure of driving in that village.
Today, Corrales Road is clogged with cars, after cars after cars during the rush hours in particular. They are not from here. Our village populaion hardly grew since the 2010 census. They are from Rio Rancho seeking a better way to and from work.They are not stopping to shop. There is such a crush it is hard for anyone to enter, slow down or park to view or visit our businesses.
So I suggest taking over the road. Setting the speed limit at 25 mph for the entire length. Insure a traffic enforcement every day at least for one or the other rush hours including some blitzes with multiple police cars. At least for a year. (That will also allow the Village police to stop, ticket and redirect over-five-ton trucks which constantly travel through the village, often as a shortcut to the Sandoval County land fill).
Next put in three-way stop signs at Camino Todos Los Santos and Corrales Road. This will allow people to have an exit from and onto Loma Larga at Corrales Road, which is now hazardous, difficult and discouraging. This will allow Loma Larga as intended to be the handy bypass around the village center.
Next put in another three-way stop at Target Road next to the elementary school. This will not only make it safer but also slow traffic and create gaps allowing people to stop and shop. Next put in another three-way stop at the corner of Jones Road and Corrales Road allowing safer turning into and from our recreation center.
Do not put a four-way stop at West Meadowlark and Corrales Road.
During rush hour, commuters speed as much as 70 mph on this straight road to and from Rio Rancho. They do not stop to shop. It is just a speeders delight on their way to and from work. These speeders are a serious danger for man and beast. Already this year an endangered great horned owl was killed by a speeder on lower West Meadowlark. These were recently introduced and now their few examples is one less. Rather, since the police cannot both enforce Corrales Road and Meadowlark all the time, put in a speed camera with ticketing like Rio Rancho does.
Many folks would be happy to allow it on their property off to the side of the road. Without enforcement on West Meadowlark, the improvements on Corrales Road will just create a new mess and danger on West Meadowlark. Remember, Meadowlark is designated a bike route with no room for a bike lane. Kids use it to and from school. Addressing all the problems at once will be the smart solution to an ever increasing problem.
A recent letter to the editor prompted me to write. Rather than respond directly and thus add fuel to an untenable situation, I suggest that any resident interested in the development and improvement of the village take a good look at the opportunities available to participate in the decision-making processes.
The Village is celebrating its 50th birthday. Over that time many good people have served the community, some elected to represent the interests of the community in developing the rules and laws in the master plan, municipal code, and ordinances. Others have volunteered to participate in various boards and commissions to assist in the smooth running of the village, such as the Library Board, the Bosque Commission and Planning and Zoning Commission, and, keep in mind, these folks are not paid for their service.
Still others have created non-profit groups to protect and promote this little village, again, with no thought of being compensated for their service.
Finally, there is a small support staff who, while paid for their service, are nevertheless dedicated to the village, and doing the best they can to facilitate the smooth running of day-to-day operations and emergency services. I am certainly not the only person who has given their time, talents and treasures to this village, but I am proud to have served in a variety of capacities over the years.
Since the recent letter was specific to the Planning and Zoning Commission, it is important to note these folks are volunteers; they rely on the rules and laws of the Village as well as the interpretations of the various attorneys who have served the Village. Sometimes they interpret things incorrectly albeit with the best of intentions.
These volunteers do the best they can with the information available to them at the time. When I served on the P&Z Commission, I was surprised to learn that the Village rarely grants waivers, but in reality, a waiver granted for a particular proposal is a sure way to document why a change was made contrary to an ordinance.
A new commissioner may propose an alternative during the open meeting without the full understanding of the process, which is why the more senior members may need to point out the rules, or the attorney or administrator will provide information to explain why an alternative isn’t an option. Commission terms are staggered for this reason. Then there is the issue of changing the rules. The council is responsible for making the rules, not the staff or the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Over the years, the Village has struggled with funding itself, yet there has been huge resistance to retail business in the village. New business ventures have popped up that require a review, such as the very popular Airbnb industry. Here is an example of having to create rules and ordinances, which initially created an opportunity to generate gross receipts on a small enterprise of renting an already existing bedroom in your own empty nest home.
Several residents were able to successfully apply for and receive a business license for this, but now the rules have changed, stalling potential income to the village. With an Airbnb, the density doesn’t change as those rooms already exist, so if it’s good enough for some, why is it not now available to others?
Unless you attend the council meetings or read the published documents on the website, you don’t know what goes into these decisions. Look at the variety of topics that never seem to get to a resolution, such as the consideration of casitas in the village, or retirement living for seniors who have spent their lives in service to the community and now can’t care for their large property but want to stay in the village?
I guess what I am saying is this: if you don’t like what you perceive is happening with the direction of the Village, contact your council person, have frank discussions on how to facilitate change. Attend council meetings and get to know all the council members and the mayor. Volunteer for one of the boards or commissions.
Or better yet, if you want to effect change, run for mayor or for one of the open council positions. These are the people who develop and uphold the rules and laws that govern the community. Districts 1, 3 and 4 are open for the upcoming election as is the mayor’s seat.
To Corrales Village Council:
We, the undersigned, are leadership members of a grassroots political organization (Sandoval County Indivisible) that started in Corrales and now represents all of Sandoval County. All of the undersigned live in Corrales. Although none of us have strong personal opinions about cannabis cultivation in Corrales, nor do we have any financial interest in cannabis, we did all support the passing of the existing state law legalizing recreational cannabis production and consumption in New Mexico.
We are writing to you because we are currently concerned that a vocal minority of Corrales residents, for a variety of reasons, is trying to push the Village Council to do something that it does not have the legal authority to do, and that in doing so the council may be putting the Village and its citizens in jeopardy to pay monetary damages in the future.
Our understanding is that some people in the village are lobbying to have very extensive regulations of cannabis cultivation, and they essentially want the Village government to ban commercial cannabis cultivation in the village. Some people are clearly very worked up about this, and a petition is being passed around.
We have personally talked to a number of village residents and attorneys about this, including our State Representative, Daymon Ely, and we are convinced that, though the Village can write a legal ordinance regulating the cultivation of cannabis around the topics of time, place, and manner of the work of cultivation, the Village cannot ban commercial cannabis, and under state law it must be treated like any other agricultural product (alfalfa, green chile, squash, etc.).
Some of our fellow citizens do not seem to like that answer and want the Village to defy state law, but that is a fool’s game. We have been told by people we trust that if Corrales pursues this regulatory effort, the Village will likely get sued, will likely lose, and will likely be on the hook for not insubstantial monetary damages.
As usual, when the political outrage machine gets worked up, truth and facts often go out the window. If one thinks that cannabis is an “evil” product, then any justification to ban it is legitimate, even if the stated justification is hyperbole or an outright lie. Some examples: cannabis cultivation is an “ultra” consumer of water. Somehow we don’t ever hear that accusation thrown around to pecan farmers who use almost one gallon of water to produce one pecan. On the contrary, between five and 50 doses of marijuana can be cultivated using one gallon of water.
Then there is the issue of the smell, and cannabis certainly has a “skunky” odor at times during processing (and which, by the way, can and should be regulated and controlled). That said, we don’t talk about banning horses in Corrales, but we sure hear a lot of our neighbors and friends complaining about the smell of manure and the flies that come with having horses living next to you. We also don’t talk about ridding our Village of actual skunks which are quite prevalent and certainly pungent.
For the reasons above, we, the undersigned do not support the petition drive to ban or strictly regulate cannabis cultivation in the Village.
Bert Coxe in Council District 4
Gary Sims in Council District 1
Terry Eisenbart in Council District 3
Nandini Kuehn in Council District 6
By Bert Coxe
Sneaky Shenanigans in Sandoval County
One of my core beliefs is that bad things happen when nobody is looking.
Right now bad things are about to happen in Sandoval County, the fourth largest county in New Mexico. While the rest of us are worried about COVID, Thanksgiving, Build Back Better, and redistricting at the state and national level, the Sandoval County Commission is trying to work quietly and without fanfare to gerrymander the county’s commission districts for a permanent Republican majority.
Sandoval County is generally assumed by politicos to be “purple.” In the 2020 presidential election, 55 percent went for Joe Biden, but more often votes are closer to a 50-50 split between Republicans and Democrats. The current County Commission is divided between three Republican and two Democratic commissioners.
Districts 1 and 5 tend Democratic. Districts 3 and 4 are usually solidly Republican. District 2 has been a swing district in the past, although in the past two election cycles it has been won by the Trump enthusiast and current Republican candidate for governor, Jay Block. Until last week, I had never given a thought to redistricting county commission districts. I am pretty sure that 99+ percent of Americans are in the same boat.
Then someone pointed out to me what was going on in the commission. The Sandoval Commission had hired a “demographic consulting company” run/owned by former GOP State Senator Rod Adair, to come up with potential plans to redistrict the county. The core strategy behind Adair’s plans is to “pack” all Democratic voters into two districts and Republican voters into the other three. He does this by ignoring many of the rules that govern redistricting: keeping districts geographically compact, minimizing the number of split political subdivisions, preserving the cores of previous districts and protecting and taking into account the concerns of like-minded communities within whole districts without splitting them between districts.
His main strategy is to tear the Village of Corrales, whole or in part, out of the very compact District 2 and attach it to Placitas, across the Rio Grande, 20 miles away. His other strategy is to “pack” the widely-dispersed Native American population (seven Indian pueblos and all or portions of six tribal entities/lands) into one giant district over 3,000 square miles in area.
Adair claims he did this to protect the voting power of “Indians” (his words.) Somehow he forgot to ask any of the Native American communities what they actually wanted and whether this proposal was acceptable to the majority of them. (Judging by the Native turnout at last night’s meeting, it is not.) Finally, he massacres the small town of Bernalillo and divides it into as many as three different commission districts.
Apparently the commission, especially Chairman David Heil, thought it could sneak this through without anybody looking. The plans were set to be presented at the Sandoval County Commission meeting on November 18, but when Chairman Heil found out that local Democratic, Native American, other grassroots groups, and individual concerned citizens were planning on attending the meeting, he sent out a hyperbolic plea to local Republicans to fight back, tarring Commissioner Kathy Bruch in the process.
Per the email sent out to Sandoval Republicans, “The Bruch plan is being presented as the fair plan however only a far left Democrat could be so delusional that they can think the plan is fair to anyone but themselves.” By the way, there is no “Bruch plan”. There was another plan, presented by a local citizen, Isaac Chavez, that followed all of the redistricting principles and that Commissioner Bruch had nothing to do with.
In last night’s meeting, Chairman Heil spent 15 minutes cross-examining Chavez like Johnny Cochran defending O.J. Simpson. Although no voting has yet happened, it is apparent that the Republican commissioners (David Heil, Jay Block and Michael Meek) are resolved to ram through these egregious gerrymanders. Commissioner Block’s statement at the end of the meeting’s public comment period was “elections have consequences,” which I interpreted to mean, “we really don’t give a hoot what all of you whiners have to say… we are doing it our way.”
By Steve Gutierrez
Cannabis ventures in Corrales
Once again, Corrales finds itself in the middle of furious activity related to the cannabis industry. Why is Corrales such a target for growers? Primarily, because we are mostly zoned A-1 and A-2 (as opposed to most communities being R-1), which are not protected by the NM Cannabis Regulation Act. In recent weeks, about a dozen applicants have approached the village to provide them with approval to grow in Corrales, which until recently was protected against this activity by Ordinance 18-002. I was previously involved with an attempt for a cannabis operation to setup next to my home and with the help of others and the Village Council a carefully worded ordinance 18-002 was presented and approved in 2018 which disallowed the growth of cannabis in our residential areas (A-1, A-2, H-1). However, with the large influx of applicants for recreational growth of cannabis, and the threat that ordinance 18-002 violated the Cannabis Regulation Act, the administration and council, likely out of fear of being sued, hastily passed an amendment to the existing ordinance eliminating the protections against the growth of Cannabis in our residential areas.
In a recent publication of the Corrales Comment, the administration was spinning their actions to better protect the village. I found this disingenuous as further action is only necessary because they recently eliminated the protections offered by Ordinance 18-002. I presented to the administration and council the following information at a recent council meeting.
I have a close associate who has been heavily involved with the Cannabis Regulation Act and had them review ordinance 18-002 for compliance. Today, I want to share with you the results of their opinion and the provisions from the Regulation Act that highlight that the old 18-002 ordinance was in fact in compliance with the act. The following is their opinion, and I quote “The Village of Corrales has the authority to prohibit the production of cannabis in certain zones so long as there are other zoning categories in which the production of cannabis is allowed, which is what the Village did when it adopted Ordinance 18-002. Sec. 12 of the Act states that a local jurisdiction may “adopt time, place and manner rules that do not conflict with the Cannabis Regulation Act or the Dee Johnson Clean Indoor Air Act, including rules that reasonably limit density of licenses and operating time consistent with neighborhood uses.” The ordinance prevents the production of cannabis (and the sale of the cannabis produced on site) in certain areas of the Village; however, it expressly states that it does not “impose any new regulations or requirements relating to facilities in zones other than the A-1, A-2, and H zones of the Village, leaving any regulation related to cannabis and cannabis-derived products in those areas for future consideration.” I believe prohibiting the production in certain zoning categories is allowed by the act, so long as there are other zones where production is allowed. The act does state that a “local jurisdiction cannot completely prohibit the operation of a licensee.”
So, as specified in the ct, a local jurisdiction has many methods available to them to adopt rules governing the production of cannabis. They can restrict allowable locations, limit the density of licenses and/or operating times consistent with neighborhood uses. This gives local authorities a wide range of ways to be in compliance with the act.
I would request that the mayor and council approve the action to further amend Ordinance 18-002.
Time is becoming critical as the state law for recreational growth becomes active on January 2022. If the administration and council does not take further action before that date, there is no recourse to stop the issuance of permits to recreational growers of cannabis. We have attempted without success to get this topic before the council meeting to at least place a moratorium in place until this gets further resolved. Realistically, there is only one council meeting left available to us to get some protections in place for all residents of the village.
If we do nothing, with the current amendments in place, let me give you an example of how this could be exploited. The village has spent a significant amount of expense and effort in acquiring farmland to preserve the lifestyle of Corrales. However, everyone one of those preserved properties could now be used for the intensive activity of cannabis growth. So, instead of having preserved lands from housing developments, we now will have greenhouses larger than any home that could have ever been built, operating night and day. So instead of driving through Corrales viewing large open protected areas, we instead will have row upon row of greenhouses while driving down our streets all of them easily visible day and night with their hot air balloon-like glow associated with their 24-hour lighting requirements.
Lastly, when the previous discussion came up on cannabis growth in the village, the state limited permits to 450 plants per license and the report I presented was based upon that level of production. Today, that number has increased nearly 10-fold to 4,000 plants. The operations potentially arriving here are ten times more intensive and, in my view, should be viewed more as industrial farming activities and governed as such. There is huge money involved for growers and sellers of cannabis, and as such there is tremendous pressure being placed on communities like ours to force their way into our lives. I would strongly recommend that we take our time to carefully understand the requirements of the act, the impact it will have on the village and the people that live here. Know that we are not alone. Many communities throughout the state are equally being bombarded by strongly worded ultimatums by the cannabis industry. It would be in our best interest to take the time to understand how other communities are facing this pressure before hastily trying to accommodate this industry.
With some 12 applicants already in line for permits, this is no longer a possibility but a reality. If something is not done in the short term to protect our village from the amendments made to ordinance 18-002, we could soon find ourselves with large commercial-like activities taking place next to a significant number of homes within the village. Please contact the mayor and your Village Council representative to get this topic on the next council meeting for discussion and move forward on reinstating the protections enabled by ordinance 18-002.
By Fred Hashimoto
Let’s Approve the QOL Amendment
In 1975, I got a job in Albuquerque and moved to Corrales. Why? Quality of life. This includes: open and natural space, clear and clean air, stars at night, peace and quiet, I won’t bother neighbors and vice versa, water easily accessible and safety.
Since then, the population of the village has more than tripled with the large proportion of that increase being people who have moved here. Because relocating to Corrales is rather more expensive than to neighboring areas and very few have to live here, people (like me and probably you) who have moved here, have deliberately chosen to live here. Why? Quality of life (or QOL).
Six months ago, the State passed the Cannabis Regulation Act that threatens QOL in Corrales. The legislation legalizes recreational cannabis, which is a personal matter for people, but it, unfortunately and perhaps unwittingly, has adversely impacted Corrales by opening up residential neighborhoods here to invasion by commercial recreational cannabis producers.
Several years ago, commercial medical cannabis greenhouses suddenly appeared next to the Corrales del Norte subdivision. Currently, those greenhouses grow medical marijuana but, in several months, they might also be producing recreational cannabis too —really big profits there.
This has significantly affected the QOL of neighbors of that growing facility. A few of their comments are:
“We have experienced and lived with the nuisance of a pot facility, i.e. the odor that is so strong that there were many evenings this past summer when we could not spend time on our portal or sleep with our windows open —one of the beautiful elements of living in Corrales— the traffic on Camino de Corrales del Norte has increased dramatically since the pot farm was constructed a couple of years ago, i.e. employees, customers, partners, etc. There will be property value issues, crime will increase, roadside trash is already an issue. We were here first and no one has considered the effects of the pot facility on us.”
“We have again had to suffer the smell from Komadina’s pot facility located 350 yards from my house. It’s just not right. Apparently, there was a favorable Komadina wind the night of Starry Nights. If not for the wind those of you attending might have gotten to experience it.”
“The bad smell has been a killer for us every night for the past month as we are just one house away from the pot location. It was nauseating for us at night and we had to close the doors and windows. It is a shame that we cannot enjoy the wonderful cool nights of the fall because of the smelly odor.”
“We have been forced to endure obnoxious and offensive odors produced from the cannabis operations, a tremendous increase in traffic on our once quiet streets, a lack of police enforcement of residential speed limits in our neighborhood, accumulation of trash on our streets and properties, crime and other undesirable consequences of the cannabis operation.”
“We have been overlooked and abandoned by our council for long enough. It is time for you to pay attention to the residents that are paying the price for one family to prosper greatly. We invested in this neighborhood, and now our investment is suffering, and we can add violent crime to that long list!”
“Two of our neighbors have sold their homes because of the pot facility and/or the newly enacted and very permissive ordinance (21-06). What do you think all of this has done to our property values? Realtors, now, not only have disclosed the existence of the facility but also the crime. Probably nothing a potential buyer would want to hear. We have been seriously damaged financially and mentally. This is what our village government is supposed to protect us from.”
Commercial cannabis growing facilities are probably not going to pop up in every neighborhood, but for some, it will happen, and then what can you do? Grin and bear your loss of QOL and decrease in property values? That stinks, and more.
Large vacant lots aren’t required to house commercial cannabis growing structures. A moderate-sized, intensive commercial greenhouse of 6,000 square feet covers less than 1/6th of an acre, which fits easily in many backyards.
My very close friend’s industrial greenhouse in Colorado has been burglarized.
In 2018, the Village Council passed Ordinance 18-002, which banned commercial cannabis production, manufacturing and distribution in A-1 and A-2 zones, which comprise 97 percent of the village.
Sadly, our current Village ordinances, driven by the State Cannabis Regulation Act, allow the invasive, intensive cannabis growing structures and facilities in A-1 and A-2 zones. This is not conducive to maintaining the well-known Corrales QOL.
On December 14, some councilors will propose the publishing and posting of an amendment (the QOL Amendment) reinstituting the ban of commercially growing, manufacturing, distributing and selling cannabis in A-1 and A-2 zones. At its last meeting, the council unanimously passed a moratorium to delay action on commercial cannabis business licenses in the village for 95 days. This has allowed the re-introduction of the QOL Amendment. Time is of the essence here.
Please support the QOL Amendment, which helps protect our quality of life and property values and the Village wherein we live. Please sign the online or hard-copy petition —circulated by a non-partisan group of concerned citizens— supporting the QOL Amendment.
QOL is why we live here. Let’s keep that.
A tribute to the late historian and preservationist Ward Alan Minge was held at the Old Church Sunday, November 28. A plaque honoring his decades-long effort to save the Historic San Ysidro Church was revealed during the Corrales Historical Society program featuring talks by his neighbor, Michelle Frechette, and long-time society official Alice Glover. For many years, he and his wife, Shirley, lived in the old Gutierrez house they bought in 1953 across from the Old Church. While they devoted years to restoring the historic home and transforming it into what is now Casa San Ysidro Museum, they also worked tirelessly to preserve the Old Church.
They transferred ownership of the home and antique collection to the City of Albuquerque in 1997 for use as a branch of the Albuquerque Museum, and they collaborated with other villagers beginning in 1974 to buy the church from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. The Old Church is now owned by the Village of Corrales and managed by the Corrales Historical Society, for which Minge was a co-founder. He died at his Waterville, Kansas home May 6 of this year, having moved to his native Kansas in 1998. He was 97. Shirley Jolly Minge died in 2004.
For 30 years, Minge served as chief historian for Kirtland Air Force Base, chronicling the research activities of the Air Force Special Weapons Center and the Air Force Weapons Laboratory. He was also a contract historian for several Pueblo governments documenting their land and water rights claims.
Minge was co-founder and first director of the N.M. State Records Center and Archives in Santa Fe. He wrote the draft legislation creating the State’s 1959 Public Records Act that established the Records Center and Archives. He was honored with the State’s Distinguished Public Service Award in 1969.
By Scott Manning
How will increasing temperatures and a warming climate affect future water supplies in Corrales and other parts of New Mexico? Officials at the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD), the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) 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.
The director of the Interstate Stream Commission, Rolf Schmidt-Petersen, explained this summer that New Mexico is going through a second year of water shortage caused by severe drought. In 2020, poor snowpack and reduced runoff water created severe drought conditions. That was compounded by a poor monsoon season this year. These water shortages have created problems for New Mexico with its water-sharing agreements with neighboring states.
One such agreement, the Rio Grande Compact, was signed by New Mexico, Texas, and Colorado in 1938 and details 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 and 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 may not store any Rio Grande water when Elephant Butte storage is low. Schmidt-Petersen explained that the water shortages in summer 2020 developed rapidly and that, without releasing the debit water, the Rio Grande would have dried up through Albuquerque.
Water officials hoped that the depleted water stores and severe drought situation last summer would be resolved this 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. To make matters worse, the San Juan-Chama Rivers’ water supply 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.
So New Mexico began summer 2021 in a drought with little water storage. Schmidt-Peterson says that New Mexico has not experienced this kind of water scarcity since the early 1980s which makes the recent drought unprecedented in modern times.
Despite the recent droughts, there has been little discussion of revising the water sharing provisions 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 come under litigation in three cases during 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 because that 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.
The ISC plans to continue to navigate the Rio Grande Compact for the foreseeable future.
Instead of revising the Rio Grande Compact, agencies like the ISC, MRGCD and ABCWUA try to 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 available river water.
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. These early notifications provided farmers with time to plan their 2021 growing season accordingly.
According to MRGCD Chief Engineer Mike Hamman, a Corrales resident, the agency has implemented an annual fallowing program in which farmers can choose to fallow their land for a payment instead of planting during drought years; through this program 1,000 acres of farmland have been left fallow.
More generally, it was announced earlier this fall that the MRGCD has been awarded $2.9 million by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund improvement to water infrastructure throughout the district to improve water efficiency. The money will be spent on improvements to the district’s primary canals and laterals as well as for farms, including conservation easements.
Other efforts to confront climate change are also underway. 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 of water conservation at the ABCWUA, said the authority is doing its part to mitigate the risks of water shortages in the Albuquerque area.
Given the ongoing drought, Albuquerque residents are no longer using surface water to meet the water needs. Instead, the City of Albuquerque is drawing on water in the aquifer.
Bustos explained 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.
As a result, ABCWUA has not observed reductions to the aquifer greater than their models predicted.
Even so, water conservation efforts can be further improved. According to Bustos, the ABCWUA has adopted strategies to further reduce water consumption in Bernalillo County. The ABCWUA focuses its efforts on community outreach and education about water usage in the community.
First, the Authority does frequent outreach to the top 5-10 percent of residential water users in the city and encourages these residents to cut back their usage.
Second, the authority provides free consultations and 40-50 audits each week to help residents become more water efficient. Third, the authority 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 by this summer, and the ABCWUA records that the residents who have attended the class have cut down their water usage.
When these outreach efforts fail to reduce water usage by some residents, the ABCWUA may issue warnings and fines. Bustos explained that the authority tries to avoid these punitive actions and restrictive measures by promoting outreach and education as much as possible.
The authority has also previously entered water-sharing agreements with the MRGCD before 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.
In the short term, Bustos is hopeful that the rest of the year won’t see further restrictions. But water officials fear that New Mexico will experience ongoing water concerns in the long term due to climate change.
To better understand the challenges posed by climate change to water resources in New Mexico, the ISC is conducting a 50-year plan that assesses the impacts of climate change, determines the resiliency of New Mexico communities to these changes, and proposes adoption strategies, where needed.
There are four phases of the 50-Year Water Plan.
Phase 1 began in January 2021 and ended by March 1. This phase involved assessing the process with the New Mexico Water Dialogue, coordinating experts with the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources (NMBGMR), and building approaches to the plan.
Phase 2 of the plan, the “Leap Ahead Analysis,” began on March 1 and ended June 30. The purpose of the analysis was for experts led by the NMBGMR to compile scientific information about the impact of climate change on New Mexico communities and water supplies over the next 50 years.
The planning effort is now in Phase 3, the outreach and assessment phase, where the ISC 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.
The ISC’s other partners in the effort, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute, and the N.M. Indian Affairs Department, will 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 water shortages in New Mexico are driven by both a multi-decade climate cycle and a warming climate. In the coming half-century, the NMBGMR reported the average temperature in New Mexico is expected to increase by five to seven degrees Fahrenheit, while average precipitation is expected to stay relatively constant.
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 of precipitation, will further strain New Mexico’s water supplies.
But the hotter climate will impact the environment in further ways as well. A warmer climate will strain vegetation and allow fires to proliferate, thereby harming 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.
That damage could disrupt normal drainage systems and damage water infrastructure, further straining water resources. Water quality will decrease as well with the increase of water temperature and potential growth of bacteria in water supplies.
The 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 alike.
Water concerns are unlikely to go away as New Mexico becomes hotter and drier in the coming decades.
By Scott Manning
I attended the United Nations COP-26 with my editor, Jeff Radford. He has attended many United Nations conferences during his time as a journalist, and prior to COP-26 the last conference he coveered was the 2015 COP-21 in Paris. In contrast, this was my first United Nations event, and by attending I joined many young people getting involved in the climate crisis.
Climate change is a significant consideration for us. After all, my generation will be dealing with the consequences of climate change and working to develop solutions to the crisis throughout our lives. Yet my generation also shares similarities with older generations: young people have different degrees of engagement with the climate issue, and there are disagreements about what exactly should be done about it.
And although young people like Sweden’s Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate from Kenya are leading youth movements for climate justice around the world, not all young people are hopeful about the future. I know some of my peers are cynical about our prospects over the next few decades. So young people do not currently form a fully united front against climate change, but many young people are participating in the solution-building process.
I saw two main kinds of youth activism in Glasgow. First, young people attended the COP26 conference in large numbers. Jeff and I observed over the course of several days at the conference that the average age for an attendee was probably mid-thirties to early forties. This average age was driven down by significant youth participation. Young people attended the conference as observers, journalists and activists working at informational booths. Other young people were accompanied by their older counterparts —perhaps part of a mentoring relationship so that they could experience and participate in the United Nations process.
Second, young people marched and attended rallies throughout Glasgow and across the world. In this setting they marched to demand greater and more immediate action than what COP-26 was appearing to provide. The marches in Glasgow saw tens of thousands of people march for climate justice, demonstrating the tremendous commitment young people have to the climate cause.
Many young people are upset about the state of the climate, and they should be upset. This planet is our home, and we should be more mindful about how we live in our home. Some young people may be upset that the United Nations appears to approach such a serious challenge with, in the words of Greta Thunberg, a bunch of “blah, blah blah.”
From this perspective, the United Nations COP26 conference did not pursue the climate change with the action such a challenge requires. Instead, some young people see the UN conference as a political exercise in which politicians and business leaders come together to promise change without delivering on that promise.
A friend of mine at college pointed out that the UN does not have a robust mechanism to create enforceable, binding agreements that hold countries accountable. Instead, the UN operates through consensus building and pledges, and these pledges may be broken. For example, at COP-26 activists complained that developed countries had failed to uphold their agreement to provide billions in climate financing to developing countries to address climate change threats. This kind of broken promise undermines the capacity for the United Nations conferences to generate significant change.
Instead of attending the COP sessions, other young people engage in protests. Protests and marches are effective means of generating engagement with young people because these forums appear to speak in their understanding of enacting change through collaboration and people power. Yet here activists must still work to generate long-term political coalitions. This kind of engagement can be difficult for young people to pursue due to a lack of knowledge on how to get involved as well as a lack of available time.
In Glasgow, I, too, found the United Nations conference to have frustrating moments: speakers at the presidency presentations would give overly broad promises about reducing carbon emissions by 2035 without providing details; at some negotiation sessions representatives appeared to offer small edits and revisions instead of settling the major disagreements; and the conference was full of people calling on the creation of climate solutions, leaving one to wonder what solutions already exist and what steps we could take to implement these preexisting solutions today.
Yet despite these shortcomings, I think COP26 had important developments. In particular, the broad commitments made to end deforestation and to drastically reduce methane emissions were positive developments. And by the end of the conference, the United States and China agreed to work together on climate efforts.
So upon reflection, COP-26 was messy. But I think that this reflects the reality of the climate situation and the participation of young people in the climate crisis: such a large concern like climate change offers no easy solutions or conclusions, and young people will participate in the climate conversation with a wide diversity of perspectives and approaches.
Young people may care about climate change, but that care does not immediately precipitate clarity. I expect that we will continue to contend with the full consequences of climate change for some time to come. And eventually, solutions, decisions and plans of action will emerge.
As I left COP-26, I was filled with both hope and frustration. Frustration that the conference had not been more fruitful, but hope that actions would be taken. As Obama concluded in his remarks to young people in Glasgow, now the hard work begins.
The daughter of a founding member of the artist cooperative Corrales Bosque Gallery, Joan Findley-Perls, has recently joined the venture. She is a daughter of Tommie and Jim Findley. Her graphite drawings will be on display and for sale at the gallery for its “Small Treasures” exhibit.
The co-op began when 21 local artists committed to renting a store-front space in Mercado de Maya. Among the original organizers were Tommie Findley, Pat Smith, Pauline Eaton, Paula Hendriks, Jan Mikkelsen, Ron Moffatt, Vicki Nowark, Diana Stetson, Mariana Roumell-Gasteyer and Sheryl Brainerd.
Findley-Perls is the wife of former state legislator Bob Perls. Her artistic talent came to light publicly when she helped organize a family art exhibit at the Old Church which featured her mother’s work. (See Corrales Comment Vol. XXXV, No. 14, September 10, 2016 “Tommie Findley’s Fool-the-Eye Ceramics Delight.”)
The mystery continues as to what was inside the time capsule outside the Village Office, sealed away 25 years ago to mark the Village of Corrales’ 25th anniversary as an incorporated municipality. It’s now 50 years on, so the safe was to be opened to the amazement of onlookers and wellwishers, perhaps to be re-sealed with present-day items and mementos that would amaze folks in another 25 years, or 2046.
But it took the Fire Department’s mental-bending “jaws of life” to break into the safe after many tries to open it using the prominently posted and clearly legible combination for the lock. With perhaps 20 people looking on, Village officials tried twisting the combination dial as instructed: “right to zero, left to 20, right to 50, left to 96. Grasp handle and pull very hard.”
No matter who tried, nor how hard they pulled, the handle would not budge.
One of the onlookers made the suggestion that others surely thought: call in the Fire Department known for its success in prying open crumpled car doors to extricate injured accident victims.
A team arrived promptly and first tried to insert a wedge between the door and the safe frame. Hammering and wedging failed, so finally the jaws of life was put to work. Even then, opening the time capsule was not easy.
Finally the mangled door lay open and the contents exposed: basically a soggy mess. If the time capsule was meant to be air-tight, is certainly was not water-tight.
Virtually everything inside the safe was soaked, so that any attempt to lift any paper would have torn several. So Mayor Jo Anne Roake quickly decided the best course of action was to let it all dry out. She described the contents as “two very water-logged albums, a rusted beverage can and a VHS tape. It did not look good.”
The mayor said the items would be entrusted to archivist Ann Van Camp and Corrales Historical Society Archive Committee member Kitty Tynan who offered assurance that eventually some of the enclosed print material will be readable.
“This preservation project is ongoing and will be documented and made part of a Corrales Historical Society file memorializing the great effort put into assembling the time capsule 25 years ago,” Roake said in consolation.
Actually most of the time capsule contents have been known for 25 years since Corrales Comment reported on the project at the time. On July 4, 1997, villagers gathered to place the time capsule which was to be opened September 22, 2021. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXIV No.9 June 20, 2015 “Creepy, Crumbling Concrete Case Contains July 1997 Time Capsule.”)
Reported to be inside the safe were at least the following:
It is likely that most, if not all, of those items can be assembled again if the soaked items cannot be restored.
Thinking about running for office with village government? Want to be mayor? Councillor? December is the time of year when villagers —for a variety of reasons— beginning seriously considering a run for elective office. If you’re one of those, you’ll have to make up your mind soon. Tuesday, January 4 is candidate filing day for the municipal elections to be held in early March.
You can pick up a candidate packet at the Village Office to learn what’s involved. But if you can’t make up your mind —not actually a qualification for an elected official— or can’t get to the Village Office that day, you can run as a write-in candidate if you file the paperwork on January 11. New Village Clerk Melanie Romero will accept a declaration of candidacy between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on those days, January 4 and January 11.
Three seats on the six-member Village Council are available, now held by Kevin Lucero representing Council District 1 in northwestern Corrales; Mel Knight in District 3 in the central part of the village west of Corrales Road; and Tyson Parker representing District 4 for neighborhoods north and south of upper Meadowlark Lane. See the council district map published in this edition of the Comment, or at the Village of Corrales website, http://www.corrales -nm.org.
Terms are not expiring for the other three members of the Village Council: Bill Woldman in District 2; Zach Burkett in District 5; and Stu Murray in District 6. Their terms end in March 2024, as does that for Municipal Judge Michelle Frechette.
None of the incumbents has publicly stated whether he or she intends to seek re-election.
Although relatively new to the council, Parker’s term ends in March because he is filling out the term for former-Councillor Dave Dornburg, who resigned. Incidently, Dornburg had filled the term of John Alsobrook who also resigned, in 2016.
The municipal election will be held March 1. Early voting will start with the Village Clerk in the Village Office February 1, when requested absentee ballots will also go out.
Whoever is elected in March, major decisions likely will be needed for the following questions:
The Village of Corrales has been asked to conduct a “scientifically informed assessment of the fire risk” in the Bosque Preserve before approving a project that would remove much of the vegetation along the east side of the levee. The Audubon Society, which designated the Corrales Bosque Preserve as an “important bird area” in 2014, has weighed in on the proposal to eliminate vegetation along the east side of the levee in a November 9 letter to the mayor and Village Council.
The Central N.M. Audubon Society asked the Village to reconsider its preliminary approval for the proposal by the Corrales Fire Department and the N.M. Forestry Division that could begin before spring. The letter requested “reconsideration of the plans to clear trees along the Corrales Bosque levee detailed in the “Wildland/Urban Interface Hazardous Fuels Reduction” proposal. We find the proposal’s fire danger estimate of the vegetation along the levee to be unsupported scientifically and likely exaggerated.
“It is also our position that the habitat and ecological value of the trees targeted to be cleared, and the project area’s designation of this section of Corrales bosque as an Important Bird Area , has been underestimated.”
In the letter, the regional society raised many of the same issues presented by members of the Corrales Bosque Advisory Commission last month. The letter was signed by Perrianne Houghton, president of the Central New Mexico Audubon Society.
“From the proposal, it is unclear whether the primary intent of clearing trees extending from the toe of the levee, is to create a clear passage for emergency vehicles in case of a Bosque fire, or whether the primary motivation is to reduce potential fuel for a fire. If the former, then removing native trees —and particularly Coyote Willows— growing in and along the ditch banks, is clearly unnecessary and should be avoided, as they do not impede the passage of vehicles along the levee.
“If the latter, then we ask, before going forward with clearing the levees, the Village of Corrales make a scientifically informed assessment of the fire risk posed by native riparian trees (including Rio Grande Cottonwoods, New Mexico Olives, and Coyote and Goodings Willows) that are vitally connected to a continuous water source (in this case, the irrigation ditch that flows parallel to the levee year round).”
After a presentation on the proposal given by Fire Chief Anthony Martinez, the council voted to let the project move ahead. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXX No.17 October 23, 2021 “Bosque Preserve Clearing Along Levee Gets OK.”)
In the November 9 letter, the Central New Mexico Audubon Society (CNMAS) and Audubon Southwest (ASW) asked for more transparency in decisions about clearing vegetation in the preserve given the presentation to the council September 14, 2021.
“While CNMAS and ASW recognize the increased fire risk posed by a hotter, drier climate and understand that clearing vegetation and cutting trees can be an essential fire preventive, we urge you to take a scientific approach to management of this area, that accurately assesses the fire dangers posed by native riparian vegetation and trees connected to a continuously flowing water source.”
The two Audubon organizations said they support much of the assessment produced by the bosque advisory commission. “This report uses peer-reviewed, scientific studies to evaluate the role trees play in supporting native wildlife and the overall ecology of the Corrales Bosque, along the levee. We endorse the following CBAC recommendations:
“• We do not see the necessity of thinning the entire 20-foot strip. Thinning should be accomplished in areas where fire access is most necessary, rather than thinning within a uniform width along the entire levee.”
“• All small Elms, Tamarisk, and Tree of Heaven should be removed, when possible, without damaging stands of New Mexico Olive and willows.”
“• Healthy Russian Olive trees within the 15-foot strip should be left in all areas where they don’t interfere with access needed for fire personnel… dead Russian Olive may be removed within the 15-foot strip where access or levee maintenance is required.”
“Most significantly, we endorse what the CBAC refers to as their most important recommendation, which is for transparency in the activities of the MRGCD and Chief Martinez in what they ‘intend to do, and where’ as part of Wildland/Urban Interface Hazardous Fuels Reduction projects.
“In addition to supporting the above CBAC recommendations, CNMAS and ASW would like to point out that between 217 and 238 species of birds have been recorded at various birding hotspots along the length of the Corrales Bosque, demonstrating it to be an extremely important New Mexico bird habitat:
“• While stands of ‘willows’ are mentioned generally within the second bulleted item above, we want to specify this refers to Coyote Willows (Salix exigua) and emphasize this should be among the species (along with Cottonwoods and New Mexico Olives) that are the highest priority to preserve due to their high ecological and habitat value. Coyote Willow stands provide nesting sites for a variety of native songbirds, for example Common Yellowthroats, Yellow-Breasted Chats, Blue Grosbeaks, and Spotted Towhees, as well as a potential habitat for the endangered Southwestern Willow Flycatcher. This diversity of native plant and bird species reflects the designation of this section of Corrales bosque as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by New Mexico Audubon Society (currently Audubon Southwest) in May 2014. National Audubon Society | Audubon Southwest 3131 S. Central Avenue | Phoenix, AZ 85040/
“• From the proposal, it is unclear whether the primary intent of clearing trees extending from the toe of the levee, is to create a clear passage for emergency vehicles in case of a bosque fire, or whether the primary motivation is to reduce potential fuel for a fire. If the former, then removing native trees —and particularly Coyote Willows— growing in and along the ditch banks, is clearly unnecessary and should be avoided, as they do not impede the passage of vehicles along the levee.
“If the latter, then we ask, before going forward with clearing the levees, the Village of Corrales make a scientifically informed assessment of the fire risk posed by native riparian trees (including Rio Grande Cottonwoods, New Mexico Olives, and Coyote and Goodings Willows) that are vitally connected to a continuous water source (in this case, the irrigation ditch that flows parallel to the levee year round).
“Historically, bosque fires only increased in frequency and severity once trees were disconnected from the river, due to dredging and channelization that effectively stopped annual flooding. If the aforementioned native trees are associated with the irrigation ditch, it is likely the fire risk they pose is minimal.
“We would finally draw your attention to the vital role of shade trees and vegetation in combating the impacts of ,climate change by helping to maintain lower stream temperatures, and reduce evaporation:
“• Shade from trees and other vegetation along the irrigation ditch help to maintain lower water temperatures, which results in less evaporation. Climate change and drought make maintaining lower ditch temperatures and minimizing evaporation increasingly crucial. As the study ‘Effects of Riparian Management Strategies on Stream Temperature Science Review Team Temperature Subgroup’ points out, ‘the most efficient method to maintain low stream temperatures is to reduce heat loading from solar radiation. Shade prevents stream warming by reducing inputs of heat energy from solar radiation’ (Leinenbach, McFadden, and Torgersen).
“ Greater evaporation from the irrigation ditch would decrease water for farmers and water available to return to the river channel downstream.
“• As climate change continues to reduce and periodically stop water flow within the river channel, many of the native riparian trees growing near the river will likely struggle to survive. This makes the preservation of habitat along irrigation ditches, including trees growing near the levee, increasingly crucial. Even as the Rio Grande has dried for many months each year in the Lower Rio Grande, irrigation ditches have continued to flow.
“If irrigation ditches become the only continuously flowing water through the Middle Rio Grande, then the future distribution and abundance of native riparian plants and trees —as well as the survival of the native animal species that depend on them— will be increasingly dependent upon our ability to preserve and even encourage their growth along irrigation ditches and levees.
“To summarize, CNMAS and ASW request reconsideration of the plans to clear trees along the Corrales Bosque levee detailed in the ‘Wildland/Urban Interface Hazardous Fuels Reduction’ proposal. We find the proposal’s fire danger estimate of the vegetation along the levee to be unsupported scientifically and likely exaggerated. It is also our position that the habitat and ecological value of the trees targeted to be cleared, and the project area’s designation of this section of Corrales bosque as an Important Bird Area , has been underestimated. CNMAS and ASW support several recommendations of the CBAC. In addition, we agree with the importance of transparency in the activities of the MRGCD and Chief Martinez in their objectives for the Wildland/Urban Interface Hazardous Fuels Reduction projects.
“CNMAS and ASW thank you for your consideration of this most important issue. We are available and willing to help continue the conversation and look forward to working closely with you for the betterment of our natural surroundings.”
The Village Council gave a go-ahead to Fire Chief Anthony Martinez and the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District at its October 10 meeting where Martinez and MRGCD Planner Yasmeen Najmi convinced the mayor and all councillors to let the clearing project proceed. No timetable was given when work would begin, although it would have to cease, or pause, by April 15 to comply with the federal Migratory Bird Act.
In late November, funding for the clearing project had not been made available.
If the plan goes ahead as described in October, all along the entire length of the levee, non-native trees and other vegetation would be cut and removed at the edge of levee on its east, or river, side. According to Najmi, that is necessary to maintain the levee, although it was not stated what kind of maintenance would be needed that could not be done from the top of the levee.
However, she referred to retaining federal certification of the levee’s integrity, a concern raised 11 years ago the last time the Corps of Engineers and MRGCD proposed clearing trees from the toe of the levee.
Back then, the Corps’ Fritz Blake, since retired, explained that the proposed clearing probably would not be required after all because the federal requirement was an over-reaction to concerns about levees around the nation in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXIX No.3 March 20, 2010 “Corrales Monitors Corps’ Research on Levee.”)
The 2010 project was to have removed essentially all vegetation within 15 feet of the levee.
Blake said in an interview February 2, 2009 that trees along the Corrales levee might not need to be removed after all.
He said the new levee safety criterion of a 15-foot, tree-free buffer at the sides of the levee was being resisted elsewhere around the United States as well.
“We understand that this is a difficult situation for the Conservancy District and for the Village of Corrales, and we will continue to work with both to get it resolved. Our number one priority is to ensure the safety of the levee. But we’re not quite convinced yet that taking out a 15-foot swath of trees is the way to solve the problem.” Blade said.
Most of the trees of concern existed when the Corps rebuilt the levee in 1996-97. The design of the levee at that time did not require those trees’ removal. Even so, nearly 2,000 trees were removed when the levee work was done, but those that were retained on the river side were considered no threat to the levee. At that time, trees could be no closer than three feet to the toe of the levee.
Besides, Blake noted in 2009, if they started removing those trees, it might be determined a year later that it wasn’t really necessary. “It’s possible that a year from now, our technical people might say, ‘Gee, you don’t really need to do that.’”
When the current Corrales levee was dedicated after being built in 1996-97, it was touted as the best in the United States. “This is one of the best, if not the best, levee in the nation,” said Don Lopez, representing the State Engineer’s office and the Interstate Stream Commission.
At the October 12, 2021 Village Council meeting, members of the Corrales Bosque Advisory Commission tried to convince the mayor and council not to give the fire chief and the MRGCD carte blanche to take out all non-native vegetation along the levee. They especially urged that Russian olive trees be retained as a crucial source of food for birds in winter.
Joan Hashimoto, chairperson for the advisory commission, warned that the wholesale removal of trees and thicket next to the levee could actually jeopardize its integrity. Bike tires, hiking boots and horse hooves predictably would cut new paths down the side of the levee channeling increased erosion.
And, she said, the project will “allow bikes, people and dogs to find a new place to reach wildlife. The native shrub and tree removal combined with the Clear Ditch drying, and also the river being almost non-existent, is like a triple-whammy for the animals of our nature preserve.”
Hashimoto pointed out that “levee toe thinning will cut a huge number of living trees and destroy valuable habitat, while a massive dead-and-down fuel load problem exists and indeed gets larger every year with cottonwood’ auto-pruning branches and trees dying.
“I understand regulations. Maintaining the levee is important. Ever since the current levee was constructed over 20 years ago, the east slope has been maintained from the levee road. Although the levee toe is not in strict compliance with regulations, which has been the case and well-known since its construction, the Army Corps of Engineers which has done the levee surveys, has said that the toe vegetation non-compliance would not affect future levee eligibility for federal funding.”
She insisted that the Corrales bird study corridors, or transects, not be destroyed by clearing next to the levee, pointing out that research in those corridors has been funded by the Corps of Engineers and Hawks Aloft, Inc. “It’s important to preserve the transects.”
She concluded by urging “Do thinning where it’s indicated, not monolithic clearing and thinning.”
Another bosque advisory commissioner, Joan Morrison, said she was discouraged by council’s approval of the Fire Department’s plan.
“This proposed clearing of all trees and shrubs including native New Mexico olive is horrendous, and although they say it is only three percent of the total bosque, my walk today revealed that it is likely the most important three percent.
“There isn’t much New Mexico olive down in the middle of the bosque at all. And you can bet that clearing a 10-foot strip (10 feet isn’t really all that wide, barely enough for any big machinery) will likely turn into a strip much wider.”
At the council meeting, Morrison said “Last month, I and other CBAC members presented our concerns regarding the proposed Invasive Species Clearing Project Work Plan. Since our commission’s response to any work in the bosque will be science-based, we subsequently presented to you, on October three, our report in which we outlined these concerns, presented data that our members had collected on the number of trees potentially affected by this project, and offered recommendations and to collaborate with the Fire Department and Conservancy on this work plan.
“In reading the work plan submitted to you for tonight’s meeting, I was dismayed to discover that not only were none of our concerns or recommendations considered or even acknowledged, but that in some ways this new work plan proposes to be even more harmful to our bosque.
“May I remind council members that the Corrales Bosque Preserve is designated as a protected area and an Important Bird Area, and the Village of Corrales is tasked with maintaining it as a natural area and wildlife preserve. Council has also approved the Bosque Management Guidelines which are meant to foster data-driven decisions and collaboration with the goal of protecting and preserving a variety of habitats in our bosque.
One concern about this proposed work continues to involve process: the CBAC was not informed of the initial proposal until three days before the September council meeting, CBAC members present and past who have extensive scientific background were not consulted or even informed, and our concerns were not considered in this new proposal despite our stated willingness to coordinate on this project with the Fire Department and the Conservancy.
“Our primary concerns remain the potential impacts to wildlife habitats from the proposed work.”
Morrison was critical that “No justification is given for the need to completely clear a 10-foot strip out from the toe along the entire length of the levee. In its over 20 years of existence, the levee has never required such vegetation clearance despite multiple inspections. The levee’s east slope has always been maintained from the levee road on the top, so why the need now for complete clearing out from the toe?
“During the September 23 field trip, Chief Martinez indicated that limited fire access pathways into the bosque could be cleared rather than clearing along the entire length of the levee. Thus we see no justification for complete clearing.
“Non-native vegetation within the ten feet should be cleared only at the points where access is needed into the bosque for fire equipment and personnel or where a specific levee maintenance activity is required. Large scale clearing of vegetation along the levee sides and out ten-20 feet from the toe will encourage people to make new paths down the levee sides, causing even more subsidence and erosion.
“There is an extensive amount of dead and down wood along the levee toe that has been left from former clearing projects. This material constitutes a large and dangerous fuel load. It is important that all cut trees and other dead and down material generated by this project and from previous projects within the 20-foot area from the levee toe should be removed out of the bosque. If left, this material only adds to this already large fuel load, increasing fire risk.”
Morrison is professor emerita of biology and environmental science at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.
She emphasized that “Any clearing or thinning work in the bosque must be completed by the start of migratory songbird nesting season, April 15, 2022. However, some hawks and owls known to nest in the bosque begin nesting as early as February and March.
“If this work is to move forward such nests must be identified and appropriate buffers designated. Disturbance or destruction of these nests resulting from the project would be a violation of the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
“Council members, Corrales is advertised as a village with a lovely and natural bosque, and people come here to enjoy it. Do we want to be known as the Village that cut down prime bosque habitat?
“If you are inclined to accept this proposed work plan, I request that you do so only with commitment to assign and be accountable for the following modifications:
A former member of the advisory commission, ornithologist Janet Ruth, said the project should avoid taking out standing dead trees since such “snags” provide crucial opportunities for cavity-nesting birds.
“I would prefer to see those left standing except if they posed a real risk.”
Ruth’s submission to the Audubon Society resulted in its designation of the Corrales bosque as an “Important Bird Area” in 2014.
Channels have been excavated in the Corrales Bosque Preserve between the outfall of the Harvey Jones Flood Control Channel and the Rio Grande to distribute stormwater to a proposed ten-acre wetlands. Major earthwork has been underway since early November to use not only stormwater from the vast Montoyas Arroyo watershed but also treated effluent from a Rio Rancho sewage plant on the edge of the arroyo near Highway 528.
The project is a collaboration among the Village of Corrales, the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority (SSCAFCA), the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, the City of Rio Rancho and the environmental goup The Nature Conservancy. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXX No.2 March 6, 2021 “Stormwater, Treated Sewage Would Be Used for Bosque.”)
SSCAFCA advertised a request for bids for project construction in early September when it had a target of breaking ground by mid-October. Sarah Hurteau of The Nature Conservancy provided details about converting the stormwater outfall, between the end of the channel and the river, using a “green stormwater infrastructure” approach.
The Jones Channel has functioned as a storm drain carrying rain from Rio Rancho and Corrales into the floodplain of the river since the early 1990s. Deposited sediments over those years will be re-contoured and new earthen channels will be opened. Removal of accumulated sediment will allow bosque vegetation to connect to groundwater resources helping to sustain cottonwood trees and other plants throughout the year.
Stormwater from the Montoyas Arroyo and the Lomitas Negras Arroyo watersheds will be slowed and diverted through the proposed wetlands before emptying into the river. But an even more consistent and reliable supply of irrigation water will come from Rio Rancho’s sewage treatment plant. That effluent would provide a perennial four to five million gallons a day.
The sewage treatment plant has operated with a discharge permit to send effluent to the river through a pipeline that runs along the flood control channel. When the plant is operating correctly, those millions of gallons of wastewater will be cleaner than stormwater coming down the channel in the Montoyas Arroyo.
A grader, two front-end loaders and dump trucks worked the riverbank area between the Jones channel and the river in mid-November to create two paths for stormwater to follow on its way to the river. During major storm events when large quantities of water are pouring through the arroyo, the water would be directed more or less immediately to the river, while during lesser storms, the water would go to a more meandering, distributive channel.
Once the earthwork is completed, trees and other vegetation will be planted, probably in early spring.
Hurteau said the stormwater diversion in the wetlands area uses the power of nature to filter and mitigate pollution as the last of a series of stormwater quality improvement sites, expanding the effectiveness of features already in place upstream.
Water quality features upstream will capture floating trash and sediment for later removal. The new wetland area will allow water to slow down, spread out across the river floodplain, and sink in using natural channels, with care being taken to maintain flood protection to homes nearby, she said.
Those constructed features in the Montoyas and Lomitas Negras Arroyos will capture floating trash, and slow-moving water will allow plants and soils to act on pollutants such as automotive chemical residue along roadways. Those would be broken down through bioremediation, so pollutants from roadways are removed before they end up in the river.
The wetland is designed to reduce bank erosion along the river.
Many months of planning have gone into ensuring the design resolves existing flow issues, preventing mosquitos, and maintaining flood control capability. Hurteau said more than 5,000 postcards were sent out seeking public input and hearings were held in February and March 2021. The team met with relevant agencies and environmental groups to review the conceptual design.
The Jones Channel in the Montoyas Arroyo and the Dulcelina Curtis Channel in the Lomitas Negras Arroyo are named for the pioneering work those two Corraleños did to control damaging stormwater in a wide territory west of Corrales. They were early members of the Corrales Watershed Board, which was subsumed by SSCAFCA when it was established by the N.M. Legislature in 1990.
(See Corrales Comment Vol. XXV, No.13, August 19 & October 21, 2006 “Corrales Battles Historic Flooding, Threat at Jones Channel.”)
Back in March of this year, the Corrales Bicycle, Pedestrian Advisory Commission recommended that the wetlands plan include a trail connecting bosque areas north and south of the Jones Channel outfall. “Our commission recommends that potential pedestrian use in the area be considered in the design,” Commission Chairperson Susan Zimmerman wrote to Village Administrator Ron Curry.
“We are concerned that walkers and possibly bicyclists will make their own unofficial trails in the area if they are not designated. Simple, meandering dirt pathways are what we envision.
“We understand that the conservancy has assumed pedestrians would use the existing connection with the acequia trail from the west end of the area. We are concerned that folks would want to get closer to the river, and that this could create a potential problem if not considered in the overall plan.”
Heads up, Corrales! The Sandoval County Commission is about to make a decision that may change the political landscape in the village for the next 10 years or more. A plan to redraw the Sandoval County district maps was presented at the last County Commission meeting on November 18. Private contractor and former Republican State Senator Rod Adair was hired by the commission and Commissioner Chairman David Heil to draw four possible redistricting maps for the county. He presented these maps at the commission meeting in front of a large, animated crowd.
After Adair’s presentation, private citizen Isaac Chavez presented a fifth map he had drawn up “on his laptop” as a volunteer. After making his presentation as a good citizen, the young man was thoroughly questioned by Chairman Heil, and then Adair was invited back to add criticism to Chavez’s district map. Chavez handled the inquisition with grace, and skillfully answered all of the questions posed to him. Chairman Heil, however seemed unable or unwilling to understand Chavez’s responses.
For Corrales, all of Adair’s proposed maps would mean significant disruption. Currently Corrales shares a district with the southern part of Rio Rancho and Cabezon where many Corraleños shop, work and travel daily. All of Adair’s plans place Corrales, in whole or in part, into a district with Placitas and Bernalillo. Only Chavez’s plan keeps the core of Corrales’s district around Corrales, with parts of southern Rio Rancho.
It is difficult to find any reasoning for combining Corrales with Placitas and Bernalillo, unless it is to group Corrales with other principalities that share political leanings. Or, possibly, Adair forgot to account for the Rio Grande in his map, or he thinks Corraleños are using boats to do their daily shopping.
Another broader, and perhaps more serious issue with Adair’s maps is the packing of all indigenous populations into one, enormous, district. This action was loudly lambasted during the public comment portion of the meeting.
Several tribal leaders were present, and each spoke to the fact that the commission had not reached out to their communities for their input on the maps, and their opposition to being grouped together.
Governor Jerome Lucero from the Pueblo of Zia, Mario Atencio, vice-president of the Torreon-Star Lake Navajo Chapter, and Governor Anthony Ortiz from San Felipe Pueblo were among the members of the public to speak up.
All three of these leaders mentioned Sandoval County’s history of violating the Voting Rights Act and spoke to the disrespect they felt at being left out of the process so far.
Chavez argued that the various Native American pueblos and tribes of New Mexico might have more in common with the neighbors that share their streets and bridges than they do with each other. His map reflects this idea, for the indigenous lands as well as for Corrales.
This idea of throwing all the indigenous people into one district, giving them one commissioner to fight for them and their very different geographical concerns, is seen by many as deliberate under-representation. If the November 18 meeting is any indication of how the commission treats those with differing opinions, one commissioner trying to speak for all of the pueblos wouldn’t have a chance.
After the public comments, the commissioners weighed in on the proposed maps. Commissioners Michael Meek and Kenneth Eichwald both expressed concern for the ideas and opinions put forth by the public. Commissioner Meek read out notes he had taken, adding a promise to take all the ideas into consideration.
Commissioner Katherine Bruch spoke out next to clarify her involvement with Chavez’ plan, saying she was surprised and alarmed to have been given credit for making it. On the Sandoval County website, Chavez’s plan is still labeled as the “Chavez/Bruch” plan. Commissioner Bruch clarified that while she was in support of Chavez’s plan, she was due no credit for its making.
Chairman Heil invited Adair to come up to the microphone yet again, presumably to have a chance to respond to the public comments. Adair did so by spending several minutes accusing the public commentators of all having an agenda, “giving cookie cutter arguments,” and “not knowing what they are talking about.”
Perhaps displaying his own agenda, the defensive Adair did not wear a mask and refused to comply with social distancing rules during the meeting. Chairman Heil closed his statements by speaking directly to Chavez to say, “We are in violent disagreement.”
Corrales Commissioner Jay Block called into the meeting on a cell phone, and did not offer words of encouragement for his constituents, saying “This is not a democracy, it is a constitutional republic, and elections have consequences.”
In spite of Block’s discouraging words, Corraleños have until December 9, when the commission meets again, to try to make their voices heard, or risk learning firsthand the consequences of gerrymandering.
The annual holiday village food drive, fundraiser and giving tree will look a bit different again this year. With COVID-19 case numbers climbing in Corrales, in lieu of going to the office and picking up a gift tag, villagers are invited to make other, more covid-safe efforts. Monetary donations are welcome and can be made by writing a check to Kiwanis Club of Corrales with “Fire Holiday Drive” in the memo line. These can be dropped off at the fire station, or mailed to the Kiwanis Club at P.O. Box 3810 Corrales, NM 87048.
In 2020, monies were used to pay a local food distributor to provide food for families, and help cover bills that were unusually high because of the pandemic. This year, villagers can also bring in food items. Non-perishable, in-date canned goods can be dropped off at the fire station any time before December 18. Perishable items can also be donated by calling Commander Tanya Lattin at 505-702-4182.
Gifts are also welcome and can be donated by emailing Commander Lattin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Families have submitted “wish lists” for essentials like clothing and bedding, and also for toys or gifts. Village families have asked to sponsor a family in years past, by providing a holiday meal or buying all the items on that family’s wish list.
Volunteers are also needed to help wrap gifts. Gift wrap and gifts can be acquired by emailing the Commander. Usually, around 50 families benefit from the annual fundraiser. Villagers can contact Commander Lattin if they or someone they know could use a little help this season. Food and gifts will be delivered to village families December 20-21.
Even though the Village counselors will not meet until December 14 to revisit the cannabis issue, villagers have tried to make their voices heard in the interim by writing to the council. Published in this edition of the Comment are letters, and in one case, an advertisement for a petition, sent in the hopes of influencing the upcoming decision for which the counsellors bought themselves more time at the last meeting
Steve Gutierrez, a villager who lives at the north end of Corrales, has a unique and important perspective on the cannabis issue, having been involved in the making of ordinance 18-002. This legislation, approved in 2018, disallowed the growth of cannabis in Corrales residential areas, those zoned A-1, A-2, and H-1.
Corrales zoning is one of the difficulties the Council must deal with, since there are no areas in the village that are zoned as purely residential. In other communities, the residential “R” zone designation protects residents from having commercial activity in their neighborhoods. In Corrales, all properties have conflated residential designations with agricultural, historical or commercial designations. Zone “A-1” refers to a piece of land that is one agricultural-use acre, and this designation covers the vast majority of Corrales. “A-2” is a 2-acre agricultural plot. Properties zoned “H” are historical sites.
In his letter, Gutierrez says, “With the large influx of applicants for recreational growth of cannabis, and the threat that ordinance 18-002 violated the Cannabis Regulation Act, the administration and council, likely out of fear of being sued, hastily passed an amendment to the existing ordinance, eliminating the protections against the growth of cannabis in our residential areas.”
Gutierrez quotes an unnamed “close associate who has been heavily involved with the Cannabis Regulation Act,” who he asked to review ordinance 18-002. This associate found the ordinance to be in compliance with the Act, saying, “The Village of Corrales has the authority to prohibit the production of cannabis in certain zones so long as there are other zoning categories in which the production of cannabis is allowed, which is what the Village did when it adopted Ordinance 18-002.”
Looking at the issue from another perspective is a group of villagers who are leadership members of a small grassroots organization called Sandoval County Indivisible.
In their letter, Bert Coxe, Gary Sims, Terry Eisenbart and Nandini Kuehn voice their concern that a “vocal minority of Corrales residents, for a variety of reasons, is trying to push the Village Council to do something that it does not have the legal authority to do, and that in doing so the Council may be putting the village and its citizens in jeopardy to pay monetary damages in the future.”
The four authors go on to say, “Some people in the village are lobbying to have very extensive regulations of cannabis cultivation, and they essentially want the Village government to ban commercial cannabis cultivation in the village. Some people are clearly very worked up about this, and a petition is being passed around.”
The third submission in the Comment this week is presumably from these “clearly very worked up” people and does include a petition. While vocal, this group certainly doesn’t seem small. Their goal appears to be similar to that of Mr. Gutierrez, to ask councillors to pass an ordinance that would prohibit growing cannabis in residential zones.
People across our village are speaking out about this very contentious issue, and waiting to see how the Village Council will respond to their many appeals.
The NMDOH website is reporting the staggeringly high number of 574 COVID cases in Corrales as of November 24. Corrales COVID expert Fire Commander Tanya Lattin reports that November 2021 is on track to be the highest month ever for Corrales Covid cases, with 67 new cases so far. The highest case count in 2020 happened in December, when Corrales saw 69 cases.
Commander Lattin says, “Wednesday November 24, we had eight- new cases. Our five-day case rate has been outrageous, and I am, of course, expecting more after Thanksgiving.” When looking for reasons why Corrales is still experiencing so many COVID cases, it’s easy to point to pandemic fatigue, overcrowded bars and restaurants, or that stubborn anti-vaccine movement.
But there is another significant factor that can’t be ignored, adding to the case numbers and often spreading the virus silently, Corrales kids. Albuquerque Public Schools has been reporting a rise in case numbers that mirrors the swell in Corrales. The week of November 1five, 88 APS school sites reported 330 total cases, a number that has tripled since October.
Nationwide, that same week saw a 26 percent increase in pediatric COVID cases. “Kids’ numbers are going way up” Lattin says. Corrales parents are feeling the burden of the virus on so many levels.
Facing increased pressure to return to offices, many are frustrated when their child is sent home because a stuffy nose and upset tummy warrants a PCR test under COVID protocols. Even if a parent is lucky enough to get a same-day swab appointment for their child, that still amounts to at least three days of missed work and school, waiting for the test to come back.
And what if that test comes back positive?
Bri Smith lives in Corrales with her husband Matthew and their two children, Estella, 15, and Jackson, 12. In October, the vaccinated family attended a baseball game, sitting near another vaccinated family who were unknowingly infected with asymptomatic COVID. Since they were outside, and more than three feet apart, the families decided not to wear masks.
When Matthew started to feel fatigue and cold-like symptoms a few days later, the family decided to get tested. Matthew’s initial home test was negative, but the PCR test he took came back positive. Bri also eventually tested positive and had cold-like symptoms. 12-year-old Jackson was asymptomatic but also tested positive. Estella never tested positive.
When asked how they felt as parents, after having a positive diagnosis, Bri answered, “We felt devastated. Covid was something we have been trying to avoid for the last year and a half. We were very worried that even though we were having mild symptoms (runny nose, headache, dry cough, slight chest pressure, and loss of smell), that our son would become ill. We credit the vaccines for our swift recovery and his lack of visible illness.”
Bri also says, “Luckily, we don’t know of any close contacts that developed Covid from us. That was guilt and stress that we were very concerned about. We believe that our breakthrough infection was unfortunate but avoidable. I encourage all that can, to get vaccinated and keep masking indoors and outside when social distancing isn’t an option.”
Another Corrales family went through a similar COVID-related ordeal. Ashley Trebitowski and her husband have three children, Cayden, 12, Jackson, ten and Reagan, seven, all living in Corrales.
Cayden caught Covid at school, from a vaccinated, asymptomatic friend with whom he shared a lunch period.
Following his infection, the two other Trebitowski children also tested positive for the virus, and had varying degrees of symptoms.
Ashley says: “I was nervous about our oldest because his heart rate was elevated and he had the worst symptoms. The other two seemed to fight it much easier. The biggest priority was staying hydrated and taking our vitamins, get lots of sunlight, and extra COVID protocol supplements. I’m not sure if they helped but we did everything we could to fight it from the inside.”
seven-year-old Regan, the youngest of Ashley’s children, experienced some bullying from another child at school. A little girl in her class said, “She has COVID, don’t touch her,” a discriminatory comment which hurt the young girl’s feelings.
When asked what advice Ashley would give other parents, she responds, “I very much believe that masks help stop the spread. The child that tested positive and spread it to my oldest had been around tons of kids those few days, he was most likely shedding the virus.”
Whether or not kids have symptoms, they are most certainly catching and spreading the virus.
Parents in our village are faced with very difficult Covid-related decisions, and with Santa Fe schools moving to some remote instruction this week because of rising Covid cases, they are left wondering when APS schools, including our own CES, might follow suit.
After taking a year off for the pandemic, St Nick is expected to return to Corrales this December as the acme of the Corrales MainStreet Starlight Parade. The parade is set to begin on December 4 at 5:30pm. All villagers who wish to participate are invited to line up their festooned cars, floats, tractors and other vehicles beginning at 4:30 p.m. in the Wagner’s Farm Stand parking lot.
As usual, foot or equestrian traffic is discouraged, since the parade is very dark and it is difficult for drivers to see. The parade route will begin at Wagner’s and travel south along Corrales Road to the Growers’ Market parking lot, probably dispersing around 6 p.m. MainStreet plans to have a tree-lighting event at the end of the parade, along with St Nick, and cookies for all.
Of course, Covid protocols will be enforced. Villagers are required to wear masks, even outside, when standing in line or close to those outside of their families. Everyone is reminded to avoid crowding together, and to try to social distance as much as possible. MainStreet also asks villagers to keep an eye on their website, http://www.visitcorrales.com for updates and possible COVID-related cancellations or adaptations.
Corrales Road will be closed between Tenorio Road and Coronado Road from 5:15 p.m. until the parade finishes. No side road access will be allowed.