Posts in Category: 2021 OCTOBER 23 ISSUE


By Barry Abel

Building A Solid Foundation for our Health

There’s a fundamental approach to living long and well.

A society will pass along its wisdom generation to generation, often through stories more easily understood and internalized by children. Among the more obvious examples, the tale of the three little pigs who built houses to protect them from the “big bad wolf.”

The lazy one built his house of straw; the one who hadn’t thought the problem through built his of sticks; the one who wouldn’t take shortcuts built his of brick and only the latter survived – a lesson more easily accepted because it came as a story of cute animals. But if, for the wolf, we substitute Covid-19 or any of the tests that come in life, especially as we reach our senior years, the parallel is obvious.

Looking at a more modern teacher, legendary basketball coach John Wooden famously began each season teaching his players how to put on their socks. These young men, being among the very best at playing their game, viewed their teacher with amusement. This was a quirk to be tolerated to get to the point when he would offer his real wisdom about how to improve their skills and more effectively play the game they loved.

Those who needed to understand things, to know the why in addition to the what of them, figured this odd introduction to this famed coach probably was so they would avoid getting blisters on their feet which would, of course, hinder their ability to play.

It wasn’t until years, even decades later that they began to realize that wasn’t the message at all. Coach Wooden’s message was there are no shortcuts. If you want to do something right, you have to do it right from the beginning, every step of the way. You can’t build something solid leaving weaknesses in its foundation, not if you want it to be successful or as strong as you need it to be.

If we all want to successfully navigate the years, and especially these times of pandemics and constantly changing variants of Covid-19, we need access to solid, valid information. In a time rife with the intentional seeding and spreading of misinformation, in some cases in operations launched by nations antagonistic to our country, where can we find what is correct?

As part of our Discovery series, Village in the Village/Corrales (ViV) explored this important subject and we gained some guidance from experts.

There are good sources of sound medical and health information, places to check and verify things we hear and read about our health. Based on expert recommendations, ViV has prepared a handout on the subject and will email it to you upon request. Write to us at for a copy.

The hand-out includes advice from the Medical Library Association (MLA) on how to check the credibility of websites purporting to offer medical advice as well as the URLs (internet addresses) of highly credible sources of medical information.

Corrales is a place where many have been blessed with longevity. But with age come additional questions —how do I best take care of myself? Could this latest challenge be a sign of something more serious? Is this really the best way to avoid more serious complications?

You are a marvelous, even miraculous, success story —just by being. You are in charge of that story – the story of yourself. Having ways to find and take advantage of the information you need to continue that story is essential. Helping you to do so is why ViV exists in the first place.

Barry Abel is a ViV member and active volunteer. For more information about ViV, visit the website at


An Editorial

The next issue of Corrales Comment, the November 6 paper, will come out as world leaders are convened for crucial negotiations aimed at collectively reducing detrimental man-made changes to the atmosphere.

Nearly every national government in the world is expected to make some degree of commitment to take further steps to cut emissions of greenhouse gases that, if present trends continue, will raise average global temperatures enough to make climate inhospitable for future generations.

Those higher temperatures have implications far beyond Corrales homeowners’ considerations whether to switch from swamp coolers to refrigerated air. Across the  globe in 2020-21, climate disruptions have produced, or exacerbated, devastating droughts and crop failures, hellish wildfires, extraordinary flooding and the phenomenon of climate refugees.

For Corrales, global warming has meant, among other things, that diminished snowpack in Colorado this year delivered less water into the Rio Grande to irrigate fields… and less recharge to the aquifer from which homes here draw their water.

Surely Corraleños care about efforts to limit the destructive effects of climate change. Few would likely shrug shoulders and say “OK, but what does that have to do with me?”

A lot more would furrow brows and say “Yes, but what can I do that would make any difference?”

Fortunately, Corrales has an abundance of two essential resources: political influence and the expertise of villagers with in-depth experience addressing issues at the core of climate change.

Real-life, practical examples of what you can do are all around you, from the solar electric-topped sun shade at the recreation center to the Corrales Library’s heat-gathering trombe wall, electric cars moving silently along our roads and innovative architectural designs at homes throughout the community.

It’s time for Corraleños to take action  —politically, innovatively and personally committing to significant lifestyle changes.

Some would say it’s now or never. But not to worry: life will go on. It just may not include humans and hundreds of other fellow creature species.


Dear Editor:

At the most recent Village Council meeting, during the discussion about the $62,500 fuels reduction project in the Bosque Preserve between Village and the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, the figure 3 percent kept coming up.

The argument was made to the council that the 24 acres of clearing and thinning represents “only three percent” (actually it’s closer to four percent) of the total area of the Bosque Preserve.

This sounds small, (probably it did to council). It might be relatively small in area but not in value. For its area, it has a higher density of native trees than other parts of the bosque.

Some other three percent-ers include: fresh water comprises three percent of the world’s water; and tropical rainforests cover less than three percent of Earth’s area, yet they are home to more than half our planet’s terrestrial animal species.

While not freshwater or tropical rainforest, this three percent is border habitat in a fragile, threatened ecosystem. It may be that the downplaying of cutting native trees was due to lack of awareness and/or because the money seemed attractive. It will result in cutting most trees and shrubs out from 10 feet of the bottom of the east side of the levee for its entire length. This is an enormous loss of food and shelter for birds and other critters at a time when they are already in trouble.

There is a huge amount of dead and down wood in the Bosque Preserve which is a significant fire threat; it’s increasing because of auto-pruning of cottonwoods and dying trees.

Why don’t we spend State money getting rid of dead and down wood rather than cutting native trees?

Joan Hashimoto, chairperson

Corrales Bosque Advisory Commission

Dear Editor:

CAFANOW (Clean Air for All Now) was previously known as CRCAW (Corrales Residents for Clean Air and Water). 

Since our decades-long efforts to hold the New Mexico Environment Department and Intel Rio Rancho accountable, we discovered Corrales was not the only community to suffer the onslaught of chemicals Intel Rio Rancho is legally allowed to emit. Rio Rancho and northwest Albuquerque have also reported odors and/or illnesses related, more likely than not, to the chemicals pouring from the Intel/Rio Rancho facility. 

Please know these facts: 

Intel operates under a minor source air pollution permit granted by the New Mexico Environment Department  (NMED). Under a minor source permit, Intel is allowed to hire its own companies to test for air pollution,which are never verified by an independent and disinterested party. In other words, Intel is always in compliance.

1) Intel is allowed to emit 95 tons of hazardous air pollutants and due to minor source permit, without oversight.

2) Intel is a chemical plant, utilizing approximately 250 volatile organic compounds, many of which are extremely dangerous to human health.

3)A study is currently being conducted about cancer in the 12 census tracts near the Intel plant. 

4) A study is currently being conducted by a UNM professor to assess the vegetative die-off in and around Intel. 

5) Intel continues to use emissions abatement equipment that is nearly 25 years old in some cases.

NMED must require that Intel operate under a major source air permit to provide oversight and protection. Intel must install new and updated emissions abatement equipment.

Corrales, Rio Rancho and Northwest Albuquerque residents demand a safe environment!

Intel is vastly wealthy. Given all the perks New Mexico has provided to Intel, the least it can do is be a good neighbor.

NMED should protect residents by approving only a major source air pollution permit, not the “sham air permit” currently in place. (That is the term used by a retiring and brave NMED employee.)

No matter where you reside, air pollution affects us all! 

Please sign our petition at (Clean Air for All NOW). 

The website is still under construction so stay tuned for cancer research and vegetative die-off data available soon. 

Marcy Brandenburg

Rio Rancho


Engineer Quincy Shaw died October 10 at age 96. Long a resident at the north end of Corrales, he was a leader of the “No Way a Highway” opposition to plans in the 1980s that would have transformed the then-rutted, unpaved Loma Larga ditch bank into a four-lane state highway. Shaw also closely followed engineering plans for the Harvey Jones Flood Control Channel and the Corrales Road bridge over it which some villagers thought would create a significant risk of flooding before raging arroyo stormwater reached the river.

During his career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, he worked on several flood control projects, among them those for Tramway Boulevard, Cochiti Dam, Abiquiu Dam and drainage channels in Albuquerque.

He was a veteran of World War II, serving in the Pacific. After the war, he worked in Okinawa where he met his future wife, Harriet Yone Nakasone. They were married in Taos and raised a family in Corrales. Survivors include daughters Susan Strasia, Pam Garfield and Teresa Binyon. Harriet Shaw died in March 2016.


The Corrales Historical Society will present an illustrated presentation about a mural depicting wine making in New Mexico at the Old Church on Sunday, October 24 at 2 p.m. The event is free and open to the general public, and will be followed by a wine tasting hosted by Corrales Winery. Muralist Federico Vigil will tell how he developed  the concept and began executing a 2,500 square foot fresco inside the Albuquerque Convention Center.

“The fresco is evolving every day,” the City’s public art program manager, Sherri Brueggemann, said October 4. “He has drawings and new painted sections that he works on every week. This piece is a dynamic ongoing project, and I’m sure the audience will be delighted to see the most updated version of this very involved and complicated art project.”

The artist grew up in Santa Fe, and was influenced by Lucienne Bloch and Stephen Pope Dimitroff, apprentices to Mexican muralist Diego Rivera in the 1930s.

The program, “The Story of Wine in New Mexico: Federico Vigil on depicting the history through the art of fresco,” was funded by a grant from Intel.


Regulations to prohibit more view-blocking walls and fences along the Corrales Road scenic byway may be enacted in the weeks ahead. If passed by ordinance, the new rules would ban new solid fences or walls taller than four feet along Corrales Road, although such existing walls would be grandfathered as permitted. Anticipated for months, proposed wording for such provisions came when the Village Council considered revisions to Chapter 18 of the Village’s Code of Ordinances. It reads: “For properties along Corrales Road, no solid fence exceeding four feet in height shall be erected along Corrales Road frontage.

“Open fencing that has a transparent quality that allows views through the fence to the property may be placed upon the four-foot solid wall/fence to a maximum height of six feet.”

The provisions are meant to follow those in effect for Rio Grande Boulevard in the Village of Los Ranchos.

During brief discussion of proposed changes to Corrales’ land use regulations, one of the council members most supportive of measures to protect scenic quality, Zach Burkett, said he would not like the new rule to be so restrictive that a new wall or solid fence would have to meet that provision if it were at a distance from the road.

Such a visual barrier might make sense if it were right next to Corrales Road, but not if it were 50 feet away, he said.

He and other councillors have urged the Planning and Zoning Commission or the P&Z administrator to present a draft ordinance intended to protect scenic quality along Corrales Road. The issue was first raised more than 10 years ago.

Discussion during the March 23, 2021 council meeting about possible restrictions to protect views along Corrales’ designated “scenic and historic byway” quickly veered away from the idea that a moratorium was necessary since the community did not find itself in an emergency that would require that measure.

Instead the mayor and councillors directed the Corrales Planning and Zoning Commission to submit recommendations for an ordinance that would limit the height and opaqueness of new walls or fences along Corrales Road. 

The current push to protect scenic views began shortly after erection of tall cinder block walls fronting Corrales Road at the south end of the valley. Councillor Burkett said he regretted that  such walls had been permitted and asked that the council consider what might be done to prevent the same from happening all along the road.

A former chairman of the P&Z commission, architect Terry Brown, had tried to persuade the Village Council to pass such an ordinance 10 years ago, but councillors balked and the initiative died. The biggest stumbling block was that the 2011 draft ordinance seemed to apply to other roadways throughout Corrales and at intersections where walls would block visibility. The council sent the draft back to P&Z for more work, but a revision was never submitted.

(See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXX No.2, March 6, 2021 “Council Revives Interest in Corrales Road Scenic Quality.”)

The Village of Los Ranchos regulations on walls along Rio Grande Boulevard were discussed briefly at council meetings earlier this year.

Those regulations were explained as follows by Corrales Planning and Zoning Administrator Laurie Stout. “Los Ranchos uses the idea of low and open walls/fences. They restrict height of all fences to six feet. Solid walls within the front setback can only be four feet with an option to add additional  open fencing on top of that to a maximum of six feet total. No solid wall or fence shall be located within the clear sight triangle of a driveway and a public or private right-of-way,” she explained.

At the March 23 council meeting, all members of the governing body supported the goal of protecting scenic quality along Corrales Road, possibly with a new ordinance modeled after that used for Rio Grande Boulevard.

Councillor Kevin Lucero made the point that any decisions on this issue will have implications for the quality of life in Corrales for decades. “The decisions we make in the coming months will determine what Corrales looks like over the next ten, 20, 25 years. What we want Corrales to look like for future generations.”

But those decisions will need to balance landowners privacy rights with protecting scenic quality, he noted.

Burkett tried to head off the controversy that scuttled the 2011 draft law by  saying he did not expect any regulation that would apply to roads except Corrales Road and possibly the historic zone near the Old Church and San Ysidro Museum. To try to include other neighborhoods would be opening a can of worms, he cautioned.

Stout was asked to evaluate the Los Ranchos ordinance effectiveness to protect scenery along Rio Grande Boulevard and whether it achieves a balance for landowners’ privacy.

“What the Los Ranchos ordinance does is that it allows a modicum of privacy since you’ve got your walls to a certain extent but with an open pattern at the top. And they also have setbacks that we can look at for a front fence. That would be another option,” she replied.

“It allows people to keep their animals in and keep other animals out, as the case may be.  As you drive down Rio Grande Boulevard, it is a delightful experience. You can see the farmland, the large lots, the architecture. Corrales Road is a scenic byway, so looking at an ordinance would certainly be appropriate to balance the rights of the property owner with the overall feel that we want to keep here in Corrales.”

The Village of Corrales already has regulations for walls and fences here. By law, “no wall or fence over six feet tall shall be constructed unless a building permit has been approved by the Village. Walls and fences shall be built of brick, adobe, rock, decorative concrete block, masonry, wood, wood and metal wire, pipe, wrought iron or similar materials. Walls of unstuccoed concrete block, unstuccoed concrete or similar materials are prohibited.”


A  three-day food drive organized by the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post earlier this month collected 274 pounds of donated food that was delivered to St. Felix Pantry in Rio Rancho October 9. Post members received donations from people who drove up to the main entrance of the Corrales Senior Center. The food bank is at 4020 Barbara Loop SE in Rio Rancho.


Corrales kids of all ages will be thrilled to know that the annual “Trunk or Treat” event that they missed last year will be happening this Halloween, with just a few COVID-inspired modifications. The event, which has  historically taken place on Halloween night on the field east of the Corrales Recreation Center, was cancelled last year due to concerns over the pandemic in Corrales. This disappointed many villagers, according to Lynn Siverts, director of Parks and Recreation Department.

This year, those concerns remain, but he thinks he has found a way to host the event safely. “We were able to host our annual fun run in September with no issues that we know of. It went really well,” Siverts said. “So we are trying to tailor the “Trunk or Treat” off of that event.”

The event will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. instead of during the usual evening hours. Siverts explained this was due to the increased visibility at a daytime event, saying “It will be easier for families to stay together as we would like them to, and easier for us to tell if people are getting too close together.”

The fact that Halloween falls on a Sunday this year also helped with this decision, since the majority of villagers do not have to work.

The organizers decided to forgo another popular tradition this year, the balloon glow. Siverts says the reasoning behind this decision was twofold. First, eliminating the balloons will make more room on the field for cars, which the department would like to space at least 30 feet apart. Second, balloons are much less impressive during the day.

There will be no electricity on the field available for “trunks” to use for decorations, and organizers are asking that no one bring trailers as was common in years past. Also, everyone attending the event should wear a mask.

“We want people to come, stay close to the family and friends they come with, get candy, and go home. And of course we want them to have fun!” Siverts said.

Mckenzie Jenkins is the new recreation specialist, and she is working closely with Siverts as the primary organizer for this event.

The Parks and Rec Department is asking for donations of candy. Though “trunks” bring their own candy, they typically run out, and the organizers replenish the stocks throughout the event. Candy can be donated at the Village Office. Anyone interested in being a “trunk” at the event can register by calling the Parks and Recreation Department at (505) 899-8900.


Are we at risk of running out of our smelly, black-and-white striped neighbors?  At least two have met their demise recently on Corrales Road pavement at the south end of the village. How many more can the ecosystem afford to lose before it collapses? Perhaps those untimely deaths could have been avoided if only they had used the freshly painted black-and-white striped crosswalks. But then, our skunk citizens probably were left out of the deliberative process by which the location and design of Corrales’ new crosswalks were determined.

More likely a vigorous skunk education effort should have been implemented. The mostly nocturnal mammals related to badgers have notoriously poor eyesight —most can’t see objects more than 10 feet away.

Corrales attracts skunks because skunk real estate remains reasonable despite becoming increasingly prohibitive for humans. And so far, the price of a good meal out on the town is within budget. They will eat most anything, but are especially partial to pet food.

Also on the menu, they hope: fallen fruit and unharvested garden produce, but they’ll settle for grubs, worms, snakes, lizards and mice.

Skunks are best known for their perfume, which they spray from anal glands to ward off predators. But a persistently curious dog can be assured that any skunk only has about five squirts available at any time. More than a week is needed to refill.

The human nose detects skunk odor from a distance at concentrations of just 11.3 parts per billion in ambient air.

A suitably introduced family dog can be decontaminated by scrubbing the coat with a mixture of dilute hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish washing liquid.


A petition is circulating in Corrales urging Village officials to get behind a plan for a senior living complex at the corner of Corrales Road and Dixon Road, where Sunbelt Nursery is now. The petition can be found at the website for Village in the Village, referred to as “Age-Friendly Housing Initiative Petition.” A post at the ViV website includes the following to address frequently asked questions.

  • “Why is age-friendly housing important to Corrales?

The American Association of Retired People (AARP) defines a livable community as one that is safe and secure, has affordable and appropriate housing and transportation options, and offers supportive community features and service. For Corrales, this should include a form of housing for seniors currently challenged to maintain their large homes and acreage. Age-friendly housing is much more compact and less expensive than single family homes. Neighbors are close by, and services can be shared.

  • Key demographics show that Corrales is getting older, with almost 40 percent of the population over 60. Housing that allows independent, aging seniors to remain in Corrales is vital.
  • Are casitas and age-friendly housing one and the same?

No, casitas represent a second property on an existing residential lot. Age-friendly housing provides long term, senior accessible rentals within the commercial zone/business district. It is a unique opportunity that should not affect the one residence per acre residential ordinance.

  • Where would this housing be built and why is this space ideal?

The plan under consideration is for a 10-townhouse (five duplexes) development on the corner of Dixon and Corrales Road, the current site of Sunbelt Landscaping.

The townhouses will be in the commercial section of Corrales where zoning allows for increased construction density for restaurants, offices and shops all of which could be more square footage than our senior housing project. The site is also walkable to our many amenities —restaurants, shops, pharmacy, churches, the bosque, etc.

Traffic flow should not be impacted since access in and out is from Dixon Road. Additionally, long term residents on this property should represent less traffic impact than variable retail flow from a retail space.

  • What will the housing be like?

Each individual two-dwelling duplex will have two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a one-car garage separating units for sound reduction. Each townhome will be 1,300 square feet and rented separately. All will be wheelchair accessible. The property will be attractively landscaped to enhance our Scenic By-way. Landscaping will support water preservation goals and easy maintenance and will be the responsibility of the landlord.

  • What about concerns regarding sewer and water usage?

Because the project is in the commercial zone it will connect to the Village waste control system. In addition, this project features state of the art, innovative methods for sewage processing and gray water recycling of 50 percent of the total water usage.

  • Doesn’t this open the door for yet more large scale development in Corrales?

No, the bar set by this project is high and the options within the commercial zone are limited by space and financing.

  • What assurance is there that seniors will occupy these properties?

The developer, Frank Steiner, is committed to renting to seniors first and will only rent to others if no seniors apply.

  • Why is VIV in support of this petition?

Village in the Village supports efforts to help seniors stay in the Village as they age and creating a livable community is an important component of this goal. Many other communities across the United States are addressing the needs of a livable community with some form of age-friendly housing. This project is not funded or financially supported by ViV, but due to its alignment with ViV’s mission, ViV acknowledges the merits and intent.


After freezing temperatures in Corrales, Seed2Need organizers are seeking help wrapping up this year’s gardens. During the Saturday, November 6 clean-up day, a variety of tasks are required: pulling up plants, stacking tomato cages and generally cleaning up the garden sites. Work will start at 9 a.m. on the lot just east of 176 Manierre Road.

“Our 2021 harvest total was 85,626 pounds,” Seed2Need’s David Butler reported. “Our total harvest since 2010 is 695,716 pounds” which has gone to area food banks and other institutions feeding those in need.

For more information on how you can help, e-mail Seed2Need at Seed2Need@   Seed2Need is a 501(c)(3) non-profit volunteer organization.

Seed2Need has been an independent, grassroots effort, growing food for the poor from gardens in Corrales since 2008. The gardens have grown from a 40 square foot plot in an abandoned corral. 

Penny Davis, who started the project, tended the 2009 garden with help from Master Gardeners Judy Jacobs, Nella Sanchez-Cook, Lozen Snyder and Annaclaire Hunter.


By Stephani Dingreville

The Corrales Community Library has historically been a place for villagers to find seeds of knowledge within its deep literary collection. But beginning February 2022, villagers will be able to borrow a different kind of seed, one that can actually be planted in the ground. Sandra Baldonado, Corrales’ adult services librarian, is the author of this new program. It all started one day when Library Volunteer Dar Brady shared seeds from her home garden with Baldonado. As she planted the seeds in her own garden, an idea was being planted in Baldonado’s mind, one for a program that would encourage this kind of seed sharing within the Corrales Community. She began to research a way the library could facilitate such an effort.

Baldonado brought her idea to the Friends of the Corrales Library, (FOCL) the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has supported the library for over 50 years. Baldonado said the FOCL then “generously funded the seed packet cabinet and seeds.”

The seeds will be displayed in a beautiful, wall-mounted, wooden repository made by local woodworker Bob Serier. This furniture was donated by FOCL years ago and previously used as a display for pamphlets. The new seed cabinet will fit underneath, and both will be in the adult computer room located just to the left (east) of the main check-out desk. The box for seed donations now sits under the display. The FOCL will also be funding any additional program expenses.

Baldonado then contacted Sam Thompson with  the Sandoval Extension Master Gardener local chapter  (SEMG), who was helpful with resources and information.

Together, Thompson and Baldonado brainstormed ways SEMG could participate in the Corrales program. Baldonado recalled “The Sandoval Master Gardener handbook is available in the library, the SEMG has information for patrons on their website, and I would also like to have ongoing programs in collaboration with [SEMG] to provide education and resources in 2022.”

The Corrales Community Seed Library was then selected to receive donations of seeds by the Herman’s Garden Seed Donation Program, part of Seed Savers Exchange. According to its website, Seed Savers Exchange “houses the nation’s largest non-governmental seed bank of its kind, where thousands of rare, heirloom varieties are safeguarded for generations to come.”

Each year Seed Savers Exchange donates more than 60,000 packets of seed to more than 600 gardens worldwide through the Herman’s Garden program.

Thanks to these efforts by Baldonado and so many others, beginning in February, library patrons will be able to borrow up to 15 seed packets per year. These they can take home, plant, care for and cultivate into full-grown plants that make seeds of their own. Then the borrower can return these seeds to the library, labeled carefully, for other patrons to check out.

Of course there aren’t any guarantees that any individual borrower will be able to successfully bring seeds back, but the advantages of the program far outweigh the risks.

“The benefits of a seed lending library are many. It is a way to build community with fellow gardeners and support people who are new to the world of gardening,” Baldonado said.  “It also preserves rare, heirloom or open pollinated seeds and encourages our community to save quality seeds that are suitable to our growing area.”

In her book Saving More Than Seeds: Practices and Politics of Seed Saving, University of Melbourne Faculty Member Catherine Phillips says: “Seeds are indispensable as a means of reproducing food, as food themselves, as part of ecosystems that support and constrain us, and as part of our cultural heritages. Seeds (and their plants) are part of the socionatural challenges we face in loss of biodiversity, maintaining food security, adapting to climate change and sustaining rural and urban livelihoods. The histories and destinies of both seeds and people have become entwined.“

Corrales history is preserved in the seeds that have proliferated here, saved from generation to generation. Baldonado tells the story of one gentleman who responded to a library Facebook post about the Seed Library, saying he had two special seed varieties to donate, both collected from late Corrales farmer Annie Chavez.

One called “Esperanza de Oro” (Cucumis Melo), is a mostly smooth-skinned native melon, interbred for years with Crenshaw melons. These melons were selected and bred for their size and sweetness by a Corrales farmer, and named for his family business.

The other is called “Corrales Azafrán” (Carthamus tinctorius). “Azafrán” is a Spanish word meaning saffron in English, and this red/orange thistle-like flower, although unrelated, was used as a saffron substitute in the Spanish colonies. Corrales’ Annie Chavez was known for the beautiful wreaths she made from this and other flowers that grew on her farm.  Both of these seed varieties are available on the website, and they will soon be available in the Corrales Seed Library as well.

The Seed Library is looking for more donations of rare, heirloom and open-pollinated seeds. These would be seeds villagers have grown year after year, or purchased seeds that are not hybridized or genetically modified. They also do not want seeds that are labeled “PVP,” indicating they are protected by an intellectual copyright and should not be shared. 

Seed donations can be placed in the seed donation box at the library, with as much information as possible about the seeds and growing methods attached. Seeds can also be mailed to the library at 84 W. La Entrada / P.O. Box 1868. Corrales NM 87048.

“I’m so grateful for community participation,” Baldonado added. “Volunteers have been packaging seeds and so many community members have brought in local seed varieties to share.”

Villagers can sign up to volunteer labeling and packaging seeds for the program by sending an email to, or inquiring at the circulation desk.

Through the seed library, villagers will have an exciting new way to cultivate more than just the ground outside their houses, but also Corrales’ rural heritage. By borrowing, saving and returning their most successful seeds, Corraleños can help protect, preserve, and evolve the rich biodiversity that defines our village.

In 2014, the Albuquerque Library established a seed library, now housed at its South Broadway branch.


It’s not yet clear how election re-districting based on the 2020 census will affect Corrales and its representation in the N.M. Legislature. A process is underway, led by retired N.M. Supreme Court Justice Edward Chavez, which has solicited citizens’ suggestions for how district lines should be drawn. As of mid-September, the Citizens Redistricting Committee had approved seven options for consideration, although more could be added. The district maps proposed can be found at

Almost certainly the growth of Rio Rancho’s population during the past decade will result in another seat in the legislature for that community. But the re-districting to accommodate that could easily affect Corrales’ representation. Right now,  Corrales has two representatives in  the N.M. House:  Republican Jane Powdrell-Culbert in District 44 and Democrat Daymon Ely in District 23.

Voter district maps will be re-drawn for congressional and gubernatorial elections as well.

“This is an important part of our democracy,” according to Judge Chavez. “We want the public to be active in the process.”

A selection is expected October 15, and then that choice will be forwarded to state legislature which is tentatively planning a special session for it in December.

Key factors in creating voter districts include keeping roughly the same number of voters in each, not diluting the voting strength of minorities and grouping citizens with similar interests together so that their expressions of interest are not fragmented.

The latter might mean, for example, that the agricultural heritage of both the North Valley and Corrales might be grouped into a single district rather than be split. It could also mean the North Valley and the South Valley could be grouped, and Corrales could be grouped with other communities west of the river, such as Paradise Hills and Taylor Ranch.

Representative Daymon Ely told Corrales Comment September 14 that the coming re-districting will not affect his own electoral prospects because he will not seek re-election. “As far as my plans, I am really done. I have really enjoyed my time in politics, and, weirdly, I am leaving more idealistic than when I went in. But honestly, it’s time for new blood!”

Ely said the legislature’s re-districting session is likely to start December 6 and last up to two weeks.


By Stephani Dingreville

It is 2 p.m. on a breezy October Thursday and the Corrales Library park is buzzing with activity. Parents are watching their children play on the playground, a couple is throwing a ball for their dog to chase, and several picnic blankets patchwork the grass. Near the east wall of the library, a different kind of buzz has attracted a small group of about ten people. They have come to officially dedicate the new Corrales Pollinator Garden, a riot of blue, purple and gold flowers, each chosen for its desirability to pollinators, specifically bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.

Sandoval Extension Master Gardener Sam Thompson has been the main driver behind bringing this beautiful space to life, though it has certainly been a village-wide effort. Thompson, along with Judy Jacobs, Paget Rose, and other Master Gardeners had dreamed of converting the unused and unattractive space behind the library into a garden that would be not only beautiful but educational as well.

Then one evening in 2019, Corrales Parks and Recreation Director Lynn Siverts, who knew about Thompson’s garden idea, called her cell phone. Siverts told her he just learned about a grant Intel Corporation was offering for community development that he thought might perfectly fit her project. The only catch was that the applications for the grant were due the next day.

In spite of this last-minute deadline, Thompson was able to write the application in time. She got the grant, giving Corrales the funds to create the pollinator garden.

However, transforming the barren space into a garden turned out to be more difficult than anyone initially imagined.

First the soil had to be improved. “Calling it soil was generous,” Thompson jokes of the pre-existing ground at the site. Crusher fine had to be removed, and great amounts of compost brought in to make the soil viable. Siverts helped again with this part, enlisting Mike Chavez, the director of Public Works, to assist with the heavy lifting.

Then the Master Gardeners went to work on the design, choosing plants based on specific criteria. First and foremost, the gardeners looked at the plant’s ability to attract pollinators.  “Every single plant was chosen for pollinator capabilities,” Master Gardener Judy Jacobs said. The Master Gardeners then looked at the plants’ ability to thrive in the lighting and soil conditions, and lastly their beauty. The garden is intended to have color from early spring to December.

Mostly the plants were started from seed, and slowly grew into the beauties being dedicated today. Master Gardener Paget Rose commented on the ephemerality of the space, saying “It changes everyday. Every week I am excited to see how it has grown and changed, as it will continue to grow, fill-in, and change from year to year."

Thompson says the choice to make this garden specifically for pollinators was made for educational purposes. The garden hopes to host school groups who can learn more about the vital role pollinators play in the village ecosystem, as well as the important work they do in combating climate change.

Recently, ecologist Jeff Ollerton, a visiting professor of biodiversity at The University of Northampton, wrote an article published in New Scientist magazine emphasizing the critical role pollinators play in combating climate change, specifically through the entrapment of carbon.

“Pollinators ensure the continuation of plant populations that lock up carbon in their woody stems, roots, bulbs and tubers. The best way to restore natural habitats to help fight global warming is through natural regeneration from seeds, and for that we need pollinators,” he wrote.

So, not only does this garden act as a teaching tool, but it also is itself a nature-based solution to climate change.

The librarians who work at the Corrales Library have mentioned that the section of the park in front of the garden was previously not as crowded as other areas, but now people spend more time there. Anchoring the space is a beautiful hand-hewn wooden bench, another collaborative effort. The seat of the bench was donated by Jacob Thaler and his father, Rick, of DendroTechnology.

The latter shared a unique anecdote about the bench during the dedication.

The late Pete Smith, the woodworker who carved the library’s much-admired circulation desk and other carvings that  adorn the library, left some logs in his driveway after his death.

Smith’s family knew the Thaler team would make use of them, and so offered them to DendroTechnology. Rick Thaler thought this project would be a perfect use of the logs, since the library was so important to Smith. He had assumed the logs were juniper or piñon, but when he and his son cut the logs into planks, they were pleasantly surprised to see they were very rare Corrales Walnut.

So the gorgeous slab that makes up the bench in the pollinator garden actually comes from the heart of a locally grown walnut tree, donated indirectly from the woodworker-artist who already poured his own talent into the library itself. The Thalers shaped, sanded and polished the slab to a gleaming perfection.

The metal legs for the bench were donated by Jeff Barrows, who made the fence that surrounds the library.

Villagers will no doubt enjoy this enriching addition to their library park, made possible by the hands, hearts and minds of so many,  for many generations to come.


If you know you ought to be doing more to help slow global warming but just can’t quite get motivated to make  drastic lifestyle changes, stop by the Corrales Comment/Radford residence some afternoon. It’s an owner-built passive solar home, and this time of year a crucial part of it undergoes super-heating in preparation for winter. The idea is to  deliver as much heat as possible to thermal mass inside the home —meaning adobe wall, brick floor and even an old-fashioned cast iron bathtub— without overheating the rest of the home.

This time of year, the attached greenhouse is closed up tight to trap as much of the sun’s heat as possible and allow that to super-heat the adjacent bathroom which was designed to be the major source of warmth during winter months, gradually releasing heat to bedrooms, living room and kitchen.

In mid-afternoon September 18, the temperature in the greenhouse was 124 degrees F. Maybe if you stood there for even a few minutes, you might feel motivated to act on climate change.

No one is suggesting that typical temperatures in Corrales might top 120 degrees on a regular basis during the next 30 years, but there’s little doubt but that it will get much hotter. You wouldn’t like 124.

But you probably would like a bathroom at 100 degrees when you stepped out of the shower. You’d hardly need to towel off.

All summer, the insulated sliding glass door between the bathroom and the greenhouse had remained closed so heat didn’t reach interior rooms. And the greenhouse windows were open, assisted by a ceiling vent. To keep summer temperatures down, the greenhouse has a series of small fans —powered by a solar electric panel on the roof— to expel hot air when unwanted.

Tomato plants, collards, chile peppers, kale, herbs and other foods produced in their respective seasons, and beyond. A tomato plant growing for the past 18 months had blossoms September 18. Red chile peppers on two plants were ready to harvest as more blossoms  opened. Once, a collard plant grew for three years, attaining an extraordinary size.

But come fall, most of the vegetables and flowers must give way to the new priority: home heating without burning fossil fuels. Although —full disclosure— the home and newspaper office are served by a conventional natural gas heater as back-up. Even then, the hot water pumped from the heater to rooms via radiant in-floor tubes is pre-heated with a roof top solar collector.

—Jeff Radford


Next March, Corrales voters will elect a mayor and three members of the Village Council. Terms will be expiring for Mayor Jo Anne Roake, Council District 1 Councillor Kevin Lucero, Council District 3’s Mel Knight and Council District 4’s Tyson Parker. All positions are for four years.

At its October 12 session the council passed a resolution notifying the N.M. Secretary of State that those positions will be filled at the coming municipal election.

Typically, villagers interested in running for municipal office begin considering their prospects —and expected time available to serve— in December, before filing a declaration of candidacy in January.

The council meets twice a month, in recent years on the second and fourth Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m.

None of those for whom terms are expiring have announced publicly whether they intend to seek re-election.

Those elected, and those councillors with two years remaining on their terms, are expected to grapple with revisions to the Corrales Comprehensive Plan, extension of sewer service to  neighborhoods east and west of Corrales Road, amendments to the Village’s land use regulations, a decision whether to take ownership of what is now State Highway 448, Corrales Road, and protections for habitat in the Bosque Preserve, among other issues.


A benefit for the Corrales Arts Center Sunday, November 14, offers an online  tour of the sculpture garden and other artwork collected by Jim and Angelique Lowry. It is the third in the art center’s “Exploring Artful Places” available to both members and non-members. A $15 ticket can be purchased at the center’s website. The tour begins at 3 p.m. For more information, call 505-269-8385.

The tour is described as “primarily an outdoor sculpture collection that is a beautifully landscaped garden into which a variety of small-and large-scale sculpture is placed.”

It includes some of the art collection indoors as well. Most of the work is by New Mexico artists, including those living in Corrales and Albuquerque.

“Much of the work is highly abstract, often inspired by nature,” according to an organizer for Visiting Artful Places,  Julius Kaplan. “The collection is very personal, and the process of purchasing them was random.  Sometimes a piece would be seen at a gallery simply by chance. On some occasions, art professions would bring works to the collector’s attention.”

The Lowrys began the collection about 20 years ago.


A Music in Corrales concert brings in the Friction Quartet which will perform in La Entrada Park at 3 p.m Saturday, October 23. In addition to works by Dvořák and Prokofiev, a special feature of this concert is the live premier of a new version of “El Correcaminos” a four-movement composition by Nicholas Lell Benavides. The original version premiered in San Francisco in 2019.  Benavides grew up in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, just across the river, and graduated from Albuquerque Academy before attending Santa Clara, San Francisco Conservatory and the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music. He is a storyteller through music, drawing on his New Mexico roots and culture.

He recently premiered a new opera at the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for Washington National Opera called “Pepito” with librettist Marella Martin Koch.  They have been selected as the recipients of West Edge Opera’s Aperture commission to develop an evening length opera about civil rights icon Dolores Huerta.

Below are El Correcaminos program notes:

“It’s difficult to capture New Mexico in one symbol. I, like many New Mexicans, am the product of generations of love, conflict, migration, peace, war, spirituality, colonialism and progressivism. New Mexico is the meeting place of the South, West, East and North, much like the four-sided Zia symbol on our state flag.

“Puebloans lived here for thousands of years, followed by the Navajo (Diné), the Spanish, then Mexicans, and finally the Americans. I’ve found myself pondering how they all saw the same Land of Enchantment and how some must have gotten along and even fallen in love.

“New Mexico’s state bird, the roadrunner, has a universal and positive appeal for almost all of the cultures that intermingled there. Roadrunners are beautiful, athletic, fearless and mysterious.

 “The first movement, ‘Chaparral Bird,’ is about the Americans heading West. Their primary concern was getting lost and their superstition was that the roadrunner would lead them back to the trail. It’s about wading into the unknown and finding your way again.

“The second movement, ‘El Correcaminos,’ is primarily about the Mexicans who arrived (influenced by the Spanish) from the South (and somewhat the West) in the 18th and 19th centuries. They were looking to settle permanently, and saw el correcaminos as a fertility blessing like a stork. They were elated to see one, as it meant there was a future in this place.

“The third movement, ‘Tadai,’ takes its name from the O’odham language, one of the many Uto-Aztecan languages. The Hopi, one of the diverse groups of Puebloans in the Southwest (who speak a language in this family, believed that the roadrunner could protect against evil spirits. The symmetrical feet could conceal which direction the bird was headed, making them difficult to track. This movement uses symmetrical structures that are constantly rotating and breaking. The piece feels repetitive, but never exactly repeats itself.

“The fourth movement, ‘Cyx,’ is how I imagine the roadrunner thinks of itself. The name comes from the scientific name for roadrunner, Geococcyx. As a child I would see how close I could get to one, and then I’d find myself retreating as I realized the bird was not about to cede ground to me, a creature it has survived and lived alongside for thousands of years. This movement combines elements from all the previous movements and bolts frantically from one bit of material to the next.”


A Day of the Dead event is planned at Casa Perea Art Space, 4829 Corrales Road, October 30  through November 4. Corrales Poet Laureate Rudy Miera invites submission of poetry in any form for the event, along with photos, mementos, toys and other remembrances for a “Corrales community altar.” Miera will receive poetry in haiku, free verse or any style on Wednesdays and Thursdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m at Casa Perea Art Space. Poems should be typed on an eight-and-a-half by 11 sheet of paper that includes the author’s name.

Themes for submitted poetry are love/amor, recuerdos/memories and honor or recognition.

Anything to be included in the community altar should be submitted on Monday, October 25 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. at Casa Perea.

The Día de los Muertos exhibit opening will be on Saturday, October 30, 6-9 a.m.

Students at Corrales Elementary have produced artwork for the community altar.


The organization formed in 1993 to press Intel to better control its chemical emissions has recently changed its name to Clean Air for All Now, using the acronym CAFANOW. The group was established with the name Corrales Residents for Clean Air and Water (CRCAW). It played an important role in convincing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to fund and oversee a study of Intel’s emissions and later investigations by the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the National Enforcement Investigations Center. The Rio Rancho realtor whose petition to the ATSDR led to the six-year study, Marcy Brandenburg, has spearheaded the name change in an attempt to re-vitalize the grassroots citizens’ group and acknowledge that residents affected by emissions are not just those in Corrales.

“No matter where you reside, air pollution affects us all,” Brandenburg pointed out in an email October 6. She has demanded that the N.M. Environment Department regulate Intel Rio Rancho as a major source of air pollution, rather than what she calls “the sham air permit currently in place.” Among Intel’s list of 82 federally designated Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) in the air pollution permit are: phosgene, phosphine, mercury, glycol ethers, cyanide, arsenic, chromium, phosphorus, chlorine, chloroform, benzene, formaldehyde, hexachloroethane,  hydrogen fluoride, hydrochloric acid, and toluene.

Even if Intel were to be regulated as a major source of air pollution, it would still allow release to the breathable air up to nine tons a year of each of those HAPs or a combined 24 tons a year.

Another list in the permit found in Table 106C “Facility Wide Allowable Individual HAP Emissions” shows Intel is specifically allowed to release 5.9 tons a year of phosgene, 7.9 tons of phosphine, 7.4 tons annually of cresols and 3.9 tons of hexachlorocyclopentadiene, along with specified amounts of  11 other toxic air pollutants.

While Intel’s gas-fired boilers, incinerators and diesel-burning generators might be suspected as the major greenhouse gas emitters at the manufacturing complex, some of the chemicals used to produce the finely-etched chips are far more potent climate changers.

Some of Intel’s chemicals, such as chlorinated fluorocarbons,  have GHG effects that are 10 times greater than the combustion product carbon dioxide,

For years Brandenburg operated a small business near Intel where she suffered chronic illnesses she attributed to Intel’s fumes.

She joined CRCAW and followed the proceedings and findings of the EPA-funded Corrales Air Toxics Study which the Air Quality Bureau’s Mary Uhl directed in 2002-04.

That $600,000 study was abruptly halted in spring 2004 when Uhl reported that a consultant’s air pollution plume modeling results showed Intel’s pollution was traced to nearby residents’ homes at the time they reported illnesses.

Such a finding was unacceptable politically. Cabinet level officials within Governor Bill Richardson’s administration huddled to find a way through the dilemma.

(See Corrales Comment Vol.XXIII, No. 5, April 24, 2004 “Late Report Links Illnesses to Intel Emission Plume” and Vol.XXIII, No. 9, June 19, 2004 “Cabinet Secretaries Don‘t Believe Air Pollution Problem”)


The daunting challenge of grappling with climate change, and the environmental destruction already occurring, can fuel feelings of anxiety, depression and hopelessness, a professor warns. Jennifer Atkinson, an associate professor of environmental humanities at the University of Washington, Bothell, has gained national attention for focusing on this psychological phenomenon  —what’s been called eco-anxiety, climate grief and eco-distress— that is perhaps unique to our Anthropocene Age. On October 20, Atkinson will lead a virtual talk discussing her work, Climate Anxiety, Grief and Hope: Moving from Angst to Action. The 7 p.m. virtual talk is provided free by New Mexico State University’s Climate Change Education Seminar Series.

 Atkinson will discuss healthy approaches to the stresses that arise from confronting the reality of climate change, in order to help those concerned stay engaged in action.

 “Staying engaged in climate solutions over the long term requires us to avoid emotional burnout; yet when bombarded with so much bad news  — mass extinction, dying oceans, displaced communities and burning forests — this is easier said than done,” Atkinson said. “These talks explore the mental health dimensions of climate disruption among students, scientists, activists and frontline communities, and shares practical strategies for building the emotional resilience to channel despair into meaningful action.”

Atkinson is working on a book titled, An Existential Toolkit for the Climate Crisis, which provides strategies that young people can use to cope with the emotional cost of confronting climate change. Atkinson has also produced a podcast, “Facing It,” which offers tools to channel eco-anxiety into action, and she is also leading public seminars on climate and mental health, many available through a website, An Existential Toolkit for Climate Justice Educators.

 For more information and to register for upcoming events in the Climate Change Education Seminar Series, visit

 The final series installment for the fall semester will be a virtual talk at 7 p.m. November 17 by Karletta Chief of the University of Arizona titled, “Unique Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources of American Indians and Alaska Natives in the U.S.”


Plans for a casita or, alternatively, a workshop next to a new home at the north end of the valley are expected to go to district court after the Village Council ruled against an appeal to overturn the Planning and Zoning Administrator’s denial of a building permit. At the council’s October 12 meeting,  it endorsed the Village Attorney’s “findings and conclusions of law” arising from an appeal by Ken DeHoff for his property at 66 Bad Coyote Place, the site which was to have been a cannabis farm operated by the Verdes Foundation in 2017. DeHoff said he and his wife “will not be granting any further illusion of inclusion to this farce of a process,” and therefore declined to be present at the October 12 meeting. “We will not be present for the vote to approve your fictional account of events.”

Although he said his position had great public support, “we were still denied by the Village, but the next step, district court, will allow us to have this heard by a judge.”

He said his submission of construction plans to obtain a building permit was rejected by P&Z Administrator Laurie Stout for arbitrary and capricious reasons and not consistent with her action in a recent similar case.

He referred to the Village’s decision allowing construction of a large casita at a new home construction site on West Ella Drive.  (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXIX No.13 September 19, 2020 “West Ella ‘Casita’ Draws Neighbors’ Ire.”)

DeHoff argued in the appeal hearing that P&Z’s denial of a building permit twice on slightly different plans was in conflict with Corrales precedent and state and constitutional laws. “We have been told that we were attempting to build two dwelling units, which is a violation of code as specified y the new Ordinance 21-04. We had two plan submissions denied by Laurie before a third version of our plans was approved when we modified them to add a door, heat and a hallway based on Laurie’s requirement that ‘all rooms are part of the same contiguous heated space and are accessible from the same door.’

“We are asking that our initial July 16 plans be approved, without the door and hallway modification. Further, we believe  [that] Ordinance 21-04 changes Section 18 to be in violation of state law, making sections of it invalid and recommend the removal of Ordinance 21-04’s changes.”

He said the ordinance’s prohibition of “accessory dwelling units” did not apply  to his plans “because we aren’t trying to build an accessory dwelling unit.”

DeHoff added that “we submitted two versions of our plans, one as a casita, the other with the same physical space called a shop. Laurie denied both, saying they were not properly ‘connected’”  to the main structure.

In his appeal to the council, DeHoff explained that his first submission on July 16 “referred to the area as a casita with a casita kitchen (with no appliances, which was consistent with the prior Section 18), the second of our three bedrooms and a bathroom. Laurie denied this submission calling it ‘a separate apartment with a kitchen that is connected to the garage, but not connected to rooms of the house.

“The second submission on July 20 referred to the same physical area as a shop with a workbench and an office and bathroom, and we reduced the bedroom count on the permit from three to two. Laurie stated, after denying this second submission, that connected means ‘all rooms are part of the same contiguous heated space and accessible through the same door.’ It is clear in view of these two denials that the Village takes a capricious and arbitrary approach to enforcing Section 18, such that no reasonable person will be able to guess at what may be considered valid.”

It has become almost commonplace in recent years that people seeking to build a home on a Corrales lot will include a smaller, secondary residential house on the same lot, which is perceived by many villagers as circumvention of  Corrales’ long-standing one-dwelling-per-acre rule. Those concerns have been based on assuring continuation of the community’s low-density environment and corresponding protection of groundwater quality for domestic wells.

Corrales’ laws have allowed “casitas,” or guesthouses, on a one-acre lot, as long as the secondary residence did not have a kitchen.

Since the earliest days of Corrales’ incorporation as a municipality in 1971, a bedrock policy has been adherence to low-density housing. Candidates for elective office here always have vowed to protect the one-acre minimum lot size rule.

But even going back to the early 1970s, many Corrales properties already had “casitas” which were often rented for extra income. Commonly, property owners would seek permission for secondary dwellings so that a relative or other caregiver could assist an ailing or aged resident in the big house. But even such hardship cases were often denied.

Still, for many Corraleños, it has been a truism that sooner or later the one-acre minimum rule would fall. If and when that day comes, the quality of Corrales’ drinking water will become an unavoidable issue.


Opposition has continued to removal of trees and shrubs next to the levee in the Corrales Bosque Preserve after the Village Council gave a go-ahead to Fire Chief Anthony Martinez and the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District. At the October 10 meeting, the fire chief 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.

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 swathe of trees is the way to solve the problem.”

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 now, it might be determined a year from now 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-existant, 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 3 percent of the total bosque, my walk today revealed that it is likely the most important 3 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 3, 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 10 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 10-20 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:

  • Leave all New Mexico olive untouched within the entire 20 feet from the levee toe.
  • The Hawks Aloft transects should be left untouched by this project.
  • Do not clear the entire 10-foot strip along the entire length of the levee but only where needed, at identified intervals where access into the bosque is required for fire equipment and personnel.
  • Remove all cut trees and other dead and down wood generated by this project and others within the 20-foot area from the levee toe, and remove it out of the bosque.”

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.


Villagers have 6.38 million reasons to vote in the upcoming local election. That is the amount of money Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) is earmarking for Corrales Elementary School if residents vote in favor of APS bonds. According to the sample ballots on the Sandoval County website, there will be two questions dedicated to APS. One will ask voters to approve the issuance of $200 million of general obligation (GO) bonds to be used for the upkeep of Albuquerque schools. The second will be to renew the mill levy tax rate. This tax was instituted in 2016, and if it is renewed for the next six years, APS will receive about $430 million for the same purpose. Villagers will not see an increase in taxes if the bond passes.

Sayre Gerhart, staff architect and project manager for APS, told the Comment that Corrales Elementary’s $6.3 million would be “for the first phase of a renovation/refurbishment project that also will include a new gym, cafeteria and playgrounds.” 

Corrales Elementary Principal Liv Baca-Hochaussler says about the bond money: “We desperately need to upgrade our plumbing, especially in the older (west) campus. Our students would greatly benefit if we were able to build a new gymnasium, especially considering we are offering after-school sports and activities and would love to offer more!”

A similar bond was rejected by voters in February 2019. Corrales Elementary Gifted Teacher Ursula Kelly said the 2019 bond “would have been used to make HVAC improvements that would have made the school much more able to address unexpected safety issues surrounding the worldwide pandemic. Corrales was one of the schools that did not have adequate air quality or water quality.” She summarized, “Evey bond that is rejected puts us farther behind.”

APS is one of the largest employers in New Mexico, so an investment into schools represents an investment in economic growth for many.

“Also notable is that these funds account for 70 percent of commercial construction in the metro area,” former Village Councillor Gerhart added, quoting an Albuquerque Journal report from October. Construction projects like the one proposed at Corrales Elementary represent an investment in the commercial construction trade.

This industry employs over 47,000 New Mexicans, according to the New Mexico Labor Market Review from May 2021. The construction industry, usually a reliable source of employment growth in New Mexico, has seen an uncharacteristic 1 percent decrease in jobs in the last year state-wide.

Also on the ballot will be candidates for Soil and Water Conservation District: Zoe L. Economou, Frederick J. Snoy II, James Steven Glass and Kaelan Ashby Dreyer. Each of these candidates is running for four-year appointments as supervisors.

Election Day is November 2. Early voting has already begun at the Corrales Community Center (4326 Corrales Road in the northeast corner of the Village Office complex, beside the Senior Center), and runs until October 30, Mondays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.


Arguably the best Village Clerk Corrales has had during its 50 years as a municipality, Aaron Gjullin resigned effective October 15 to finish up a doctorate in biology and start medical school. In an interview for Corrales Comment, the life-long village resident said the essential skill for the job is an ability to juggle 20 balls at the same time. “Basically, you just have to stay organized.”

Starting with a summer job at the Corrales Recreation Center when he was 15, Gjullin has worked for Village government here ever since, except for his time at the University of Portland .

Initially he had planned on becoming an engineer, “following in my parents’ footsteps but it turned out I really didn’t like that, so I bounced into biology which was always my forte in school. But I really enjoyed math so I took a lot of that. It turned out I was only two courses away from a math major so I did that as well.

“I finished my mathematics degree at the University of Portland in 2015, and when I moved back to New Mexico, I finished my biology degree through UNM in 2018.”

After graduating in Portland, Gjullin was a bit burnt out so he found a job working for a farmer one summer. “I wanted something really easy where I didn’t have to think a great deal. Basically I sat on a tractor planting potatoes all summer. But it didn’t take long — much like here —before he said, ‘Oh, you’re pretty smart and capable,’ so he gave me more and more things to do and I wound up as general manager by the time I left.”

He moved back to New Mexico in 2018 and went to work in the Parks and Recreation Department, assisting Lynn Siverts while helping in the Village Office on the website and other tasks.

He expects to take the exam for medical school by April, and then resume working on a doctorate in biology as well.

When he was asked to apply for the Village Clerk position, he was basically ignorant about what the job entailed. In retrospect, he thinks that may have been an advantage —for himself and for the community. “I was really going in blind, so to speak. I spent the first few months learning how to do the job correctly, instead of how we had always done it in the past.

“That set me up well. It made it real easy for me to be compliant with what the laws and procedures required.”

Asked what he considered his strengths to have been in the office, he said it was responsiveness to villagers’ inquiries. “I’ve  tried really, really hard to be responsive, even if it just meant shooting of a quick note. Just being responsive was a big improvement.”

A weakness in Village government, he said, was updating the Code of Ordinances, personnel procedures and revisions to the Corrales Comprehensive Plan. He regretted he had not gotten to overhauling the Village’s business registration system. “We could make it so much simpler and streamlined.”

It doesn’t make sense to have an artist painting in her garage go through the same cumbersome process as someone opening a restaurant, he suggested. “If I’m an artist and I’m painting in my garage, do I really need a home occupation permit for something like that?  My answer is no, I think that’s really silly. But the Village Code says yes. I think we, as a Village, can address things like that better. We can use a little bit of common sense to help drive policy.

“It’s funny, but I wish that government had a common sense clause.

Asked what he sees as Corrales’ biggest challenges in the years ahead, Gjullin responded “Corrales has an identity crisis, at the end of the day. We, as a village, don’t have a clear vision for what we would like to be or what we would like to continue to be.

“And I think we’re seeing it with things like we really want to preserve farmland and yet it’s really hard to do so. There’s not a whole lot of it left. The reality is that we’re not an agricultural community any more. We have moved completely into becoming a bedroom community. So what are the ramifications of that?

An aspect of the identity problem is that Village governments must make decisions that will be regarded as positive for some people and negative for others. “Sometimes you  just have to make a choice and there’s no way to satisfy both of them. Or you make no choice and that has ramifications also.”

But it leads to misconceptions about Village government… almost like a conspiracy theory that the government  is only making decisions to benefit  a specific group of people. Well, you know, I haven’t seen that. But I can see  how some people would make that leap, in a sense, because there are issues that the Village has to make a decision on, and it may not make everyone happy.

“But that’s not to make light of anyone’s problem. The Village will continue to struggle with that.”

Corrales Comment pointed out that one of the primary ways that communities come to grips with determining what they want to be, and to resolve crises of identity, is by generating a comprehensive plan. Corrales has one that is well past its time for update or revision.

Yet neither the mayor, council nor Planning and Zoning Commission have  begun the process to revise the 2009 plan.  Gjullin said he can explain why nothing has happened: “A comprehensive plan is something that  you want to have maximum public input for. So without it being a cop-out, the COVID-19 pandemic has made that nearly impossible. You want to have tons of meetings, asking  what do we want to do and how do we want to approach it.” Another reason for the delay is that Village officials had been waiting for the new census data.

“It seems completely silly to use 2010 census data for a 2020 comprehensive plan, especially when the new data was coming out just around the corner.”

Waiting for the 2020 census data was all the more important because Village officials were anticipating that Corrales’ population would be reported as greater than 10,000. “Getting over that 10,000 mark is a  huge step for the village and quite a scary one” in terms of requirements and obligations in state law. “Now, as it turns out, we’re not there yet.”

Asked what  advice he would give villagers wanting to improve municipal government, Gjullin easily responded “You can be a participant in decisions that affect you. Don’t stay silent because you think someone else will speak up. It’s not good if your elected officials hear only one side of an issue.”


A celebration of the Village of Corrales’ 50th anniversary of incorporation as a municipality is being re-scheduled for some time next month. In 1971, Corrales residents —mostly farmers and weekend farmers, university professors, Sandia Labs scientists, engineers and technicians and self-employed tradesmen— felt threatened by the prospect that the developers of Rio Rancho Estates would annex lands here as well. So they preemptively formed their own municipal government as protection. Mayor  Jo Anne Roake had planned activities to commemorate the incorporation earlier this year, but pandemic precautions intervened.

“As soon as I can confirm a date (I am looking at mid-November), we will be unearthing the time capsule and putting together a new one,” the mayor told Corrales Comment October 15. “I want citizens to offer suggestions as to what items they would like to represent present times in the village.

“Second, it is our hope to have some activity celebrating our 50th at the Twinklelight Parade in early December.”

Twenty-five years ago, a time capsule was sealed with commemorative materials inside and entombed in a concrete vault outside the main entrance fo the Village Offices. Village officials and the Corrales Historical Society said at the time their intention was for the capsule to be opened on the Village’s 50th anniversary.

On July 4, 1997,villagers gathered to place the time capsule there 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.”)

Inside the concrete is a plywood box containing a metal box holding items of historic interest and other memorabilia. The capsule was purchased with funds donated by Intel Corporation.

The following objects are expected to be found when the box is unlocked (if anyone can remember the combination):

  • A 1971 group photograph of the Village of Corrales’ first mayor and Village Council;
  • a group photo of the then-current mayor and council;
  • a list of all Village elected officials serving from 1971 to 1997;
  • group photos of the Corrales Volunteer Fire Department, Police Department, the Corrales Library staff and patrons of the Corrales Senior Center;
  • a postmark from the days when Corrales’ official name was “Sandoval;”
  • a photograph of the then-young Corrales Growers’ Market;
  • a videotape of the celebration of Corrales’ 25th anniversary at the Old Church;
  • photos of Corrales horses;
  • a message written by then-Mayor Gary Kanin;
  • a copy of former N.M. Senator Pauline Eisenstadt’s book on Corrales’ heritage;
  • a copy of Corrales Comment’s special edition on the 25th anniversary;
  • photographs by Jim Findley of Corrales’ first municipal election;
  • photographs of Corrales’ historic homes and structures; and
  • documents about the community’s early history.

Members of the time capsule project were: Jess Keegan, Rudy Miller, Barbara Pijoan, Del Sherrod, Michelle Frechette, Harry Roberts, Cliff Pedroncelli and Mary Harrington. Of those, only Pedroncelli, Frechette and Sherrod are thought to be still around or above ground.

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