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2021 MAY 8 ISSUE: LET’S HEAR IT FOR ALL MOMS DO


By Meredith Hughes

So when a journalist asks four Corrales-centered youngish moms how they have coped during the pandemic lockdown —with a handful of questions as a guide— the answers are rich. In honor of Mothers’ Day, we are sharing some of them with you. But first, the cast of characters: Valerie Burkett, realtor, mom to two boys and a girl, ages eight, 10 and 12; Liv Baca-Hochhausler, principal at Corrales Elementary, mom to two girls, one third grader, one in first; Keisha Wixom, yoga teacher, mom to a daughter, 11; and Stephani Dingreville, PTA president at Corrales Elementary, mom to two daughters, 12 and six. All of Burkett’s kids were in Corrales Elementary when the first lockdown rolled through in February 2020, and her work as a realtor was not deemed “essential.”

“There really was no manual or handbook on how to proceed for anyone,” she said, amused but also grateful that she did not have a large plate full of realty transactions underway when everything closed down.

“Our kids were in fifth, third and first grades, and each level and each teacher handled the school thing differently. The three first grade teachers worked together to share the lesson planning and that seemed to work best,” she said. Burkett’s husband is Village Councillor Zach Burkett. As APS attempted to maintain consistency, against the odds, summer approached, and the Burkett family decided to pull their kids from Corrales Elementary, put their daughter in a charter school, and begin homeschooling their sons. “I didn’t want them always on line.” A family member suggested the homeschool projects developed by Timberdoodle —four hours a day, four days a week. It has worked out well.

Meanwhile Principal Baca-Hochhausler was “working onsite and in person throughout the pandemic closures.  At the beginning of the school year, one of our kindergarten teachers needed to take an extended leave —so I did what any school principal should do— I made myself an online kindergarten teacher! While wearing both a principal and a kindergarten teacher hat (on top of my mom and wife hats) was difficult and overwhelming, teaching my little online group of five and six year olds was incredibly rewarding and fun.”

Because her husband teaches first grade at Monte Vista Elementary, he worked remotely from their guest room during the school closures. And her mother was able to help with school and childcare two days per week, “and my husband and I split schooling and child care the other three days —usually one daughter would come to work with me and the other would stay home (less fighting!) and then we would flip-flop the next day.”

A key question for all: “When did it first hit you re the ramifications of lockdown?” Baca-Hochhausler wrote the following: “I think it hit me a few times... we had a birthday party for our older daughter on February 29, 2020, and I remember buying extra toilet paper (it was still on the shelves in the early days), bags of dried beans, and some Clorox wipes along with party hats and plates all while thinking, ‘hmm... I wonder if we should have all these kids over at our house?’

“Then it hit me again (literally) while driving home from an empty school building on March 18, 2020. I was hit by a driver who ran a red light and broke my nose on the steering wheel.  It was surreal going to the ER, everyone was in full PPE and there was a very long line twisting throughout the parking lot for people needing COVID tests.

“But things got incredibly ‘real’ for me when the Secretary of the Public Education Department announced that New Mexico schools would not be required to make up the instructional hours from the days we had missed (we had only been closed for 10 days at that point). My school clerk and I watched the press conference on her office computer when Secretary Steward made that announcement. I said to her, ‘Oh no, that means we won’t be coming back this year.’ My clerk responded, ‘Nah, we’ll come back.’ And I thought, no, we won’t —we've had to make up two weeks of instruction before (during the blizzard of 2006), if the secretary is saying we won’t need to make up the time, we won’t be back this year.”

Keisha Wixom noted that “We never really knew what was waiting around the corner. It was a slow-building change that started at the end of Rylee’s 5th grade year at Corrales Elementary when the kids went home for the remainder of the year. From there, we thought she might start her first year of middle school with a hybrid model, but she has decided to be healthy and happy at home for 6th grade.”

“Sandia Labs required all staff to stay at home for several months, but no way my husband is going into work two days a week. Neither my daughter nor her father miss waking up early in the morning to drive across town.” Wixom, a long-time yoga instructor, put a hold on teaching classes and meeting with private clients in early March of 2020. “I have yet to return to teaching yoga and am enjoying more time with my family.”

What about pandemic-era groceries?

Wixom reported that “We had never used curbside pickup for groceries before. We will never go back to roaming the isles! This discovery was one of the biggest boons of the past year. “I have been amazed at how much money we have saved by becoming online shoppers. I now make menu plans, comparison shop three or four grocery stores online and place my pick up orders. I was a big fan of wandering store aisles before lockdown, and picking up whatever looked interesting. Now I am much more organized and we are eating better and saving so much more. I’ll never go back!”

Dingreville, whose family organized things well seemingly from the start, explained it this way. “We created a schedule at the beginning of COVID, including school time, art time, exercise time. We all remember those days as being really fun! In spite of the stress of not knowing what would happen in the world, we were having a blast at home.

“The girls have had no academic problems with remote schooling. And we’ve been lucky to have no connectivity problems. Each girl is in their own space to do their Google meets, and my husband works remotely from home, too. Sometimes I feel like I run the cafeteria in an office building, but really I just bounce from one to another, acting as support staff. My youngest needs the most attention, and reminders for when it’s time to get on and offline.”

On the other hand, regarding groceries anyway, Burkett said “that was a crazy time, half of everything was out of stock, buying via a ‘shopper,’ who sometimes made the most bizarre substitutions.” For only about three or four months, the family wore gloves and used a light bleach solution to wipe everything down. But Burkett truly loves to cook, and as a small child remembers her mom making Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai food. Lockdown gave Burkett more time to master some tasty Asian dishes, including the Vietnamese pho pictured. She follows Emmymade on YouTube for ideas. On the other hand, Baca-Hochhausler confesses she is “so over cooking.”

“Remember when there wasn’t any yeast and we all had to learn how to make sourdough?” Exercising became a priority for all four women and their families. Baca-Hochhausler bought roller skates for everyone. Wixom said “Even though we have lived in Corrales for almost a decade, we never played on the beaches or kayaked down the Rio Grande. Now it is a regular part of our weekly routine. We all love taking walks, runs and bike rides in the bosque.”

Biking is big for Burkett as well, one- to two-hour rides in the Bosque Preserve. Dingreville reported “We would walk or ride bikes in the bosque every day at the beginning. These days, it’s a bit harder to get moving all at the same time. My older daughter rides horses at the next door neighbor’s house, I walk in the bosque with the dog most mornings. Then we have a trampoline/zipline/swing situation in the back yard and my little one plays out there like a wild thing for hours every day.”

Using Zoom and similar applications was fine, as Baca-Hochhausler explained. “I’d been using Skype to talk to my Swedish grandma since the early 2000s, so Zoom wasn’t a big learning curve for me.” Wixom’s kids both found it relatively easy to adapt to school and work virtually. Some silver linings came with this new paradigm. “The family managed to keep in touch with friends and family using FaceTime.” Since most of her husband’s family lives in Utah, “this new normal has actually allowed us to visit with them more often than before.”

Grandparents helped enormously via FaceTime, too, according to Dingreville. “Although my husband’s parents are in France and my parents are in North Carolina, my kiddos are able to see them and ‘play’ with them almost daily over the computer. They have always connected this way, so that wasn’t exactly new. I’d say it happens a lot more often now, during quarantine, because the girls have a lot more time.”

Another positive from Wixom? “Luckily, we have two very close families who have followed the same COVID protocol as us for the past year. Our daughters are the same age and have been going to school together since kindergarten. Having this connection has been a life saver for all of us.”

Pods, gatherings, helpful elders, all have played a part for these women. Not to leave out pets. four chickens and a cat for Wixom; a lab and a kitty for Dingreville; Burkett got two goats and built a barn for them; and a stray cat subsequently named Delilah adopted the Baca-Hochhausler gang in June. Funniest or silliest pandemic event? Dingreville said she and her husband had a date night “where we sat in the minivan and watched a movie in the driveway while the girls watched a movie inside.”

“Decorating our scooters and putting on a Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, consisting of our family of four, for the neighborhood,” Baca-Hochhausler responded. Pluses? “We have been very fortunate to have made it through this pandemic relatively unscathed. It has been a valuable time to readjust our priorities and remind ourselves what matters most to us. I think everyone is looking forward to getting back to ‘normal,’ but I have to say, that our family is looking forward to our new normal that includes being more invested in each other’s lives and being grateful for our many blessings,” as Wixom put it.

Burkett truly focused on “getting to know my kids better!” Dingreville thinks “I’m lucky to have been able to turn the volume down on all my other responsibilities and just support my kiddos during a challenging time.”  Baca-Hochhausler wraps it up. “Now that Corrales Elementary and the rest of APS is back in session, work has gotten much busier and much better.” And, she’s hoping for a trip to Maui soon.

2021 MAY 8 ISSUE: ‘OPEN PRIMARIES’ ADVOCATES GEARING UP TO TRY AGAIN


A bill in the N.M. Legislature that would have allowed any registered voter to vote in the primary election for either major party died in committee earlier this year, but a new bill is being drafted that sets up a top-four choice ballot in non-partisan primaries and then ranked choice voting in the following general election. House Bill 79, or previous versions, had been considered in the legislature over the past five years as advocated by Corrales’ former State Representative Bob Perls, who heads what is now known as New Mexico Open Elections.

In the 2021 legislature, the proposal was co-sponsored by Corrales Representative Daymon Ely who testified that the state’s current party-member-only voting for the primaries excludes nearly 300,000 citizens. In the early days of the 2021 legislative session, HB79 was favorably voted out of the State Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee with a 6-3 margin. But it died on a 6-6 vote in the House Judiciary Committee.

Under terms of that bill, New Mexicans who are registered as independents, or as members of minor parties, could vote in party primary elections of the Democratic, Republican or Libertarian Parties simply by requesting a ballot; there would be no need to register as a member of one of those parties to participate in the primary. This year, the current N.M. Secretary of State, Maggie Toulouse Oliver, testified in favor of the bill. Perls said April 20 that the N.M. Legislative Council Services had begun drafting “a top four nonpartisan open primaries bill using ranked choice voting in the general election. “This is the kind of reform that New Mexico needs to break the gridlock and hyper-partisanship that plagues Santa Fe and DC.”

In recent years, New Mexicans have increasingly joined the ranks of independent voters. Around 22 percent of voters decline to register as Democrat, Republican or Libertarian. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXIV No.9 June 20, 2015 “Corrales-Based Campaign Aims for Open Primary Elections.”) A Corrales businessman and former U.S. Foreign Service officer, Perls last year ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for Sandoval County Clerk. Elected to the N.M. House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1992, Perls served in until 1996.

In 2016, he explained why has advocated for open primaries. “New Mexico has more uncontested political races than any state, fewer independent or minor party candidates that any state, the highest and most discriminatory ballot access requirements of any state… and we wonder why democracy does not work well here. The answer is that we need competitive elections with engaged voters for it to work for everyone,” Perls said. “New Mexico Open Primaries believes that we must reduce the discriminatory ballot access requirements of independent and third party candidates to offer more choices for New Mexican voters.”

The non-profit organization is now known as New Mexico Open Elections.  “The fundamental belief is that you shouldn’t have to join a political party to vote. In New Mexico, we have a closed primary system; that means you have to register Democrat or register Republican to vote in a primary,” Perls explained. “New Mexico has been a heavily Democratic state, and therefore probably 90 percent of the important decisions are made in the Democratic primary. Most elections are decided in the Democratic Party primary. That’s because there’s either no competition from the other party in the general election or there’s token competition in the general election. Ninety percent of the time, the candidate who comes out the winner in the Democratic party gets elected.

“Here is why it’s important for a primary to be open. These ‘electoral process issues’ are complex, not very sexy and yet are the root-cause of the political dysfunction we see in America and in New Mexico.

“The idea of New Mexico Open Primaries is to open up the primaries so that independents can vote and so that people don’t have to register as a Democrat or Republican to vote in the first-round election.

“Most people think of the party primary as a first-round election; what our organization wants to do is educate people about the fact that elections are a fundamental responsibility of state government, and that it is going about it backward to have a private club, or private association [parties], running our elections.

“I believe strongly that parties serve a function, and I believe strongly that this movement is not anti-party,” Perls insisted. “But we need to look at why we have the gridlock and hyper-partisanship and dysfunction that we have in this country. The root cause of that is, in fact, partisanship.”

He thinks it’s wrong —even illegal— to allow private organizations, such as parties, to decide who they will allow to vote in an election for a public office. “Our tax dollars pay for primary elections, and it is illegal (or should be, once the courts catch up based on the N.M. anti-donation clause) for public dollars to go to private associations. We don’t tolerate it in any situation except the most important activity we do in our country —when we vote.”

As a Democrat, Perls won election to the N.M. House of Representatives in 1992 and was re-elected in 1994 before running unsuccessfully for Congress and then for a seat on the N.M. Public Regulations Commission. He applied for admission to the Foreign Service Corps after selling his medical equipment sales business, Monitech, in 2008. He joined the U.S. Foreign Service in January 2010.

During his four years in the N.M. House, he was regarded as something of a maverick for not strictly toeing the Democratic party line. That independent thinking cost him support from party leaders. The movement toward open primaries in state level elections began in the 1990s.

2021 MAY 8 ISSUE: VILLAGE’S FINANCIAL AUDIT GETS MOSTLY HIGH MARKS


A formal audit of the Village’s finances for the fiscal year ending June 30 last year produced a generally positive evaluation and raised no red flags. But the auditor’s report discussed at the Village Council’s April 27 meeting did call attention to “material weaknesses” in internal financial controls as well as “significant deficiencies” in that area.

The audit report was presented via Zoom by Alan Bowers, Jr., a partner in the firm Carr, Riggs and Ingram LLC. Areas of concern related to “allocation of pooled cash,” “maintenance of capital assets and “franchise tax review process.”Regarding the latter, Bowers pointed out that “The Village could potentially be missing revenues earned by not reconciling franchise tax revenues to authorized rates and terms.” On the other hand, Corrales could be collecting more than franchise agreements stipulate.

The Village is supposed to earn fees from entities such as CenturyLink and Comcast, Verizon and United Private Networks. In another area, the auditors found a “significant deficiency” regarding capital assets. The Village is supposed to conduct a physical inventory at the end of each fiscal year, but that was not done. “The Village was aware of the requirement, but was unable to complete the observation due to limitations resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Another flaw noted involved payments for travel and per diem. “The Village reimbursed per diem rates that were in excess of the amounts allowed by New Mexico State statute.… For one out of five travel reimbursements tested, the employee was reimbursed the maximum daily rate of $45 for actual expenses instead of being limited to the actual cost of meals totaling $22.48.”

Over all, the audit reported that revenues for the Village’s General Fund were “very consistent over the five-year trend with small increases in gross receipts tax revenues received over time.” Similarly, expenditures from the General Fund were consistent over five years.. The auditors noted a “moderate increase of $800,000 in the General Fund during 2020.”

The report showed total assets in the General Fund of $6,780,151, as well as $1,658,722 in a special fund for money awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for stormwater flood mitigation and $469,196 in the Village’s Waste Water Project Fund.

Nowhere in the Zoom report to the mayor and council did the auditors state explicitly what became of the “extra” $4.7 million that turned up in the Village’s accounts last year, nor its origin. Village government’s long-term liabilities amount to $5,420,874 to pay municipal bondholders. “The Village has pledged a portion of future gross receipts tax to repay the $3,445,000 gross receipts tax revenue bond issued in January 2014 and the $2,000,000 general obligation bond issued in 2018.… Total principal and interest remaining on the bond is $3,670,000, payable through May 2033. For the current year, principal and interest paid and total pledged gross tax receipts were $929,590 and $158,756 respectively.”

2021 MAY 8 ISSUE: MRGCD ELECTIONS JUNE 8; MIKE SANDOVAL UNOPPOSED

Incumbent Mike Sandoval of San Felipe Pueblo is running unopposed to represent Sandoval County on the board of directors for the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District. The election for board members will be held Tuesday, June 8. In Corrales, voting will take place at the Community Center, behind the Corrales Senior Center, east of the Corrales Road-La Entrada intersection between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Absentee voting is now underway. A ballot may be requested by emailing to mrgcd@electionpeople.com or at http://www.mrgcd.com.

Each of the other three board positions has two candidates. To represent Bernalillo County, incumbent Karen Dunning is challenged by Julie L. Maccini. In the other race to represent Bernalillo County, Simon Haynes faces Joaquin Baca, while for Socorro County, the candidates are Steven Sichler and Glen Duggins.

Mike Sandoval joined the MRGCD board when he was chosen by other board members upon the resignation of Derrick Lente of Sandia Pueblo. Lente resigned his seat representing Sandoval County to avoid a conflict of interest with his service as a state legislator.

Sandoval had bested Jim Wagner to fill the vacancy left by Lente on the board of directors. Board members voted 4 to 2 for Sandoval at their February 21 meeting, thus avoiding the card draw proposed in the event of a 3-3 tie. Earlier, Sandoval was defeated when he ran for the at-large seat on the board during the MRGCD election in June 2009, losing to Glen Duggins from Socorro.

2021 MAY 8 ISSUE: YOU CAN JOIN IN CELEBRATING CORRALES’ 50th ANNIVERSARY

Corrales Heritage Day, normally celebrated in May, has been cancelled, but planning is underway for a 50th anniversary commemoration of the Village’s 1971 incorporation as a municipality. Casa San Ysidro will have a virtual Heritage Day event May 15, 1-3 p.m.

The Corrales Historical Society has mounted a display at the Village Office that includes the names, and in some cases, photos, of past mayors and Village Council members as well as other facets of Corrales’ existence as a municipality.

Among the activities is to be the opening of a time capsule locked away on the Village’s 25th anniversary in 2015. The capsule is inside the crypt-like, concrete covered chamber just outside the entrance to the Village Office. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXIV No.9 June 20, 2015 “Creepy, Crumbling Concrete Case Contains July 1997 Time Capsule.”)

On July 4, 1997,villagers gathered to place the time capsule there which was to be opened September 22, 2021. The project, led by Jess Keegan of the Corrales Historical Society, was part of the celebration of Corrales’ 25th anniversary as an incorporated municipality. 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.

At least 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 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: Keegan, Rudy Miller, Barbara Pijoan, Del Sherrod, Michelle Frechette, Harry Roberts, Cliff Pedroncelli and Mary Harrington.

2021 MAY 8 ISSUE: PLANNING FOR FUTURE USES OF INTERIOR DRAIN DITCH

The ad hoc committee established to recommend future public uses of the Interior Drain ditch east of Corrales Road has requested funding from the Village to hire a professional planner. A request for $25,000 was made to the Village Council on May 5 during an a time slot assigned by Village Clerk Aaron Gjullin. Mayor Jo Anne Roake and councillors held budget discussions with Village government department heads and committees on May 4 and 5, ahead of a May 13 work-study session. Village officials must send a proposed budget for fiscal 2021-22 by the end of this month. The new fiscal year starts July 1.

A power point presentation for the funding request was assembled by committee member Sayre Gerhart, who previously served on the Village Council. Others appointed to the Corrales Interior Drain Committee last summer were Doug Findley, chair; John Perea; Jeff Radford; Ed Boles and Rick Thaler.

An exploratory planning effort began last fall for potential uses of nearly two miles of property about 60-foot wide, known as “the scummy ditch” or “the scuzzy ditch” east of Corrales Road. Some villagers consider it a treasured natural area with aquatic life, wetlands vegetation and sometimes even muskrats, while to other Corraleños, it is a disgusting, smelly near-sewer that breeds mosquitos. The long ditch and ditch bank roads run from north of Dixon Road to the Riverside Drain south of East Meadowlark Lane. The land is owned and managed by the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District which excavated it in the 1930s to lower the water table and drain land for agriculture.

Before the ditch went in, much of the central Corrales Valley east of Corrales Road was swamp. The Interior Drain was meant to improve the land so it could be farmed. As such, the ditch was designed to draw down the high water table and receive excess irrigation water which was to flow back to the Rio Grande when it reached the Riverside Drain which empties into the river at Alameda Bridge. But over the decades, the Interior Drain’s hydraulics have deteriorated, leaving a mostly disconnected, stagnant series of puddles. Less and less acreage is cultivated in that area, while more and more homes —and septic leach fields— have gone in, so that the ditch is now more of a conduit for household wastewater rather than irrigation return flow to the river.

The committee appointed by Mayor Roake composed the following statement: “Our mission is to identify and help to implement ways in which the Interior drain and right-of-way may be improved for safe, enjoyable and essential public use while maintaining tranquility for adjacent residents.”

Since the Village of Corrales has no ownership in the land involved, the committee acknowledges that its eventual recommendations would need concurrence from the MRGCD to be implemented. The district’s chief concern is expected to be retaining full use of the ditch and ditch banks to perform routine maintenance. One of the first things the committee did was to document what is physically in the ditch and on the ditch banks, how the land is now used and what adjacent features should be taken into consideration, such as homes, trails and Corrales Elementary School and the playground there.

Suggested opportunities for future use of the land indicated in the presentation to the council included: a Fire Department fire suppression water line to fight fires east of the drain; horse riding; hiking; children’s access to school grounds; a pond; a green corridor for appreciation of nature and wildlife habitat; a butterfly garden; and improvements in air quality for neighbors asa result of reductions in dust.

In the presentation to the council, the committee outlined the following as “what problems are we trying to solve?” traffic, dust, safety, liability, loss of habitat and devaluation of property. Discussions with neighboring property owners and ditch bank users were said to begin this month and possibly a survey conducted at the Corrales Growers’ Market. As a preliminary concept, the committee is considering possible uses for three conditions along the ditch: ponds, water areas and xeric locations.

2021 MAY 8 ISSUE: CORONAVIRUS BEGONE! CORRALES RE-OPENS

By Meredith Hughes
Whether Yellow, Green or Turquoise —no Red, please— counties across New Mexico are opening up, Green Sandoval County among them. “Sandoval is Green!” Mayor Jo Anne Roake exclaimed. “Corrales businesses can operate at 50 percent capacity indoors. Even better, if 60 percent of our population is vaccinated by June 30, we can fully re-open. If you really care about that, please go get both shots, get vaccinated, and encourage the vaccine-hesitant.

“That’s absolutely the real way to support our businesses and our community.”

As of April 30, 24 New Mexico counties were at the Turquoise level and six at the Green level, under which there are fewer restrictions on commercial and day-to-day activities amid decreased virus risk. Thirty of 33 New Mexico counties were at the least restrictive levels. Three counties were at the Yellow level as of April 30, with no counties at the Red level, signifying highest risk.

Hence, Corrales is beginning to re-open. The Parks and Recreation Department says the Corrales pool will be open this summer, with capacities based on the color framework set out by the State. Swim lessons, open swim and pool parties will resume this year. Registration for swim lessons and pool parties began May 7. The pool opens June 5, and closes on August 8 this season.

Thus far, open swim is going to run for two-hour intervals with 30-minutes for cleaning at the end. So swim from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m; from 2 to 3:30 p.m. and then a final session from 4 to 5:30 pm. Daily, seven days a week. Pool parties will still go from 6 to 8 p.m.  on Friday, Saturday and Sundays. Those are currently limited to 60 people.

Parks and Rec director Lynn Siverts says “We want to remind everyone that admission is on a first-come, first-served basis. Please continue to wear a mask while waiting in lines, or not swimming in the pool.” If you have any questions, call 899-8900 or email Siverts at lsiverts@corrales-nm.org. As of April 28, the following Parks and Rec venues were open: La Entrada Park; TopForm Arena; Liam Knight Pond; the east and west athletic fields; the skate park; tennis courts; outdoor basketball courts; and outdoor pickleball court. The gymnasium and play structures at La Entrada remain closed.

Corrales Community Library continues its curbside services, but now also is open by appointment for those who want to say “hi” to the fish, explore new acquisitions or just gaze at stacks of books. Tuesday, 4 to 7 p.m., and Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 3 p.m. Book a time at http://www.picktime.com/corralescommunitylibrary. The Corrales Senior Center’s Tammy Meyer says it continues to provide over 100 lunches daily, some of them for house-bound people, others via drive-thru Monday through Friday, 11:30 to 12:30. Before COVID, she was doing between 50 and 55 lunches.

Once Sandoval County achieves the desired New Mexico “Turquoise” hue, Meyer says plans worked on by centers in Sandoval County along with Aging and Longterm Services will roll out. The center will welcome 25 people back in the dining room, and those will continue to social distance six to ten feet. Also, the fitness room will reopen and PowerUp classes for those with Parkinson’s or other muscular and balance issues will resume.

Village Clerk Aaron Gjullin reports that thus far Village Council and similar gatherings will remain on Zoom. “We are waiting to get direction from the State and the Attorney General’s office. Obviously we want to get back to ‘in person,’ but based on the size of council and staff, that limits the number of the public joining in person. We also want to do it in the safest way possible. So, hopefully soon, but no changes yet.”

State officials announced April 28 that “New Mexico will loosen the key health metrics used to assign risk levels to counties under the Red-Yellow-Green COVID-19 framework, as the state’s nation-leading vaccine distribution effort is, over time, likely to reduce the number of asymptomatic people seeking out and receiving tests for COVID-19.”

The announcement set out a new State target: “When 60 percent of eligible New Mexicans have been fully vaccinated, which State modeling projects may occur as early as the end of June, the state will graduate out of the color-coded county risk system and remove most pandemic-related restrictions on commercial activities. Although a mask requirement while around others will remain in place, and certain COVID-Safe Practices will be required for specific activities, this target —made possible by New Mexico’s nation-leading vaccination effort— will represent the most significant removal of restrictions since the onset of the pandemic.”

To view the N.M. Department of Health (NMDOH) Public Dashboard, which includes the color-coded map, go here: https://cvprovider.nmhealth.org/ public-dashboard.html. Many Corrales eateries are welcoming more customers, including Corrales Bistro, open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. ExNovo continues to be open noon to 9 p.m. every day. C3’s Bistro is open Wednesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday Brunch typically runs 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., But this Mother’s Day, May 9, brunch goes from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Perea’s Restaurant is now open regular hours for lunch Wednesday through Saturday. Call 898-2442.

Village Pizza continues Sunday-Thursday, 11a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11a.m. to 9 p.m. And it recently welcomed a flower truck, not a food truck, onto the premises, under the name “JenniFLEURS.” The truck does indeed sell fresh flowers, and Jenni of Fleurs hopes it might soon appear elsewhere around the village.

Hannah and Nate’s is open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, and Indigo Crow operates for lunch, Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 3 p.m., and dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday Brunch runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Casa Vieja is mixing live music with its own brews, as well as food truckery, Thursday through Sunday, 3 to 8 p.m. Shops in Mercado de Maya now have mostly returned to regular hours. Corrales Bosque Gallery is open 12-4 p.m. daily, and Ambiente lists weekly hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday 11-5. And Corrales Fine Arts is now consistently open from 11a.m. to 4 p.m., on Saturday and Sunday.

Farther north along Corrales Road, Casa Perea Artspace and Pachamama are open Wednesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 .m. or by appointment.

2021 MAY 8 ISSUE: TANYA LATTIN NAMED ‘EMERGENCY MANAGER 2021’

Corrales Fire Department Battalion Commander Tanya Lattin has been named New Mexico’s “Emergency Manager of the Year” by a committee of her peers.The annual award was made by the N.M. Association of Emergency Management Professionals. She has taken responsibility for numerous initiatives over the years; most recently, Lattin has directed COVID-19 vaccinations in Corrales and has been a leader in the County’s vaccinations.

“She says she was completely surprised,” by the award, “but we are not,” Mayor Jo Anne Roake said. “Commander Lattin works tirelessly to provide services like our vaccine clinics and vaccinations for home-bound and difficult to reach.

“Honest and straight-forward, she is a trusted voice in our community.”

Lattin also spearheads the Fire Department’s annual holiday food drive, flood emergency response coordinating with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and has been largely responsible for obtaining numerous grants from state and federal agencies.

 

 

2021 MAY 8 ISSUE: INTEL’S $3.5 BILLION WILL SHIFT TO NEW MEMORY CHIPS


With a $3.5 billion investment, Intel’s research and development at its campus on the escarpment above Corrales is transitioning to full-scale production of laser-based, three dimensional computer chips. During an announcement May 3, Intel officials said Fab 11X and other parts of the complex will be re-built and reconfigured to mass produce the innovative 3-D, layered chips referred to as Foveros technology that allows customized mix-and-match assemblages, expected to be most useful for advanced artificial intelligence and 5G applications. Long-time Intel New Mexico manager Mindy Koch told Corrales Comment at the news conference that new chip-making equipment will be added although exactly what and where are still being evaluated.

Having joined Intel as a summer intern in 1988, Koch, a University of New Mexico trained electrical engineer, is now corporate services site manager. Around 1,000 construction jobs will begin this year, and around 700 permanent jobs will be added over the next five years to the current Intel workforce of some 1,800. Changes to Intel’s air pollution permit from the N.M. Air Quality Bureau are anticipated, she said, although the changes needed would likely be achieved through yet another modification or revision. As of last year, Intel’s permit had undergone 10 revisions to 11 modifications (Intel’s permit number is 325-M11-R10).

When Intel began its R&D on the new photonic devices here, Koch said the new process uses essentially the same industrial chemicals as other microchips produced here in the past. For decades, Intel’s permit from the Air Quality Bureau has allowed use of more than 80 chemicals federally classified as hazardous air pollutants. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXVII No. 23 January 23, 2010 “Dallas Region EPA Stages Surprise Inspection at Intel.”)

The announcement that Intel will invest $3.5 billion on the project was applauded by the following who attended: Governor Michelle Lujan Grishan, U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan, Congresswoman Theresa Leger Fernandez and the mayors of Corrales and Rio Rancho. Corrales’ Erika Edgerly was master of ceremonies, introducing all of the above and the main speakers: Intel Senior Vice-president Keyvan Esfarjani who is general manager for manufacturing and operations as well as Intel New Mexico Site Manager Katie Prouty.

The $3.5 billion project apparently will not need yet another round of industrial revenue bonds (IRBs) since proceeds remain from earlier bonds. Intel New Mexico began in 1980 with an IRB offering of $2 billion; another $8 billion was provided in 1993, and then $16 billion in 2004. In June 2019, the Sandoval County Commission extended Intel’s time frame for using the last bonds.

At the May 3 announcement, Intel’s Esfarjani offered a relatively non-technical explanation of how the new computer chips work. Intel had partnered with another chipmaker, Utah-based Micron Technology, in 2015 to develop the devices that stack layers of data storing units with a precision not previously possible. The stacked technique was touted at the time as yielding three times more capacity than similar products. “This enables more storage in a smaller space, bringing significant cost savings, low power usage and high performance to a range of mobile consumer devices as well as the most demanding enterprise deployments,” the partners claimed.

When Intel announced it would conduct R&D on the breakthrough at the facility here in 2016, the concept was described as “moving data with light,” a marketing motto accompanied by the following description. “Silicon photonics is a combination of two of the most important inventions of the 20th century: the silicon integrated circuit and the semiconductor laser. It enables faster data transfer over longer distances compared to traditional electronics, while utilizing the efficiencies of Intel’s high-volume silicon manufacturing.”

Intel and other firms in the high-tech world had been working with photonics for more than a decade, but engineers at the Rio Rancho plant were credited with having moved the technology into production mode. “Intel has always been at the forefront of this exciting new technology, announcing the world’s first hybrid silicon laser nearly a decade ago,” Intel’s general manager for data centers, Diane Bryant, said at the time.

“We are the first to light up silicon. We integrate the laser light-emitting material, which is indium phosphide, onto the silicon and use lithography to define the laser, to align it with precision.” Bryant’s remarks came at the August 2016 Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. Products for data centers were expected to be Intel’s biggest emphasis in years ahead. But, for some reason, Intel’s partner, Micron, grew disillusioned.

In March of this year, Bloomberg News reported that Micron was abandoning the technique. Its headline said “Micron Give Up on Intel-Championed Memory, To Sell Factory.” The news agency reported that Micron “no longer sees a business for the memory chips that would justify the expense of continued development, and will invest elsewhere.” Intel’s leadership thinks otherwise.

In his remarks May 3, Esfarjani expressed total confidence in the “integrated device manufacturing (IDM) approach. “A key differentiator for our IDM 2.0 strategy is our unquestioned leadership in advanced packaging, which allows us to mix and match computer tiles to deliver the best products. We’re seeing tremendous interest in these capabilities from the industry, especially following the introduction of our new Intel Foundry Services. “We are proud to have invested in New Mexico for more than 40 years, and we see our Rio Rancho campus continuing to play a critical role in Intel’s global manufacturing network in our new era of IDM 2.0.” At the May 3 event, no one mentioned Micron’s decision, at least not near a live mic.

Late last month, an Intel official offered a little background on its differences with Micron. As reported by TechTarget.com, Intel’s director of technology initiatives, Jim Pappas, said during a panel discussion on persistent memory techniques that “We were as surprised as anyone when Micron made their announcement” to close the factory that the two chip giants had jointly funded and operated to produce the 3-D chips, referred to as “3D XPoint.”

The chips are used to store “non-volatile memory,” in that they retain stored information even when the power is off. Intel’s plan is based on its innovative a “phase change memory” approach, the market for which has been predicted to reach $46.5 billion by 2026.

Intel uses its Optane brand chips for solid state drives that have the same function as a computer hard drive, but use flash-based memory. Micron Senior Vice-president Rajeeb Hazra last month explained his firm’s decision to abandon the approach on which Intel now focuses this way. “The question really is how much value did we see in attaching and focusing on 3D XPoint versus other alternatives that CXL [compute express link] enabled.

“As we looked at our technology capabilities, talked to customers and looked at multiple options, we came to the conclusion that it is better for our customers, and better for us, to go down a path of different kinds of things attached to CXL in the memory space than 3D XPoint, and therefore we terminated our 3D XPoint program.”

Or maybe Micron knew by then that Intel would be ramping up 3D XPoint products at the New Mexico factory. The two chipmakers ended their joint operation of the plant in Utah last year, but Micron continued to supply Intel with 3D XPoint wafers on which Optane units are embedded. So when Micron closed of that plant, basically Intel had few options besides making its own if it intended to move ahead with the new product. And Intel New Mexico was chosen to accomplish that.

2021 APRIL 24 EARTH DAY ISSUE: TOM BOLDT INTRODUCES HIS TREES

By Meredith Hughes
“Earth Day? It’s every day,” said Tom Boldt, semi-fabled tree man. “Plant a tree and cool the earth.” Which is what Boldt did, starting about 12 years ago at the end of July, on the one ag acre property he and his wife bought after leaving Santa Cruz. High up in the sandhills, the place is home to over 150 low-water/sustainable trees and shrubs, Boldt reckons, including at least 30 oaks. “First thing when we arrived was to handle a vast sea of goatherds.” One plant can extend as far as six to eight feet in diameter. And masses of the lovely, lavender silver leaf nightshade, too, greeted the couple. “It’s nothing but rhizomes, all visible,” pointed out Boldt.

Twenty years a painter/restorer of old wood houses, having bagged the notion of buying a house in Santa Cruz, Boldt and his teacher-wife, Amy, scuba-dived their way around the Caribbean, Bora Bora, Tahiti, Hawaii and Mexico on the down payment money they would not be using in California. Corrales popped up, as it often does when the right people come looking, and here the Boldts are. Fruit trees mostly on the north side of the property, along with a smallish fenced in vegetable garden, and oaks/maples/pine… So many oaks, so little time.

One of his go-to nurseries is Trees That Please in Los Lunas, which unsurprisingly specializes in trees native to New Mexico, as well as Plants of the Southwest on North Fourth. And Boldt never is happier than when he hauls home an ailing tree for cheap, and hovers over it, bringing it back to good health.

About those oaks — a few are evergreen, most are deciduous. Escarpment oak is long-lived tree is among the few broad-leafed evergreens seen in this area. According to 505outside.com “Quercus virginiana var. fusiformis (also known as Quercus fusiformis) is an excellent choice for a focal point in a small space or as part of a mixed planting for privacy or wind protection. Rough, dark brown bark and a gnarled form add to the character of this plant.”

Boldt’s list of deciduous oaks includes Texas red oak, Shumard, Chisos, Gambel, Wavyleaf, Vasey, Sandpaper oak, Mexican blue oak and Chinquapin, aka Chinkapin. Chinkapin is a drought-hardy oak that produces sweet, low-in-tannin acorns, and thrives in full sun. The Gambel oak, found throughout the Grand Canyon, as well as Chez Boldt, has leaves favored by deer, and also produces acorns enticing to squirrels. William Gambel, a 19th century naturalist from Philadelphia, collected assorted species in Santa Fe at age 18, including that of the oak. Gambel's quail, Callipepla gambelii, was his find in California.

Honey locusts and maples, too, are prized by Boldt, as are berry-bearing trees such as the serviceberry, also known as shadbush, shadwood or shadblow, or sarvisberry, juneberry, saskatoon, sugarplum, wild-plum or chuckley pear, “a genus of about 20 species of deciduous-leaved shrubs and small trees in the rose family,” as Wikipedia put it. Boldt thinks the berries resemble those of blueberry plants, and he and his birds enjoy them.

The twisty baby honey locust is a favorite, its limbs twisty indeed, a shrub which loves sand, hot sun, and can indeed be grown in a pot, though Boldt has not chosen that option. The smallish Shantung maple, oddly, likes shade, but also provides it, and its red leaves in fall resemble those of the Japanese maple. One nursery sweetly described the Shantung as “a happy tree enjoying life wherever it is placed.”

And pines! The familiar Austrian pine, which seems utterly at home in the high desert, as well as the politically utterly incorrectly dubbed “Fat Albert”spruce, Picea pungens, known for its short, wide stature. Also its blue needles. It’s a drought and deer-tolerant tree. The Bosnian pine may be another fine bet as it comes originally from mountainous areas and produces unusual blueish cones.

Another piney favorate is Vanderwolf’s Pyramid Limber Pine, indeed shaped like a pyramid, with “fine, long, dark, twisted, silvery, blue-green needles displayed on dense branches.” In and among the trees and shrubs are appropriate ground covers, including Color guard yucca, beaked yucca, and the very arid-loving Panchito manzanita, a low-growing evergreen. Along with multiple penstemons. And the mini “lawns.” Small spaces where blue grama and buffalo grass commingle. Nearby, a sandy space for horseshoes, pétanque, and/or bocce. Also oldish dogs snoozing in the shade.

Fruit trees? Boldt admits he finally turned to late-blooming fruit trees in order to head off the danger of the area’s often killing late frosts. “As late as possible!” His orchard includes Warren pear, Seckel pear, Golden delicious apple, honey crisp apple, gala apple, Satsuma plum, Santa Rosa plum, Stanley plum, contender peach, moorheim apricot, meteor and north star sour cherry, among the list.

Fruit and fruit-bearing trees get the most water, along with the vegetables, and Boldt tends to go easy on many of his other plantings. As he put it, “I tend to starve the trees a little bit.” The entire acre is laced with surface drip irrigation, which does the job.

No wonder word fairly quickly went out around the village that the Boldt guy, an accomplished potter since he did his BFA at the University of Illinois/Champaign, did in fact know trees/shrubs/and ground cover, knew them in a sandhill way, and people connected with the Corrales Garden Tour wanted his acre on their roster. He, on the other hand, has been fine with the notion of waiting —no tour underway in 2020 or 2021, thanks to the pandemic. Because he wants his flock to be taller, maybe fuller, before it goes on display.

Meanwhile, potter as well as a native tree landscaper/irrigator and pruner, Boldt muses on what might have been had he focused on metal sculpting instead of pot throwing. His garden is filled with amusing, sometimes mobile metal critters. And the pottery business is becoming more and more costly as the price of packing and shipping his larger products soars. “A $70 item shipped for $35?”

Plus, pre-COVID, he was working on a major pottery order to fill, comprised of large and small plates, among other dining items, and he left a line of plates on a shelf to dry, or cure. On re-entering his studio he noticed what appeared to be bites taken out of the edges of the carefully crafted plates. Mice bites, apparently.

He took care of the problem, of course. And continues to contemplate metal. And, he is for hire if you need a planting consult, assistance with pruning or irrigation, even construction assistance. He can be reached by calling 433-8780. Meantime, keep in mind during this month of Earth Days the power of trees to absorb carbon dioxide, that cause climate change; to clean the air we breathe by removing particulate matter; to give homes to critters; to cool us down by providing shade; and, as forests, to remove pollutants from rainfall.

2021 APRIL 24 EARTH DAY ISSUE: BEES NEED YOUR HELP

By Carol Merrill
Bees and other essential pollinators contribute $18-$27 billion to the U.S. food economy per year. They are responsible for an estimated one out of every three bites of food. That makes them essential for our human resilience. Recently, New Mexico beekeepers reported a 50 percent loss of European bees from “colony collapse.” That leaves much pollination up to our native bees. What did the bears do for honey before the European bees showed up a few hundred years ago?

Bee maven Anita Amstutz writes passionately on her website Think Like a Bee, “Bees are part of our tribe. We need them for food, beauty, poetry and soul wisdom.” See https://thinklikeabee.org/ Anita is well-respected in the large community of urban bee keepers. She calls herself a “bee tender.” Recently, in a Zoom presentation for a Bachechi Open Space Saturday Speaker Workshop she gave details about native bees that form 70 percent of the bee population in New Mexico. They have evolved mouth parts that are exactly adapted to the native plants in our zone.

Native bees can often fill the “pollination gap” when the honeybees are scarce according to Extension Services. Many people are interested in cultivating flowering plants that will sustain these essential native bees and other beneficial insects. There are 1,500 species of native bees. Most of them, unlike the honey bee, are either solitary meaning they nest and grow their young alone or form small colonies. See the Pocket Guide to Native Bees of New Mexico , a 30- page item online from NMSU. https://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/bees/welcome.html

Amstutz states eloquently that during COVID times, “I have become much more aware of the word ‘frontline’ or ‘essential’ workers. Wild and managed bees, as the workhorses of the pollinator world, are exactly that. It was a lightbulb going off in my head when I put two and two together, realizing finally, that if frontline, bee-essential workers aren’t protected, the food web of life will fail. We will all be malnourished, sick or worse. Our food system will be dismembered bit by bit if we are not vigilant about protecting bees.”

One book released this March by Adventure Publications tells us what two-legged folks can do to welcome bees. George Miller wrote much of what you need to know in Native Plant Gardening for Birds, Bees and Butterflies: Southwest. His article in the Native Plant Society of New Mexico Newsletter 2021, spring issue: April-June is a good synopsis of his conclusions. See Page 8 for good photographs and plenty of good information in this newsletter: https://www.npsnm.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/ABQ-Newsletter-Spring-2021-final.pdf

Miller writes, “Your backyard needs more than flowers to welcome bees. Of the more than 1,500 species of bees in the Southwest, about 70 percent, more than 1,000 species, nest in ground burrows. Almost all of the rest nest in preexisting holes or tunnels they find in twigs, stems, bark, rocks, or abandoned beetle tunnels. Bumblebees, the only hive nesting bee in North America besides domestic honey bees, build shoe-box sized nests in dark rock crevices, hollow trunks, brush and rock piles and animal burrows.”

Miller says the native bees emerge at the bloom time of their preferred flowers. A good gardener will leave nesting zones that are not very manicured to provide space for the natives. Only two percent of the insects in untended wild areas are undesirable. All the rest are essential to our healthy ecosystem. He continues, “Females look for sunny south or east-facing locations and carefully excavate their tunnel.

“Bees have been observed to burrow in hard-packed dirt roadsides and driveways, between pavers, on garden walkways, around the cleared base of shrubs and flowers and in open spaces between plants. The excavations vary from one-fourth- to one-half-inch wide and might be mistaken for ant nests. Plan your garden design to include ample bare ground to support nesting bees, and avoid mulches, weed fabric, and regular watering in nesting areas.”

There are nest blocks for native bees at Wild Birds Unlimited. These nests are wood drilled with different sized holes to supplement the natural nesting places need by various native bees. Some bees make homes in rock cavities. For them an adobe brick will do for a bee hotel. NMSU provides a list of tasty flowers to sustain these important pollinators during different seasons.

Spring-flowering shrubs:
Native willows (e.g., Salix lasiolepis and S. irrorata), skunkbush sumac (Rhus trilobata), American plum (Prunus americana), New Mexico olive (Forestiera pubescens), chokecherry (Prunus virginiana).
Summer-flowering annuals: Prairie sunflower (Helianthus petiolaris), Rocky Mountain beeplant (Cleome serrulata), Blue-headed gilia (Gilia capitata), golden crownbeard (Verbesina encelioides), basil (Ocimum basilicum).
Summer-flowering perennials: Firewheel/blanket flower (Gaillardia pulchella), red dome blanket flower (Gaillardia pinnatifida), whorled mountain mint (Pycnanthemum verticillatum), white prairie clover (Dalea candida), stiff greenthread (Thelesperma filifolium), catmint (Nepeta cataria), showy goldeneye (Heliomeris multiflora), Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera), fernbush (Chamaebatiaria millefolium).

Late summer- and autumn-flowering species:
Globemallows (Sphaeralcea species), Emory’s baccharis (Baccharis emoryi) (especially male plants), sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale), native goldenrods (Solidago nemoralis, S. petiolaris, and S. speciosa).

2021 APRIL 24 EARTH DAY ISSUE: BIG IMPACT FROM SWITCHING TO SOLAR ENERGY


Corrales residents are so primed to get solar electric panels installed for their homes that Corrales Solar has a hard time keeping up with demand. Founder Tom Woodard said he’s installing up to 16 photovoltaic systems a year now, not just in Corrales but in the East Mountains and Santa Fe as well.

“The cost of solar panels has come down dramatically since I started in 2009,” the solar electric specialist said. “The cost of each panel is less and you now need fewer panels to get the same output.” Woodard thinks much of the increased demand comes from homeowners being shut in due to the pandemic. “I’m super-busy now. Last year, I thought business would slow down a little because of the pandemic, but it never really did.

“People seem to hang around their house and decide ‘You know, we really need to get this done.’ So last year, it was busy, and this year it’s crazy busy. “And what I’m finding in general is that every time I go to the supply house, I’m seeing another solar company I’ve never heard of.  So now there are many, many, many of them around. And that’s okay, I can’t get to every roof in town.”

On the other hand, Woodard said some of the newer entrants in the solar energy market have already departed, especially those that proposed lease arrangements with homeowners. “I’m still very much anti-lease, solar lease. I think it’s a really foolish thing for a homeowners to do, but that’s my opinion. Sales people will tell you whatever they need to tell you.”

He said most of his installations are for panels connected to Public Service Company of New Mexico’s electric distribution grid. “It’s mostly grid-tied. I’ve had a few people ask about stand-alone systems, but I usually say I don’t do that. “I did a couple of stand-alones when I was starting out, but it was such a god-awful experience that I decided I really didn’t need to do that anymore. Then there’s what they call a hybrid, which is grid-tied with battery back-up. I did one of those a while ago, and it was a pain in the ass.

“But the light at the end of the tunnel, if you will, is that the electricity inverter companies and the battery companies are now all talking to each other. They’re developing some pretty plug-and-play approaches to storage which is really nice because three or four years ago, it was very complicated and a whole lot of trouble.  “Now it’s far simpler, although it’s still not inexpensive.”

Homeowners and businesses that installed grid-tied photovoltaic systems years ago were delighted that PNM paid them monthly for the electricity that their panels generated. But that perk for early-adopters is running out. “There is still an incentive, but it’s very small. For a small system, which would be 10 kilowatt-hour and under, which is almost any residential situation, you will get a quarter of a penny for a kilowatt-hour.”

In contrast, Corrales Comment has been paid 13 cents a kilowatt-hour since its 1.8 Kw PV system was installed in 2009. Monthly checks from PNM range from $20 to more than $30. Back then, at least 37 solar electric arrays here, mostly homes, were now generating power. Now there are hundreds. (See the Corrales Comment series on solar electric systems starting Vol.XXV, No.14, September 9, 2009 through November 11, 2009, “Corrales Generates Electricity.”)

While renewable energy credit incentives from PNM have all but evaporated, motivation now is the huge drop in the cost of solar electric panels. “Panels are getting more powerful. In addition to getting more powerful, they’re getting less expensive. “When I put mine in in 2008, the panels were roughly $700 a piece and I needed 24 of them. Now, I can buy for under $300 —now, that’s at wholesale— I can buy a 370-watt panel, which is well over twice as powerful for less than half as much money.” Woodard said most of the PV panels he has been installing lately are produced in Asia, primarily Korea, China and India, and assembled in southeastern United States.

2021 APRIL 24 EARTH DAY ISSUE: SURVEY ON ATTITUDES ABOUT CASITAS

A public opinion survey on villagers’ attitudes regarding secondary dwellings, also known as “casitas,” is now under way. The survey form is available at the Village of Corrales website, or in paper form inside the front door of the Village Office. The Village Council and Planning and Zoning Commission are expected to hold a joint work-study session on casitas this month or next. After receiving a letter from Corraleños in August 2020 expressing concerns about the construction of casitas, the Planning and Zoning Commission began an ongoing review of existing ordinances. (See Corrales Comment’s Vol.XXXIX No.12 September 5, 2020 “West Ella ‘Casita’ Scrutinized,”)

Two P&Z subcommittees and the commission as a whole have been working to gather information and research on the secondary dwelling units that exist here. P&Z Administrator Laurie Stout, who steers the project, has defined a casita as “a structure used for human habitation that is separate from the primary dwelling unit on a lot,” at least for the purposes of this exploration.

At a January 26, 2021 session, the Village Council voted five-to-one to impose a 180-day moratorium on permits to build secondary dwellings on lots and on applications to operate short-term rental. The council noted that “the size of accessory structures is virtually unregulated, sometimes resulting in what appears to be two homes on one lot,” and that such residences “are being utilized for the commercial purpose of providing short-term rental accommodations.”

It was noted that “the proliferation of loosely-regulated accessory structures being used as short- and long-term rentals has the potential for far-reaching deleterious effects on the village, including negatively impacting neighborhoods with greater numbers of vehicles and persons not previously present and increasing the effective density above that permitted or intended in the A-1 an A-2 zoning districts.”

Stout clarified March 12 that "the applications for short-term rentals that we are unable to process are those in accessory structures only. Short-term rental permit applications that are all or part of the dwelling unit on a lot may still be accepted and forwarded to the Planning and Zoning Commission for consideration.” Now a comprehensive report, along with research material is available via the Village website, and an executive summary about the project is offered below. “For this review the commission identified the following essential question: What requirements, if any, should the Village of Corrales place on the construction and use of casitas?

Two committees of P&Z commissioners were formed in September 2020, one to review the existing ordinances related to casitas as well as relevant ordinances from surrounding communities and the other to gather information regarding the environmental impacts of increased population density, primarily regarding water and wastewater. What follows is an attempt to frame the issue and share the findings of the commission to date.

Our Rural Atmosphere
There has been a long-standing desire of Corraleños to maintain a rural agricultural atmosphere in the village. The most recent Comprehensive Land Use Plan for the Village of Corrales (2009) states that “The Village requirement that single residential units be located on one- or two-acre lots was established just after incorporation in 1971 with the purpose of maintaining Corrales’ rural atmosphere (p. 24).”

The ordinance language governing permissive uses in Zone A-1 Rural Agricultural and A-2 supports this goal:
• Section 18-28 (a) states “Any use not classified as a permissive use or a use by review within a particular zone is hereby prohibited from that zone.”
• Section 18-33(1) Purposes and intents. The purpose of this zone is to maintain a rural and open space character of lands within the Village with low density residential and agricultural development.
• Section 18-33(2) Permissive uses. (a/b/c) One single-family dwelling unit/manufactured house/mobile home unit per lot.
• Section 18-33(2) Permissive uses. (f) Accessory uses and structures. (According to the definition of accessory uses and structures (18-29), this “means uses and structures which are clearly incidental and subordinate to principal uses and structures located on the same property.”)
• Section 18-33(3) Density. The maximum density shall be limited to one dwelling unit per net acre.
(Note that these regulations are for Zone A-1 but they are similar in most regards to the regulations for Zone A-2.)

However, casitas existed in Corrales prior to incorporation of the Village in 1971. Since incorporation, some accessory structures, e.g. studios or stables, have been converted to casitas and casitas have at times been built without the knowledge or permission of the P&Z Department. There may have been uneven enforcement of the ordinances. On top of that, some ordinance language seems to muddy the waters, creating a challenge for our Planning & Zoning Department.

A Lack of Clarity
There is no mention of casitas in our ordinances. In Section 18-29 a dwelling unit is defined as “… any building or part of a building intended for human occupancy and containing one or more connected rooms and a single kitchen, designed for one family for living and sleeping purposes.”

The conjunction, and, is a concern; an accessory structure with connecting rooms and no kitchen is technically and legally not a dwelling unit. The definition of a kitchen states “The presence of a range or oven, or utility connections suitable for servicing a range or oven, shall be considered as establishing a kitchen.” Thus an accessory structure with no plumbing or wiring for a range or oven is, technically and legally, not a dwelling unit and so is allowed as an accessory structure. Thus it appears there is a lack of clarity in the language of the permissive uses.
Is There A Problem with Casitas?

There are several reasons why property owners might want to build a casita. They might want a place for elderly parents or other family members to live. They might want a place for a personal assistant or other employee to live; this could be important for elderly or disabled residents. They might want a place for guests to stay. They might want to generate short-term rental income.

But there are downsides that arise when residents build and occupy accessory dwellings. These are primarily related to increased population density. First, there is the matter of the rural agricultural environment that Corraleños desire. More buildings mean less open land, plain and simple. There is also the matter of traffic —greater density means more people driving on roads, many of which are unpaved, contributing to wear and tear, increased maintenance and increased dust and noise. And then there is the matter of our water. “Drinking your neighbors’ sewage”

While Corrales is blessed with a robust aquifer, it does not have a municipal water system or wastewater treatment facility. We all have domestic wells and nearly all of us have septic systems. In places the water table is very shallow, necessitating the use of mounded septic systems and advanced treatment systems. This is a matter of serious concern. As noted by Dennis McQuillan, Liquid Waste Program Manager of the New Mexico Environmental Department (NMED) in the report, Groundwater Contamination by Septic Tank Effluents (2006), people living in areas with domestic wells and a high density of septic systems risk “Drinking your neighbors’ sewage.”

This is not really news for Corrales. In 2005 McQuillan prepared a report, Groundwater Quality in Corrales. He noted —and this was 15 years ago— that “Corrales was selected for a hydrogeologic investigation because of the large number of small lots (less than 3/4 acre) developed with on-site wells and septic systems.” The first line of the abstract reads, “Septic tank effluents have adversely impacted ground-water quality in the Village of Corrales.”

He notes that “… there have been many historic reports by well users in the area of water quality problems such as high iron and the presence of hydrogen sulfide gas.” While some of these pollutants occur naturally in the inner Rio Grande Valley, much of it can be attributed to bacteria that are feeding on organic waste and using oxygen from naturally-occurring iron and sulfur oxides due to low free oxygen levels in the soil. This results in rusty toilet bowls and a rotten egg smell, not to mention possible negative effects on our health. Nitrate levels are also high, particularly in the areas west of the main canal. As our population grows and the population density increases, the pollutant load in our groundwater can only increase.

Corrales is currently the only local municipality that relies primarily on septic systems for liquid waste disposal. All of the others (Albuquerque, Los Ranchos, Rio Rancho, Bernalillo) have wastewater treatment systems. The Village has taken some measures to address the wastewater issue by installing a liquids-only wastewater effluent pipeline that accepts effluent from individual septic tanks located along Corrales Road and conveys it to a treatment plant in Albuquerque. There are plans to expand this pipeline to other areas, but this is a limited solution.

What Are the Options?
Any potential regulations regarding casitas must hinge on the protection of groundwater quality. Given the importance of limiting groundwater contamination, the P&Z has identified three options for Corraleños to consider regarding casitas.
• We could ban future construction of casitas.
• We could allow the future construction of casitas subject to limitations imposed by state or local environmental law. By state statute §20.7.3.301(E) NMAC a one-acre lot, for example, is allowed a septic system design flow rate of not more than 500 gallons per day. This correlates with a design flow rate for a five-bedroom dwelling or a two-bedroom primary dwelling with a one-bedroom casita (§20.7.3.201(P)(1) NMAC). Larger lots are allowed more bedrooms in accordance with the statutes.
• We could allow the future construction of casitas only if they are connected to an off-site wastewater treatment system.

It is important to note that only the third option addresses the ongoing contamination of our groundwater. The other two have the potential to reduce but not eliminate future increases in groundwater pollution. In the coming months the commission will be seeking input from Corraleños via a survey and public meetings. We will use that input to develop recommendations to the Village Council for possible changes to the ordinances to best reflect our community’s needs and desires.

We encourage members of the community to review the supporting documents compiled by the commission. These can be found on the Village website, corrales-nm.org, then “I’m Looking For,” then Key Documents Directory, then Casitas Executive Summary and Supporting Documents. It also is available on the website home page, Latest News tab, same link title. We look forward to your input and a robust discussion.”

Among the questions in the survey are those seeking attitudes about casitas are around the following topics:
• Should the Village limit the size of new casitas to a certain percentage of the size of the primary residence?
• Should the Village limit te total number of bedrooms in all dwellings on a lot, including casitas?
• Should the Village allow new casitas only on lots that are one acre or larger?
Respondants are asked to indicate the degree to which they agree or disagree. In another section of the survey, respondents are asked how concerned they are about topics such as groundwater quality, population density and noise that might be associated with casitas.

2021 APRIL 24 EARTH DAY ISSUE: SPECTACULAR GARDENS TO VISIT… VIRTUALLY

By Meredith Hughes
Now that spring has sprung, many pandemically pent-up flower lovers are searching for places and events to explore, either in person and/or remotely. One such offering, the Philadelphia Flower Show, the nation’s largest and longest-running horticultural event, started in 1829 by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society —itself established in 1827— introduces the gardening public to thousands of plants,  gardens and design concepts.

It will move outdoors, June 5-13, for the first time in its history. The Philadelphia show, incidentally, has been honored as “the best overall event in the world” by the International Festivals & Events Association, competing with events such as the Kentucky Derby Festival, the Tournament of Roses Parade and the Indianapolis 500 Festival. Its 2021 show will be spread out in FDR Park, 1500 Pattison Avenue and South Broad Street, in Philadelphia. The show’s theme, Habitat: Nature’s Masterpiece, “invites everyone at all skill levels to nurture a lifelong connection to plants and gardening.”

In its new location, the show will span 15 acres of the park’s footprint, including nearly 450,000 square feet of exhibits, activities and open space, a 45 percent increase from previous flower shows held inside the Philadelphia Convention Center.

The only drawback is that thus far the show is not offering virtual participation, though one suspects this will change. https://phsonline.org/the-flower-show/about-the-show. The show’s producer, the Philadelphia Horticultural Society, which urges “everyone to garden for the greater good,” is in a long running competition with the Massachusetts Horticultural Society founded in 1829, as “the oldest, formally organized horticultural institution in the United States.”

Still, both are outshone by the Ancient Society of York Florists, UK, founded in 1768, and claiming to be the oldest such society in the world. Now if Philly is not on your go-to list, consider visiting the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, in the Sonoran Desert, about an hour from Phoenix on Highway 60. The arboretum under the shadow of Picketpost Mountain was founded in 1924, incorporated as Arizona’s first non-profit research institution in 1927, and officially dedicated and opened to the public on April 6, 1929, about a year before its founder died.

As its name implies, at first it was all about trees. But today the mission of Boyce Thompson Arboretum is “to inspire appreciation and stewardship of desert plants, wildlife and ecosystems through education, research and conservation.” The arboretum is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. October through April; from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., May through September. (See http://www.btarboretum.org) William Boyce Thompson himself, born in Alder Gulch, Montana in 1869, and raised in Butte, grew up around copper mines and made his fortune in a range of mining ventures in the Southwest, Canada and Peru.

An indifferent student, even though sent to New Hampshire’s Exeter Academy as a kid, yet curious about all aspects of science, as well as gambling, Thompson made even more of his millions by investing in mining stocks on Wall Street. He built Renaissance Revival style Alder Manor overlooking the Hudson River in Yonkers, New York, and lived there and in Arizona depending on the season. He died in New York in 1930, apparently down to his last $100 million. While part of an American Red Cross contingent to Russia during the revolution in 1917 and 1918, Thompson became riveted on the world’s need for a consistent food supply, and for the conservation of nature.

Hence, he endowed the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, now affiliated with Cornell University, and established the arboretum. The institute was established to determine “why and how plants grow, why they languish or thrive, how their diseases may be conquered, how their development may be stimulated by the regulation of the elements which contribute to their life.”

In a major commitment by any institution, in 2014 the arboretum outside Phoenix set out to preserve a desert garden started by H.B. Wallace, more than 30 years ago in North Scottsdale. Wallace had collected more than 9,000 plants, a diverse assembly comprised of hundreds of taxa. Thompson had made his fortune in mining, Wilson in genetic hybridization of commercial egg-laying hens. Both men gave much of their fortunes, and their land, away.

From December 2015 to November 2017 approximately 5,848 plants were transported more than 75 miles to their new home where the plants would be staged, and planted through January 2020. The new Wallace Desert Garden, at 13 acres, is situated adjacent to Queen Creek in a natural setting that offers spectacular views of Picketpost Mountain and the Superstition Mountains. It includes 1.5 miles of trails and loops, two water crossings and gathering areas.
The arboretum website underscores this: “Deserts make up 25 percent of Earth’s surface and are biodiversity hotspots. They may seem harsh and inhospitable, but in reality, deserts contain a fragile ecosystem of plants and animals adapted to thrive under difficult conditions. Arid land environments are especially vulnerable to climate change, human activity and human exploitation. When ecosystems fail, our own health is at risk.”

The New York Botanical Garden, on 250 acres, the largest in any city in the United States, is a National Historic Landmark.“Established in 1891, NYBG is distinguished by the beauty of its landscape, collections, and gardens, and the scope and excellence of its programs in horticulture, education, and science,”according to its website. https://www.nybg.org

It was inspired by an 1888 visit that eminent botanists Nathaniel Lord Britton and his wife, Elizabeth, took to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, near London. The Brittons believed New York should have a great botanical garden to advance public understanding of plants, be a repository of rare and valuable specimens, and lead original research in botanical science. Because of its picturesque terrain, freshwater Bronx River, rock-cut gorge, and 50 acres of old-growth forest, the garden was sited on the northern half of Bronx Park.

NYBG today includes 50 specialty gardens and collections comprising more than one million plants, the Nolen Greenhouses for Living Collections, and the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, the nation’s preeminent Victorian-style glasshouse. Many of the garden’s offerings are available online. Last year’s 18th Annual Orchid Show can be seen at https://preview.tinyurl.com/vvtkgla

One of the best features of the Santa Fe Botanical Garden is its enormous online plant database, especially if you are not yet ready to visit the garden. The how-tos of navigating the database are explained here at https://santafebotanicalgarden.org/garden-explorer

The database itself is accessed at https://santafebotanicalgarden.gardenexplorer.org. The SFBG comprises both the 20-acre site on Museum Hill, open Thursday through Monday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., but also the Leonora Curtin Wildlife Preserve, adjacent to El Rancho de las Golondrinas. This rare natural cienega, or “marsh,” hosts a bountiful diversity of plants and wildlife. The preserve, which re-opens in May, features cottonwood trees, a spring-fed pond and shaded walking paths. Its hours are Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. The Botanical Garden currently offers a range of online educational materials for children, parents! Explore at https://santafebotanicalgarden.org/education-outreach/covid-learning-resources-for-parents

Actual, and closer to home, timed entry and tickets reserved online will get you into the Albuquerque Botanic Garden, currently open 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Wednesday-Sunday. As the garden comes to life post-winter, the aquarium on site remains closed. Plants were poking up on a Sunday visit and masses of masked families were cavorting throughout. (See http://www.cabq.gov/artsculture/biopark garden.)

Incidentally, if you have not already done a deep dive into the vast numbers of horticultural and garden videos/programs available on YouTube, well…what have you been doing during the pandemic? Okay, so maybe you’ve been catching up on your Gardeners’ World episodes….

2021 APRIL 24 EARTH DAY ISSUE: POSSIBLE TAKE-OVER OF CORRALES ROAD UNRESOLVED

Nothing was resolved and little was clarified from the State highway department’s presentation to the Village Council April 13 on prospects for taking over Corrales Road. During an internet presentation to Mayor Jo Anne Roake and councillors, the N.M. Department of Transportation’s Jill Mosher said it would take about $1.8 million to upgrade Corrales Road to a condition under which it might be transferred to the Village of Corrales.

NMDOT has tried for several years to convince Village officials to take ownership and responsibility for State Highway 448, but Corrales has been reluctant, if not downright opposed. The primary concerns have been recurring costs to maintain Corrales Road and potential liability in the event of car crashes.

On the latter point, Mosher encountered councillors’ skepticism when she reported that the average claim was just $120 a year for liability on Highway 448. And Mosher made it clear NMDOT did not intend to resolve privately owned structures’ encroachments into the highway department right-of-way, so those pending conflicts would await Village officials if the transfer occurred.

Also to be resolved even if NMDOT gives the road to Corrales is the matter of space to accommodate long-proposed pathways along Corrales Road in the business district. Mosher said the department would not attempt to “shoehorn in” paths or bike lanes if and when it spent $1.2 million on the upgrade. Neither Mosher nor councillors indicated when the next steps might be taken on the department’s standing offer to turn over Corrales Road.

2021 APRIL 24 EARTH DAY ISSUE: EARTH DAY, CORRALES 2021; THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU CAN DO…

What could you, your neighbors, your village, your nation, do to protect the earth’s ability to sustain a healthy biosphere? Readers’ suggestions, recommendations or pledges are welcome. Send them to Corrales Comment, or better yet, mobilize to implement them.

Here are a few ideas to start.
• Convince Corrales’ state legislators, Brenda McKenna, Jane Powdrell-Culbert and Daymon Ely, to fund municipalities to buy electric police cars and phase out gasoline-powered patrolcars.
• Plant three more low-water use trees on your property if you live east of Loma Larga.
• Persuade the mayor to move ahead with stalled solar electric installations at all municipal facilities, and commission an energy audit so that the Village of Corrales is New Mexico’s first municipality to achieve net-zero energy use. An audit in 2013 demonstrated we were almost there.
• Use the just-passed N.M. Community Solar Act to install a photovoltaic system for Pueblo los Cerros condos.
• Buy and use a bicycle to get around the village for errands, shopping —and life-sustaining physical exercise. Participate in the long-delayed planning for a bike and walking path along upper Meadowlark Lane.
• Personally adopt the City of Albuquerque’s “1-2-3-2-1” landscape watering directive. At a maximum, water once a week in March, twice a week in April and May, and three times a week in the hottest months, June, July and August. Then cut back to twice a week in September and October. In November, it’s back to once a month.
• Adhere to the City of Albuquerque’s “No Burn Night” rules for use of fireplaces to avoid thermal inversions that cause drastic air quality problems in the metro area.
• Restrict the number of building permits for huge, energy-intensive “McMansion”-style new homes here; auction off just a few every year.
• Demand that Village officials set a firm timeline to extend wastewater collection service to all higher-density neighborhoods. Implement other ways to protect Corrales’ drinking water quality.
• Persuade your representatives in Congress to support former Senator Tom Udall’s “Thirty By Thirty Plan to Save Nature” Resolution. The plan would preserve 30 percent of America’s wild lands and open spaces by 2030.
• Eliminate or reduce your use of insecticide and pesticides.
• Establish Village government incentives for residential construction projects which incorporate significant passive solar features.
• If you own a business, or have influence over one, encourage adoption of projects and policies to reduce use of fossil fuels, such as retiring gasoline- or diesel-burning vehicles.

At the international level, the United States has rejoined the Paris Climate Accord, pledging to help hold down the planet’s rising temperatures. Assuming the United Nation’s climate change “conference of the parties” (COP 26) is convened in person this coming November, Corrales Comment anticipates reporting on it directly from Glasgow, Scotland, as it did for the 2015 Paris conference. COP 26 was postponed last year due to the pandemic. (See Corrales Comment Vol. XXXIV No.20, December 5, 2015 “Corrales Confronts Climate Change” and Editor Jeff Radford’s dispatches from the conference found at http://www.corralescomment.com)

On Earth Day 2021, President Joe Biden convened an international conference of leaders from many of the world’s governments to map out a unified strategy ahead of November’s COP 26. As at every COP since 2015, the goal will be to steer governments toward meeting their original pledges to drive down emissions that cause global warming and prod them to take even more ambitious steps. That preceded a three-week United Nations virtual conference starting May 31 “to advance the extensive work that needs to be addressed in preparation for COP 26….”

Biden’s primary climate advisor is the former U.S. EPA chief Gina McCarthy appointed by President Barack Obama. In a speech April 15 at an event called by the U.S. information technology industry, McCarthy explained the current situation this way. “Climate change for too long has been seen as some big and amorphous issue scientists talk about.”

But when it is stated as a bread-and-butter issue, trade-offs are usually couched as jobs or environment. “One of the cornerstones of Biden’s infrastructure plan is a recognition that our ability to address climate change should be borne on sound economic policy, because it can he,” she stressed. “Coming out of the pandemic, you don’t just jump to an ‘Oh, woe is me… climate change is happening.’”

The days of fossil fuel corporations blatantly thwarting efforts to control greenhouse gas emissions may be over, or at least waning. Financial institutions around the world have begun pulling support for new mining and drilling while large investors, such as New York State’s enormous pension fund, have declared they will stop putting money into fossil fuel development. Earlier this month more than 300 businesses, including Google, McDonald’s and Walmart, signed a letter to President Biden urging the United States to increase its targets for curtailing planet-warning emissions.

On April 15, draft legislation was introduced in both chambers of Congress to end government subsidies for fossil fuel projects. The End Polluter Welfare Act’s objective is to close tax loopholes and eliminate federal subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, estimated at more than $150 billion over the next ten years. While federal and state programs and policies will have a major impact, even more is expected from business and individuals.

The Corrales chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby, led by Corrales Elementary School Librarian Josephine Darling, has been working at the state and federal levels to persuade elected officials to implement legislation that encourages businesses and institutions to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXVI No.7 June 10, 2017 “Corraleños Respond to Climate Accord Pull-Out.”)

“We need to continue to quietly persuade our members of Congress that there is a bipartisan solution to climate change that all members of Congress can get behind, regardless of political party,” Darling emphasized. “Citizens Climate Lobby has that solution, and we have been working behind the scenes to build consensus.” She invites others to join the Corrales chapter. She can be contacted at josephine.darling@citizensclimatelobby.org.

The movement started by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg’s “School Strike for Climate” continues to gain strength globally. Her Fridays for Future campaign mounted an international demonstration March 19 “to demand immediate, concrete and ambitious action from world leaders in response to the ongoing climate crisis.” Their demands can be found at #NoMoreEmptyPromises.

If the challenges are great, Corraleños and other citizens sufficiently concerned about climate change can begin immediately implementing the following steps as outlined by Jim McKenzie and 350 New Mexico.
• Switch off and unplug appliances when not in use.
• Use energy efficient lighting.
• Buy energy efficient appliances.
• Insulate, install efficient windows and doors and plug leaks.
• Install programmable thermostats.
• Use photovoltaic and solar thermal systems to power your home and heat water.
• Switch to green electricity.
• Walk or ride your bike for short trips and commutes.
• Car share or use public transport.
• Buy an electric vehicle.
• Avoid the airport if possible. Try train, bus or carpool.
• Reduce your meat consumption, since one pound of beef equals 19 pounds of carbon dioxide.
• Install a clothes line and unplug your dryer.
• Install low-flow faucets and shower heads.
• Make your investments fossil fuel free.
• Tell your local government representatives that you want municipal and county facilities powered by solar or wind energy.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Interagency Climate Change Task Force, established in January 2019, reported that New Mexico produced more than 66 million metric tons of greenhouse gases (GHG) in 2018. Of our state’s GHG emissions, an estimated 31 percent is methane, the report said, while nationally it is just 10 percent.

Methane is about 25 times more potent as a GHG than carbon dioxide. More than 60 percent of that methane released in New Mexico comes from oil and gas operations —which yield so much revenue for an otherwise impoverished state that almost no politicians dare to push hard for reduction of those fossil fuels. Oil and gas operations here are projected to inject at least $7.9 billion into State coffers last fiscal year.

Even so, the task force reported, New Mexico’s total GHG emissions declined by 5 percent from 2005 to 2018, an improvement almost entirely due to Public Service  Company of New Mexico’s closure of two coal-fired units of the San Juan Generating Station. The remaining units are to be closed in 2023.

“It is not hyperbole to suggest the stakes are higher than perhaps ever before in human history,” the governor wrote for the task force report’s introduction. Still, New Mexico joined a multi-state organization to expand exports of natural gas. The increase in liquified natural gas, specifically for export to Asia, would benefit State coffers and local communities, the governor’s office said upon joining the Western States and Tribal Nations organization.

Her administration asserted that New Mexico “is in the forefront of states taking ambitious climate action,” which includes a commitment for statewide reduction of GHG emissions by at least 45 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. Much of that is supposed to come from implementing the governor’s Executive Order 2013-003 and the N.M. Energy Transition Act.

In its conclusions section, the task force report promised “These policies, which include a methane emission reduction regulatory framework, an update to the state’s building codes, and electricity transmission corridors to transport our renewable electricity resources to market… are already beginning to come to fruition. “This is only the beginning of our action,” the conclusion continued. “Over the next year, we will refine our policies, accelerate their implementation and acquire modeling data to demonstrate the success of our work.” The State’s controversial Energy Transition Act is touted as “one of the most ambitious renewable energy and zero-carbon electricity standards in the United States.”

Among state government’s initiatives is a commitment to substantially increase its fleet of electric vehicles (EV), and to fund installation of EV charging stations. A goal was set that 75 percent of vehicles purchased by the State each year must be powered by alternative energy sources. Transportation is the second largest source of GHG emissions in New Mexico. “The State can spur clean vehicle adoption by incentivizing EV purchases, investing in charging infrastructure, requiring that a percentage of vehicles for sale be zero emission vehicles and regulating vehicle emissions,” the task force report noted.

New Mexico has already joined the Regional Electric Vehicle Plan for the West to create electric highway corridors throughout the intermountain West. Another incentive with high potential is also underway: shifting to electric-powered school buses in school districts statewide. Meanwhile, the steady increase in solar electric installations at New Mexico homes, institutions and businesses continues. In Corrales, more than four megawatts were already being generated by photovoltaic arrays two years ago. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXVIII No.4 April 6, 2019 “Solar Farm Expanse Will Soon Generate 2 Megawatts.”) And the state’s largest wind farm has begun generating enough electricity to supply about 294,000 average size homes from 240 turbines near Dora, New Mexico, in Roosevelt County. Other wind farms are expected to connect to the grid in the near future.

2021 APRIL 10 ISSUE: CELL TOWER ERECTED NEXT TO MAIN CANAL


The long-delayed AT&T cell tower at the west end of Academy Drive has been erected. The tall, thick, white tower went up in late March, but lacked antenna installations as of April 2. But it was still a shock to villagers whose homes face east toward the Sandia Mountains. The tower is next to the old Academy Furniture Store at the rear of the Sandia View Academy property, and is most visible from the entrance to the Camino de la Tierra Subdivision. Residents’ calls to the Corrales Planning and Zoning Office began almost immediately, protesting the obvious violation of the Village’s height restrictions. But most were probably unaware that Village officials fought that battle and lost in federal court.

In 2019, Village officials acquiesced to AT&T Mobility’s demand that it be allowed to erect a 65-foot cell phone tower at the west end of Academy Drive, near Loma Larga. The Village’s decision to refrain from blocking the telecommunications tower came after its law firm advised in an August 9 memo that no obstacles be placed on AT&T’s intent to move ahead with construction.

The U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Village of Corrales’ appeal after lower courts earlier had ruled in AT&T’s favor. As attorney William Zarr of the Robles, Rael, Anaya law firm wrote, “The Village is required to immediately approve whatever permits AT&T may require to construct the wireless cell tower. “This presumes that AT&T intends to follow the same site development plan, engineering drawings, etc. that it presented to Planning and Zoning and/or to the district court as evidence. AT&T would still be required to obtain a building permit and follow applicable building codes.”

The U.S. Court of Appeal’s decision held that, “on the basis of uncontested facts properly before it, AT&T has demonstrated that the Village effective[ly] prohibited it from providing wireless service, in violation of the Telecommunications Act.” The Village had insisted its ruling against the proposed cell tower at the site adjacent to the old Sandia View Academy was not arbitrary and capricious, as AT&F asserted, and that the denial was consistent with precedent and policies.

The Village Council also argued that AT&T failed to show that the proposed facility would fill a significant gap in coverage, or that the desired improvements could not be achieved by placing the facility on higher terrain or using a shorter tower. According to the court filings, “The council also determined that the proposed facility would be visually intrusive, negatively affect the value of nearby residential property and impair the village’s rural residential, agricultural and open space qualities.”

Even so, the Village’s lawyers had warned that the 1996 Federal Telecommunications Act is weighted heavily in favor of telecommunications companies seeking to provide better and better coverage. A big obstacle here was that the Village had permitted other cell towers of the same height, including on its own municipal property… one of which was for AT&T.

And the Village conceded that the Academy Drive property in question had been used for commercial purposes for more than 30 years, but that other proposals for cell towers in that area have been denied repeatedly over the years. Perhaps key to the Village’s defense was the response, “Plaintiff’s claims are barred because the Village’s zoning regulations do not prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the provision of personal wireless serves, as evidenced by the fact that Plaintiff presently leases a site on Village-owned property for the provision of personal wireless services in the Village.”

That refers to the cell tower between the Village Office and the Corrales Senior Center along East La Entrada. In an initial legal response, then-Village Attorney John Appel contended, “there is substantial evidence in the record to support the decision of the Village’s Planning and Zoning Commission and, on appeal, the decision of the Village Council… denying the application for a telecommunications facility on the specific site proposed by the Plaintiff.”

He further explained, the Village’s decision “is not arbitrary or capricious, but rather is consistent with long-standing Village policy and regulations that generally permit telecommunications facilities in areas primarily devoted to commercial and governmental activities, while not generally permitting them in dominantly residential and agricultural areas.”

And, he contended, AT&T had not shown that a cell tower that complied with the Village’s regulations, including the 26-foot height limit, would not be fully adequate for AT&T’s needs. The 1996 act adopted by Congress has also figured in prior rulings in Corrales that rejected cell towers. But until the AT&T project at the end of Academy Drive, other rejected applicants had not filed a lawsuit in federal court to overturn the Village’s negative ruling.

Plans for a cell phone tower on the old Academy Furniture property were first rejected by the Corrales Planning and Zoning Commission in April 2013. AT&T appealed that rejection to the Village Council which upheld the P&Z ruling. From there, it was off to courtrooms. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXII, No.7, May 25, 2013 “Sandia View Cell Tower Appeal.”)

As requested by Ron Turner, then-owner of the property within the Sandia View Academy complex, the communications receiver-transmitter for AT&T Mobility was to be taller than the Village’s land use ordinances allow. The request for a special use permit or waiver was denied. Erection of cell towers or radio towers in Corrales always has been controversial. Corrales’ land use ordinance imposes a 26-foot limit on anything constructed, so any proposal for a communications tower would need approval of a variance. Two previous plans for towers on the former Seventh Day Adventists’ property along Academy Drive were rejected amid nearby residents’ objections.

In recent years, the only towers taller than 26 feet which have been approved are those that include transmitters and receivers for Village emergency dispatch. Those are at the Village Office Complex just east of the Corrales Road intersection with East La Entrada, at the Main Fire Station farther north on Corrales Road and at the top of Angel Road. Back in September 2007, Corrales’ planning and zoning administrator warned that the density of cell phone towers would likely double in the near future, so the Village Council tightened up its regulations.

At a work-study session with the council and Planning and Zoning Commission September 26, 2007, then-P&Z Administrator Cynthia Tidwell said the proliferation of wireless phones and internet gadgets would likely force wireless telecommunications firms to get more aggressive about erecting towers here. “With all the new technology that allows you to get television and internet on phones and devices like your Blackberry, this is going to drive a doubling of the proliferation of towers that we see today because of their need for more capacity,” Tidwell advised. “They have to have more towers to be able to handle the traffic. What they have today will not handle the capacity that will be required by all these gadgets.”

Her warnings gave a sense of urgency to the council’s deliberations on a draft ordinance that the P&Z board had worked on over the previous year. As explained at the 2007 work-study session, the proposed law still would have restricted such a cell tower to just 26 feet in height, the standard limit on any structure in Corrales. Most of the discussion focused on where such towers might be permissible, skirting the question whether the telecommunications firms could legally challenge the 26-foot height restriction.

The 2007 recommendation from the P&Z commission was that future cell towers be restricted to Corrales’ commercial districts. Those areas are carefully defined in Village ordinances: 1) along Corrales Road between Meadowlark Lane and Old Church Road; 2) the “neighborhood commercial, office district” in the Far Northwest Sector adjacent to the Rio Rancho Industrial Park; and, most relevant in this case, 3) the commercially zoned parcels adjacent to the Seventh Day Adventists’ Sandia View Academy.

The commissioner who had done the most work on the proposed ordinance in 2007, former P&Z Chairman Stuart Murray (who now serves on the Village Council), explained why he did not want the proposed ordinance to allow cell towers on parcels of land zoned for municipal uses. He acknowledged that the two cell towers that then existed in Corrales were on M-zoned land (one at the Village Office complex between the Village Office and the Corrales Senior Center and the other in front of the main fire station).

But, Murray cautioned, the Village owns land all over the community, usually small remnants of subdivisions that might be about the right size for a cell tower and related structure. The existence of such municipally-owned parcels is largely unknown to the public, little more than an obscure reference on long-forgotten land plats.

The relevance of such “hidden” remnants became clear as Village officials moved ahead with plans to erect water towers on Village-owned land in the Far Northwest Sector next to the new fire substation and along Loma Larga south of Camino Arco Iris. In explaining why his draft of a new ordinance did not allow cell towers on M-zoned land, Murray said, “I didn’t want towers all over the village, and we have municipally-owned land all over the village.”

In Corrales, variance procedures for antennas and towers are basically the same as for other uses; it’s hard to get a variance. Under the section “Conditions for variance,” the ordinance says, “The Planning and Zoning Commission may deny any request for a variance that is based on conditions which are the result of the action of the applicant. Where the Planning and Zoning Commission finds that the strict application of the requirements of this article would result in a practical difficulty or unnecessary hardship that would deprive the owner of the reasonable use of the land or building, a variance may be granted provided that:
“• the variation of this article will not be contrary to the public interest;
“• the variation will not adversely affect adjacent property owners or residents;
“• the conditions are unique to the property; and
“• the variance is authorized only for lot controls and not for use of the premises.”
Those long-standing conditions for getting a variance have thwarted many applicants in the past.

2021 APRIL 10 ISSUE: STATE REP. DAYMON ELY EVALUATES LEGISLATURE, N.M. POLITICS

The long fought-for legislation to make New Mexico the next U.S. state to legalize adult-use cannabis and comprehensively address past low-level convictions, has passed, after a special session called by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham March 30. The 55th New Mexico 60 day legislative session ended official business on March 20. As of April 4, Grisham had not yet signed the bill, but by April 9 she likely will have done so.

In a press release issued March 31 the governor stated that “This is a significant victory for New Mexico. Workers will benefit from the opportunity to build careers in this new economy. Entrepreneurs will benefit from the opportunity to create lucrative new enterprises. The state and local governments will benefit from the additional revenue.

“Consumers will benefit from the standardization and regulation that comes with a bona fide industry. And those who have been harmed by this country’s failed war on drugs, disproportionately communities of color, will benefit from our state’s smart, fair and equitable new approach to past low-level convictions.”

Legal sales of recreational cannabis in New Mexico will not begin until April 2022. The governor stressed that “we are signaling more clearly than ever before that we are ready, as a state, to truly break new ground, to think differently about ourselves and our economic future, to fearlessly invest in ourselves and in the limitless potential of New Mexicans.”

Eighteen other bills from the NM House and Senate which have been signed by Lujan Grisham include a prohibition on sales of miniature bottles of booze, a loosening of restrictions on delivery of alcohol to the home, and the lifting of bans on liquor sales on Sunday mornings. Another alcohol-related bill amends the Liquor Control Act to waive the next annual fee for renewed liquor licenses and for all new licenses issued in 2021 by the Regulation and Licensing Department.

A Senate bill that grants a personal income tax rebate of $600 to families and individuals claiming the Working Families Tax Credit (individuals who earn $31,200 or less; and heads of household, surviving spouses or those married filing jointly who earn up to $39,000) was signed by the governor. The bill “provides for a four-month gross receipts tax holiday for food and beverage establishments, including restaurants, bars, food trucks, small breweries, wineries and craft distilleries, which have been financially impacted by the pandemic.”

Another Senate bill signed into law "repeals the provisions in statute, Sections 30-5-1 through 30-5-3 NMSA 1978, which make abortion illegal in New Mexico and punish providing abortion services with a felony conviction except in the circumstances of rape or threat to the pregnant person’s life, provisions that have been considered inoperable following the 1973 US Supreme Court decision in Roe v Wade.”

House Bill 57, the Prescribed Burning Act, “expands the safe use of prescribed fire on private lands as part of a statewide strategy to reduce the frequency and severity of catastrophic wildfire and restore the ecological function of forests and watersheds; establishes various accompanying statutes regarding liability, training and certification.”

Those particularly affected by the pandemic economically will applaud the signing of Senate Bill 52, Extended Unemployment Benefits, which “adjusts the state unemployment benefit statute to accommodate changes to federal requirements generated as a result of pandemic-related unemployment programs; repeals statute provisions that restrict the state in triggering additional weeks of extended benefits in periods of high unemployment.”

Similarly, House Bill 11 “GRT and Permanent Funds for LEDA Projects” expands the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) and makes “a $200 million one-time appropriation from the general fund to the renamed “local economic development recovery act fund” (the “LEDA fund,” previously the “local and regional economic development support fund”) for pandemic relief grants to businesses, to be administered by the Economic Development Department (EDD) and the New Mexico Finance Authority (NMFA).”

Senate Bill 40 and House Bill 2, aimed at extending the school year, while also providing increased funding for both schools and teachers, had not yet been signed by Lujan Grisham at press time.

The governor vetoed one piece of legislation, House Bill 92, which would have increased the fee amount charged on public water supply systems. She wrote: “This bill creates a tax on water that is too onerous on New Mexicans as we strive to recover from the pandemic.” For more on signed legislation, see http://www.governor.state.nm.us/about-the-governor/signed-legislation/ To explore the results of the legislative session in depth, visit http://www.nmlegis.gov/fund.

Implications of lawmakers’ work during the past 60-day session of the N.M. Legislature and the quickly reconvened special session on marijuana won’t be known for months, or even years in some cases. But here is a quick rundown on some of the other more significant bills with relevance for Corrales that made it to the governor’s desk to sign. Some have implications for local jobs and water resources, such as legalization of recreational cannabis, and others will be significant for public health and education.
• Paid sick leave is now guaranteed for New Mexicans in the work force.
• The Health Security for New Mexicans bill made it through both chambers and allocates $575,000 design an innovative health care program to benefit all New Mexicans.
• The Fairness for N.M. Patients Act passed, with the prospect of providing more justice to patients affected by medical malpractice. It also removes corporate hospitals from a fund meant to help local doctors and patients.
• With the passage of the Permanent Fund for Early Childhood Education, a ballot question will be placed in front of voters in November 2022. It will ask whether 1 percent of funds from the Land Grant Permanent Fund should be invested for affordable early learning programs and living wages for childcare workers.
• The Community Solar Act was adopted to encourage rules that allow for the development of community solar facilities and provides the option of accessing solar energy produced by a community solar facility benefitting subscribers.
• The N.M. Civil Rights Act passed which ends the use of qualified immunity as a defense and allows people to hold state bodies accountable through the N.M. courts for violations of their civil rights.
• The Crown Act passed which protects race-based hairstyles from discriminatory policies in the workplace and in public schools.
• Local Government Air Quality Regulations passed, giving state officials authority to set stronger pollution standards to protect our air, water and land.
• A Sustainable Economy Task Force bill passed to spearhead economic diversification, giving New Mexicans in our most impacted communities a voice in the creation of a clean energy economy.

2021 APRIL 10 ISSUE: TAKE-OVER OF CORRALES ROAD PRESENTED AT APRIL 20 COUNCIL

A crucial discussion on whether Village government should take ownership and management of Corrales Road is expected April 20. The old farm-to-market road became what is now State Highway 448 largely by prescriptive easement and was paved in 1946. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXVI No.3 April 8, 2017 “After 71 Years, Time to Re-Build Corrales Road.”)

Officials from the N.M. Department of Transportation (NMDOT) are scheduled to make a presentation to the mayor and Village Council at their April 20 session. Village Administrator Ron Curry reported at the council’s March 23 meeting that the perennial topic of Corrales taking over Corrales Road came up at a regular meeting with NMDOT in mid-March. “So now we have asked the State of New Mexico to make a presentation to the council on April 20. “We recognize that this is a high-profile discussion item and that people have a lot of opinions about it —some are old and some are new— and we expect all of those to come out.

“NMDOT has kind of reached a point where they have reached a window in which they need to plan for it to take place,” Curry continued. He emphasized the importance of giving Corrales officials, and especially Corrales businesses, ample advance notice about any changes that might require closing Corrales Road. As part of discussions about the future status of Highway 448 in recent years, it has been understood that NMDOT would have to re-pave, if not substantially rebuild, Corrales Road before the Village would agree to take over responsibility for it. Such a project would have to be incorporated into a future NMDOT budget, which seems to have been Curry’s basis for saying the department has a current window for making a decision.

“If this process begins to move forward, in December of this year, or December of next year, we want to know the exact time line for the disruption, because we want to be as conscious of our businesses along Corrales Road which are already struggling due to COVID.” The Village Administrator said another topic NMDOT “has alluded to is that they need to encumber the money. If they’re got x-dollars to do this —and they’ll have to color that in for us at the meeting— we want to know what those dollars are and the timelines associated with using it.”

Over more than a decade, NMDOT has urged the Village to take responsibility for Corrales Road on the grounds that it doesn’t really fit within the state highway system any longer. Each time the matter has come up, Village officials have resisted for a variety of reasons. One of those is the high cost of maintaining the road. So in preliminary talks, Village officials have insisted that NMDOT would have to transfer ownership only after the road has been throughly updated and improved. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXIX No.17 November 21, 2020 “Finally Time Now To Take Over Corrales Road?”)

Curry said last fall he expected to move ahead on talks with NMDOT on that possibility “sometime within the next 90 days, depending on what their schedule will allow, where they come in and talk about all the details and ramifications involved in us taking over Corrales Road.” As in most previous municipal elections here, candidates were asked to explain their position on the Village taking over Corrales Road. In nearly every case, they expressed reservation about possible maintenance costs and liability.

Elected to the council in March 2020, Zach Burkett said he was open to the prospect of Village government taking over Corrales Road, “but my biggest concern is maintenance on the road.” On the other hand, he noted that Loma Larga and other municipal roads receive funding from the state highway department. Then-candidate Stu Murray, also elected in March, said he thought it would be a bad idea to take ownership of Corrales Road. “It will take millions of dollars just to re-pave it as it is now.”

For years, the prospect was clouded by NMDOT’s uncertainty over what it actually owned along Corrales Road. For decades, highway officials had said the department generally did not claim any right-of-way in Corrales beyond the edge of the pavement. That might have been true for much of the distance, since it was basically a common-use farm-to-market road which at some point the highway department agreed to pave and maintain —without formally acquiring right-of-way.

Finally about ten years ago, NMDOT contracted for a definitive property line survey along the entire length of Corrales Road and concluded that it did, indeed, own varying widths of road shoulder along most of it.

2021 APRIL 10 ISSUE: WHAT TREE SPECIES SHOULD REPLACE COTTONWOODS?

Revised guidelines for managing the Corrales Bosque Preserve were approved by the Village Council at its March 23 session. As explained by Corrales Bosque Advisory Commission Chair Joan Hashimoto, the guidance marks the first official recognition that since the preserve’s cottonwood trees are dying out, replacement species should be encouraged. “The question facing us is do we want another species of tree in the bosque,” she explained after a councillor asked whether it would be possible or prudent to replant cottonwoods as they die out.

“That is the issue everyone is grappling with right now,” she replied. Hashimoto was responding to questions following her power point presentation on revisions to policies for managing the preserve. She said Santa Ana Pueblo is exploring alternatives to maintain a forest canopy along the middle Rio Grande, including experiments with boxelder maples. “We should probably go and take a look at how they’re doing. And The Nature Conservancy has come out with a list of trees that they think will do well for the next 100 years, and we should take a look at those.”

Hashimoto told the mayor and council that a die-off of the cottonwoods can be expected over the next ten years. As has been explained in Corrales Comment often during the past 20 years, the cottonwoods’ desperate situation is due to erosion of the riverbed, which means the ever-deepening channel carries more water, precluding the over-bank flooding necessary for cottonwood seeds to germinate on the bosque floor. (See Corrales Comment Vol. XXXVIII No.12 September 7, 2018 “Rio Grande’s High Flows Bring Hope For Cottonwoods.”)

“There is no consensus as to what kind of tall canopy tree would do well here in the next 100 years.” Councillor Zach Burkett asked Hashimoto how many years it might take for the preserve’s cottonwoods to recover. She replied: “We would need a lot of bank-lowering to achieve that. If you go to the river’s edge and look down at the river bed, let’s say at the siphon or at Dixon Road… usually you can see that there is no way the trees’ roots can be down in the water. So we would have to have lots more Army Corps of Engineers projects to remove tons of dirt at the river’s edge for us to have good cottonwood growth.”

She referred to the technique used by the Corps in 2012 to lower the bank so that available river water could flow onto the floor of the bosque where cottonwood seeds could regenerate. But even if the soil is sufficiently moist, for long enough duration, for seedlings to sprout, the future trees might still be unable to thrive since their roots likely would not reach ground water reliably.

The chronic lack of over-bank flooding into the preserve has been blamed on unintended consequences of dams built on tributaries to the Rio Grande, especially Cochiti Dam, which have dramatically reduced silt flowing into the river; the relatively clean water flowing past Corrales has picked up tons of sediment from the river bed, incising a channel.

The following topics are covered in the new guidelines: the long-established mission of the preserve; animal and plant life; environment and pollution; the Corrales Fire and Police Departments; recreation; research and education; and interagency cooperation.

Guidelines for recreation include:
• Manage as a natural area for passive, non-motorized and non-consumptive slow-speed recreational activities including walking, running, horse riding, bicycling, photography and bird-watching;
• Prohibit infrastructure development contrary to natural and protected conditions, including paving or resurfacing of roads and trails;
• Discourage creation of new trails through the forest and down levee road slopes.
Under the topic Environment and Pollution, the bullet points are:
• Reduce non-point source pollution by encouraging pet waste pick up;
• Minimize use of pesticides and herbicides;
• Prefer mechanical treatment of invasive plant species over chemical treatments;
• Prioritize bank-lowering and backwater creation projects and maintain current backwater channel functionality.
Under the topic Animal and Plant Life, the guidelines read:
• Protect and promote a variety of habitats, including a mix of tree and shrub heights and species, grass meadows, younger willow stands, and a mix of water channel types in order to maintain a biologically diverse ecosystem of wildlife populations and plant communities;
• Mitigate detrimental effects of invasive plants by removal when appropriate;
• Consider introduction of canopy tree species adapted to changing climatic and hydrologic conditions;
• Maximize use of native plants over non-natives for any projects.

The guidelines call for the fire department to “conduct fire risk mitigation efforts such as shaded fuelbreak maintenance and targeted removal of invasive species and dead-and-down vegetation without compromising other preserve management principles and guidelines.”

2021 APRIL 10 ISSUE: COUNCIL AWAITS P&Z WALLS RECOMMENDATIONS

No moratorium on constructing view-blocking walls and fences along Corrales Road will be imposed, but a beefed-up ordinance is likely to be enacted in the weeks ahead. Discussion March 23 about possible restrictions to protect views along Corrales’ designated “scenic and historic byway” quickly veered away from the idea that a moratorium is necessary since the community does 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. They suggested new regulations might mirror those for the North Valley’s Rio Grande Boulevard imposed by the Village of Los Ranchos.

Councillor Zach Burkett led discussion at the March 23 council meeting. No target date was indicated for the P&Z commission to make recommendations. 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 two recent council meetings. 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.”

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. Councillor Stu Murray asked whether Burkett thought scenic views from Loma Larga ought to be addressed as well.Burkett suggested that might complicate finding a solution.

“I don’t see that views along Loma Larga are that much of an issue,”Burkett responded. “But more importantly, that would open up a can of worms” since Corrales Road is a scenic byway, a specific area, which is also true for the designated historic district. Beyond those, he said, the Village would likely have a difficult time defending why some other roadways would be protected and not others. “That would make this conversation a lot harder.”

Councillor Tyson Parker concurred. If regulations for Loma Larga were imposed, what would be the rationale for deciding not to protect views on other roads. “What about one block from that area? What about two blocks from that area? It gets to be more of a can of worms.”

Councillor Mel Knight also advised against such regulations for Loma Larga, not because the drive lacks scenic quality but because the relative elevation of Loma Larga allows vistas to the east to see open spaces over any existing walls. “Even though there are some walls that have already been built, you can still kind of see over them, because the elevation of Loma Larga is higher than the east side of that road. So I agree that Corrales Road and the historic district are the prime areas that we need to look at as far as restricting walls.”

Planning and Zoning Administrator Laurie Stout was asked to evaluate the Los Ranchos ordinance 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.

“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.”

As discussion wound down, Mayor Jo Anne Roake summarized. “At this point I can see things coalescing around focusing on a couple of areas in town, such as the scenic byway and the historic area to start with and maybe creating an ordinance that has Los Ranchos as a model to keep kind of a balance” between scenic quality and landowners’ privacy. Burkett said March 1 he is researching what might be done to revive the status of Corrales Road as a designated scenic byway and what might be done to bolster that status. Former Corrales Planing and Zoning Commission Chairman Terry Brown has made that a high priority since at least 2010.

In a power point presentation to the Corrales Planning and Zoning Commission on April 12, 2011, Brown demonstrated what has been lost by view-blocking walls along Corrales Road and what has been preserved by see-through fences and low walls. But for other Corraleños, the idea that Village officials might tell them what kind of fence is permissible reeks of governmental over-reach and offends libertarian values.

At the December 8, 2020 Village Council meeting, Councillor Burkett said he would like to see incentives by Village government to encourage other styles of walls or fences that do not inhibit views. He said he wanted the council to address the issue after seeing such tall, solid walls erected by builder Steve Nakamura on two properties at the south end of Corrales over the past year.

Similar long walls have gone up adjacent to Corrales Road at the north end in recent years, creating what Brown has referred to as a “canyon” effect that destroy the scenic quality for which Corrales has been known for many years. When Brown heard of Burkett’s interest, he said he looked forward to collaborating on a proposal to address the worsening situation. “When I was chair of the Corrales Planning and Zoning Commission, the last issue I tried to get a reluctant council to approve was a recommendation for a requirement for a partially open wall ordinance along Corrales Road. “The new CMU walls being built by Mr. Nakamura at the south end of Corrales are the antithesis of what Corrales needs,” Brown added.

“Look at the fencing along Rio Grande. This is what I envision for our village, and what is desperately needed to protect the views along the Corrales ‘scenic byway.’” Views along Corrales Road of pastures, horses, farms, orchards, vineyards and old tractors are central to this community’s character and perhaps even its economic vitality. A degree of national recognition for those attributes was gained in 1995 when Corrales Road was designated a “scenic and historic byway.” But a Village-appointed byways corridor management committee disbanded amid controversy more than a decade ago and was never fully reconstituted.

Brown, an architect, is concerned that the community’s treasured scenic quality is being incrementally lost due to an unfortunate landscaping feature: view-blocking solid walls or fences at the edge of the road. “I was on the Planning and Zoning Commission for eight years, and I was the chair for two years. As an architect, I felt strongly that we needed to protect this view, this view shed from Corrales Road,” Brown explained. “People come here to see Corrales… they don’t come here to look at walls and fences. They come here to see horses and donkeys and llamas and cows, and the views that stretch from the fields to the riparian habitat and all the way to the Sandias.

“They don’t want to see walls; they don’t want to see that ‘canyon effect.’” Back in 2010-11, Brown and others pushed hard for the Village Council to adopt an ordinance or regulation that would prohibit owners of property abutting Corrales Road from erecting a solid fence or wall taller than three feet at the road frontage property line. Draft Ordinance 11-007, amending the Village’s land use regulations regarding fences, was tabled at a February 2011 council meeting and never revived for vote. No other proposals have been pursued, and tall cinder block walls and wooden fences continue to go up, blocking views.

Corrales is left vulnerable, Brown cautioned. “In some places we have a tall wall along one side of Corrales Road, but it’s left open on the other side. I guess that’s probably acceptable,” he volunteered. “But what if a developer or homeowner says ‘Hey, I need to have more opacity on my side of the road, too.’ And then, the next guy says the same thing, and pretty soon, a hundred years from now, Corrales Road will be just one long canyon.”

On the other side of the river, regulations for Rio Grande Boulevard have apparently closed off that undesired future. “I believe along Rio Grande Boulevard you can only have a limited expanse of opaque wall and the rest of it has to be open. The walls are low; for the most part, you can see over them or through them. “Since Corrales Road is a scenic byway, I think it is worthy of getting the same treatment.”

Without any regulation requiring scenic views be maintained, Brown warned, “you get whatever a developer is going to give you.” In laying out the 2011 rationale for recommended action by the Village Council, then-P&Z commission Chairman Brown put it this way: “One of Corrales’ greatest assets that maintain the rural character of this village is the vistas of vineyards, agricultural fields, large animals, towering cottonwoods and the Sandia Mountains beyond. With this in mind, the P&Z commission recommends the modification noted above for fences along Corrales Road. Our concern is that without this proposed modification to our ordinance, Corrales Road could become a walled-in road where nothing could be seen beyond the six-foot high walls along both sides of Corrales Road. We already have portions of Corrales Road with this unappealing aspect.” (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXVIII No.3 March 23, 2019 “Can Scenery Along ‘Scenic Byway’ Be Preserved?”)

During early discussion about regulating the size and opacity of walls along property lines, the proposed rules would have applied to roadsides throughout Corrales. But P&Z commissioners and council members backed away from that, anticipating villagers’ resistance for reasons of privacy. That continues to be a primary concern, although the thwarted 2011 ordinance exempted existing walls and fences; the rules would have applied only to new walls or fences. Even so, the draft ordinance that went to the Village Council back then would have applied only to property along Corrales Road, not residential neighborhoods east or west of it.

While privacy issues seem to have been dominant during the P&Z and council discussions about protecting scenic quality nine years ago, it’s clear that visitors to Corrales have no interest in knowing who’s rolling in the hay with whom. A secondary concern was road noise from increased traffic along Corrales Road. Proximity to the road is the critical factor in how disturbing tire-on-asphalt noise would be to residents. But if the residence is that close to Corrales Road, or any neighborhood road, the structure itself would likely obstruct a view of fields, farm animals or the mountains.

Brown said he is not aware of any road noise mitigation measures that might be used that still allow scenic views. He said a tall wall, fence or dense vegetation may be the only way to effectively block road noise if the residence is very close. In Brown’s February 25, 2011, letter of transmittal from the P&Z commission to the council, he pointed out “This revised proposed ordinance recommends modifications to the previous proposed ordinance by requiring all new fences along Corrales Road (Scenic Byway) to have no solid fence exceeding three feet in height erected on the front lot line or within the front setback area of any lot or within the vision clearance area abutting a driveway.

“If someone wants a fence taller than three feet, then that portion of the fence would have to be an open fence.” The wall or fence could actually be taller than three feet, but the upper portion would have to be open or see-through to some degree, he added. Serving as Planning and Zoning Commission vice-chair at that time was Corrales’ current mayor, Jo Anne Roake.

“The Village Council did not like the idea at that time,” Brown recalled. “They didn’t like the idea of dictating to a homeowner what type of fence they could have. However, we already have ordinances that cover what type of fence you can have and what it looks like; what is acceptable and what is not.”

“It’s like anything else in the village; it should be the villagers who decide what’s in the best interest of the village. We want to encourage tourism, but if, when they come, we have a canyon of walls on both sides of Corrales Road, that’s not going to be very attractive.”

2021 APRIL 10 ISSUE: INDIGENOUS FARMING EDUCATION AT TROSELLO SITE

Apart from any possible future conservation easement, a project is under way to continue farming the scenic Trosello tract. About 12 acres beloved for views offered to the Corrales bosque and Sandia Mountains beyond, and four acres on the west side of Corrales Road, where the Wagners’ corn maze has been located, would remain in agriculture, Village Councillor Bill Woldman said at the March 23 council meeting.

That outcome is being pursued with a lease agreement between owners of the acreage, Trosello family heirs, and the Albuquerque-based One Generation Fund, in association with the Native American Community Academy (NACA). Students have already begun planting two acres in vegetables, while most of the rest will be planted in oats and alfalfa. “A couple of weeks ago, I went out and met with Alan Brauer with the Native American Community Academy. They have entered into a lease agreement on the Trosello fields …the lease is not going to be through the farmland preservation program,” Woldman explained.

“They brought a number of students from NACA, mainly Navajos, to the fields to take a look at it. I liked the presentation from Alan for what they propose to do there. It would be about 16 acres, 12 on the east side and four on the west side.

“I think it’s going to be an absolutely terrific project once they get going.” He said the lease covers the entire tract along the east side of Corrales Road. “There will be no condos or skyscrapers or other developments there at least for as long as the lease runs,” he suggested. Woldman said he wants to add a presentation on the project to a future council meeting agenda. Subsequently, the date for that presentation was set for April 13.

Possible use of the Trosello tract by NACA was under discussion at least five months ago. Hopes resumed after three members of the Village Council voted against the proposed conservation easement for the12-acre Haslam farm last July. One of the three dissenting councillors, Bill Woldman, told Corrales Comment last October that he had met with the Farmland Preservation and Agricultural Commission’s co-chair, Lisa Brown, to discuss that opposition and learn why the effort to save the Trosello tract had fizzled. “She reached out to me about why I hadn’t voted for the Haslam easement, and so we had a walking tour of that farm. In the course of that, we discussed the possibility of some kind of joint operation of the Trosello fields.”

“When voters were asked to approve general obligation bonds for farmland preservation, it was the Trosello tract that people were excited about,” Woldman recalled. “The Trosello field was the number one target for use of those funds, and about 80 percent of Corrales voters were in favor of that bond proposal. I wanted to know why nothing was happening with that.”

When Corrales Comment raised the same question to the Village’s negotiator, Michael Sisco of Unique Places LLC last year, he said that the owner of the Trosello tract had lost interest in participating in the Village’s conservation easement program. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXIX No.10 August 8, 2020 “Farmland Preservation Easement Decision Explained.”)

At that time, Sisco replied, “We have not given up, but the expectation of land values of the landowners and the documented appraised value for vacant farmland in Corrales are fairly far apart. And the current landowners of the Trosello tract are not interested in doing a conservation easement, they are only interested in selling.  “We tried multiple creative ways to finance the deal, bringing in third parties, trying different configurations, etc., but it typically ended in someone paying more than fair market value for the property or having the current landowners do the conservation easement, both of which were not possible at the time. We will continue to search for solutions.”

He added: “We exhausted our options on Trosello before Haslam became a potential project.” Then, a creative solution apparently surfaced. According to Woldman, the possibility arose that an agreement might be reached for a joint operation of the fields that included participation by NACA.

That school was founded by Kara Bobroff, a former deputy secretary of the N.M. Public Education Department. She is the daughter of the late Jack Bobroff, long-time superintendent of Albuquerque Public Schools. Preliminary discussions began on a possible joint operation of the Trosello farm included using it as a site for instruction about agriculture and marketing.

Bobroff, a Corrales resident, was recognized by former President Barack Obama as one of the nation’s top social innovators. She shares heritage with the Navajo and Lakota tribes. The academy she directed is a tuition-free public charter school for grades kindergarten through high school at 1000 Indian School Road NW. Members of more than 60 tribes have been enrolled. She now heads the One Generation Fund, which collaborates with NACA.

Minutes of the September 9, 2020 meeting of the Farmland Preservation and Agricultural Commission state that Bobroff had expressed interest in the school’s involvement in farming in Corrales. “She is interested in the Trosello field as a possible site for indigenous and local farming/education,” according to the minutes. In a telephone interview April 3, the One Generation senior program director, Alan Brauer, said the one-year lease may continue in the future. “It’s typical to have a year-to-year lease for a farming operation. We intend to build a relationship with the landowner, Beverlee Henry. “But, of course, we could hardly have chosen a worse year to get started giving the irrigation potential this year.”

The Trosello tract is the foundation’s first “indigenous farm hub” although another quarter-acre parcel here is also under cultivation, Brauer said. More acreage in Corrales could be added in the future, including the possibility of reclaiming farmland that has been abandoned. Brauer forwarded the following information about the project to Corrales Comment. “The Indigenous Farm Hub engages Indigenous communities in creating a network of farmers and families that will strengthen local and sustainable food systems by providing access to healthy foods, build prosperity for farmers and local communities through land reclamation, and reconnect the bond between language and culture to Indigenous practices of agriculture.”

The material further explains the relationship between the academy and the fund. “The Indigenous Farm Hub is a project of One Generation Fund currently led by Executive Director Kara Bobroff and Senior Director of Programs and Initiatives Alan Brauer. Alan will be responsible for implementing the farm hub’s priorities with the guidance of an advisory board of Indigenous farmers and language experts.

“Ms. Bobroff is an Indigenous leader who has dedicated her career to working for positive change and Indigenous principal of the Albuquerque-based Native American Community Academy (NACA) and has more than 25 years of experience in Indigenous education. She was recognized by President Obama as one of 100 top social innovators in the nation and was the New Mexico Public Education Department Deputy Secretary of Identity, Equity and Transformation prior to founding One Generation Fund.

“Mr. Brauer spent his formative years and early career on his family’s dairy farm in western Maryland. He moved to New Mexico in 2001 to teach first grade on the Navajo Nation in Smith Lake. Mr. Brauer entered into teacher coaching and non-profit management with Teach For America in both New Mexico and Baltimore. During his time in Baltimore, he launched Stony Branch Growers, a CSA [community supported agriculture project] that provided 25 shareholders with weekly subscriptions of produce raised on his farm. He joined the NACA Inspired Schools Network in 2015 to lead the fellowship implementation and manage technical assistance and school supports. Most recently, Mr. Brauer served as the director of the Charter Schools Division at the New Mexico Public Education Department.

Mr. Brauer and the advisory board are overseeing the launch of the Indigenous Farm Hub, which will be supported by a team of three full time staff in the immediate term, with the goal to grow to nine by 2023-24.” The fund’s strategic five-year plan, concluding in 2026, calls for launching 15 more farm projects across North America. “It will strengthen Indigenous communities in four ways:
• Create a systemic impact on the access, quality, and abundance of locally grown food for families in need.
• Develop economic development and prosperity for food system workers and farmers in Indigenous communities.
• Embed Indigenous language and culture vitalization within each created initiative.
• Reclaim Indigenous sovereignty over local food systems.

The overview for what would occur at the farm hub here in Corrales is described as follows. “The Indigenous Farm Hub (IFH) will be located in central New Mexico and will be a working farm that provides the venue for a comprehensive, paid fellowship that integrates sustainable agricultural practices, traditional Indigenous farming knowledge, and Native culture, language, and customs.

“IFH will recruit, identify, select, and support fellows to participate in a two-year program that culminates in the launch of community-responsive farms in their home communities. During year one, Farm Hub fellows will work full-time on the training center farm while engaging in learning experiences that will build on their experiences. The fellowship curricula will cover traditional Indigenous food systems, historical context, diverse planting and growing techniques, sustainable agricultural practices, ties with language and culture, food justice and sovereignty, land reclamation, business planning and viability, and community activism and involvement.

“In year two, fellows will launch their farm operations in their home communities and will receive start-up funds and operations support from the Farm Hub staff. As a working farm, the Indigenous Farm Hub will provide fellows with a robust agricultural experience while also fostering local community fresh food access through a CSA model, producing value-added products and partnering with established distribution centers.

“Integral to the model is a strong partnership with local communities in which community-responsive farms will be located in order to ensure the localized farm enterprise amplifies access to fresh produce, fosters job creation, and economic development while also facilitating the vitalization of land-based language and cultural practices.”

2021 MARCH 20 ISSUE: IN CORRALES, YOU’VE GOT TO KNOW YOUR WEEDS

Are you a weed?
Do you resist other species’ persistent attempts to drive you away? Does your never-say-die resilience at least earn their respect? Sometimes it seems that nature doesn’t really want us humans here in Corrales. Perhaps the lives of plants would be more tranquil, maybe even more productive, if people would just leave them alone. People can be a real pain in the you-know-what, especially when they introduce weird, water-hogging species to the neighborhood. Or ghastly chemicals. Or stem- and limb-severing blades.

Hostile plants don’t grow nasty thorns or release unpleasant odors just to ward off people, of course, but those tactics may be more effective against other types of intruders since they usually cause humans to redouble their attempts at eradication. Gardeners, especially those not engaged in subsistence food production, often conclude over time to live and let live. For newcomers to Corrales, it’s a common hard-learned realization that what grew well back East or in the Mississippi Valley or along the Pacific Coast just won’t yield the same satisfaction here.

So what was once regarded as a southwestern weed can finally be reconciled and considered a welcome collaborator. A gardener’s satisfaction can come from working with what wants to grow here naturally rather than forcing a plant that doesn’t. It should go without saying that any plant can be considered a weed, since by definition a weed is any plant that’s growing where it isn’t wanted. If you like something that’s growing where it is, it’s not a weed. Corrales gardens traditionally have sprouted lots of volunteers. If wild asparagus makes a surprise appearance, you’re not likely to consider it a weed. The same would not be true of the volunteers Tribulus terrestris and Salsola tragus, known as goathead and tumbleweed disrespectively.

Another volunteer in the bottomlands of Corrales is the mint family’s Yerba Buena, very welcome growing along the periphery of a volleyball court, but definitely a weed growing a few feet away in the middle of the court. This time of year, one of the first weeds to sprout in Corrales gardens is likely to be mustard weed which can pop up even in mid-winter in areas of scant moisture. Their greenery can seem cheerful, but pull them up before little yellow blossoms appear.

Similarly, the weed known by its appearance as fox tail, Hordeum murinum sprouts in winter. Spurge, Euphorbia serpens, shows up in early spring here, and goes to seed almost right away. Careful handling it because the white sap is toxic. But one of the worst, most dreaded is the goathead, also known as puncture vine, which won’t start its reign of terror until summer months. The thorned seed pods are terribly painful when you or especially your dog step on one. If Corrales dogs have nightmares, they’re probably about goatheads.

Goatheads can easily infect an entire path, roadside or driveway since each spiked, round seed pond may hold as many as 5,000 seeds. Fortunately, the plant is easily pulled up; it’s important to accomplish that before the bright yellow flowers show. While some Corrales weeds may appear baby-cute and thereby delay a moment of reckoning, others generally are recognized quickly for malevolent intent. Pig weed grows very quickly after summer rains begin, and can rise taller than a man in no time. But cutting it back with a weed whacker or mower will only make it spread out and go to seed earlier.

Elm trees are clearly among the most notorious weeds in Corrales. The late Evelyn Losack would fly into a frenzy when she appeared before the Village Council to denounce other villagers’ carelessness in letting elm seeds sprout in planters or garden plots. Irrigation ditches filled with elm seeds delivered those invaders to her orchards, making it almost impossible to keep farming.

As with nearly all weeds, they are relatively easy to dispatch when plucked tender —but those roots go deep fast!. Anytime it rains in spring or summer is ideal to pull weeds since the moisture will cause them to zoom up and because they’re so much easier to extract when the soil is wet. Bindweed is another scourge of Corrales orchards and gardens that is much worse than it looks to the untrained eye. Convolvulus arvensis, a perennial, has pink or white trumpet-shaped blossoms and leaves shaped like arrowheads. Its stems wrap around other desirable plants and strangle them. Where it is found growing, it should be eliminated as quickly as possible: left to proliferate, its root system can grow down 20 feet. Be on the lookout for it in June.

Two techniques have been successful in controlling weeds in Corrales and in the metro area generally. One is to lay weed fabric in susceptible areas. Another is installing drip irrigation so that only the precise planting area desired gets watered. When weeds do appear, they’ll be noticed and easily pulled. Weed fabric is a good choice along paths and in larger areas. But it does deteriorate and can be expensive to replace. And bear in mind that some weeds can still take root above the fabric. If that happens, don’t be too frustrated; at least those very shallow rooted weeds can be pulled out with little effort.

2021 MARCH 20 ISSUE: YOU LIKE RAIN, BUT HOW ABOUT PLANTS?


As a New Mexican, of course you like rain, but don’t be so sure your plants do. New research indicates that splashing rain induces a panic response in some plants that could even result in a reaction akin to post-traumatic stress syndrome, stunted growth and genetic damage. A 2018-2019 study published in the October 29, 2019 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has plant physiologists reconsidering what they understood about plants’ sensitivity.

The report, “A MYC2/MYC3/ MYC4 Dependent Transcription Factor Network Regulates Water Spray Responsive Gene Expression and Jasmonate Levels,”  explains research by collaborating scientists at four universities: the School of Molecular Sciences at the University of Western Australia, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, the Salk Institute of Biological Studies and the Lund University of Sweden.

The problem is not so much water by itself but rather noxious matter that is likely to be picked up by rain as it hits nearby surfaces and splashes onto a plant victim. “In the future, we’ll really be able to understand how plants are coping with rain, because rain can bring disease. It can bring a whole variety of other factors, which affect plants,” according to biochemist Harvey Millar of the University of Western Australia.

“We’ll be able to equip plants to interact with their environment in a different way than they do at the moment.” Millar, who was not one of the primary researchers for the peer-reviewed study, explained that rain can spread plant diseases. “When a raindrop splashes across a leaf, tiny droplets of water ricochet in all directions. These droplets can contain bacteria, viruses or fungal spores. A single droplet can spread these up to 10 meters to surrounding plants.”

The authors of the National Academy of Sciences article offered this overview. “Plants are constantly subjected to a changing environment. As sessile organisms, they have evolved defense mechanisms to cope with abiotic and biotic stresses that can interfere with their development and growth. “Stresses such as salt, founding and insect hebivory are known to affect plant growth, development and flowering time. These phentypes are also observed in plants that are repeatedly exposed to mechanical stimulation, including wind, rain, neighboring plants, agricultural equipment and human touch, colloquially termed ‘thigomorphogenesis.’

“Such mechanical stimulation without observable damaging of leaves also increases disease resistance against insect and fungal pests. As flowering time and disease resistance are of significance for global food production, understanding the molecular basis of the touch response may aid in rational design of future crops.” The researchers, Alex Van Moerkercke, Owen Duncan, Mark Zander, Jan Simura and Martyna Broda, used a spray bottle to simulate rain falling onto plants. After 10 minutes of “rain” more than 700 genes in the plants they studied reacted in a panic-like manner which continued for about 15 minutes, they reported.

The defensive responses altered the plants’ hormone balances and creation of proteins. Millar said the warning signals were sent from leaf to leaf in the plants, with the plants ultimately taking defensive measures against the water. Plants that received repeated waterings had stunted growth and delayed flowering, the biochemist explained.

“If a plant ‘s neighbors have their defense mechanisms turned on, they are less likely to spread diseases, so it’s in their best interest for plants to spread the warning to nearby plants,” he added. That communication between plants is produced by release of airborne chemicals.

2021 MARCH 20 ISSUE: GROSS RECEIPTS TAXES STAY FIRM

Gross receipts taxes to fund Village government should be adequate for the remainder of the fiscal year. “We’re going to be in a good place,” Village Administrator Ron Curry assured the Village Council March 9. Corrales’ finance officer, Reyna Aragon, put it this way. “Unless our gross receipts taxes really tank, we should be okay.”

She distributed a report for GRT revenues to Corrales month-to-month for each fiscal year going back to 2015-16. Payments to Corrales for July 2015, for example, were $206,963; in July 2020, the GRT to Corrales was $229,983.

For another comparison, in February 2020, Corrales got $272,397; for February 2021, Corrales got $260.038. As usual, GRT paid to Corrales was down some months this year compared to the same month last year, but for other months, the tax take was higher. Corrales’’ fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30 the following year.Gross receipts taxes, basically from retail sales and services, provide most of the Village’s revenue, followed by Corrales’ share of property tax.

2021 MARCH 20 ISSUE: INFESTATION OF MISTLETOE CAN WEAKEN, KILL TREES

By Sandra Farley
There’s a tree killer lurking in Corrales and right now, without leaves to camouflage it, it is easy to see. Mistletoe, the romantic plant that we buy at Christmas to steal kisses, is an insidious parasite that attaches itself to trees, plants and shrubs, stealing their nutrients and water. This can weaken or disfigure the host plant, and eventually even kill it.

Mistletoe is also invasive, spreading throughout the tree and, with the help of birds, can spread quickly throughout the neighborhood. Although mistletoe is found all over the world, several species thrive in the Southwest infecting cottonwoods, mesquite, pine, juniper and other types of desert trees.

Once it infects a tree, mistletoe is difficult to remove. When its seeds sprout, they grow through the bark of trees and into their tissues, extending up and down within the branches. Even if you cut off the visible portion of the invader, new plants often grow from inside the host.

The most effective way to fight it is to remove an infected branch or limb entirely. In order to prevent harm to the tree, you may want to use the services of a certified arborist. They know best how to remove large pieces of wood without adversely affecting the tree’s health. If you do the pruning yourself, remove infested material back to the branch collar.

So, before the mistletoe disappears behind those sprouting leaves, inspect your trees to ensure their health and kiss that mistletoe goodbye! Read more at: True Mistletoe: https://aces.nmsu.edu/ces/plantclinic/documents/mistletoes-_od-10__final.pdf

Sandra Farley is a Sandoval County Master Gardener.

2021 MARCH 20 ISSUE: MASTER GARDENERS RESUME PROGRAMS VIA ONLINE CLASS

Corrales’ Sam Thompson reports that the Master Gardener program has had “some major adaptations to make during the year,” to put it mildly. In the middle of the Intern Training Class of 2020 the group went into a lockdown.  “Our mentors learned to conduct sessions with their interns via Zoom.  And it worked just fine.  And the 2020 interns stayed with us, joining projects and committees. Now a year later, some are helping conduct Zoom sessions and mentoring members of the 2021 class,” as Thompson put it.

Along with adjustments to the pandemic, the group was renamed the Sandoval Extension Master Gardeners by New Mexico State University, to keep nomenclature consistent across the state. Its former website became defunct. And then the County horticulture Extension agent, Lynda Garvin, was transferred to Valencia County. A new Sandoval County agent has not yet been named.

Thompson was uncertain that any new interns would sign up in 2021, but 26 did.  “What we hadn’t realized is that having virtual classes, all of which are recorded and made available the same day, allows those that are working to join the class, many of whom are younger people.”

Another benefit of Zoom experience, is that the Master Gardeners have begun to offer Zoom classes to the public, thus reaching far more people than in the past. Thompson notes that 72 people registered for “Amending Desert Soils “ from all over the state, and a few from out of state.” Online classes and corresponding recordings will continue to be available on the website: http://sandovalmastergardeners.org. Click on Classes for Zoom material.

Do note that on April 13 at 2 p.m., Thompson is presenting “Growing Tomatoes in the Desert Southwest.” “The challenges facing the tomato grower in the desert southwest include heat, intense wind, high UVs, low fertility and a variety of pests and disease.  Discouraged?  You don’t need to be, because there are helpful strategies that can allow you to grow tasty tomatoes in your backyard."

The Pollinator Garden started next to the Corrales Library by local Masters is “coming right along,” according to Thompson. “Rick and Jacob Thaler are making a bench for the space using wood from a felled tree on Pete Smith's property.”

2021 MARCH 20 ISSUE: CREATE WILDLIFE HABITAT

One-third of all U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades, according to America’s largest conservation organization, the National Wildlife Federation. Since 1936, the federation’s mission to preserve landscape and wildlife and to educate and promote lifelong connections have informed hikers, campers, gardeners, hunters, anglers, birders and other outdoor enthusiasts across the country.

Even home gardeners have been getting a boost —many pandemically-constrained people have examined their home patches and decided to make their own personal commitment to the environment, by either creating native plant gardens, or expanding existing gardens that incorporate elements of food, water, cover and places for wildlife to raise their young.

Certified Wildlife Habitat is a signature program of National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife movement, educating the public on the importance of plants, wildlife and people in the creation of sustainable landscapes that require little to no pesticides, fertilizers, or excess watering. Landscapes that help keep water and air resources clean.

One may ponder why a certain raccoon, Ranger Rick, is one of the key players in promotions launched by the federation, as the masked bandits are notable for their deft nighttime invasions of bird feeders and peanut installations. But, Ranger Rick has been around since 1959 and has recently turned up on handsome new signs certified habitat gardeners may purchase

So, if you think yours is a garden which offers food, water and cover for wild critters, and if you want to support the myriad projects of the federation, get certified. First, you join NWF for $20. Funds go to both local and national projects. Then you apply for certification, by running through the requirements. If they are met, you receive a “personalized certificate,” plus a one-year membership in the National Wildlife Federation and subscription to National Wildlife Magazine; 10 percent off the National Wildlife Federation catalog merchandise, including nesting boxes, feeders, birdbaths, and other items to enhance your wildlife garden; and a subscription to the monthly Garden for Wildlife e-newsletter with gardening tips, wildlife stories and other resources.

After that you may buy, display and brag on your $30 Certified Wildlife Habitat sign, each one individualized per state. NWF is a non-profit, so it needs the dough. While it provides reams of how- to advice online, it also sells apparel, kids’ toys and puzzles, even Ranger Rick facemasks, bedding, lighting and on and on. Check out http://www.nwf.org/Garden-for-Wildlife Also, http://www.shopnwf.org

2021 MARCH 20 ISSUE: GARDEN TOUR OFF FOR 2021


Unless the planets radically realign, or everyone in New Mexico is fully vaccinated by early June, there will be no 2021 Corrales Garden Tour. There was no tour in 2020, for obvious reasons. The event was cancelled even though six gardens already had been selected, and even though the event is outdoors, and the tour’s fans are well situated behind masks. At a recent meeting the tour committee’s vote was 8 to 1 in favor of cancelling. Typically the tour attracts between 800-1,200 visitors, paying $15 per ticket. And all funds raised go to the Corrales MainStreet pathway project.

Some objections centered on “What if it’s hot and people won’t keep their masks on?” and “Everything is being cancelled.” As well as the printing and placement of 1,500 promotional cards at local businesses. “Who will see them if no one is going into stores?” The tour website had been down for weeks, unbeknownst to the committee, its Facebook page not updated since March 2020. The committee meets again April 1 to discuss a possible virtual tour.

2021 MARCH 20 ISSUE: BUTTERFLY GARDEN SUGGESTED FOR INTERIOR DRAIN

A public butterfly garden has been proposed for a portion of the Corrales Interior Drain. The idea was floated by a member of the committee appointed by Mayor Jo Anne Roake to recommend future uses of the drainage ditch east of Corrales Road between Valverde Road and Riverside Drain (“Clear Ditch”).

When the advisory committee was established last year, it was to submit recommendations by August 2021. So far, not even draft recommendations have been developed; the group chaired by Doug Findley will soon launch an effort to gain additional public input before summer. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXIX No.12 September 5, 2020 “Any Ideas To Improve Interior Drain?”)

Other members of the committee include Sayre Gerhart, John Perea, Jeff Radford and Rick Thaler. At the very least, a butterfly garden along the Interior Drain could expect to attract Monarch, Queen, Painted Lady,  Mourning Cloak, Two-Tailed Swallowtail, Black Swallowtail and Cabbage White varieties, according to Katie Carillo, an educator for the Albuquerque Biopark  who formerly staffed the Butterfly Pavillion.

“I am sure there are many more!” that would love to feed along the drainage ditch. “Monarchs are very specialized and will only use milkweed as a host plant, so having a network of native varieties along their migration route is crucial,” Carillo added. Monarch butterflies pass through the Rio Grande corridor during their 3,000-mile, two-month migration to central Mexico. They are known to have a taste for horsetail milkweed and showy milkweed.

At the Corrales Interior Drain Committee’s March 12 meeting, Radford said he  hoped to include a butterfly garden in the group’s proposal. He explained his interest in such a project began more than a decade ago when he learned that the place name for the Corrales area in Santa Ana Pueblo’s Keres language is Puraika, which means “the place of butterflies.”

He said he had only recently confirmed the meaning of that word by consulting a Keres-English glossary, which yielded the word for butterfly as Buuraika. He said using part of the drainage ditch for a butterfly garden would be a way to honor this area’s Native American heritage while restoring an attractive feature for this community. Responses from other members of the committee were positive. Draft minutes of the March 12 meeting indicated “The committee fully supports this, and considers it a beautiful unifying theme that can guide the full drain’s re-development including landscaping guidelines. The concept helps distinguish the Drain project from  other natural and trail areas of the village.”

No specific stretch of the long drainage ditch was identified as a possible location for the butterfly garden. The ditch was created by the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District in the 1930s, primarily to dry out, or drain, adjacent swampy land so it could be used for agriculture. Groundwater from the upper water table slowly drains into the ditch which conveys it southward to the  Corrales Riverside Drain which itself empties into the Rio Grande at Alameda Bridge. But over the years, the ditch’s hydraulics have failed to function well; stagnant, sometimes smelly, water accumulates. And it bred scads of mosquitoes until the 1980s when the Conservancy District introduced gambusia fish, which devour mosquito larvae, into the ditch.

Back then, the District’s executive engineer, Subhas Shah, met with nearby concerned residents to discuss problems and how they might be addressed. One of the options, he suggested, was that the open ditch could be replaced by a buried perforated culvert which would still collect drained groundwater and take it to the Riverside Drain. That idea was never pursued, nor was a thorough rehabilitation of the ditch’s hydraulic capacity.

Then last year, Findley began inquiring whether other villagers shared his goal of creating a community asset from the deteriorating drainage ditch. He is the son of Tommie and Jim Findley, who was primary co-founder of the Corrales Bosque Preserve. Doug Findley persuaded Mayor Jo Anne Roake to appoint a task force, or committee, to explore what might be done to enhance the ditch and ditchbank roads. The committee was established and has begun soliciting public input before making recommendations to the mayor and council.

The MRGCD’s current executive director, Mike Hamman and members of his staff have discussed the project with Findley and his committee. Hamman has indicated conceptual support for a re-visioning of how the Interior Drain property might be used. The group composed the following statement: “Our mission is to identify and help to implement ways in which the Interior drain and right-of-way may be improved for safe, enjoyable and essential public use while maintaining tranquility for adjacent residents.”

In 2004, the N.M. Legislature formally named the Sandia Hairstreak as the state’s official butterfly. The following kinds of butterflies are found in New Mexico. Admirals and relatives: “Astyanax” Red-spotted Purple, Red-spotted Purple, Ruddy Daggerwing, Viceroy, Weidemeyer's Admiral

Emperors: Empress Leilia, Hackberry Emperor, Silver Emperor, Tawny Emperor, Longwings,  Aphrodite Fritillary, Arctic Fritillary, Atlantis Fritillary, Callippe Fritillary,  Edwards' Fritillary,  Freija Fritillary,  Great Spangled Fritillary,  Gulf Fritillary,  Isabella's Heliconian,  Mexican Fritillary,  Mexican Silverspot,  Mormon Fritillary,  Nokomis Fritillary,  Northwestern Fritillary,  Silver-bordered Fritillary, Variegated Fritillary, Zebra Heliconian

Milkweed Butterflies:  Monarch,  Queen, Soldier, Snouts, American Snout, True Brushfoots, American Lady, Bordered Patch, California Tortoiseshell, Common Buckeye, Crimson Patch, Definite Patch, Dotted Checkerspot, Eastern Comma, Green Comma, Hoary Comma, Milbert's Tortoiseshell, Mourning Cloak, Mylitta Crescent Northern Checkerspot, Northern Crescent Painted Crescent, Painted Lady, Pearl Crescent, Phaon Crescent, Question Mark, Red Admiral, West Coast Lady, White Peacock

Parnassians and Swallowtails:  Rocky Mountain Parnassian, Swallowtails, Anise Swallowtail, Black Swallowtail, Broad-banded Swallowtail, Giant Swallowtail, Indra Swallowtail, Old World Swallowtail, Ornythion Swallowtail, Palamedes Swallowtail, Pale Swallowtail, Pipevine Swallowtail, Polydamas Swallowtail, Two-tailed Swallowtail, Western Tiger Swallowtail

2021 MARCH 20 ISSUE: CORRALES ELEMENTARY WELCOMES KIDS BACK!

Regular, in-person school is expected to resume at Corrales Elementary April 5. Students and their parents have had to adjust to mostly online learning for the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic which caused Albuquerque Public Schools to mostly shut down. Even though students will return to classrooms, it still won’t be back to normal. Mask-wearing will be required and desks will be set wide apart.

“We are thrilled to finally welcome our students back into our school building on April 5!” Corrales Elementary Principal Liv Baca-Hochhausler said. “Corrales teachers have worked diligently for the past year adapting their instructional strategies and practices to effectively teach students remotely, but there really is no substitute for in-person teaching and learning (no matter how well we’ve mastered Zoom, Seesaw and Google classroom).

“We’ve implemented numerous safety protocols to ensure that students socially distance to the greatest extent possible throughout their day at school.  Each classroom has been provided with sanitizing solution, gloves, masks, face shields, hand sanitizer, soap and thermometers to assist in actively screening students.

“We have designated one classroom as an ‘isolation’ room for our school nurse and health assistant to use when triaging staff or students that may have been exposed to COVID,” she added.

“Families have the option to allow their children to return to school for five days of in-person teaching and learning (8:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and 8:45-12:30 on Wednesday) or remain online throughout the remainder of the school year. APS officials have ordered water fountains in schools be closed off, so water bottles will need to substitute.

“Because some students will continue to learn at home, students who return to their schools will be expected to bring their fully-charged APS-issued technology devices, Chromebooks or iPads, to class with them every day,” APS Superintendent Scott Elder cautioned March 12. He encouraged parents to drive kids to school —rather than have them congregate on school buses— and to persuade them to walk or ride bikes to school, which would be even better. Last day of school will be Tuesday, May 25. Not all teachers and staff are expected to return right away since those “identified as high-risk will be allowed to wait two weeks after they are fully vaccinated,” Elder noted.

2021 MARCH 20 ISSUE: VACCINES OFFERED FOR HOME-BOUND IN CORRALES

Vaccinations against COVID-19 are now being given at home to villagers advised not to venture out. Corrales artist Juanita Wolff and her husband, videographer Eric Mathes, were among the first 10 villagers to receive their shots at home March 10. The Corrales Fire Department’s Tanya Lattin inoculated them with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine which requires a single dose.

She reported at the March 9 Village Council meeting that she and her team expected to administer 420 doses the following Thursday at the drive-thru site at the recreation center. Those Thursday vaccinations are expected to continue indefinitely. Lattin said she hopes to be able to give 600 shots on those days. Statewide, infection rates continue to decline.

As of March 15, 188,311 New Mexicans had tested positive for the coronavirus. A total of 3,852 had died, and 118 were in the hospital with the disease at that time. Two hundred eighty-three cases were recorded in Corrales as of March 15.

2021 MARCH 20 ISSUE: U-PICK FLOWER PLOTS SOUGHT AT GONZALES HERITAGE FARM


This summer will see a “U-Pick” organic flower planting on the front field of the Juan Gonzales Bas Heritage Farm west of Wells Fargo Bank. Planted by the Silverblatt-Buser brothers, Aaron and Elan, of Silver Leaf Farms, it will operate under the honor system. The field awash in marigolds, zinnias, black-eyed susans, celosia, and, of course, sunflowers brings a smile to Elan Silverblatt’s face. It’s possible the flower field may be open, under some supervision, only on weekends.

Asked what U-pickers might be supplied with, or encouraged to bring, for appropriately cutting flowers, such as pruning shears, secateurs or flower snips, Silverblatt answered, “That’s a good question.” This could coincide with a similar U-Pick at Heidi’s Raspberry Farm, at 600 Andrews Lane. Silverblatt said the Heidi’s people had been “awesome and helpful” on U-Pick tips for the flower project at the Gonzales field. Dates and time for Heidi’s summer 2021 are not yet posted, but possibly masks still will be required, and visitors are asked to use only East La Entrada to access the farm along the Interior Drain. In 2020 parking was $5 per car, berry baskets were handed out and each filled basket cost $6. Reservations likely will be required. See https://heidisraspberryfarm.com.

The never idle, 30-something brothers who own organic Silver Leaf Farms, have thus far weathered the pandemic in part by partnering with Milagro Winery on an order online, pay, drive-thru and pickup shop at 125 Old Church Road. The shop runs Thursdays from 1 to 5 p.m. Learn more at http://www.milagrofarmstand.com. And it has served not only to sell wine for Milagro and veggies for Silver Leaf but also has given a boost to local purveyors of coffee, cheese, olives, almonds, butter, bread, kombucha, chocolate and ristras.

Participants include Corrales’ Candlestick Coffee and Heidi’s Raspberry Jam; Three Sisters Kitchen in Albuquerque; North Valley chocolate, with new items becoming available, such as organic plant starts, including thyme, sage, marjoram, and similar. Currently, you can even buy Silver Leaf’s own potting soil, as well as organic chicken manure from Arizona.

Elan Silverblatt says they intend to continue the project as long as it meets the needs both of customers, told to go to supermarkets when the Growers’ Market had to be on hold, and vendors. People providing restaurants with items had “no business anymore” when the lockdown was more stringent, and they have been aided as well.

The primary challenge has been that the drive-thru “leaches into” the normal Silver Leaf workday, as Silverblatt put it. But, “we’ll keep doing it if it helps out other businesses and still makes sense.” A Silver Leaf best seller? Corrales Butter Crunch Living Lettuce. Silver Leaf plans to resume its usual mid- to late-summer selling season at the Corrales Growers’ Market, too. (See http://www.eatsilverleaf.com)

The connection with Milagro Winery began four or five years ago when the two businesses connected on the topic of soil science. Milagro was segueing to all organic production, sought suggestions on fertilizers —now the same that Silver Leaf uses— and Silver Leaf learned quality grape growing and wine production techniques.

Now farming between 20 and 25 acres in Corrales with a team of 12, and seeking to hire as many as two more crew members, Silver Leaf also is working the Juan Gonzales Bas Heritage Farm west of the bank. After lying fallow or growing only cover crops for years, the acreage considered the centerpiece for Corrales farmland preservation program is leased to them.

The Village installed an irrigation well and pump at the heritage farm in August 2020 so that the land could qualify for organic certification. Silver Leaf was concerned that use of ditch water for irrigation would not allow such a designation.

2021 MARCH 20 ISSUE: GARDENING A PROVEN AID FOR MENTAL HEALTH

By Arnold. C Farley
Corrales Psychologist
To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palms of your hand and eternity in an hour.
—William Blake

I have always had a deep and abiding desire to be in nature. I often thought it was because I grew up in a row house in South Philadelphia surrounded by asphalt, brick and concrete. I loved the summers as a child attending camp in the country and being able to hike, climb trees, take nature classes and enjoy evenings by a camp fire next to the Brandywine Creek.

Psychologist Seth J. Gillihan found through his research that being outside in nature is good for our bodies and minds and will accelerate healing. The Japanese expression “shinrin-yoku” translated “forest bathing” also reflects the experience of being immersed in nature. The description of bathing implies a cleansing effect that is supported by other research. The Journal of Environmental and Public Health published an article in 2012 that identifies significant health benefits from “earthing” (grounding) or being in direct contact with the earth. This finding is based on the transmission of electrons from the earth into our bodies.

Reconnection with the earth’s electrons has been found to promote intriguing physiological changes and subjective reports of well-being. Earthing refers to the benefits, including better sleep and reduced pain, from walking barefoot outside, sitting or working in or on the earth. The greatest positive effects are felt from practicing gardening activities.

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order,” John Burroughs said. As a young adult I would often go backpacking along the Appalachian Trail from upstate New York down to southern Virginia. Even after becoming a psychologist, getting married and starting a family, I never lost the calling to be in and around nature. As a result, most vacations included river rafting, canoeing or kayaking, mountain, woodland or beach destinations, hiking or even ziplining obstacle courses. I felt being in a natural outdoor setting was always a home away from home for me.

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better,” Albert Einstein advised. When my wife, Sandy, and I retired our commissions as Public Health Service officers, she wanted to become a Master Gardener and I wanted to become a massage therapist. We both accomplished our goals. Settling here in Corrales, Sandy began some herb and flower gardening with my total support and encouragement.

Out of an act of necessity to prevent erosion and control drainage, we developed a master plan for our property that included numerous garden rooms: believe it or not the major ones were “Mind,” “Body” and “Spirit!” David Monico, MPH, notes that nature has a restorative function cognitively and emotionally. He observed that being in nature can improve attention (used with children with ADHD), lower stress and improve overall well-being.

This gardening work of ours soon became an avocation for both of us with me designing, hardscaping and maintaining the gardens with Sandy choosing, planting and caring for hundreds of plants, vegetables and trees on our acre of land. As a result, we found ourselves caring for living things on a regular basis. We became gardeners.

The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. “To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul.”
—Alfred Austin

Then the pandemic hit! A nightmare to be sure, with all that we knew to be normal being turned upside down. Thankfully for us, we had our gardens! As a psychologist, I was somewhat familiar with the general health benefits of being outdoors in nature, including gardening, but now, Sandy and I would find it invaluable to our mental (and physical) health. None of this is new. For centuries we have known of the many benefits being in nature provides.

Philosophers, scientist, mystics as well as farmers and gardeners have been telling us so almost forever. “No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.”
—Thomas Jefferson

I have told many friends and family, if it was not for our gardens, I would be much worse off psychologically (Sandy can attest to that for sure.) More recently, in the fields of environmental health and psychology, we have accumulated more and more research and scientific evidence of the amazing mental health benefits, including physical health, being in nature, and specifically gardening, has for us.

The Journal of Clinical Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians reported in 2018 that exposure to plants and green spaces, especially gardening, is beneficial to mental and physical health. Studies in this report found the above exposures resulted in reduced stress, fear, anger and sadness as well as reduced blood pressure, pulse rate and muscle tension. A meta-analysis done in 2017 by Soga, Gaston and Yamaura in Preventive Medicine Reports found that gardening, specifically, was beneficial to numerous heath factors. These studies were from the United States, Europe, Asia and The Middle East. Outcome data found reductions in depression, anxiety and Body Mass Index (BMI) as well as increases in life satisfaction, quality of life measures and sense of community.

Horticultural therapy (gardening and other related practices) is a rapidly growing treatment for mental disorders as well as learning and developmental conditions around the world. I know how “good tired” I feel after working the gardens for a couple of hours. How “wonder-full” it is to sit, alone or with Sandy, in a garden spot and just take it all in: the smells, sounds, shapes, array of color, texture and variety.

“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanates from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.”
—Robert Louis Stevenson

Working in my gardens, I feel engaged in a form of mindfulness practice that is at the same time focused and creative. As if I was in a kind of organic dance, a co-mingling with the energies of the earth (weather, soil, living organisms, big and small, and me) all working to sustain and promote life. Way cool!

Virtually every religious and spiritual teaching throughout the ages has referred to a garden as an analogy for bliss, happiness, serenity or peace. “Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.”
—May Sarton

Research has shown that you do not need to go big on gardening to gain many of the benefits from nature. Roger Ulrich, an environmental psychologist found that simply viewing plants or trees in a post-operative setting improved mood, reduced analgesic use, surgical complications and length of stay of patients. Studies in the UK and Japan over the last few years, have supported these findings.

No need to become a Master Gardener either. Just being in nature is a good start. Walking in the woods, volunteering with a nature program (see notes at end of article) or even getting a few house plants is a good start. If you wanted to start a garden, perhaps begin with a few outdoor planters of herbs for your kitchen or plant a few vegetables such as peppers, onions or tomatoes. Anything you do is good for you and will help you mentally, physically and emotionally. The added benefits of getting into any form of gardening include the physical activity components, the social/community connections and, of course, the bounty of healthy food to savor and enjoy!

“To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.”
—Mahatma Gandhi

• Master Gardeners of Sandoval County: http://sandovalmastergardeners.org.
• Corrales volunteer tree planting committee: get information here or contact Village Clerk Aaron Gjullin at agjullin@corrales-nm.org.
• Seed to Need: https://seed2need.org

2021 MARCH 20 ISSUE: TENDING MY GARDEN

By Anita Walsh
January 23, 2021 was a Saturday, and the Corrales Post Office would be closing at 1 o’clock. It crossed my mind, after a Zoom yoga class, and having made our daily juice, that the two garden hoses I ordered could possibly be arriving.

In my sleep clothes, I grabbed the pants I wear to the store; the ones that have my license in the pocket, and threw them in the front seat, along with the bag that had my cloth mask and hand sanitizing sheets. I zipped over to the Post Office, and opened the P.O. Box, where a yellow pick-up card was nestled. I went around the corner, padding along in my green velour jimmies and went on to the counter. The pleasant clerk came back with a box for me. It looked a little small, and it felt a little light, so I got a little panicky that maybe I ordered the wrong thing.

I did get the wrong thing: I got hoses that were half-inch diameter instead of three-quarter-inch diameter. My plants had suffered. I couldn’t water and enjoy being outside because of those old leaky hoses. Now I had something that worked, even though it wasn’t what I expected. I spent most of the day delivering water to everything languishing in our drought-prone season. It’s not that they had gotten no water at all, but after getting squirted in the face, soaked at the sleeve, shoe and pant leg, I certainly had waited longer than usual to offer relief to the plants.

The next time I used these hoses, I already knew how light they were, how very little you have to turn the faucet on to get great pressure, and of course how nice it is not to get squirted by straight-up-in-the-air leaks, and to watch the wasteful soak-the-ground leaks, too. The half-inch, instead of the three-quarter-inch diameter, drinking water safe hose was a lucky accident. They are light and easy to pull around, allow for decent pressure for a much longer time than the wider hoses, use less water and deliver a purely delightful watering experience.

For anyone interested, I would highly recommend this smaller diameter hose. Your back will thank you for it. It’s best to disconnect the hose from the faucet on freezing nights. The connection froze one night and the force of it snapped the washer, so where there had never been gushing and leaking, there was. I’ve also learned to empty the ceramic birdbath.

The following week the garden lay under the snow. We were waking up, and Steve recalled the last Monday when he mowed the whole garden; all the thyme, St John’s Wort, spearmint, red clover, marjoram and grass around the fruit trees, cottonwood and catalpa and all the leaves that fell where things grow were mulched in. The gullies for irrigation got shorn. Another Saturday he raked the dry garden around the apricot, which has the big yuccas, and we pulled the leaves out from their arms with the handle end of the rake. He called me a “garden monster” as a high compliment for helping.

The ragged edges of the irrigation gullies got weed-wacked in the midst of a rather intense wind storm. I convinced Steve to mow the vinca and he has had me worried about it ever since. I noticed one lovely flower on the old growth, and I see now what we will be missing. As I looked around the area that day, leaves tucked in just about everywhere, I knew I’d be raking again, and so it was; heaving the splitting and broken garbage bags over the side of the garbage can, and returning the hand cart that helped me move them to the shed. Almost every week, all winter long, we filled the garbage can with leaves and we are still at it.

We spent an hour and a half trying to get a loose limb off of another limb and had to give-up. Steve was on a very tall ladder, the wind was blowing, and the limb wouldn’t budge. It’s rare to see him give up on a thing, but it had stalled me from going to the store in favor of holding the ladder, so when the futility of it became apparent, he gave up, and let me go.

We gave a “bluebird day” to our dog and went on a hike instead of gardening. Traditionally she gets the best day of the week for her long walk. The next day, was the day when we heard from the Conservancy District that there will be little water for irrigation, and a short season as well, and it kinda dashed all hopes of having stamina for outdoors; along with the grey-cold, windy weather that arrived with the news.

In pasting together the time, and what has been done, I’d say the garden, or the general outdoors that we occupy, has gotten significant attention. There was one day when I pulled out the top layer of compost that did not degrade, and filled the garbage with dried pineapple tops, corn cobs, coffee filters and twigs. I am still working on it, but with a stick, digging around hoping to find the stone to my old ring and finally, that precious layer of crumbly, practically perfect ‘black gold’ compost.

All the trips to the house for water, garbage bags, gloves and the excursions to the shed for rake, different rake, shovel; added up to more footsteps than a two-hour hike. Again, I put in some time watering and digging in the compost, and way surpassed days that were spent on errands. Even walking around the city blocks size of Albertsons’ for groceries has no such effect as slight garden tasks attended.

Last fall, we bought a multi-branched cluster of twigs identified as a desert willow and an expensive stick from Osuna Nursery in January, identified as a pecan tree. I have been watching it and the buds along its 31/2-foot stature look alive. When they will stretch to become branches is anybody’s guess.

Making things nice is a good activity for your spirit. I’d walked down the back door path, where straight ahead sits a white plaster detail object which Steve made as part of a cast for a sculpture. I’ve always loved it, and the morning sun streams down the path to highlight it. I thought then of how we make the world better by adding beauty to it.

The daily round of things; filling birdbaths, keeps me in touch with changes in the rosemary bush showing its blue flowers at the beginning of March, and in December the flowering arugula that I didn’t harvest in the fall.

We are still in competition for space in the garbage can to put in the results of our individual projects before the can gets full. Last week we both worked on garbage day, as soon as the can got empty and by evening it was full. We had a week to go before the garbage man roared back down our road. Steve cleaned two coreopteris bushes (blue mist ) and saved one from further rot at the base. I cleaned the Mexican feather grass and broke 11,000 steps for two days straight.

As I was looking out the window, a crow swooped gracefully from a high tree in a neighbor’s yard, down to a lower branch just above the birdbath in the garden. The birds always tell you when to fill the water; the little birds by the house and the crows in the big garden.

In spring and summer, we are overrun with critters; the snake falling from the vine, the cat giving birth behind a tangle of branches, and the ever-expanding toad family. I look forward to seeing Mr. Toad sitting in the plant tray we fill with water every morning; he surely seems to enjoy it, too.

I feel so lucky to be here and have a hand in making a place to see, to share with the birds, bees, lizards, tree frogs, my partner and more. Gazing at it, or working in it, the garden is the place to be, any time of year.

2021 MARCH 20 ISSUE: BURIED GREENHOUSE HELPS SUCCULENTS SURVIVE WINTER

By Abby Boling and Jeff Radford
Surprises may not be what you’d expect from a docile, greyish plant, even one that tends to wander. But then, maybe you don’t know much about succulents. A fictional variety featured in the 1960 move Little Shop of Horrors was a blood-thirsty cross of the lowly carnivorous butterwort plant. The varieties that soon will emerge from Bonnie and Al Putzig’s subterranean Corrales greenhouse are more tame, yet amazing nonetheless.

As might be expected in a hot, arid environment, many landscapes in Corrales incorporate cactus, a succulent, while fewer specialize in nurturing agaves, echeveria, sedums and other fleshy plants. The succulent many Corrales gardeners probably are most familiar with is aloe vera.

At their home in the lower sandhills, the Putzigs have more than 50 kinds of in patios and medium sunny outdoor spots. “They’re just different; they’re not like your typical geraniums or your typical cactus. People have never seen them before.” Among her favorites are euphorbia, climb chile, and mangave macho mocha. “which, when it blooms, is so incredible.” And, pointing to an aeonium, “These are amazing. They have big rosettes on them and yellow flowers. This one looks like a helicopter.”

Another, the paddle plant, also known as desert cabbage and red pancake, is among the most dramatic of succulents. “It spikes later in the summer, into the fall, and has these beautiful orange-red hues on it,” even though earlier in the growing season it is a pale beige. Her sedums also turn a handsome red-orange in the fall if they gets sun.

Until recently, since the succulents needed shelter from the winter cold, spaces were found for them indoors as chilly weather set in. “The house was like a forest,” Bonnie Putzig explained. “And then at Christmas, we had a Christmas tree in here as well! My husband eventually got tired of all that, and that’s when we came up with the idea of a greenhouse.”

Al Putzig researched what could be built in the yard to keep the succulents alive and warm through the winter.  They chose a walipini, a design of Bolivian origin which lets the sun’s rays in even though mostly buried in earth. “Walipini” is an Aymara word meaning “a place of warmth.” They built one in 2018 which now houses dozens of plants including lemon and lime trees and geraniums sporting bright red blossoms. As the seasons pass, they’re still learning how to use and maintain it.

The walipini is designed to prevent the temperature inside from dipping below 40 degrees. As a safeguard, a thermostat turns on a space heater until such time that a solar heating apparatus is installed. “The space heater is more than sufficient so far. “The plants are really happy in there,” she added. “But by the end of the winter when they’ve been in there about six months, they’re ready to get out and into the sun.

“Over the last couple of winters, I’ve lost a couple, but now I know which ones to watch. It’s all experiment. It’s all learning. I try to adapt as I learn more. Every year, I learn more about what works and what doesn’t. And I get more confident in trying different arrangements and different pots.

“What I’m getting into now is arrangements of different varieties in pots. I’m doing that now for fundraisers. I had two arrangements at a fundraiser, and I didn’t know what price to put on them. But I put $50 on them, and they went in a heartbeat.” They moved to Corrales 13 years ago from the Nob Hill area where they were for the prior 20 years. They decided to buy a home here after driving out one fall to show visiting relatives the Wagners’ Farm store.

After moving to the Albuquerque area from Vancouver, Canada, they had to adjust to aridity and other harsh conditions. “There you don’t even have to think about watering. You just put a plant in, and it grows. But here, you’re watering daily in the summer with 100 degrees. It’s labor-intensive gardening. And here, you’re having to deal with a lot of bugs and pests we never had in the Northwest.

“And then, living out here in Corrales, there are rodents. You’ve got squirrels and rabbits. From experience, she now avoids vegetable gardens here, except for pots outside her kitchen window that grow kale and chard each spring. “There are different colors of kale and chard, so it’s colorful. And that works. But then the heat comes. In the beginning of May, they’re done. So I put herbs in as replacements.”

When they acquired the property in 2007, much of it was in sagebrush and four-wing saltbush. But growing succulents is very much a specialty unless you’re content with the common, usually volunteer cacti. Other than with cacti, the learning curve can be steep —and expensive. “Succulents are very touchy about sun,” she warned, and over-watering can kill them.

“You can’t be very aggressive with water, because in their natural habitat, they get little moisture. And they don’t need much moisture to start with. In their natural habitat, it’s cooler in winter, whereas here it’s colder. I’ve just learned not to be worried about water. I water them maybe every week and a half in winter. In summer I water a little very day, but not a soaking.”

As a planting medium, she uses regular planting soil with a little home-produced compost added. “I never replace an entire pot of its soil. I just amend what’s there. I put in fresh soil, some compost, and maybe a handful of manure. In winter, she does “armchair gardening,” thinking about what needs to be done, consulting books to discover plants with desirable colors. After a career as a hospital operating room nurse, she is now retired. She also studied landscape design while earning a bachelor’s degree in art. “All the classes I took were in the architecture department. If I had gone on for a master’s it would have been to learn more about healing gardens, which is what I do here.”

In her career as a nurse, she came to understand the value of such features in a health care setting. In hospitals, space and resources are assigned to facilities such as operating rooms and clinics but not spaces planted for therapeutic purposes. Kaseman Hospital has a small area, “and it’s really nice, but in the summer, it’s hot because it’s surrounded by four walls. In any other season except summer, it’s a really nice spot. “But in general, there has not been a lot of money or research that has gone into healing gardens,” she admitted. “Hospitals tend to spend money where money can be made, and you can’t make it with a landscape.”

But the research that does exist suggests that “if you are a patient in a room recovering from surgery or something else, and your room has a window that faces just a concrete wall, that doesn’t help you recover. But if you have trees and greenery, perhaps with birds to look at, it makes a world of difference in your recovery. Research has shown that, but there’s not a lot of information about it out there.” But progress is coming, she added. “Some hospitals are integrating healing landscapes, especially for cancer patients.” She referred to California landscape designer Topher Delaney, a breast cancer survivor whose projects have gained attention.

Over the years, Bonnie Putzig has gained a reputation as a plant doctor. In her back yard, she created a succulent nursing station where she tries to resolve sickly plants’ issues. “It’s for plants that I might be trying to start, or ones that are not doing well. Or somebody contacts me to say ‘I can’t take care of that plant. It’s failing, or I can’t get it to grow. Can you take it?’

“I say, ‘Sure,” and I’ll take it home and nurse it back to health and give it to somebody. One of them was a jade plant —big— and I put it outside in the shade and eventually brought it into the house. Four or five months later it was healthy as can be. I hated to give it away, but I didn’t need another one.” At her outdoor plant nursing station, she needs a good pair of gloves, appropriate shears, old scissors and fertilizers. (“Miracle Grow is a good stand-by) especially cactus juice, a liquid containing calcium and other nutrients formulated for cacti and other succulents. When attempting to re-pot a large, extra-spiney succulent she recommends thick gloves. It’s a task best undertaken with another person helping.

Usually, before she retired, she took her salvaged plants to work and gave them to co-workers. Now she has more difficulty adopting out recovered plants. “This year, I found two or three people to give plants away to. I give away a good amount… otherwise there wouldn’t been room in the greenhouse.

“Sometimes I feel like a hoarder. I just love these plants, and I like experimenting with them.” The main experiment is optimizing use of the walipini. Before that was built, she brought them inside for the winter, including to the garage that has a skylight. “But sometimes half of them would die after I had spent good money on them, so it was getting to be a big waste.”

Generally, her husband leaves the gardening, working the earth, to her. “He was a researcher on neurology at the University of New Mexico, she explained. “The last thing he was going to do was get his fingers dirty,” she said chuckling. But he did put his talents as an engineer and problem-solver to use in creating the walipini. While the roof of the structure is translucent, the walls are concrete block with reinforcement to keep the weight of overlying earth from collapsing them. Each course of the blocks sits on a grid-like sheet extending out into the berm to stabilize the wall. A plastic pin through the grid into the concrete block holds it all together.

The entrance to the earth-clad greenhouse is at the bottom of a long ramp. Just before the step up into the greenhouse is a large grate over a cistern that collects rainwater. “Once water in the cistern reaches a certain level, a pump starts to prevent water from backing up into the greenhouse. Remaining to be resolved is how to prevent the surrounding berm from eroding due to heavy rain. She said they will soon hire a consultant for the best solution, although nature is beginning to provide an answer. “ There are some plants coming up already, like some sage.

“Through the years, I’ve learned more and more about the light they need. Some are very prone to sunburn; succulents are very touchy about the sun. They can have early morning sun or late afternoon sun, but all day, direct sun in July, a lot of them just can’t take that.

“When I get a new plant, or one that someone has given me, I have to figure out how much sun it can survive. Watering can be tricky, too. Succulents’ water requirements can vary significantly. She lost one of three expensive plants due to over-watering.”Last year one of them lost all of its leaves. I shouldn’t have even watered it, but one day I touched the base of it and it was spongy. It had too much water. The others could probably have survived out in the greenhouse, but I brought three of them into our vanity because I don’t want to lose one again.”

Inside, she waters them just once a month. When she’s stymied by what to do for a particular type of succulent, she calls an expert at the Thomas Boyce Arboretum near Superior, Arizona. “It’s a huge outdoor arboretum with acres of land provided by a philanthropy. I’ve bought some plants there and my son has given me others. “One that he gave me from there is just like a pencil in the winter. After the leaves fall of, it’s just a pencil sticking out of the soil. So I called the arboretum to ask what I should do. They told me it was just the plant’s dormant stage.

“Sure enough, after the winter it started to grow leaves again.” The arboretum is a popular tourist and recreational site that offers a wide variety of displays including Argentine and Australian Outback gardens. She had begun orientation to serve as a volunteer at the Albuquerque Bio Park when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, so that was put on hold. She had intended to work in the cactus garden there. “In the meantime, I’ve got lots to do here.”

Their grounds do not include a significant vegetable garden although they do grow flowers and tend a small orchard of fruit trees; peach, pear, apricot, apple and cherry. Also growing in a pot on a porch is a pomegranate. The Putzigs are experimenting with training the trees to grow out, rather than up, to make fruit easier to harvest. They use espalier trellises to which branches are secured, making them grow along a two-dimensional plane.

“The tree is trained to grow flat on a trellis so that the yield can be more easily reached,” she explained. To complement the fruit trees, they have bee hives. “I’ve always wanted to keep bees, and when I retired, I figured that’s what I would do. My brother-in-law in Roswell is a beekeeper, so he has been an inspiration for me to finally get going. He has been a real mentor for me.”

She has two hives, and one has been active since April 2020. Bees for the second are on order to arrive this coming April. She understands that bees will gather nectar from a radius of up to two miles. In addition to fruit tree blossoms, she offers rosemary and abundant flowers through the spring and summer, as well as Russian sage. “They just love Russian sage,” she assured. “And I have a lot of that. I have a very healthy hive. There’s plenty for them in the immediate environment.” Elsewhere on the property are two sections of hay bale walls that have held up well over more than 20 years.

Her horticultural efforts have largely avoided outbreaks of plant diseases. But “mealybugs,” a common scourge among succulents, have been a vexation without remedy so far. The infestations, she said, “have a white, cottony cover” that gradually eats away at the plant under attack. Nothing she has tried has been successful. Now she’s hoping Bonide Systemic Granules will work.

The lemon and lime trees in the greenhouse developed scale last year. “Every time I went down to the greenhouse, I would remove it with my hand. I’m not going to spray unless I really have to. Who knows where it comes from, but the scale is not a bad problem. In April, when I start bringing things out, it disappears.” Tending to plants provides plenty of reward, just in seeing them respond to care. But she finds another that every gardener can surely appreciate.

Years ago when she lived in the Nob Hill area, she was out digging in the soil along her driveway when a neighbor passing by asked, ‘Bonnie, what do you get out of working in the dirt?’ “There are a lot of answers to that, but a big one is that it’s therapeutic,” allowing her to focus on what’s right in front of her rather than “any nonsense that’s going on on the periphery. I’m not thinking about every other thing that I have to do.”

2021 MARCH 6 ISSUE: MASTER GARDENER CLASS ONLINE MAR.17

Join Sandoval Extension Master Gardener online webinars to learn how to grow a wide variety of plants, from flowers to food, in local soils. Pre-registration is required for each class. The webinars will be recorded and posted on the Sandoval County Master Gardeners website, http://sandovalmastergardeners.org

On March 17, 2 p.m. the topic is “Developing Your Own Vegetable Variety” with Sandoval Extension Master Gardener Dave Pojmann. Pojmann developed his own beautiful yellow tomato, Coronado Gold,  that is low in acid, high in flavor and well adapted to Sandoval County. You don’t have to rely on a seed company to provide you with your ideal plant. Over a few seasons through selective seed saving and growing you can adapt open pollinator plants to suit your needs. Register in advance for this meeting at zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0qc-qqp jooHdJAs3lC21YVZKYywJ9tCPNk. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

March 31, 2 p.m. “Home Composting Basics” with Bernalillo County Master Composter John Zarola. Learn the basics of composting as a way to improve and enrich your garden soil. Zarola is a former Sandoval Extension Master Gardener who lives and grows in Rio Rancho. He is a long time teacher of gardening and composting. Register in advance for this meeting at zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0pfuGrq DgoGdDlEnmfT7p6Tc8fLrx8u1bD. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

2021 MARCH 6 ISSUE: OLD ADOBE ON CORONADO ROAD FINALLY DEMOLISHED

The old, collapsing adobe home west of Corrales Road on the south side of Coronado Road was demolished on Saturday, February 27. Little of it was still standing on March 1. Back in the 1920s, it was thought to have been more than 100 years old. Among its many occupants over the decades was Johnnie Losack, husband of the late Evelyn Losack. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXVII No.8 June 23, 2018 “French Family’s Home Along Coronado Road Now Collapsing.”)

Before that, the L-shaped farmhouse was the home of Irishman Christopher Fitzgerald and his multi-generational family. Another early occupant was Audrey Lietzow, featured in the 2018 Comment article. She lived in the home from ages three through 17 with her Spanish stepmother, Irish stepfather and French grandmother.

Texans Eugene and Merrie Merriam bought the property in 1946. When Gloria and Lynn Ashcroft acquired the land and already-ruined farmhouse, they discovered it would cost more to restore the adobe than to build a new home on the same site, which they did.

2021 MARCH 6 ISSUE: MUSIC IN CORRALES ONLINE OFFERING MARCH 20-28


An unusual blend of oboe, viola and piano comprises the colorful trio of New England and New York-based Ensemble Schumann, whose music includes that of their name-sake Robert Schumann. They also perform works by Brahms, Saint-Saëns, Loeffler, Poulenc, Shostakovich and others. Thomas Gallant on oboe, Steve Larson on viola, and Sally Pinkas on piano formed the ensemble in 2005.

From March 20 through March 28, the group will perform works of Bach, Bruch and von Herzogenberg in a virtual concert made available to Music in Corrales. The concert will be available anytime starting March 20. In addition to the concert, a live Zoom conversation with the trio March 20 at 7 p.m. kicks off the project. Tickets are $15 per person, from http://www.musicincorrales.org/concerts

2021 MARCH 6 ISSUE: TIME RUNNING OUT TO USE FARMLAND GO BONDS

Possible acquisition of another conservation easement to save farmland is expected to be presented to the Village Council soon but probably not at its March 9 meeting. In an interview February 26, Village Administrator Ron Curry said the Village will have to move quickly to complete purchase of the easement under the timeline set by voters’ March 2018 approval of general obligation bond issuance. “We have almost $1.3 million in bonds for the conservation easement program, and those will expire in March 2022,” Curry explained. “But the process needs to begin this March as far as issuing the bonds because these things always take longer than people anticipate, expecially when they have to go through the N.M. Finance Authority.

“We’ve had a couple of meetings with the Farmland Preservation folks about this and we have another on March 1. What we don’t want to do is put the Village in a position where we lose that bond opportunity next March.” But Curry said March 1 that it was not clear that any of the options could be pursued at that point.

He said at least two property owners have expressed interest in the program in recent months. “We’re trying to work with the options that we have. “Our concern is that we want to issue the bonds for almost $1.3 million, but that will expire in March 2022.” Corrales voters approved $2.5 million in GO bonds to preserve farmland during the last municipal election; a little more than half remains after an easement was purchased on the Haslam farm in December 2020.

Hopes had been raised earlier this year that another easement was pending but that faded. And now, other options have apparently arisen. Minutes from the Farmland Preservation and Agricultural Commission’s January meeting indicated “An interested landowner has reopened conversations with Michael [Scisco, of Unique Places LLC who negotiates for the Village] regarding adding property to Village Conservation Easements.”

Corrales was the first municipality in New Mexico to start its own farmland preservation program to acquire real estate easements on private property to keep it in agriculture or as open space. Since the program began here in 2004, the Village has acquired such easements on more than 45 acres, although the very first easement was a completely private transaction when Jonathan Porter, son of famed photographer Elliot Porter, created it on six acres at the south end of the village in 2001 and donated it to the Taos Land Trust.

Back in 2004, while Village Council support for a municipal bond to finance farmland preservation seemed solid, councillors twice pulled back from passing a resolution setting up a bond election for it.

Sale of the Village’s general obligation bonds were to finance the community’s local match to use $1.1 million in a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant the previous year to purchase conservation easements on Corrales farmland. At the April 13, 2004 council meeting, then-Councillor Melanie Scholer again insisted that the proposal should not move forward without other bond questions being placed before voters at the same time.

Scholer said repeatedly she did not want Corrales voters to be presented with the farmland preservation bond without considering other funding needs. A consensus was voiced that voters should be asked to approve municipal bonds to raise at least $1 million, and perhaps as much as $2.5 million, to use as matching funds for a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But councillors wanted to know precisely how much bonding capacity the Village of Corrales really had available before they committed to seeking bonds for the farmland preservation effort.

The Village Administrator at the time, Harry Staven, reported that Corrales’ bonding capacity stood at $7,946,764, while its outstanding general obligation bond debt was $195,000 although that was slated to be paid off by the end of 2004. Corrales voters approved their first set of municipal bond sales in the 1990s to raise local-match funds to build Loma Larga and to purchase land on which a new fire station would be built.

Shortly thereafter, Village officials approved the sale of other municipal bonds to buy the western half of Annette Jones’ pasture for a recreation center. Those were not property tax-based general obligation bonds, but rather were revenue bonds, secured by pledged gross receipts tax income. That second set of bonds is also nearly paid off in full.

Sayre Gerhart, Bonnie Gonzales and Taudy Smith had tried over the previous five years to prevent the farmland preservation effort from being entangled in the chronic power struggles and political clashes that plagued Village government in those years. While residents overwhelmingly supported bonding for farmland and open space preservation in a public opinion poll in November 2003, that enthusiasm was considered vulnerable to questions about other projects that could take millions of dollars as well.

But as of April 13 2004, the only bond proposal that had been drawn up read as follows: “Shall the Village of Corrales issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $2,500,000 for the purpose of acquiring conservation easements or other property rights or interests for the preservation of farmland, open space, wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities in the Village of Corrales? Such bonds shall be payable from the general (ad valorem) taxes levied on real property within the Village of Corrales. Such indebtedness shall be, until repaid, a general obligation of the Village of Corrales.”

Voters overwhelmingly approved the bond issuance in 2004. Public sentiment was still strong when another GO bond proposal for $2.5 million was presented in March 2018. Controversy arose again over the Farmland Commission’s recommendation that an easement should be acquired for acreage that was not visible from Corrales Road, or any other oft-used byway. Still, despite some suspicions and misgivings, the Village Council approved purchase of a conservation easement on 12 acres of farmland at its December 8, 2020 session. The vote was three-to-two to pay $960,000 for an easement on the Haslam farm between the Corrales Main Canal and the Corrales Lateral irrigation ditch at the end of Kings Lane. Councillors Stuart Murray and Kevin Lucero voted no, citing prospects that a more desirable tract might become available during the next six months.

That was almost certainly a reference to the long-discussed, and negotiated possibility that the Trosello tract farther north along the east side of Corrales Road might be saved from development as home sites. Murray, Lucero and several villagers had argued that the Village had negotiated an option to purchase the Haslam tract this past summer and still had six months remaining to exercise it. They argued there was no hurry to close on the Haslam land.

Former Village Councillor Fred Hashimoto urged a delay on the Haslam property. “Some very attractive proposals might pop up between now and June 1, and the council should not cave now to prematurely spend potential funds which might be used for a possibly more valuable proposal in the next coming months.” That reluctance drew sharp responses from then-Councillor Dave Dornburg and Mayor Jo Anne Roake. “I think it’s kind of folly to assume that another deal is going to come out of the woodwork at this day and age when property values in the village are only going up,” Dornburg said. “I think there has been enough man-hours and due diligence put into this process that the time has come to put it to a vote.

“There may always be another option down the road, but in my humble opinion, while I’m sure there are other pieces of property that people would rather have, this is the option we have and it meets the intent of conservation easement that we’re trying to protect.”

Mayor Roake was persuasive in arguing that waiting another six months on the Haslam option was not really an alternative, given the amount of time it had taken to get the Haslam option ready to execute. “Between getting our financing and getting the bonds issued and getting it approved through the N.M. Finance Authority and all the other gates that we have to go through actually does put the time limitations on this process. I want to address the idea that we can actually wait for months, because all of the pieces that you have voted for have gotten us to the point now where we are issuing the bonds, and that has to be done in a certain time frame… all of this was done based on two different appraisals and two different reviews by N.M. Taxation and Revenue, so I think that’s a false analogy.

“All of this work has taken place since July. It has taken a long time. It’s a lengthy and complex process,” the mayor stressed, making the point that the administration did not actually have another six months to exercise the Haslam option.

Before the vote was called, Councillor Dornburg made another plea for approval. “I think it’s a good idea today, it was a good idea six months ago and it will be a good idea six months from now. If we don’t think it’s a good idea, that’s a different conversation. But we have the will of the people for a bond to buy conservation easements. We have a great conservation property in front of us. If you like the property and think it meets the will of the people, either today or in June, the answer should probably be the same.”

The motion to purchase the Haslam conservation easement was approved. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXIX No. 17 November 21, 2020 “Haslam Easement May Be Approved By Council Dec.8.”) Corrales’ interest in preserving farmland dates back at least to its incorporation as a municipality in 1971. The first master plan produced for the new Village government in 1973 recommended techniques be explored to accomplish that. Successive planning documents and ordinances over the years have endorsed that goal. (See Corrales Comment Vol. II, No. 8, August 20, 1983 “Can Corrales Stay Farmland Forever? Yes, Say Planners, & Here’s How.”)

2021 MARCH 6 ISSUE: STORMWATER, TREATED SEWAGE WOULD BE USED FOR BOSQUE

A collaboration among The Nature Conservancy, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, the Village of Corrales, the City of Rio Rancho and the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority (SSCAFCA) is expected to produce a 10-acre wetlands at the mouth of the Harvey Jones Flood Control Channel.

“We hope to break ground in early summer when funding materializes,” Conservancy District Executive Director Mike Hamman told Corrales Comment February 27. “There is still a funding gap for earth-moving that still needs to be addressed.” Hamman said the final plan is expected to be finished next month after additional public outreach. SSCAFCA Executive Director Chuck Thomas was a little less optimistic about a start date. “The project will start construction in the fall,” he said March 1.

During a monsoon rain, stormwater drained from a wide area west of the escarpment above Corrales would be redirected to a vegetated area between the river and the Corrales Road bridge over the Jones Channel. And on a more regular basis, treated effluent from Rio Rancho’s sewage treatment plant near the Montoyas Arroyo also would flow into the proposed wetlands.

Public input for the proposal was gained during Zoom sessions February 2, 3 and 4. The Nature Conservancy’s description of the project notes that the Jones Channel carries more than 4.4 million gallons of stormwater annually to the river. And treated sewage from Rio Rancho also enters the river just south of the channel at quantities ranging from four to five million gallons daily.

“By utilizing the permanent flow of water, we can re-contour the bank elevation and create secondary channels to create an expanded wet area to increase wildlife, fish and bird habitat,” according to the proposal. The Nature Conservancy web page about the Harvey Jones Channel Improvement Project states these goals:
• to reconnect bosque vegetation to groundwater, lowering the bench elevation;
• to improve water quality as a finishing station to reduce stormwater pollution to the Rio Grande;
• to enhance bird, fish and other wildlife habitat;
• to reduce stagnant water and mosquito issues from stormwater impoundment;
• to illustrate the benefits of large-scale green stormwater infrastructure; and
• to demonstrate inter-agency coordination on a public-private partnership project.

The Corrales Bosque Advisory Commission has considered such a project, at least conceptually, for many years. Elsewhere in the preserve, projects have already been implemented to excavate away the river bank so that water flows, or at least seeps, into the riparian forest. The habitat plan was completed in 2010 after years of work. (See Corrales Comment’s nine-part series of articles starting Vol.XXVIII, No.7, May 23, 2009, “Bosque Preserve Habitat Plan Now Available”) In 2010, projects similar to what is being proposed now were implemented by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as elements of a “bosque restoration” effort.

2021 MARCH 6 ISSUE: OLD LAW OUTLAWING ABORTION REPEALED FEB.26

A 1969 state statute that criminalized abortion in New Mexico was repealed on February 26, when Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed Senate Bill 10 into law. “A woman has the right to make decisions about her own body,” the governor said. “Anyone who seeks to violate bodily integrity, or to criminalize womanhood, is in the business of dehumanization. New Mexico is not in that business —not any more.

“Our state statutes now reflect this inviolable recognition of humanity and dignity. I am incredibly grateful to the tireless advocates and legislators who fought through relentless misinformation and fear-mongering to make this day a reality. Equality for all, equal justice and equal treatment —that’s the standard. And I’m proud to lead a state that today moved one step closer to that standard.”

“The time has finally come to get this outdated abortion law off the books and ensure that we keep abortion accessible, safe and legal in New Mexico,” said Senator Linda Lopez of Albuquerque, lead sponsor of Senate Bill 10. “Thank you to Governor Lujan Grisham for signing this legislation, thank you to every one of my fellow bill sponsors and community advocates, and thank you to all of the voters of New Mexico who made your voices heard in the last election. “Abortion is a personal health care decision. We can hold our own moral values on abortion and still trust individuals to make their own reproductive health care decisions.”

“New Mexico is a state where we respect women and protect their autonomy,” said Speaker of the House Brian Egolf. “I am glad that this fight for safe access to abortion in New Mexico has been won and look forward to further expanding access to all forms of healthcare.”

“Today feels very different than two years ago when the votes in the Senate didn’t reflect the opinions of over 76 percent of New Mexico voters,” said Representative Joanne Ferrary of Las Cruces. “Now we have signed legislation, repealing antiquated sections of law in order to ensure that women’s access to the full spectrum of health care options, including abortion, will continue if Roe v. Wade’s protections are undermined at the national level.”

“Women in New Mexico and around the nation fought for generations to secure the reproductive rights that we have today,” said Representative Deborah Armstrong of Albuquerque. “Today’s bill signing ensures that we never go backward.”

“When women do not have safe and legal access to health care, it puts families, healthcare providers, and entire communities at risk,” said Rep. Georgene Louis of Albuquerque. “My deep gratitude goes out to every New Mexican who has shared their voice and their stories to help repeal this outdated ban.”

2021 MARCH 6 ISSUE: TREE COMMITTEE TASKED TO CREATE CORRALES TREE PLAN

An ordinance establishing a “landmark tree” program here has been amended to emphasize a village wide plan for trees. The amendment adopted February 23 changes the name of the volunteer committee from the Tree Preservation Advisory Committee to the Tree Committee, and calls for it to develop a “tree care plan.” The original ordinance was adopted in July 2009 after a stately cottonwood tree near the entrance to Corrales, just northeast of the Corrales Road-Cabezon Road intersection, was removed by a developer for a turning lane.

The amendment, Ordinance 21-02, was discussed at the February 9 council meeting and then adopted at the February 23 session. The substantive change to the existing ordinance is the new provision for a Tree Care Plan. It reads: “The Tree Committee shall prepare a Tree Care Plan for managing, maintaining, protecting, preserving and planting trees within the Village of Corrales. This plan details specific goals and objectives for tree inventories. tree risk management. tree protection and tree pruning standards. This document is intended to be a living document that is updated yearly to promote schedules for community education, tree planting programs, and updates to relevant information on tree selection and planting, best management practices and progress in stakeholder involvement in tree care.”

The ordinance would make no change to the process by which a Corrales tree might be designated a landmark. A nomination may be submitted by anyone, but it should give the tree’s location and a photo of it, as well as a written description of it and statement why it would qualify as a landmark. The nomination also is supposed to include written approval of the owner of the property on which it grows. “Any written approval required by this section must be notarized, and must include approval of all owners of the property.”

After the nomination is received by the Tree Committee, a recommendation is to be submitted to the Corrales Planning and Zoning Commission for its concurrence. The program generally has been uncontroversial —except when an old cottonwood next to the Old Church was cut down after one of its large branches fell onto a vehicle parked under it in 2011.

A decision to remove the designated Landmark Tree near the Old Church was made at the January 10, 2012 Village Council meeting. Councillors delayed a decision on whether to cut it down as recommended by the Corrales Historical Society at their December 13 session, opting to hear directly from a master arborist who had examined the tree.

Corrales’ Tree Preservation Committee had recommended keeping the old tree alive, along with measures to protect it and people upon whom branches might fall. A petition urging Village officials not to cut down the tree was presented to the council December 13, 2011. According to regulations for the municipal tree preservation program, the final decision was to be made by Planning and Zoning Administrator (then Cyndie Tidwell) following a recommendation by the Landmark Tree Preservation Advisory Committee.

As committee co-chairman Sue Hallgarth noted, “This is the first time the Tree Committee has received a request for removal of a Landmark Tree.” In this case it was submitted by the Village government, owner of the Old Church property. “The Village administrator has filed a request for tree removal,” Hallgarth explained. “The Village’s request appears to be motivated by insurance and liability concerns, as well as reluctance to relinquish parking spaces” that would occur if a roped-off buffer area is established around the tree. But then-Councillor Sayre Gerhart brought the matter before the council rather than have the process play out before the P&Z administrator.

Hallgarth said the tree, one of two in the northwest corner of the Old Church property, “has lost two branches in the past growing season, one very large and one much smaller that dented a car parked beneath it. After the first branch fell, a certified master arborist was enlisted, and happened to arrive for his consultation minutes after the second limb dropped. “He described the tree as ‘exhibiting many characteristics of being a hazardous tree,’ but he also provided recommendations for preserving the tree if a decision is made to do so.

“His strategy is to cordon off a no-parking area to protect the roots and mitigate any potential hazards, to water deeply, mulch heavily, and trim dead wood and any structurally unsound living wood. He also recommended that the tree be reassessed by an arborist after the next growing season and after any major storm events.”

On November 30, 2011 Corrales arborist Rob Hays trimmed the westernmost of the two trees at no charge, and paid a helper from his own pocket. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXX, No.22, January 7, 2012 “Historic Old Church Cottonwood Doomed? Council May Have Sawdust on its Hands.”) Even so, on a tie-break vote by then-mayor Phil Gasteyer, the Village Council voted the troublesome old tree be cut down and hauled away. In protest, all members of the Landmark Tree Preservation Advisory Committee resigned.

The original landmark tree ordinance spelled out the process by which a Corrales tree can be protected as a landmark. Below is partial text of the ordinance which will likely be retained by the council’s vote this month. “Within ninety (90) days after receiving a nomination, the Tree Committee shall review the recommendation and supporting materials, and shall make a recommendation to the Village's Planning and Zoning Commission whether the tree should be designated as a Landmark Tree.

To qualify for designation as a Landmark Tree, a tree must as a minimum meet at least one of the following criteria:
(1) Exceptional size for the species as measured by caliper, height, and/or breadth;
(2) Old age for the species;
(3) Distinctive and/or exemplary form for the species;
(4) Historical significance by virtue of location or history, including but not limited to proximity to a historic building, site, or road, or association with an historic event or person in the Village's past; or
(5) Position as a defining feature in the Village landscape due to location, public view, history, or similar qualities.
(d) No tree of a species that has been determined to be invasive or noxious by the State of New Mexico shall be designated as a Landmark Tree, and no such tree shall be qualified to be nominated for Landmark Tree status. It is desirable that trees nominated as Landmark Trees shall be of species native to the Corrales area.
(e) For purposes of evaluating nominations, the Tree Committee shall develop a set of criteria for the evaluation of trees meeting at least one of the minimum qualifying criteria. The committee may include such criteria as the Tree Committee deems appropriate, and may include but need not be limited to trunk circumference, height, crown spread, symmetry, or distinctive form, location and history. The Committee may, but need not necessarily, employ a set of criteria developed for use by another governmental entity, either inside or outside New Mexico.
(f) If the Tree Committee determines that a tree nominated for landmark status meets at least one of the minimum qualifying criteria, then the Committee shall evaluate the nomination and forward it to the Planning and Zoning Commission with a recommendation either to designate the tree as a Landmark Tree, or not to so designate it, with a brief explanation of the reasons for the Committee's recommendation.
(g) Notice of any meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission where a proposal to designate a tree as a Landmark Tree will be considered must include individual notice, by certified mail, of the meeting date, time and location, including notice of the proposed Landmark Tree designation, to each owner of private property any portion of which is within fifty (50) feet of the dripline of the tree. In addition, a notice containing the same information shall be conspicuously placed in the most publicly visible location adjacent to the proposed Landmark Tree at least fifteen (15) days prior to the scheduled meeting.
(h) In determining whether to designate a particular tree for landmark status, the Planning and Zoning Commission shall not be bound by the recommendation of the Tree Committee.
(i) If a tree properly nominated for landmark status and meeting at least one of the minimum qualifying criteria is not designated by the Planning and Zoning Commission as a Landmark Tree, then it shall nonetheless be designated as a Nominated Tree and placed on a register of Nominated Trees for possible future consideration as a Landmark Tree. A Nominated Tree is eligible for reconsideration by the Planning and Zoning Commission for landmark status, on the recommendation of any person or entity, at any time after one (1) year following the date of the Planning and Zoning Commission's decision. A request for reconsideration must be accompanied by a demonstration, to the Tree Committee, that all owners of property or easement within fifty (50) feet of the dripline of the tree consent to the proposed designation and that all other necessary conditions for nomination still apply. Notice of the meeting at which a Nominated Tree will be reconsidered for Landmark Tree status shall be the same as required upon an original nomination.
(j) If a tree located on public property is designated as a Landmark Tree, the Village shall place a suitable marker on the designated tree bearing substantially the following statement: "LANDMARK
TREE - do not trim or remove without Village of Corrales approval."
(k) If a tree located entirely or partly on private property is designated as a Landmark Tree, the Village shall promptly notify the property owner or owners of the tree's status as a Landmark Tree, and shall include notice of the restrictions on damage or removal of Landmark Trees, the requirement of notification to future landowners, and the penalties for improperly damaging or removing a Landmark Tree, as provided in this article.
(l) Any person dissatisfied with a decision of the Planning and Zoning Commission regarding designation or non-designation of a tree as a Landmark Tree may appeal that decision within 20 days, in writing, to the Governing Body. The Governing Body, on appeal, may affirm or reverse the decision of the Planning and Zoning Commission. The decision of the Governing Body shall be final.
Section 14-130. - Protection of landmark trees.
(a) No person shall remove or damage any Landmark Tree, whether on public or private property, except as otherwise provided in this article. Normal pruning or trimming of trees on private property is expressly permitted. Except in case of emergencies as provided in this article, normal pruning or trimming is limited to pruning or trimming for the health and maintenance of the tree, in accordance with the current ANSI A300 standards of the Tree Care Industry Association. Excessive pruning or damage to the root system that threatens the life or health of any Landmark Tree is prohibited, except as otherwise specifically provided in this section.
(b) Any property owner desiring to remove a Landmark Tree shall submit an application for Landmark Tree removal to the Tree Committee, stating the reasons for the removal request. Within thirty (30) days following receipt of the application, the Tree Committee shall forward the application for Landmark Tree removal to the

Village's Planning and Zoning Administrator, with the Committee's recommendation whether to approve the application. The Planning and Zoning Administrator shall promptly either grant or deny the application. The Planning and Zoning Administrator shall take into account the recommendation of the Committee, but shall not be bound by that recommendation.”

2021 MARCH 6 ISSUE: CLIMATE SOLUTIONS ACT CONSIDERED

When the Climate Solutions Act (HB 9) was introduced it was touted as a science-based approach that focused on protecting historically disadvantaged communities. Several community leaders praised it, calling on state legislators to protect public health and New Mexico’s air and water resources from climate change. “The Climate Solutions Act… is NM’s first step towards modeling environmentally conscious and resilient economic development, resulting in a more fair economy where all New Mexicans prosper while tackling the ever-growing threat of climate change to our everyday lives,” according to James Povijua, policy director for the Center for Civic Policy.

“HB9 begins the bold, long-term work NM needs to do to make sure historically marginalized communities across the state, especially rural communities and communities of color, can diversify their local economy and it guarantees New Mexicans are first in line to prepare for the high quality jobs and economic opportunities that will arise from clean energy industry,” he added.

That assessment was shared by Joseph Hernandez, Diné energy organizer. “The Climate Solutions Act will build upon the 2019 New Mexico Energy Transition Act, by taking a statewide approach of a just transition for every New Mexican.” Jon Goldstein of the Environmental Defense Fund and a former N.M. cabinet secretary, issued this statement. “This comprehensive bill will build on the leading climate commitments Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has made over the last few years. By enshrining science-based, emissions targets in statute and directing the New Mexico Environment Department to ensure regulations are in place to meet those reductions, it will protect local communities from the worst impacts of climate change, including worsening heat, drought and water scarcity. This bill takes an important step toward a just transition in New Mexico, by prioritizing historically disadvantaged communities for high-quality, clean energy jobs.

“As New Mexico tackles the existential threat of climate change head on, it will need to ensure that frontline communities across the state are at the table and able to play a central role in shaping policy action,” Goldstein said.

2021 MARCH 6 ISSUE: CANDIDATES FOR MRGCD BOARD MUST SIGN UP BY APRIL 9

April 9 is the deadline to sign up to run for a seat on the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD) board of directors. One of the three seats coming open is that representing Sandoval County. The position is now held by Michael Sandoval, who ran for the position in 2015. Candidates need not be farmers or irrigators to serve on the board. Meetings are on the second Monday each month. Other board members whose terms are expiring are Karen Dunning, Bernalillo County, who is now chair; Joaquin Baca, Bernalillo County, vice-chair; and Valerie Moore, Socorro County.

Election day is June 8.

You need not register to vote since that comes automatically if you own property within the MRGCD “benefitted area” which in Corrales would be any land east of the Corrales Main Canal. A declaration of candidacy must be filed with the MRGCD election officer at the offices at 1931 Second Street SW no later than 4:30 p.m. April 9.

Absentee voting starts April 29.

2021 MARCH 6 ISSUE: ‘CLUSTER HOUSING’ CONCEPT REVISITED

The concept of cluster housing may be revived after discussion at the March 9 Village Council meeting. The topic was requested for that session by Councillor Mel Knight at the February 23 meeting but that agenda had not been set at press time. Knight said she would like the review being conducted by planners with the Mid-Region Council of Governments on Corrales land use regulations to include two new topics, not just revisions to provisions already in the Code of Ordinances on land use and zoning: abandoned properties and cluster housing.

Over the past three decades, when the topic of cluster housing has come up, it has nearly always involved grouping housing on one part of a tract so that the remainder could be preserved as farmland or open space. But that may not be what Knight has in mind. When she requested that cluster housing be discussed at the March 9 meeting, she referred to Corrales’ commercial area. “I would like the committee to address, in the commercial zone, cluster housing.” The committee she referred to is that which has been formed to interface with the Council of Governments planners.

Her specifying cluster housing in the business district would likely affect the proposal for a senior living complex on the Sunbelt Nursery site at the corner of Corrales Road and Dixon Road. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXIX No. 22 February 6, 2020 “Senior Living Rentals for Commercial District?”) Although contemplated in successive comprehensive plans for Corrales since the earliest days of the community’s incorporation as a municipality, proposals for cluster housing have nearly always been rejected by the Planning and Zoning Commission and by the Village Council.

That is primarily because the citizenry has remained adamant about retaining the community’s low-density residential tradition… even when that means loss of farmland. Since the early 1970s, Corrales’ land use laws have called for no more than one dwelling per acre, or per two acres in the territory previously within Bernalillo County. That has been bed rock consensus since the Village’s first comprehensive plan in 1973; it was strenuously reaffirmed with the successive election of Gary Kanin as mayor in the 1980s. (See Corrales Comment’s five-part series of articles on cluster housing starting with Vol.XXIII No.19 November 20, 2004 “Is Cluster Housing Acceptable In Corrales To Save Open Space?”)

One of the more recent cases came November 2004 when the Planning and Zoning Commission voted down a preliminary plat for an 18-lot “Villa de Paz” subdivision off Loma Larga on Corrales’ west side between Camino Sin Pasada and Angel Road. Plenty of reasons existed why commissioners axed the plan, but after doing so, several of them urged the developer, Ed Paschich, to try again. He says he would not… at least not until Village officials enacted ordinance provisions specifically for cluster housing. That has been a perennial topic with which the P&Z commission has wrestled over several decades as it attempted to revise Corrales’ zoning and subdivision ordinances.

In simplest terms, cluster housing is the concept of building all the allowable residences for a tract of land on one end and leaving the rest as open space. In Corrales, where a landowner is allowed just one home per acre and he or she has a 20-acre tract, 20 houses are allowed. But instead of dividing all 20 acres into one-acre lots, clustering might put all 20 allowable homes on ten acres and leave the other ten as dedicated open space.

Actually that example is too simple. Typically the owner of a 20-acre tract won’t get 20 one-acre lots, because the roadway serving the subdivision cannot be counted in calculating lot size. Subtracting out the roadway, a 20-acre tract might yield just 17-19 lots, depending on configuration. The plan proposed by Paschich back in 2004 would have put 18 smallish houses on 17.8 acres, but the homes were to have been grouped into five separate clusters with eight acres open space between. At the November 3, 2004 P&Z meeting, commissioners praised Paschich for his creativity, but rejected the plan. They —and the neighbors— found several violations of current Village ordinances, but settled on one particular reason for rejecting the plat.

Paschich had included the road serving the proposed subdivision as privately-owned and therefore to be counted as part of the one-acre lot calculation. Commissioners voted down the plat on the grounds that the Village’s subdivision ordinance requires publicly-dedicated roadways, not private roads, for any subdivision of ten acres or more.

Paschich was, of course, aware of that requirement, and had sought a variance, one of several that would have been needed to proceed. When commissioners rejected that variance request, the rest of the proposal was irrelevant. But before Paschich left the meeting, then-P&Z Chairman Stuart Murray, now 16 years later a member of the Village Council, urged, “Mr. Paschich, please pursue this” with a revised submission for cluster housing.

The following week, members of the Village Council briefly discussed the Paschich plan, and called for a public meeting to air the whole notion of cluster housing. At the time, probably most of the residents along Camino Sin Pasada and Angel Road who spoke against the  Paschich subdivision said they were not actually opposed to cluster housing. It was the specifics of Paschich’s plan that were unacceptable, they maintained.

It seemed clear that most of the P&Z commissioners agreed; all but one, Mick Harper —16 years later again serving on the commission— voted against the road variance that killed the Paschich plan that night. For decades, a significant portion of Corrales residents have supported the idea of cluster housing for two reasons. First, it would be a chance to establish more affordable housing in Corrales, which has become a place where only the very wealthy can afford to live. Second, such proposals are a way to retain open space, a quickly vanishing community asset.

The need for affordable housing in Corrales has been recognized for some time. One of the down-sides of skyrocketing home prices (and extreme scarcity of rentals) hit home when Corrales’ fire fighters pointed out they could not afford to live here. (See Corrales Comment Vol. XXII No. 21, December 13, 2003 “Fire-Rescue Crews Can’t Live Here) The same has been true for most police officers and other Village employees. A third reason for finding a way to approve cluster housing which has been voiced in recent years is that some aging, true-blue Corraleños don’t want to continue maintaining an acre of land, but would like to stay in Corrales if possible.

2021 MARCH 6 ISSUE: SAGEBRUSH DRIVE TRAIL CONNECTION WILL START IN APRIL

Assuming property owners near the top of Sagebrush Drive can be assured a proposed paved trail there won’t bring in stormwater and eroded silt, that long-awaited project will get under way by the end of April. Village Engineer Steve Grollman and Corrales Public Works Director Mike Chavez met in an online conference with Sagebrush residents and members of the Village’s Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Commission February 26 to learn what concerns might still need to be addressed.

The trail, proposed more than two decades ago and now fully funded, would connect the west end of Sagebrush Drive to the existing north-south path along the escarpment in Rio Rancho. The commission has long advocated for it as a crucial link so that cyclists, horse riders and hikers can access a loop trail that offers spectacular views toward the bosque and Sandia Mountains.

The existing trail along the escarpment has been known as the Thompson Fence Line Trail since it follows the alignment of the historic Thompson Ranch fence —which also serves as the boundary between Corrales and Rio Rancho. The best-known section of the trail, visible to the south as motorists drive upper Meadowlark to and from Rio Rancho, is the paved path below Intel, also known as the Skyview Trail.

Most villagers probably are unaware that the developed path continues on northward from the north side of Meadowlark for more than two miles along the edge of the escarpment. That long trail has been recognized as a valuable asset, and is a crucial segment in the Corrales Trails Master Plan, especially for its potential to create a recreational loop route. But a substantial gap has existed between the cul de sac at the end of Sagebrush and the escarpment path, and much of it is steep, uneven terrain. Finally a collaboration among the Village, the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority, Sandoval County and the City of Rio Rancho has moved the proposal to the stage at which on-the-ground work will start next month.

A breakthrough came several years ago when SSCAFCA transferred ownership of a parcel of land to the Village which it no longer needed for flood control projects. So the trail connection can now be accomplished on land owned by the Village of Corrales. At the virtual meeting convened by Village Administrator Ron Curry, he assured the project is ready to go. “I signed the purchase order today” for a contract with Albuquerque Asphalt, which will pave the path after several weeks of earth-moving work.

Total cost will be $89,000. “We’re good to go for the whole thing,” Curry assured. Grollman provided details and specifications about the project he designed, including an “inverted crown” in the center of the pavement so that rain falling on the surface would be channeled to a pond rather than spill off uncontrolled. The path would be eight feet wide, with two-foot shoulders on either side covered with recycled (crushed) asphalt.

The homeowner nearest the trail, Carol Levy, was not convinced that the proposed stormwater control features will be adequate to prevent drainage onto her land. “We hope the Village is not creating a problem for us,” she cautioned. “If there is a problem, it’s going to be our problem.” She and other neighbors expressed concerns about future trail users parking in and around the cul-de-sac in a manner that caused obstructions. Should such problems arise, they might be addressed by the Village erecting “No Parking” signs and other deterrents, commission member Chris Allen suggested.

2021 MARCH 6 ISSUE: COUNCILLORS REVIVE INTEREST IN SCENIC QUALITY ALONG CORRALES RD.

Are greater controls needed for walls and opaque fences along Corrales Road to preserve the community’s scenic quality? A discussion on that topic has been requested for the March 9 Village Council meeting.When Mayor Jo Anne Roake invited councillors to suggest items for next council meeting, Tyson Parker spoke up to ask that the agenda include a discussion about walls and fences. Parker, an architect, gave no further indication what that discussion might entail, but his suggestion followed recent remarks by Councillor Zach Burkett that he is concerned about the loss of scenic quality caused by erection of high walls fronting Corrales Road.

Burkett said March 1 he is researching what might be done to revive the status of Corrales Road as a designated scenic byway. The same point was made earlier this year by former Corrales Planing and Zoning Commission Chairman Terry Brown. Getting Village government to address the problem has been a high priority for him since at least 2010.

In a power point presentation to the Corrales Planning and Zoning Commission on April 12, 2011, Brown demonstrated what has been lost by view-blocking walls along Corrales Road and what has been preserved by see-through fences and low walls. Burkett raised the issue at a council meeting earlier this year shortly after tall, concrete block walls were erected along Corrales Road at the south end of the village. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXIX No.19 December 19, 2020 “Controls for Scenery-Blocking Walls?”) But for other Corraleños, the idea that Village officials might tell them what kind of fence is permissible reeks of governmental over-reach and offends libertarian values.

At the December 8, 2020 Village Council meeting, Councillor Burkett said he would like to see incentives by Village government to encourage other styles of walls or fences that do not inhibit views. He said he wanted the council to address the issue after seeing such tall, solid walls erected by builder Steve Nakamura on two properties at the south end of Corrales over the past year.

Similar long walls have gone up adjacent to Corrales Road at the north end in recent years, creating what Brown has referred to as a “canyon” effect that destroy the scenic quality for which Corrales has been known for many years. When Brown heard of Burkett’s interest, he said he looked forward to collaborating on a proposal to address the worsening situation. “When I was chair of the Corrales Planning and Zoning Commission, the last issue I tried to get a reluctant council to approve was a recommendation for a requirement for a partially open wall ordinance along Corrales Road.

“The new CMU walls being built by Mr. Nakamura at the south end of Corrales are the antithesis of what Corrales needs,” Brown added. “Look at the fencing along Rio Grande. This is what I envision for our village, and what is desperately needed to protect the views along the Corrales ‘scenic byway.’”

Bucolic views along Corrales Road of pastures, horses, farms, orchards, vineyards and old tractors are central to this community’s character and perhaps even its economic vitality. A degree of national recognition for those attributes was gained in 1995 when Corrales Road was designated a “scenic and historic byway.” But a Village-appointed byways corridor management committee disbanded amid controversy more than a decade ago and was never fully reconstituted.

Brown, an architect, is concerned that the community’s treasured scenic quality is being incrementally lost due to an unfortunate landscaping feature: view-blocking solid walls or fences at the edge of the road. “I was on the Planning and Zoning Commission for eight years, and I was the chair for two years. As an architect, I felt strongly that we needed to protect this view, this viewshed from Corrales Road,” Brown explained.

“People come here to see Corrales… they don’t come here to look at walls and fences. They come here to see horses and donkeys and llamas and cows, and the views that stretch from the fields to the riparian habitat and all the way to the Sandias. “They don’t want to see walls; they don’t want to see that ‘canyon effect.’” Back in 2010-11, Brown and others pushed hard for the Village Council to adopt an ordinance or regulation that would prohibit owners of property abutting Corrales Road from erecting a solid fence or wall taller than three feet at the road frontage property line.

Draft Ordinance 11-007, amending the Village’s land use regulations regarding fences, was tabled at a February 2011 council meeting and never revived for vote. No other proposals have been pursued, and tall cinder block walls and wooden fences continue to go up, blocking views. Corrales is left vulnerable, Brown cautioned. “In some places we have a tall wall along one side of Corrales Road, but it’s left open on the other side. I guess that’s probably acceptable,” he volunteered. “But what if a developer or homeowner says ‘Hey, I need to have more opacity on my side of the road, too.’ And then, the next guy says the same thing, and pretty soon, a hundred years from now, Corrales Road will be just one long canyon.”

On the other side of the river, regulations for Rio Grande Boulevard have apparently closed off that undesired future. “I believe along Rio Grande Boulevard you can only have a limited expanse of opaque wall and the rest of it has to be open. The walls are low; for the most part, you can see over them or through them. “Since Corrales Road is a scenic byway, I think it is worthy of getting the same treatment.”

Without any regulation requiring scenic views be maintained, Brown warned, “you get whatever a developer is going to give you.” In laying out the 2011 rationale for recommended action by the Village Council, then-P&Z commission Chairman Brown put it this way: “One of Corrales’ greatest assets that maintain the rural character of this village is the vistas of vineyards, agricultural fields, large animals, towering cottonwoods and the Sandia Mountains beyond. With this in mind, the P&Z commission recommends the modification noted above for fences along Corrales Road. Our concern is that without this proposed modification to our ordinance, Corrales Road could become a walled-in road where nothing could be seen beyond the six-foot high walls along both sides of Corrales Road. We already have portions of Corrales Road with this unappealing aspect.” (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXVIII No.3 March 23, 2019 “Can Scenery Along ‘Scenic Byway’ Be Preserved?”)

During early discussion about regulating the size and opacity of walls along property lines, the proposed rules would have applied to roadsides throughout Corrales. But P&Z commissioners and council members backed away from that, anticipating villagers’ resistance for reasons of privacy.

That continues to be a primary concern, although the thwarted 2011 ordinance exempted existing walls and fences; the rules would have applied only to new walls or fences. Even so, the draft ordinance that went to the Village Council back then would have applied only to property along Corrales Road, not residential neighborhoods east or west of it.

While privacy issues seem to have been dominant during the P&Z and council discussions about protecting scenic quality nine years ago, it’s clear that visitors to Corrales have no interest in knowing who’s rolling in the hay with whom. A secondary concern was road noise from increased traffic along Corrales Road. Proximity to the road is the critical factor in how disturbing tire-on-asphalt noise would be to residents. But if the residence is that close to Corrales Road, or any neighborhood road, the structure itself would likely obstruct a view of fields, farm animals or the mountains.

Brown said he is not aware of any road noise mitigation measures that might be used that still allow scenic views. He said a tall wall, fence or dense vegetation may be the only way to effectively block road noise if the residence is very close. In Brown’s February 25, 2011, letter of transmittal from the P&Z commission to the council, he pointed out “This revised proposed ordinance recommends modifications to the previous proposed ordinance by requiring all new fences along Corrales Road (Scenic Byway) to have no solid fence exceeding three feet in height erected on the front lot line or within the front setback area of any lot or within the vision clearance area abutting a driveway.

“If someone wants a fence taller than three feet, then that portion of the fence would have to be an open fence.” The wall or fence could actually be taller than three feet, but the upper portion would have to be open or see-through to some degree, he added.

Serving as Planning and Zoning Commission vice-chair at that time was Corrales’ current mayor, Jo Anne Roake. “The Village Council did not like the idea at that time,” Brown recalled. “They didn’t like the idea of dictating to a homeowner what type of fence they could have. However, we already have ordinances that cover what type of fence you can have and what it looks like; what is acceptable and what is not.”

“It’s like anything else in the village; it should be the villagers who decide what’s in the best interest of the village. We want to encourage tourism, but if, when they come, we have a canyon of walls on both sides of Corrales Road, that’s not going to be very attractive.”

2021 MARCH 6 ISSUE: ARE SOME STEEP SLOPES IN SANDHILLS UNDEVELOPABLE?

A decision may come March 25 that determines Corrales’ eventual population as well as the safety of people living in homes below steep terrain sandhills. The Village Council will hear an appeal from the Planning and Zoning Commission’s denial of a variance that would have allowed construction of a roadway across steep slopes below the escarpment to access a proposed home site between the end of West Ella Drive and the Rio Rancho boundary.

At its January 20 session, the P&Z commission concurred with a recommendation from P&Z Administrator Laurie Stout that a developer’s requested variance from regulations regarding development on steep slopes be denied. The applicants, Denny and Crystal Frost of 10852 Arezzo Drive, Albuquerque, representing contractor Gary Bennett, argued he should be allowed to built a long driveway to the home site from the end of West Ella Drive over terrain that in some places is more than 15 percent grade, the maximum allowed by Corrales’ regulations.

The commission itself never ruled on the requested variance since Stout had advised the developer’s plan was not permitted. In her recommendation on Variance 21-02, Stout wrote, “Village Code 18-164(c)2(c) states that slopes over 15 percent must remain undisturbed. It then gives the possibility of a variance of up to 1,000 square feet in certain instances (a driveway being one), and the criteria that must be met for that 1,000 square feet of variance to be considered. If the issue were one merely of engineering, typically it can be satisfactorily demonstrated that anything ‘can’ be built. In this case, Village ordinances simply do not allow for the extreme amount of slope over 15 percent that is being proposed to be disturbed.” But the proposed steep area of disturbed soil, in this case generally fine particle sand, is more than 13,200 square feet —well over the 1,000 square foot limit.
The proposed home foot print is another 918 square feet, although that is on more level terrain.

Stout’s summary notes that “This application requests a total of 14,118 square feet of disturbance over 15 percent slope, 14 times what Village of Corrales ordinances allow.” The submitted application for a variance includes more than 50 pages of documentation regarding plans for the home and the driveway off of West Ella Drive. The developer said at least $20,000 had been spent on engineering for the project. and that the Village’s denial of a variance will “deprive the owner of the reasonable use of their land.”

The applicant asserts that the engineer’s design show that stormwater run-off and eroded silt will not affect nearby property. If the Village Council concurs with the developer and allows the proposed extensive disturbance at this location, the decision could have far-reaching implications for future home construction in steep sandhills terrain all along Corrales’ western border. Perhaps for that reason, the case has sparked the attention of many villagers not immediately impacted by the project.

A citizens’ petition opposing the Frost-Bennett variance request bears at least 85 signatures. The petition leads with an assertion that “This is in contraindication to the long standing maximum limit of 15 percent that was researched at length for the safety of all residents, especially those in the sandhills.”

It also lists the circumstances under which a variance might be granted. Those include a determination that approval will not be contrary to the public interest; will not adversely affect adjacent property owners; the need for a variance “is due to the unique characteristics of the property that were in existence prior to the adoption [of the regulations’ or that may have come into existence since that time through no action of the owner.”

Among those signing the petition were former Mayor Gary Kanin, former Councillors Pat Clauser and Gerard Gagliano and former P&Z Commissioners Terry Brown and Alpha Russell. A West Ella homeowner, Kevin Kirk, submitted a statement opposing the variance saying, “The sandhills of Corrales have a long history of extreme erosion events caused by stormwater run-off. The Village has, in conjunction with experts, determined that to allow development on steep slopes would be to invite disastrous and costly erosion.”

A lengthy and detailed presentation to the P&Z commission was submitted by West Ella resident Mike Sorce, who is another former P&Z commissioner, and architect Pat McClernon. In it, they point out that Denzil Frost purchased the 2.4-acre home site in July 2019 after detailed discussions with P&Z Administrator Stout about his intention to build on the acreage. The submission includes a copy of an email Stout sent to Village Administrator Ron Curry on September 11, 2020 which read, in part, “I told him numerous times I believed the lot was unbuildable and went over our slope ordinances in detail. He bought it anyway.”

The presentation by Sorce and McClernon includes the following observation: “It is unfortunate that the Frost family is in this described Catch-22 position, one that they placed themselves in over the last 18 months by purchasing this property expecting to build on an island surrounded by steep slopes.” The documents submitted regarding the variance request also includes an email message from Denzil Frost to Mayor Jo Anne Roake on September 3, 2020 complaining about what he considered threats by Stout. “We have heard some statements from Lorie during this process that raise concerns about the Village potentially taking possession of our land,” Frost wrote.

“For example, she has stated there is no guarantee it is a buildable lot, and suggested that the $20K that I am paying for engineering may be a waste if the variance is denied.

“However the P&Z administrator’s attitude has been threatening, insinuating that the Village may choose to condemn our property if they wish.…” In that statement, Frost’s use of the term “take” apparently refers to what might be called a “taking” by a governmental entity because the private property owner feels he or she is denied use of the land.

2021 FEB. 20 ISSUE: JEFF HANDMAKER LEADS RESEARCH ON HOW TO HOLD GOVERNMENTS, CORPORATIONS ACCOUNTABLE

A graduate of Corrales Elementary and Cibola High is leading discussions in Europe and elsewhere about avenues for legal action to assign responsibility for human rights abuses and environmental violations.

Jeff Handmaker, Cibola class of 1988 and University of London graduate in law (1994) who also holds a doctorate in the sociology of law from Utrecht University, Netherlands (2009), now works in The Hague, at the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University. He also teaches at Leiden University. He is now leading a team researching legal strategies to hold governments, individuals and corporations accountable for human rights, environmental and other legal violations.

Handmaker and four others were awarded a five-month fellowship through the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the  Humanities and Social Sciences in Amsterdam. Their focus is “the strategic potential and challenges of legal mobilization” to ensure consequences for illegal or inappropriate corporate behavior.

In an interview Handmaker give last year, he explained that the concept of legal mobilization “as a practice is aimed at advancing social justice.” As an example, he referred to advocacy for Greenpeace to mitigate climate change and other environmental harm.

“Legal mobilization is intended to function as a legitimate means to resolve conflicts, redress rule of law and justice deficits and address other governance problems. Legal mobilization is not the same as lawfare, whereby companies and governments instrumentalize law n a manner of questionable legitimacy.

“While lawfare serves to victimize, attempt to bankrupt or in other ways harm social justice advocates, organizations and even government agencies, of social justice cases, legal mobilization can serve as a form of resistance or counter-power. Handmaker added: “An important function of legal mobilization is to protect human rights defenders, environmental justice advocates, indigenous leaders and others against lawfare.

“An example of lawfare is “strategic litigation against public participation,” or SLAPP suits, including lawsuits directed against the environmental group Greenpeace regarding their advocacy on the Dakota Pipeline in the United States of America.”

Another example, he said, is “legal mobilization to protect academics, student and social justice activists who speak out for the rights and freedom of the Palestinian people.” Handmaker, a son of retired Corrales geneticist Stan Handmaker, began working in this field in the early 1990s as a human rights lawyer in the Republic of South Africa.

In the interview, he said “Human rights is just one of the topics I’m researching. It’s about more than just the language of human rights conventions. It’s also about how, and if, these conventions can function in complex societies. In particular, I examine the influence that politics has when it comes to complying with these conventions both in local and global contexts.

“For example, I look at how international crimes are tackled. You can approach different institutions to tackle crime” one of them is the International Criminal Court. But who approaches the court? It may also bee possible for the offender to be brought t justice within his country of origin, the country where the victims come from, or the country the offender goes to as well.

“What we’re actually doing is looking at how social justice can enhance the idea of justice. In this regard, non-governmental organizations often play a key role in this process — international organizations such as Amnesty Internation and local organizations such as the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq.”

In 2019, Handmaker co-authored the book Mobilizing International Law for Global Justice. “One of the objectives was to provide information to international lawyers and international organizations who are also active in this area, to give them a better understanding of how politics relates to, and influences, law and human rights. The book addresses different topics, such as how efforts to challenge corruption through bribes paid in other countries is being waged where the companies are based, and the battle against child abduction.

“It also gives a few examples f how some citizens enforce human rights in cases where enforcement isn’t successful at the national level. “The big question is: what are the law-based options out there for addressing issues like this: It is difficult to hold a state or a multinational company liable for human rights violations, but it has happened in the past through, for example, boycotts, divestment and sanctions or other campaign and petitions.

“Another good example is the work of the Dutch organization Urgenda., The 2015 Urgenda climate case against the Dutch government wa the first in the world in which citizens established their government has a legal duty to prevent the harms caused by climate change. The options are there, and law often plays a pivotal role. That’s what we focus on.

“Lawyers have a tendency to cite the law repeatedly in the hopes that it will be respected in the end. But sometimes, putting pressure on a state, multinational company or institution is what’s needed to get justice.”