New Mexico water policy and the problems of a part-time legislature

A few years back, I put on my “water beat reporter” hat and went to Santa Fe for the spring legislative session to track some bills that I found interesting. The newspaper has a team of skilled legislative specialists who I’ve always been able to lean on, but it was fun to bring my water …

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Aldo Leopold’s birthday

In honor of Aldo Leopold’s birthday, some jfleck abqjournal nostalgia with this old favorite from 2009, in which I tracked down a bird in the University of New Mexico’s research collection that Leopold “collected” back in 1919: Years ago, my parents gave me “Aldo Leopold’s Wilderness,” a slim volume of Leopold’s early writings. In it …

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Stuff I wrote elsewhere: another dry year on the Rio Grande?

The January forecast is out. It is too early to panic, but not to early to have this concern duly noted: With a bad snowpack so far, even a wet spring may not be enough to forestall the fifth consecutive year of below-average runoff on the Rio Grande, according to forecaster Angus Goodbody with the …

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Stuff I wrote elsewhere: watershed health and governance models

This looks like a story about forest health, fire risk, and restoration. And in a way, I guess, it is. But beyond the specifics of the challenges they’re trying to address, the underlying governance issues that the folks at the Rio Grande Water Fund are tackling are the fascinating part: What McCarthy did next sets …

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The sorry state of Elephant Butte Reservoir

Elephant Butte Reservoir, the main storage reservoir on the Rio Grande that provides irrigation and municipal water for southern New Mexico, the El Paso, and Juarez areas, starts the new year at just 13 percent capacity, down a hair from last year at this time. Some data points as we ponder a new water year …

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The oldest house? Really? Tree rings strike again

Santa Fe’s oft-proclaimed “oldest inhabited home in the U.S.” may not even by the oldest house in Santa Fe, because tree rings! The building at 215 E. De Vargas St., famously named “the oldest inhabited home in the U.S.” byHarper’s Weekly in 1879, may not even be the oldest in Santa Fe. Tree-ring testing appears to …

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Stuff I wrote elsewhere: first-ever San Juan Chama Project shortfall

The standard Bureau of Reclamation map of the Colorado River Basin has a series of red-dashed slivers beyond the physical boundaries of the basin itself, the places where we’ve chosen to artificially extend the watershed’s boundaries. In the process, we have created entire communities dependent on the success or failure of the basin’s water management …

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On New Mexico’s Rio Grande, a brutal four years

With a sub-par snowpack once again in New Mexico’s high country, I got a Twitter question this morning about the last time we’d had a good snowpack. My favorite came in 2008, when I was just starting to track this sort of thing closely: SAN MARCIAL— Water was already lapping at the side of the …

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