Land Trust saves 370 acres, bill in­tro­duced to re­turn Pue­blo’s ‘path of life,’ Taos sued for dump­ing raw sewage

The Taos News - - HISTORY - By Mary Beth Libbey

– 10 YEARS AGO – ‘Taos trust pre­serves 370 acres’

By Andy Den­ni­son Oct. 9, 2008

A happy day for con­ser­va­tion­ists.

Andy Den­ni­son’s ar­ti­cle re­ports that the Taos Land Trust an­nounced that it had added 370 acres to a 24,000acre port­fo­lio of ease­ments in North­ern New Mex­ico. In part, the bump in do­na­tions was due to changes in fed­eral and state tax code.

As Den­ni­son leads the story, “No one will ever sub­di­vide 42 acres across the street from the El Prado post of­fice. Nei­ther will they sub­di­vide 18 ‘pricey’ acres in El Salto, nor a 16-acre over­look above the Río Pue­blo.” In ad­di­tion, the acreage in­cluded 22 acres of “nat­u­ral park” in Valdez, 171 acres in Mora County and 63 acres of for­est near Coy­ote.

By giv­ing this land to the trust, landown­ers keep the prop­erty in their names, but give up the right to de­velop the land, be­yond home­sites for fam­i­lies. They also get some tax breaks. The fed­eral govern­ment had ex­tended its tax break on such do­na­tions into

2009. That rule said that if an owner do­nates land to a trust, they can deduct the value of the land up to 50 per­cent of their ad­justed gross in­come in any year within 16 years of the do­na­tion. Mean­while, the on­go­ing state pro­gram per­mit­ted a dol­lar-for-dol­lar de­duc­tion on state in­come tax re­turns for 50 per­cent of the do­na­tion up to $100,000 for 15 years. And, the state pro­gram al­lowed peo­ple to sell their tax breaks for cash up to $250,000 for 15 years.

The Taos Land Trust is still cook­ing along. This sum­mer it fin­ished up its mas­ter plan for Río Fer­nando Park in Taos.

– 25 YEARS AGO – ‘Pue­blo re­gains tract’ By Mike Stauf­fer Oct. 14, 1993

The New Mex­ico con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion, Democrats and Repub­li­cans, no kid­ding, got to­gether to in­tro­duce leg­is­la­tion to re­turn 764-acre bot­tle­neck acreage to Taos Pue­blo.

This is a par­cel of land needed by the pue­blo to ac­cess its sa­cred Blue Lake Ter­ri­tory in the Wheeler Peak Wilder­ness, which had been given back to the tribe in the 1970s. The so-called bot­tle­neck is a sort of buf­fer zone around the trail that pue­blo mem­bers use to hike the sa­cred “Path of Life” to Blue Lake.

Un­der the bill, the lands would be used for tra­di­tional pur­poses only, such as re­li­gious cer­e­monies, hunt­ing, fish­ing and a source of wa­ter, for­age for do­mes­tic live­stock, wood, tim­ber and all other nat­u­ral re­sources.

The New Mex­ico del­e­ga­tion at that time was Sens. Pete Do­minici and Jeff Binga­man and Rep. Bill Richardson, a Repub­li­can and two Democrats, re­spec­tively.

The bill re­turn­ing the land was signed by Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton in 1996.

– 50 YEARS AGO – ‘Taos pol­lu­tion brings court ac­tion’

By Jim Ku­bie Oct. 10, 1968

The state ham­mer fi­nally fell on the town of Taos and its sewer sit­u­a­tion.

Re­porter Jim Ku­bie writes that the week be­fore, the state Wa­ter Qual­ity Com­mis­sion filed suit against Mayor Rumaldo Gar­cia and the town coun­cil seek­ing an in­junc­tion to pre­vent more sewage be­ing dumped in what was then called “Taos Creek.” (Our best guess is that the “creek” was Río Fer­nando.)

“The sewage pu­rifi­ca­tion fa­cil­i­ties have not been work­ing for many months,” Ku­bie writes, “since pumps used for mov­ing raw sewage into the pu­rifi­ca­tion plant broke down.” As a re­sult, ap­par­ently the town was dump­ing raw sewage into Taos Creek.

You can al­most hear the frus­tra­tion in Mayor Gar­cia’s voice when Ku­bie quotes him, “I’m do­ing ev­ery­thing I can to rem­edy the sit­u­a­tion.” He got a $12,000 loan from the state to buy two new pumps and or­dered them three months ago. They hadn’t shown up.

Mean­while, the coun­cil met twice that week to speed up the build­ing of new la­goons at the sewage treat­ment plant, an­other nec­es­sary move to stop the pol­lu­tion.

Gar­cia blamed the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion for in­stalling faulty pipes when the $100,000 plant was built in the first place. State of­fi­cials said the raw sewage prob­lem had ex­isted for the pre­vi­ous six years. From time to time, due to the pipe is­sue, un­treated sewage had been dumped into the creek for that long.

State of­fi­cials said, how­ever, that they’d given the town a dead­line of Au­gust. It was now Oc­to­ber, and things were no bet­ter. John R. Wright, chair of the state wa­ter com­mis­sion, said “the mayor’s ef­forts were not good enough” be­cause he could have used gaso­line-pow­ered pumps and the ex­ist­ing la­goons to avoid pol­lut­ing the creek.

And, the state Fish and Game De­part­ment weighed in, say­ing that one could no longer find trout in Taos Creek. In­stead, chlo­ro­form bac­te­ria were grow­ing there.

Rick Ro­mancito/file photo

Taos Pue­blo res­i­dents and of­fi­cials cel­e­brate the re­turn of Blue Lake in 2010.

Rick Ro­mancito/file photo

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.