Land Trust saves 370 acres, bill introduced to return Pueblo’s ‘path of life,’ Taos sued for dumping raw sewage
– 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.
Taos Pueblo residents and officials celebrate the return of Blue Lake in 2010.