Santa Fe Conservation Trust Building New Trail Link

Major Connection to Open by Year’s End

The Santa Fe Conservation Trust is building three miles of new recreational public trails that will make it possible for people to be able to get on trails near downtown and hike or bike all the way up through the Santa Fe National Forest to the ski basin. The 3-mile La Piedra Trail will connect Dale Ball Trail North with the Little Tesuque Creek Trail and others. It will be the first recreational trail established in Santa Fe for 13 years. Public and private partnerships between the Trust, landowners and the City and County make the project unique.

Trail users will enjoy breathtaking views of the Tesuque Valley as well as shaded forests of piñon and ponderosa pines as the trail winds through diverse terrain and alongside cool, running creeks

“Since the founding of Santa Fe over 400 years ago, rail access to the mountains – and nature – has been important to residents and visitors alike,” said Charlie O’Leary, SFCT’s executive director. “However, with increased development on private land, the construction of paved roads and the continued practice of fencing lands, all of the major routes over natural surfaces have either been closed to the public or abandoned altogether. Our goal is to re-establish this lost connection by constructing the new trail link, helping make Santa Fe the first city of trails.”

SFCT has site control of over 50 acres, including land from an anonymous donor, to design and build the trail. The land around the La Piedra Trail will be transferred to public ownership. Many steps remain: surveying, construction, stewardship planning and implementation of best management practices. Financial support is still needed. The Trust’s goal is to raise $120,000 in private funds by the end of this month.

Founded in 1993 by environmentalists, including Dale Ball, Bill deBuys and Stewart Udall, SFCT is dedicated to protect open spaces and critical wildlife habitat in Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and San Miguel counties. The organization provides landowners with tools to place their lands into voluntary conservation status. The Trust now oversees protection of more than 33,000 acres in northern New Mexico, including a new 250-acre section on the Galisteo Basin Preserve acquired through the Commonweal Conservancy. SFCT holds more than 5,000 acres within the Preserve, and is planning a 50-plus-mile system of hiking, biking and equestrian trails there.

For more information, contact the Trust at 505.989.7019, info@sfct.org or visit http://www.sfct.org

Economic Impact of NM’s National Parks and Monuments

Nine NM monuments created under the Antiquities Act and managed by the National Park Service had 1.3 million visitors who spent more than $54.2 million in nearby communities, supporting 1,061 jobs. That’s one of the facts pointed out in a new report from Headwaters Economics, an independent nonpartisan research firm, using National Park Service data from 2008. More recent data indicates the number of visitors and their spending has increased since then.

The NM Green Chamber of Commerce is promoting the report as a response to at least six bills in the U.S. House of Representatives to bar the use of the Act by the president to extend or establish new monuments in Montana, Idaho and Utah. In New Mexico, ten presidents have used the Act to designate 10 national monuments on public lands since 1906, including Bandelier National Monument and Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

A recent study by Headwaters Economics found that President Bill Clinton’s controversial 1996 monument designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah has resulted in 38 percent job growth and a 30 percent rise in per capita income in the two counties adjacent to the monument. The reports are available online at http://headwaterseconomics.org/land/reports/national-monuments/

LANL Nuclear Safety Hearing Nov. 17

The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board provides independent oversight for U.S. nuclear weapon facilities. They have played a major role in recent years in efforts to deal with earthquake risks and other safety issues at Los Alamos National Laboratory, including the designs for a multibillion-dollar plutonium lab the federal government wants to build. The board has also pressured the federal government to make LANL’s existing plutonium facility more earthquake-resistant.

From 1-5 pm and 7-9 pm on November 17 at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center, the board will hold hearings on a range of LANL issues, including: seismic safety at the lab’s 1970s-era plutonium facility, emergency preparedness at the lab, lessons from Fukushima, the Las Conchas and Cerro Grande fires, the aging CMR building and efforts to replace it, safety at the Area G waste facility, and upgrades to the lab’s radioactive liquid waste facility.

Advanced Biofuels Bill Introduced in U.S. Senate

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) have introduced bipartisan legislation that would facilitate the production of advanced biofuels like algae by reforming the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

The RFS includes a traditional ethanol standard of up to 15 billion gallons by 2015, originating mostly from corn feedstock, and a separate advanced biofuels standard, known as RFS2. Currently, the large majority of the advanced biofuel standard is limited by law to only cellulosic biofuels. While cellulosic biofuels are an emerging technology, the current RFS2 creates an uneven playing field for other promising advanced biofuels. The Udall-Crapo bill opens this category to all advanced biofuels at the same 21 billion gallon standard by 2022.

“The West and my home state of New Mexico are rich in opportunities for advanced biofuels. The RFS is already helping to reduce our reliance on foreign oil, and this improvement will accelerate that success,” Udall said. “This bill lets the market determine which types of fuel are produced to meet the standard.”

A survey conducted by the Algal Biomass Organization of companies in the algae biofuel industry indicated that creating legislative parity between algae and other advanced biofuels could create more than 200,000 jobs by 2022, compared to around 50,000 without such legislative parity.

Algae biofuels are considered non-cellulose in that they produce oils as a feedstock, not cellulose or sugar, from photosynthesis. That oil can be extracted and converted into fuels like traditional gasoline. Algae and other advanced biofuels can also be converted into high energy density fuels likediesel or jet fuel.

In August, Udall toured New Mexico State University’s Energy Research Laboratory, where he discussed the state’s growing biofuels industry. NMSU is part of a consortium with Los Alamos National Laboratory and 16 other entities that have received a $49 million grant from the Department of Energy to study the commercialization of algae-based fuel.