Auction Set for Largest NM Wind Farm

Thirty-four thousand acres of State Trust Land—more than 52 square miles, will go up for bid on Sept. 19 at a live public auction in Estancia, for what would be the largest wind farm in New Mexico. The proposed “El Cabo” project, which has been under development for years by a private company, Iberdrola Renewables, will mostly be in Torrance County with some spillover into Santa Fe and San Miguel counties. Besides the state land lease, the project would impact 87,000 acres of private property and would include 5,400 acres for a transmission route from the site.
The wind farm could generate 1,000 megawatts, enough to power 400,000 homes, greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions and saving millions of gallons of water a year, compared to coal-generated electricity.
State Land Commissioner Ray Powell says that the project would be built in several phases over the next 10 years, creating 1,600 construction jobs and over 250 permanent positions. In a statement, Powell said, “A new and growing source of income for the State Land Office is renewable energy leasing, which is expected to be the largest growth area for our Commercial Resources Division.”

In 2002, Powell signed a lease creating the state’s first wind farm, near Fort Sumner. Today,” he said, “there are four existing wind energy projects located on State Trust Lands that are expected to earn more than $50 million over the life of the projects. There are also five pending applications that are projected to earn more than $215 million for public schools, universities, and hospitals.”

 

Largest Solar Farm in New Mexico Breaks Ground

Ground was recently broken for construction by First Solar, Inc. of New Mexico’s largest solar power plant on state trust land. The plant will be located on about 500 acres near Deming. Operating on a commercial lease, the Macho Springs Solar Plant could generate as much as $40 million for State Land Office beneficiaries such as public schools and hospitals over the lease’s 40-year term.

 

Benefits of the solar array, compared to coal or gas-fired generating plants include significant water savings, zero emissions and the displacement of more than 40,000 metric tons per year of CO2. The plant will generate enough power for more than 18,000 average New Mexico homes. El Paso Electric Company will purchase the entire output from the project, which is expected to be completed in May of 2014.

 

19 New Mexico Pueblos Revive Educational Mission of Albuquerque Indian School

The last standing original building of the historic Albuquerque Indian School (AIS) is being renovated, and will soon serve as the new school building for the Native American Community Academy (NACA). The 81-year-old building is located at Indian School Road and 12th Street NW. Its history includes serving as office space and as the headquarters for the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Southern Pueblos Agency. The building escaped demolition by the federal government when its portion of the Indian School property was moved into trust land, to be held by the 19 New Mexico Pueblos last year.

 

The $2.6 million dollar project is funded from three sources—state capital outlay, federal grant dollars from the Human Resources & Services Administration and private financing. Indian Pueblos Marketing, Inc., a federally chartered, Section 17 for-profit corporation operated by the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico, is leading the project and will lease the building to the NACA.

 

The NACA is a tuition-free public charter school serving 340 middle- and high-school students from 37 tribes. It has been located in Albuquerque’s Southeast Heights. Kara Bobroff, NACA’s principal said, “NACA families and students are excited about the move. There are many opportunities to further build off the success of the many partnerships and community resources in the area. We look forward to accessing the enriching opportunities, particularly at the nearby Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.”

 

The project will be finished this summer and ready for the fall session.

 

W.K. Kellogg Foundation Names Alvin H. Warren Program Officer of New Mexico Programs

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) of Battle Creek, Mich., has named Alvin H. Warren, a member of Santa Clara Pueblo, as its new officer for New Mexico programs. Warren will assist the foundation in managing New Mexico place-based grantmaking and social change efforts. 

 

Warren is now based at the foundation’s Albuquerque office. Most recently, he was executive vice president at Blue Stone Strategy Group, a Native American-owned advisory firm committed to strengthening tribal sovereignty and self-sufficiency through supporting effective leadership, profitable business development and productive governmental systems. Previously, he served as cabinet secretary of Indian Affairs for the State of New Mexico and two consecutive terms as lieutenant governor of Santa Clara Pueblo.  

 

Alvin’s extensive experience strengthens our ability to continue making targeted grantmaking investments toward ensuring all children are healthy, well-educated and living in economically secure families,” said Kara Carlisle, WKKF’s director of New Mexico programs.

 

The Kellogg Foundation has supported nonprofit efforts in New Mexico for more than 70 years. The foundation collaborates with state and tribal governments, community organizations, businesses, neighborhoods and other funders. Current grants are concentrated in Bernalillo, Doña Ana, McKinley and San Juan counties and in Native communities across the state, places that are estimated to be home to more than half the vulnerable children in New Mexico. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.

 

World Indigenous Higher Education Consortium

The World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium was officially launched in 2002 to provide an international forum and support for Indigenous Peoples to pursue common goals through higher education. WINHEC will convene at Navajo Technical University’s Crownpoint, NM campus Aug. 4-6 for their annual board meeting. The meeting’s theme is “Celebrating Global Indigenous Leadership.” Over 30 people have registered. Representatives are traveling from as far as Australia, Canada, Norway, Taiwan and New Zealand.

 

Last year, Navajo Technical University President Dr. Elmer J. Guy, along with Dean of Student Services Deloris Becenti and Chair of Diné Studies, Education & Leadership Dr. Wesley K. Thomas attended WINHEC’s annual conference in Taiwan.

 

It’s a real honor to be hosting an event of this caliber,” said Guy. “There are going to be educational leaders from across the world attending, so it’ll be nice to showcase our culture and who we are as Diné People. Navajo Tech has been making leaps and bounds in our educational offerings to the point where we are now becoming a university. I can not think of a more fitting place to host such an event.”

 

At the conclusion of the meeting, the WINHEC group will move to Santa Fe for the American Indian Higher Education Consortium’s 40th Anniversary Conference at the Hilton Buffalo Thunder Resort from Aug. 7-11.

 

New Mining Claims in Solar Zones Barred

New mining claims have been barred on public lands in the West that are among 17 newly designated solar energy zones located near existing transmission lines. The Interior Department withdrew nearly 304,000 acres last month in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah from new claims. The Bureau of Land Management has approved 25 solar projects in the region. When completed, they are projected to be able to power more than 2.4 million homes.

 

Rocky Mountain Youth Corps Hiring Crews

Rocky Mountain Youth Corps is a nonprofit youth organization based in Taos, New Mexico. RMYC runs a Conservation Program in which youth crews thin local forests to prevent wildfires and build recreational trails across the state. The organization also has an Energy Efficiency program that provides weatherization upgrades to qualified low-income residents across eight northern New Mexico counties.

 

RMYC is currently hiring new crews, ages 18-25 for both programs as part of an AmeriCorps term. Benefits include a stipend of $680 every two weeks (before taxes), and upon completion of the program members earn a college scholarship. The application deadline is Aug. 15. For info and an application, visit www.youthcorps.org or call 575.751.1420.

 

Brownfields Program Helps Revitalize New Mexico Communities

On July 24, US Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health, led a hearing examining how a toxic site cleanup program overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has helped revitalize communities in New Mexico and across the country. Since 2002, the EPA’s brownfields program has enabled communities in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and elsewhere to clean up and repurpose formerly polluted land, attracting economic development and creating hundreds of jobs. Nationwide, EPA has provided approximately $1.5 billion in grants, which have leveraged $19.2 billion in additional investment. As a result, the brownfields program has helped clean up more than 20,000 properties and created more than 86,000 jobs nationwide.

 

Despite these successes, however, the EPA estimates that nationwide there are still 450,000 brownfields sites — properties affected by the presence of environmental contamination such as hazardous waste or other pollution.

 

Earlier this year, Udall coauthored the Brownfields Utilization, Investment and Local Development (BUILD) Act to modernize and improve key elements of the brownfields program. The bill would increase the limit for clean-up grants and expand eligibility for certain publicly owned sites and nonprofit organizations.

 

Udall focused his hearing on ways the program can be leveraged to help communities, citing specific examples from New Mexico. “They are often areas that no community, business or industry would redevelop because of environmental concerns or even just the perception of an environmental concern,” Udall said. “Without this type of assistance, many communities would be forced to rely entirely on their own public resources for cleanup, often when the previous occupant who contaminated the property is gone.”

 

Redevelopment of brownfields sites ultimately spearheads community revitalization and economic development,” Udall continued. “In New Mexico, we have had success in turning brownfields sites around.”

 

Bernalillo County Commission Vice Chair Debbie O’Malley testified on the impact of the brownfields program on Albuquerque’s Sawmill neighborhood. The Sawmill Community Land Trust received $225,000 through the program to clean up a 27-acre particleboard manufacturing site and transform it into affordable housing. In total, Bernalillo County has received $400,000 to conduct environmental assessments of contaminated sites and to support training for employees in brownfields cleanup.

 

Another witness, Geoff Anderson, the President and CEO of Smart Growth America, noted the Santa Fe Railyard’s success. “The Santa Fe Railyard is exemplary of the potential benefits of brownfields redevelopment. Since the EPA’s initial investment of $200,000, more than $125 million has been leveraged for the Railyard from public and private sources,” Anderson said. Udall added: “The Railyard has become a vibrant mixed-use development with art galleries, museums, a farmers’ market, retail shops and office space. It’s now an important contributor to Santa Fe’s economy.”

 

One more example is the iconic Route 66,” Udall concluded. “This highway was an important pathway for migration to the West, particularly in the 1930s. When Route 66 was bypassed by the interstate system, many of the service stations and old motels along the route became dormant. The underground fuel tanks leaked, causing contamination. Brownfields grants have been used to clean up this contamination and a variety of mixed-use redevelopment has occurred. Route 66 revitalization can give an economic boost New Mexico’s tourism economy.”

 

Late last month the EPA announced it had awarded $350,000 to the New Mexico Environment Department for supplemental brownfields funding. The money goes to a revolving loan fund to help the state fund shovel-ready projects to redevelop contaminated sites. “I’m optimistic that we will see future success stories if we keep this program strong,” Udall said.

 

Wildfire Prevention and Recovery Aided by Tribes’ Holistic Approach to Active Forest Management

Last month, Intertribal Timber Council Chairman Phil Rigdon told the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation that federal wildfire prevention and recovery efforts can benefit from the example set by Indian tribes in their own forests. “With our BIA partners, we actively operate modern, innovative and comprehensive natural resource programs premised on connectedness among the land, resources and people,” Rigdon testified. “Our approach is holistic, striving to simultaneously sustain economic, ecological and cultural values—the “triple bottom line.”

 

Rigdon’s testimony built on the recent findings of the Congressionally mandated Indian Forest Management Assessment Team report, which found tribes were using traditional values to chart a new and effective course in forest management through innovation, creativity and partnership building. Moreover, they are managing their forests to benefit generations to come.

 

Tribes’ approaches to forest management both mitigate damage from wildfire and speed recovery. Using the 2002 Rodeo-Chediski fire in Arizona as an example of a wildfire that affected both Forest Service and Indian lands, Rigdon noted how tribal practices yielded far better economic and ecological outcomes than did those of the federal agency.

 

“As tribes, we respond proactively to local conditions, evaluating the resources and values at risk, the source and nature of threats to forest health and options for addressing them,” Rigdon said. “Despite inadequate funding, tribes also respond to fires and recover from them more effectively and efficiently than the Forest Service.”

 

In the 49 states outside of Alaska, there are 18 million acres of Indian forests and woodlands on 294 separate Indian reservations. Of this land, nearly 10 million acres are considered commercial woodlands or timberlands. The states of Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Minnesota and Wisconsin have the greatest concentration of tribal forests. In New Mexico, the Pueblo of Acoma and the Mescalero Apache are members of the Intertribal Timber Council, a nonprofit nationwide consortium of over 60 tribes.

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