The Taos News
February 15, 2013
Last week, our Congressional delegation reintroduced a bill to protect 236,000 acres along both sides of the Río Grande as a national conservation area.
We applaud their perseverance.
This swath of dramatic landscape includes the Río Grande Gorge, and the Ute and San Antonio mountains in Taos and Río Arriba counties.
The so-called Río Grande del Norte has long been used for such traditional uses as grazing, hunting, fishing and gathering firewood. The area also contains many religious and cultural sites.
The timing is right to ensure this land remains permanently for the use of the people. The creation of a conservation area would prohibit new roads as well as future mineral development.
And making Río Grande del Norte a national conservation area would help attract visitors who, too, would want to enjoy these wild lands. This could be a welcome boost to the local economy.
Locally, strong support has been demonstrated, including by local governments, Taos Pueblo leaders, land grant associations and various community groups.
But an attempt at protection failed last year during the legislative deadlock.
Similarly, granting wilderness protection to 45,000 acres in the Columbine-Hondo area didn’t go anywhere in Washington, D.C., despite broad local support.
Now, U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich (who was elected to Jeff Bingaman’s seat last year) and Rep. Ben Ray Luján remain committed to conservation.
We agree that the natural resources of Northern New Mexico are worth protecting and offer them our support.
Poor election turnout
Taos County has 24,902 registered voters, but most of them decided to skip the Feb. 5 election for school board members and a two-mill levy.
That’s too bad.
In Taos, only voters residing in two districts could select a candidate, but anyone could vote to renew a two-mill levy that was set to expire after six years. The funds will be earmarked for capital improvements, activity buses and school technology.
So, how many Taos voters headed to the polls to cast their ballots on the two-mill levy? The results say 1,397.
In Taos’ District 3, one candidate got 171 votes while the other received 35.
The situation was not much better in Peñasco, though Questa voters were engaged in determining the fate of their now-suspended board.
In September, only 1,918 voters showed up to decide on a Taos County Educational gross-receipts tax.
We question why voters don’t get fired up about school elections. The schools have an important role in our community. It is in there our future leaders, business owners, employees, and artists are created.
And, early voting makes it easy to stop at the bureau of elections in the county complex to mark Xs on an official ballot.
So, for those who didn’t vote, what’s your excuse?