Inaugural issue of Environmental Flows Bulletin

April 4th, 2012 | No Comments

This month marks the release of Environmental Flows Bulletin, a new project of the Utton Center at the University of New Mexico School of Law.

Environmental Flows highlights ideas, strategies, and successes of organizations and individuals across New Mexico who are working to ensure environmental flows for the state’s rivers and streams–and it’s a project that’s pretty exciting for me. You can read the entire issue of Environmental Flows online here.

The stories I worked on for the inaugural issue include:

“Bringing Beauty Downstream: Mayor Coss on the Santa Fe River,”

“Conservationists and Irrigation District Blaze the Way on Water Transfers,” and

“Salazar Convenes New Committee on the Middle Rio Grande.”

You can also read a note from Utton Center Director Denise Fort and Editor Susan George and a guest column from Rio Grande Restoration’s Steve Harris about a new project on the Rio  Chama.

If you’d like to subscribe to the newsletter, please send an email to And if you have story ideas or information about cool projects, drop me an email at


New Mexico Bibliography

February 4th, 2012 | 1 Comment

While researching and writing a story about some recent books about New Mexico’s environment, I spent a lot of time perusing my bookshelves and revisiting some old favorites.  Below is a makeshift–and undoubtedly incomplete–list of some of those favorites, as well as some suggestions from other readers.

Please be sure and add your favorites in the comments section. Or, you can email me at (And no, these aren’t in any particular order.)

By the way, I’m itching to get my hands on Paul Bauer’s guidebook, The Rio Grande, A River Guide to the Geology and Landscapes of Northern New Mexico. Bauer just won the 2011 award for Outstanding Outdoor Guide Book from the National Outdoor Book Association and a John P. Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award from the New Mexico Riparian Society. (Read more about that here.)

New Mexico Environmental Bibliography:

The Orphaned Land: New Mexico’s Environment Since the Manhattan Project, by VB Price

A Great Aridness, by William deBuys

Reining in the Rio Grande, by Fred Phillips, Mary Black, and G. Emlen Hall

The Rio Grande: An Eagle’s View (Photographs by Adriel Heisey)

Eco-Tracking: On the Trail of Habitat Change, by Dan Shaw

The Tree Rings’ Tale: Understanding Our Changing Climate, by John Fleck

Great River: The Rio Grande in North American History, by Paul Horgan

Rio Grande, Edited by Jan Reid

Rio Grande, by Harvey Fergusson

High and Dry: The Texas-New Mexico Struggle for the Pecos River, by G. Emlen Hall

Land, Wind and Hard Words: A Story of Navajo Activism, by John W. Sherry

The Navajo People and Uranium Mining, Edited by Doug Brugge, Timothy Benally, and Esther Yazzie-Lewis (with intro by Stewart Udall)

Mayordomo: Chronicle of an Acequia in Northern New Mexico, by Stanley Crawford

The River in Winter: New and Selected Essays, by Stanley Crawford

A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There, by Aldo Leopold

Aldo Leopold’s Southwest, Edited by David E. Brown and Neil B. Carmony

The Walk, by William deBuys

Valles Caldera: A Vision for New Mexico’s National Preserve, By William deBuys and Don J. Usner

Enchantment and Exploitation: The Life and Hard Times of a New Mexico Mountain Range, by William deBuys

The Mountains of New Mexico, by Robert Julyan

The Chaco Coal Scandal: The People’s Victory over James Watt, by Jeff Radford

Related to Los Alamos National Laboratory:

The Nuclear Borderlands: The Manhattan Project in Post-Cold War New Mexico, by Joseph Masco

In the Shadow of Los Alamos: Selected Writings of Edith Warmer, edited by Patrick Burns

Nuclear Rites: A Weapons Laboratory at the End of the Cold War, by Hugh Gusterson

Inventing Los Alamos: The Growth of an Atomic Community, by Jon Humner

Now It Can Be Told: The Story of the Manhattan Project, by General Leslie M. Groves

The Myths of August, by Stewart Udall



Roadside Geology of New Mexico, by Halka Chronic

A Field Guide to the Plants and Animals of the Middle Rio Grande Bosque, by Jean-Luc E. Cartron, et al.

Field Guide to the Sandia Mountains, ed. by Robert Julyan and Mary Stuever


From a SRF reader:

Captives and Cousins, Slavery, Kinship, and Community in the Southwest Borderlands, by James Brooks

Understories: The Political Life of Forests in New Mexico, By Jake Kosek

Manifest Destinies, The Making of the Mexican American Race, by Laura Gomez

Land, Water, and Culture: New Perspectives on Hispanic Land Grants, edited by Charles Briggs and John Van Ness


NM’s best books on the environment

February 1st, 2012 | 1 Comment

I started off 2012 by reading five great books about New Mexico’s environment–and then getting to interview and wander about with some of those authors and photographers. It was a great way to start off the year, and I hope you’ll read that essay online at the Santa Fe Reporter.

Now my question to you is: What are your favorite books about New Mexico’s landscapes and environmental issues? Drop a note in the comments section and let me know. (Include your favorite field guides, too, please.)

I have a ton of favorites, and I’d love to add mine to yours and create a comprehensive online list.

And the first person to contribute to the list–and to email your mailing address to–will receive my extra copy of  VB Price’s book, The Orphaned Land.

By they way, those five books I write about in “No Page Unturned” include:

The Orphaned Land: NM’s Environment Since the Manhattan Project, by VB Price
A Great Aridness, by William deBuys
Reining in the Rio Grande , by Fred Phillips, Mary Black, and G. Emlen Hall
The Rio Grande: An Eagle’s View (Photographs by Adriel Heisey)
Eco-Tracking: On the Trail of Habitat Change, by Dan Shaw

…and here’s a picture of those two mouse-hunting coyotes I mention in the essay:

Just one reason to love the Middle Rio Grande

January 18th, 2012 | No Comments

Can you spot the porcupine?

2012 and beyond in New Mexico

January 4th, 2012 | No Comments

Within the first three days of the new year, I was lucky enough to spend time in the Sandias, on the West Mesa, and then along the Rio Grande as it flows through Albuquerque.

It was a good way to start the year, not only because hitting the sands (and scrambling around on granite or basalt) is preferable to being cooped up inside with the computer, but because I’ve cleared the slate on some old projects and am currently compiling a “to do” list of stories to research and write in 2012.

Climate change and water are big issues, obviously, as are oil and gas development and hydraulic fracturing. And right now, I’m particularly interested in adaptation.  The world looks different–ecologically and economically–than it did even a few decades ago.  I want to explore where we’re headed in the future–and New Mexico is a great place to do that.

Send your story tips and ideas to–and here’s to an interesting and productive 2012!

Sunday in Albuquerque: “Perspectives on Climate Change”

October 12th, 2011 | No Comments

This promises to be really interesting. Be sure and check it out on Sunday in Albuquerque:

Fulbright Association

New Mexico Chapter

Perspectives on Climate Change

3 pm, Sunday, October 16, 2011

Jewish Community Center

5520 Wyoming Blvd. NE

Albuquerque, NM 87109


“Current views in Congress on the threats of global warming”

Senator Jeff Bingaman (by video)



“The scientific evidence that growing carbon dioxide levels and global warming are largely of human origin”

Professor David Gutzler

The University of New Mexico

Potential consequences of global warming, from inconvenient weather to global catastrophe”

Dr. Mark Boslough

Sandia National Laboratories

“Obstacles standing in the way of addressing global warming- a business community perspective”

Mr. Jeff Sterba

Chairman, PNM Resources

Q & A


Mr. John Fleck, moderator

Science writer, The Albuquerque Journal

Free and Open to the Public


Co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Central New Mexico and the UNM Chapter of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society


Supported by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the Department of State.

Las Conchas fire from Abq

July 15th, 2011 | No Comments

More necessary reading

July 14th, 2011 | No Comments

This week, Bill McKibben was at the book launch for Paul Miller’s (DJ Spooky) “The Book of Ice.” I was joking that a collaboration between those two made me feel giddy. But it’s no joke.

Amazing things are happening right now.

And this is one of them:

Terra Nova Trailer Edit from DJ Spooky on Vimeo.

Necessary Reading

July 14th, 2011 | 2 Comments

The New Normal in New Mexico

July 13th, 2011 | 1 Comment

If you read the current issue of the Santa Fe Reporter, you’ll find an essay I wrote about climate change in the Southwest.  It’s called The New Normal, and I have to admit that it was a really hard story to write.

I became an environmental journalist for a couple of reasons. The most important one is that I’m happiest when hanging around outside (and I didn’t realize, honestly, how much time I would inevitably spend inside at the computer.) But it also seemed like a productive way to pay my respects to the places I love. Places that have offered me refuge and inspiration, and places that are just beautiful and exciting. More than nine years ago, when I wrote my first news story, I never imagined that the landscapes I loved would be altered so irrevocably and so quickly.

Writing about climate change is hard enough when you’re tackling the science of it (and that’s something the Albuquerque Journal’s John Fleck does really, really well). But I figured it was time for me to also talk with people about how they feel about climate change–and to admit how I feel about it and how I feel not only about the future, but what’s happening right now at this very moment. It’s my hope that people will start feeling some responsibility, too. We made this mess. So let’s start admitting that and doing something about it.

I also want to point out a mistake I made (I misspelled “Chiricahua”) and make a clarification: 1,242 square miles of NM burned in FY 2011 (that is, July 2010 to July 2011). That does not include Las Conchas acreage since that fire is still active.

At any rate, if that essay piqued your interest, here are some additional resources you might appreciate:

State of New Mexico Climate Change Advisory Group (with links to New Mexico’s Climate Change Action Plan)

State of the Climate 2010 report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

NOAA Online Climate Data Directory

NASA’s Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet website:

The Nature Conservancy’s Climate Change in New Mexico project

TNC report: Managing Changing Landscapes in the Southwestern United States

Links to USGS reports about climate change and forests in the Southwest

USGS New Mexico Drought Watch website

Information and maps on current drought conditions in New Mexico

National Academies Press publications related to climate change (PDF’s are free to download)

To learn more about New Mexico Environmental Department’s Climate Masters Program—which has yet to schedule classes for the remainder of 2011— visit:

Link to Climate Masters Program handbook:


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