The Gila Conservation Coalition is deeply saddened by the passing on Sunday of conservation warrior, friend and colleague M.H.”Dutch” Salmon at 73 after a brief illness.
Dutch’s storied career spanned more than 35 years in the Southwest. His professional and personal pursuits were many: author, publisher, hunter, fisherman, homesteader, conservationist.
Dutch’s name is synonymous with the Gila Conservation Coalition, the organization he co-founded and chaired for more than 35 years to protect the free flow of the Gila and San Francisco Rivers and the wilderness characteristics of the Gila and Aldo Leopold Wilderness areas.
Dutch and his fellow advocates were successful in defeating the Hooker and Conner dams and Mangas diversion in the 1980s and 1990s, closed the San Francisco River to motorized vehicle use, and also kept the East Fork of the Gila River closed to motorized vehicles. Since 2001, he had been a leader in the fight against the current diversion threat under the Arizona Water Settlements Act.
Dutch’s steadfast commitment to the protection of the Gila River and his unending love for our wild river and wild places have been an inspiration to all of us. He will be remembered always for his tireless work to protect and conserve New Mexico’s wildlife, rivers and lands.
Rest in peace, dear friend.
We send our condolences to Dutch’s wife, Cherie, and son, Bud.
A memorial service will be held on Sunday, March 24 at 1pm at the Murray Hotel Ballroom, 200 West Broadway, Silver City.
Please tune into Earth Matters this week 3/11/19 for an archived interview with Dutch on the 30thanniversary of his trip down the Gila River that he memorialized in his book Gila Descending, first published in 1984. The show airs Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 10 am and Thursday at 8 pm on KURU 89.1 FM and streams live at gmcr.org
With the federal deadline now only months away, the NM CAP Entity (NMCAPE) is scrambling to get a NEPA Record of Decision for its Gila diversion project, rather than wake up to the reality that they have no viable project after 15 years of wasted time and $15 million of wasted spending.
Obtained through the Inspection of Public Records Act, the Preliminary Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the NM Unit predicts the NMCAPE’s “construction costs associated with the Proposed Action would reach a total of $69,690,054 while operations and maintenance costs would reach $1,872,226 annually.” The costs to build the project are greater than the $50 million earmarked for construction funds under the Arizona Water Settlements Act (AWSA), and the annual operations and maintenance cost is beyond the reach of the small group of farmers irrigating low value pasture.
While additional time and over $3 million more in AWSA funds budgeted by the Interstate Stream Commission for the Gila diversion will be wasted, the priority water needs of the 60,000 people of southwest New Mexico are being ignored. Most importantly, the NMCAPE is withholding $12 million to fully fund the Grant County Regional Water Supply Project that will provide water to low-income communities in the Mining District. The Grant County Water Commission is being forced to obtain federal loans to fund the remainder of the project, raising water bills by $20 per month.
In her October 2018 plan for managing and conserving the state’s water, Governor-Elect Michelle Lujan Grisham states that as governor she will “end work on the Gila River Diversion Project,” given that “there is little to show for the millions of dollars spent on staff, lawyers and studies” with only one year left to secure approval of the project under the Arizona Water Settlements Act (AWSA). She goes on to say “we need to use the [AWSA] settlement money more efficiently on other projects that could help more of southwestern New Mexico.”
The time is now to stop the hemorrhaging of public funds for this unfair diversion project. The equitable solution is to direct AWSA funding to priority community water projects that will provide a secure water supply for everyone in southwest New Mexico.
Michael Berman Photography Studio Tour – 12 spaces available
TAKE A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE Keynote Address with Godfrey Reggio
Thursday, Sept. 24; 7:00 pm WNMU Light Hall. Doors open at 6:30 pm
$10 suggested donation at the door. Students FREE
World-renowned filmmaker Godfrey Reggio, director of the groundbreaking ‘Qatsi Trilogy,’ will give the keynote address, entitled “Take a Walk on the Wild Side.” His premise is that we don’t merely use technology: we live it. Einstein said, “The fish will be the last to know water,” and we will be the last to know technology. After Reggio’s keynote, the first film in his trilogy, Koyaanisqatsi, will be screened along with a selection of short films from the Gila Time-lapse Film Fest.
THINKING LIKE A WATERSHED
Panel Discussion with Jack Loeffler, Dr. Rina Swentzell, Dr. Enrique Lamadrid & Steve Harris
Friday, September 25, 7:00 pm, WNMU’s Light Hall
Admission: $10 suggested donation at the door. Students FREE.
Writer, aural-historian, and conservationist Jack Loeffler will lead “Thinking Like a Watershed,” a panel discussion with Dr. Rina Swentzell, who will represent the Puebloan sense of coherence, Dr. Enrique Lamadrid, an authority on the history of acequias, and Steve Harris, director of Rio Grande Restoration and proprietor of Far Flung Adventures. Godfrey Reggio’s second Qatsi film, Powaqqatsi, and selections from the Gila Time-lapse Film Fest will be screened following the panel discussion.
The Gila Time-lapse Film Festival will explore man’s relationship to nature and technology. Films from around the world and the southwest will be screened, such as Desert Flower, filmed in Joshua Tree National Park by Casey Kiernan, Jewel of the Dolomites filmed in northern Italy by Christin Necker, and Light Study from Canada by Josephine Massarella. Peter Bill, WNMU professor of New Media and director of the film festival, will kick off the inaugural event with a discussion about time-lapse film making on Thursday afternoon at 1pm. The film fest closes with a street party and 4-story projections of time-lapse films on the Murray Hotel.
MONSOON PUPPET PARADE, SKIT & STREET PARTY with Monsoon Puppet Theater, Gila Time-lapse Film Fest, & Music by The Roadrunners, Bayou Seco, and No Dam Diversions
Join the zany and creative forces of the Monsoon Puppet Theater and Bikeworks for a family-friendly parade full of fun costumes, music, dance, and giant puppets! Follow the parade to the Street Party at Yankie & Texas for dancing, food, and kids’ activities.
3:00-4:00 Face painting and mask making at Bikeworks @ Bullard & College
4:00-4:15 Puppet & bike parade from Bikeworks to Yankie & Texas streets
4:15-7:45 Street Party with lots of kids’ activities; Live Music and dancing with No Dam Diversions, Bayou Seco, and The Road Runners; wood oven-fired pizza, popcorn, & more.
7:45-9:30 Monsoon Puppet Skit, Gila Time-lapse Film Fest and projections on Murray Hotel
LANDSCAPE OF THE GILA ART SHOW
Throughout the festival, WNMU Francis McCray Gallery, noon to 5:00 pm
This Gila-inspired show features the work of local artists, as they interpret the Gila River in different media. Artists include Linda S. Boatwright, Kate Brown, Lois Duffy, Penny Flick, Donna Foley, Karyn Neil, Pierre Nichols, Jim Pendergast, Aleada Siragusa, Patricia Taber, Peter Bill and Stephen Dirkes. Visit the show during the Gila River Festival, September 24 thru September 27, from noon to 5:00 pm. On Friday from 5:30 to 7:00 pm, join us for a reception at the gallery.
Named one of the “100 Best Art Towns in America,” Silver City has a vibrant art scene. Be sure to wander through downtown Silver City’s Arts & Cultural District and visit participating galleries, open throughout the festival.
WE ARE THE RIVER; THE RIVER IS US Meditations & Contemplations at the Gila River
Sunday, Sept. 27; 9:15 am to 1:00 pm
Meet at Silver City Visitors’ Center at 9:15 am to carpool to The Nature Conservancy’s Gila Farm, OR, meet at the Gila Farm at 10:00 am. FREE
We close the Gila River Festival with a series of meditations and contemplations – some moving, some in stillness. Martha Everett, Becky Glenn, and Jeff Goin will, respectively, take us through short practices of Qigong, Yoga, and meditation with which we can establish a more subtle, deeper, and meaningful relationship with our natural world in general, and the Gila River in particular. No previous experience in Yoga, meditation, or Qigong is necessary. To create a sacred space, Vicki Allen will lead us in a short, meaningful ritual at the start of our session and will close it again at the end.
Wild Gila: Forever Free is the title of the new CD/DVD compilation of original Gila River music and films produced by GCC to celebrate New Mexico’s last wild river. The CD features original songs performed by Charlie Alfero, Azaima B Anderson, Bayou Seco, Michael Cook, Andrew Dahl-Bredine, Peggy Hunter Edmister, The Fiddle Club, Gordee Headlee, Daniel La Brake, Wally Lawder, Ron McFarland, Paul Pino, Greg Renfro, Silver City String Beans and Barbie Williamson. The DVD includes films by the Gila Conservation Coalition, WNMU digital media professor and artist Peter Bill, and filmmaker Nat Stone.
Purchase the Wild Gila: Forever Free CD/DVD online here, for $20.00 per album for GCC members, and $25.00 for non-members. All proceeds from the sales of the CD/DVD set will benefit the Gila Conservation Coalition’s work to protect the Gila River.
RAFFLE: HANDMADE DON MUSSER/DAN SWANSON GUITAR
Purchase a raffle ticket for a chance to win a handmade guitar by Don Musser and Dan Swanson. Tickets are $50 each and only 100 tickets will be sold. Stop by the GRIP/GCC office at 305A North Cooper St. or purchase on-line.
There is a short list of Don Musser guitar owners, including Peter Fonda, Tom Rush, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Neil Young, Bono and Eddie Van Halen. Built in collaboration with Dan Swanson using only the finest woods and materials, and voiced to produce the tone that meets Musser’s exacting standards, the guitar is an absolute masterpiece.
Pre ban quarter sawn
Brazilian rosewood back & sides
Engelmann spruce top
Honduras mahogany neck
Macassar ebony fingerboard
Abalone top trim
Figured mahogany bindings
TKL hardshell case
THANKS to Sharon Bookwalter for the donation of the guitar! All proceeds go towards GCC’s efforts to protect the Gila River.
Washington, D.C.- American Rivers named the Gila River among America’s Most Endangered Rivers® of 2014 today, shining a national spotlight on the threat that an expensive and unnecessary pipeline and diversion project poses to New Mexico’s last free-flowing river. “The America’s Most Endangered Rivers report is a call to action to save rivers that are at a critical tipping point,” said Matt Niemerski of American Rivers. “It makes no sense to build an expensive and harmful diversion on New Mexico’s last free-flowing river when quicker, easier, and cheaper water supply solutions exist.”
Under a provision of the Arizona Water Settlements Act, construction of a large diversion project is planned on the Gila River that would capture an average of 14,000 acre-feet of water annually, or double the current withdrawals, to increase crop production and urbanization. Fortunately, cheaper, more cost-effective water supply solutions exist, such as municipal and agricultural conservation, effluent reuse, sustainable use of existing groundwater supplies, and watershed restoration.
American Rivers and its partners called on New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez to protect the Gila River and ensure that her Interstate Stream Commission implements cheaper and more effective non-diversion alternatives to meet southwest New Mexico’s water supply needs.
“Expert analysis has shown that the ISC’s proposal is fatally flawed and will not work as currently conceived,” said Allyson Siwik, Executive Director of the Gila Conservation Coalition. “The good news is that southwestern New Mexico’s future water needs can be met through non-diversion conservation alternatives that can be easily funded with the federal funding available under the Arizona Water Settlements Act. These measures, such as municipal and agricultural conservation, effluent reuse, sustainable groundwater management, and watershed restoration, can generate three times the amount of water at a fraction of the cost of an expensive and harmful diversion project.”
“A diversion on the Gila would be devastating to New Mexico’s natural heritage,” said Beth Bardwell, Director of Freshwater Conservation for Audubon New Mexico. “What’s at stake is the largest stretch of cottonwood-willow riparian forest remaining in New Mexico, one of the highest concentrations of breeding birds in North America, and a living river that supports outdoor recreation and tourism for rural communities.”
“Governor Martinez and the Interstate Stream Commission should do the right thing and reject the Gila diversion,” said Jason Amaro, New Mexico Wildlife Federation board member. “We need to maintain and enhance the health of the Gila River, the foundation of hunting and fishing related opportunities in southwestern New Mexico. By supporting conservation alternatives to diversion, New Mexico can satisfy its water needs while protecting the quality of this premier outdoor recreation destination and supporting local economies dependent upon river-related recreation.”
When asked in a June 2013 poll which approach they would prefer to address the state’s water situation, New Mexico residents overwhelmingly supported conservation-based alternatives to diversions. Eighty-five percent of residents support using current water supplies more wisely, by continuing to conserve water, using new technology to help reduce wasted water, and increasing recycling of water.
A tributary to the Colorado River, the Gila originates in America’s first designated wilderness area, the Gila Wilderness, and is rich in biological diversity and cultural history. The Gila River supports healthy riverside forests, cold water fisheries, and a remarkable abundance of wildlife. The river also provides significant economic value to the region with unparalleled opportunities for outdoor recreation, nature-based travel, and wilderness experience.
The annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® report is a list of rivers at a crossroads, where key decisions in the coming months will determine the rivers’ fates. Over the years, the report has helped spur many successes, including the removal of outdated dams, the protection of rivers with Wild and Scenic designations, and the prevention of harmful development and pollution.
America’s Most Endangered Rivers® of 2014
#1 San Joaquin River (California)
Threat: Outdated water management and excessive diversions
#2 Upper Colorado River Basin (Colorado)
Threat: New trans-mountain water diversions
Aldo Leopold High School student Ella Kirk wants you to sign her petition to Governor Martinez to tell her to protect the Gila River, New Mexico’s last free-flowing river.
New Mexicans are very concerned about water issues in the state, including drought, water supplies and the health of our rivers. The long-term prognosis is grim. Our water management efforts will continue to be challenged by predicted water shortages compelling us to develop long-term strategies that use water more efficiently, while also preserving the health of our rivers that are critical to New Mexico’s quality of life, economy, wildlife and outdoor recreation opportunities.
The New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, comprised of members appointed by Governor Susana Martinez, is currently considering diversion projects authorized and partially funded by the 2004 Arizona Water Settlements Act (AWSA) to take Gila River water and pump it over the Continental Divide to urban areas, such as Deming and Las Cruces for agricultural or municipal use.
A Gila River diversion is expensive with estimated costs over $300 million. Taxpayers and water users will have to pick up the tab for approximately $200 million not covered by the federal subsidy available under the AWSA. In addition, New Mexicans will have to pay millions of dollars each year to Arizona to use Gila River water and to maintain the diversion, pipeline, and storage infrastructure. During droughts, New Mexican may not be able to divert Gila River water if flows are too low.
The good news is an expensive Gila River diversion is unnecessary. Southwest New Mexico’s water needs can be met cost-effectively by using water more wisely through such measures as municipal and agricultural conservation, sustainable groundwater management, water recycling, and reducing wasted water.
Tell Governor Susana Martinez to support cost effective, non-diversion alternatives to meet southwest New Mexico’s future water needs. A Gila River diversion is expensive, will harm the health of the Gila River, its wildlife and fish, and will not solve the region’s long-term water needs.
Gila-San Francisco Water Commission Meeting Tuesday, October 22, 1:30 pm
Group to discuss Reservation Fund to divert Gila River water under the AWSA
The Gila-San Francisco Water Commission (GSFWC) will meet on Tuesday, October 22 at 1:30 pm in the Grant County Administration Commissioners Meeting Room, 1400 Hwy 180 East, Silver City. On the agenda is discussion of a letter to and draft resolution for the GSFWC members regarding annual contributions to a “Reservation Fund to assist in financing project development to secure 14,000 ac. ft. of new water within Catron, Grant, Hidalgo and Luna Counties” under the Arizona Water Settlements Act (AWSA). GSFWC members include the four counties, municipalities (minus Silver City), soil and water conservation districts, and ditch associations in southwest New Mexico. According to the letter, members have had their respective public meetings to approve their participation in the Reservation Fund. However, Grant County for example has not discussed this issue publicly and would be on the hook for its contribution of $1000 per year if it approves the Reservation Fund resolution. Amounting to $22,000 per year, total contributions from all GSFWC members is a paltry sum compared to the $300M+ construction cost of diversion/storage/ pipeline infrastructure and millions more for operation, maintenance and exchange cost to Arizona for using the water. GSFWC members appear to be out of touch with the magnitude of investment required to develop Gila River water. Moreover, to commit public resources to a fund to which taxpayers have not had any review and input circumvents the democratic process. Voice your disapproval of the Reservation Fund at Tuesday’s GSFWC meeting!
Scientists are thrilled with the recent discovery of the Northern Mexican Gartersnake in New Mexico. Thought to have been extirpated from New Mexico, biologists from the Albuquerque BioPark found three of the snakes along the Gila River. The snake was once found throughout Arizona, southwestern New Mexico and northern Mexico, but its range has been reduced by more than 90% from water diversions, drought, overgrazing and wildfires. Non-native species also threaten young snakes. The snake is listed as state endangered and is a candidate for federal listing under the Endangered Species Act. Soon you’ll be able to see one of the snakes at the Reptile House at Albuquerque BioPark.
As a follow-up to the April 9 organizing meeting, the Gila Conservation Coalition and its partners will host a Save the Gila River Organizing Meeting on Wednesday, May 29 at 6:30 pm in the 3rd floor Seminar Room of the WNMU Student Memorial Building.
Join us and find out more about:
Follow-up to April 15 Interstate Stream Commission AWSA public meeting;
Update on GCC outreach and education initiatives and exciting new opportunities;
We want your feedback on some new outreach materials.
SAVE THE GILA RIVER EDUCATIONAL & ORGANIZING MEETING
Saturday, March 16, 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm
3rd Floor Seminar Room
Student Memorial Building
Western NM University, Silver City
The Gila Conservation Coalition and its partners will host a Save the Gila River educational and organizing meeting on Saturday, March 16 from 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm in the 3rd floor Seminar Room of the WNMU Student Memorial Building.
We hope you’ll join us to find out more about the Arizona Water Settlements Act, what lies ahead under the AWSA process, and how you can get involved.