A model train under the Christmas tree is nostalgic decoration. Actual trains running through New Mexico (like the Southwest Chief and Rail Runner Express) have a definite history, but do they have a future? That depends on decisions made by the NMDOT in the newest New Mexico State Rail Plan. While you're enjoying a holiday break you may wish to send the NMDOT your thoughts supporting rail travel in New Mexico.
Santa Feans recycle less than 10% of all possible materials that instead go to a landfill. When the national average for recycling is 34% why is the rate in eco-conscious Santa Fe county so low? Because recycling in Santa Fe is a pain in the ass. To illustrate, a friend created this flow chart for visiting relatives to explain what items could be recycled and what couldn't. At first I laughed, because recycling really is this ridiculously complicated in Santa Fe. Then I had a realization.
How can a city shift to renewable energy when the local power utility is committed to fossil fuels? Boulder, CO has decided to "explore ... forming a city-owned utility". The Kit Carson Electric Coop in Taos, NM has a customer-owned solar array and other renewable energy purchase contracts. The City and County of Santa Fe, NM are researching creating their own publicly-owned electric utility.
Why is it that recycling so often feels like an obligation and not like fun? I've discovered that recycling is a lot more fun when it pays cash. I made a trip to a local scrap metal yard today and exchanged aluminum window trim and a leaky stainless steel tank for cold, hard cash. The line of pickups carrying scrap metal into the yard made it clear that quite a few folks already know about the profitable side of recycling.
There is something about the Southwestern landscape that inspires people. Whether it's the mountains and deserts, the distant horizon, or the technicolor sunsets I don't know. But, something about this place sparks people's imagination. Case in point - Aldo Leopold. Something happened while Leopold was in Arizona and New Mexico that drove him to write A Sand County Almanac and to think about conservation in a new way.
Somewhere in your county, a secret agent stands at the ready. He (or she) is the local County Extension Agent, ready to answer your home garden and landscape questions. County Extension Agents aren't supposed to be a secret but they are lower profile than the 'Double-O' kind of agent. I just met the local Extension Agent and learned quite a lot about the art of growing plants and animals in my county.
Few things seem to get people as excited as a train rolling into town. I wouldn't have thought that a public meeting about a commuter rail station would pack a school cafeteria full of concerned citizens. Yet, that was the scene on March 14th as neighbors came to find out more about the possible opening of the Zia Station for the Rail Runner Express.
There is a big gap between my carbon footprint today and the carbon neutral future I want. Not only is that gap large, our family CO2 emissions just increased with our new child! How can I call myself a climate hawk when my carbon footprint just grew? I'm a pragmatist and temporary setbacks are often a part of making forward progress.
Asking one simple question can lead, eventually, to big changes. In 2007 Dale Lyons, a Water Resources Coordinator for the City of Santa Fe Water Department, looked at the decommissioned Canyon Road Hydropower Plant and asked if a hydro-power plant was still feasible in Santa Fe. Dale made a few basic calculations that were promising enough to warrant a full engineering study. That study started a process which has culminated in a brand new hydro-power plant inspired by the original power plant in the Santa Fe Canyon Road Hydro Park.