Welcome to the website for the
New Mexico Citizens Alliance for Responsible Energy and Sustainability


Our concerns for the environment

As residents of the Pecos River Valley, we share our living space with a wide variety of wildlife. We are in the migratory pathway for many species of birds, including Ducks, Herons and Sandhill Cranes, and for the Hoary Bat, one of the migratory species most affected by wind turbines. Invenergy's proposed wind farm location is known locally to be Mountain Lion habitat. Our fragile desert ecosystem supports many rare and unusual species, some of them little known to science. We seek to protect this environment for all the different forms of life that depend upon it.

Do Wind Turbines Really Kill Birds? - Industry and conservation representatives weigh in on this contentious issue. Mother Earth News, 2009.

Conservationists Develop New Guidelines to Reduce Wind Farm Bird Deaths

Wind and other renewable energy sources have generated much enthusiasm as partial solutions to global climate change and other energy-related environmental issues. At a January climate change conference held by the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE), American Bird Conservancy co-sponsored a workshop to help make wind energy truly “green” by minimizing wildlife impacts. The workshop produced the following six recommendations:

NCSE will publicize these recommendations, and American Bird Conservancy will use them in discussions with lawmakers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to encourage the standardization of permit requirements.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Preparing Guidelines to Mitigate Bird and Bat Deaths

FWS recently convened an advisory committee of 22 experts from industry, the environmental community, and state governments to prepare draft guidelines for the siting and operation of wind projects to minimize bird and bat deaths, and reduce disturbance to wildlife habitat. The committee will formulate recommendations for the Secretary of Interior, with a deadline of early 2009. The Department of the Interior will finalize the guidelines later that year. American Bird Conservancy is calling for the guidelines to be mandatory throughout the United States.

The House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans Oversight Hearing on:

"Gone with the Wind: Impacts of Wind Turbines on Birds and Bats".

Bird Kills Increase at Altamont Wind Farm Despite Mitigation Measures

The controversy over the Altamont Pass wind farm has been renewed with the release in late 2007 of data showing increased mortality of birds despite years of effort to curb collisions.

The massivewind farm at Altamont Pass in California, which has over 5,000 turbines, is situated in an area with a large raptor population. Birds frequently fly through the path of the rotor blades, the tips of which can rotate at speeds in excess of 150 mph, making them particularly deadly. Protected bird species, including the Golden Eagle, have been killed in significant numbers.

A 2004 study by the California Energy Commission estimated 1,700 to 4,700 birds die each year by flying into whirling turbine blades or being electrocuted by transmission lines that thread through the 50,000- acre Altamont Wind Resource Area. The fatalities in a single year involve as many as 116 Golden Eagles, 300 Red- tailed Hawks, 333 American Kestrels and 380 Burrowing Owls, the study found.

Following this study, and lawsuits filed by environmental groups to halt the deaths, Alameda County, the wind industry, and several environmental groups entered into agreements to reduce bird deaths at the wind farm. Mitigation measures included replacing older turbines with newer models that are meant to be less hazardous to birds, removing turbines located in the paths of hunting raptors, and turning off certain turbines during periods of heavy bird migration.

These agreements were based on industry data that showed the mitigation measures would reduce bird kills. However, in late 2007, new data were released showing mortality of bird has actually increased. Dr. Shawn Smallwood, a member of the county-appointed Scientific Review Committee, said efforts to reduce bird deaths by the target of 50% in three years are far behind. Shutting down many turbines during the winter when raptors migrate into central California has helped, but many other mitigation measures were deemed too expensive to be economically feasible. Environmental groups will continue to press for implementation of new mitigation, especially with escalating energy prices providing profits to pay for mitigation.

Mountain Lions

Felis (Puma) concolor

puma1 pumas

Some years ago, a fellow pulled his pickup into my driveway, stuck his head out the window and asked me if I'd seen an old black-and-tan hound anywhere around.
"Best lion dog I got," he said. "We were chasing one up on that mesa the other day and she got away from us and I haven't seen her since".
I told him I was sorry I couldn't help him, but I'd call him if I saw her.
Score one for the lion, I thought.
Now I can't help but wonder where that old lion will go if its 30-square-mile range of territory on that island-in-the-sky we call a mesa is encroached upon and devoured by a bunch of earth-moving equipment.
It's pretty obvious that the short answer is that it (or, they) will go down into civilization. It won't have an option. It's surrounded, hemmed in on all sides.
And instead of deer and rabbits it will be feeding on livestock, chickens, dogs, cats... or perhaps small children.
If it's lucky it will run the gauntlet successfully and escape to the mountains. If it gets cornered somewhere it could be captured and relocated. More likely is that it will just get shot.

puma dead

And that will be the end of lions on the mesa.
JC - Ribera, NM

Rare species of fungus

Click the images for higher-resolution versions

This grubby little ball is actually a spore-bearing structure of the arbuscular-mycorrhizal fungus (AMF) Acaulospora sporocarpia Berch, a member of the fungal class Glomeromycetes. AMF are obligate symbionts, fungi which require a mutualistic (symbiotic) association with vascular plants.

Acaulospora sporocarpia

This species is known to have been collected from only two places on Earth. The original collection was made in Arizona in 1955, but the documentation is so poor that the location can never be found again. The second collection was made in New Mexico in 2006, on part of the 6,000+ acres of NM State Land Office lease land that have since been put under option for development by Invenergy, Corp. There is one collection reported from Pakistan in 1962, but leading investigators indicate it is probably a different species (Dr. J.M. Trappe, Dr. C. Walker, pers. corr.). The New Mexico location is the only one that is accurately documented and, therefore, is the only place that can be revisited in hopes of studying the organism in its natural habitat.


AMF are notoriously difficult to cultivate under laboratory conditions, requiring a partnering with a living plant to survive. To date, this species has resisted all attempts to establish a successful culture (Dr. C. Walker, pers. corr.). If Invenergy disrupts the fragile piece of land on which it lives, any chance for further study of this rare organism could be lost forever.
If you think, as I do, that this sounds like a candidate for the Endangered Species List, please call, write, or email Rob Larrañaga, with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service at the Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge, and tell him you learned about this here and you think it needs protection. Thank you.
More information on this species can be found here.
JC - Ribera, NM

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