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Covid Safe Limpia and Meeting Guidance – March 2021 Update

Dear Acequia Commissioners and Mayordomos, 

NMAA would like to provide some updated recommendations as many of you complete your limpias and schedule annual meetings. These are based off of the recent Public Health Order (PHO), issued February 24, 2021.
You may have heard of the new county by county color coded rating system, regarding the level of risk in spreading Covid. The “dashboard” showing the color rating is updated every other week, this means that the color rating could change from the time you announce an activity to the time you actually hold a gathering, please monitor the dashboard at:  https://cvprovider.nmhealth.org/public-dashboard.html
We encourage every acequia to assess how they can best keep their community safe, while continuing our vital practices of holding meetings and cleaning the acequias.
Key points in the Public Health Order: 
  • Red Counties – Max public gathering is 5 individuals 
  • Yellow Counties – Max public gathering is 10 individuals
  •  Green Counties: Max public gathering is 20 individuals 
  • Turquoise Counties – Max public gatherings 150 individuals
A “mass gathering” is any public or private gathering, or grouping that brings together individuals in an indoor OR outdoor space.  All activities, whether indoor or outdoor, still require social distancing (minimum 6 feet distance) and Covid safe measures, such as wearing masks (given the highly communicable variants now in circulation, the CDC advises “double masking”). While some counties (Green and Turquoise) may begin to allow limited reopening of certain indoor facilities, including community centers, other counties continue to prohibit indoor mass gatherings.  For example, recreational facilities, like community centers, are not allowed to open for indoor gatherings in Yellow and Red counties. Meetings can be inside or outside, but each color code states the reduced level of occupancy for both indoor and outdoor spaces. See details: https://cv.nmhealth.org/public-health-orders-and-executive-orders/red-to-green/

Further Guidance for ACEQUIA CLEANINGS

Acequias may be considered “essential businesses” in the context of acequia cleanings  because they manage and control critical water infrastructure.  On the one hand, acequias are therefore given discretion even in Yellow and Red counties to operate but must limit operations to only those absolutely necessary to carry out essential functions.  On the other hand, , due to the physical exertion involved in acequia cleanings, certain precautions should be taken to minimize potential exposure to Covid.
Some ideas on how to safely and effectively conduct cleanings include:
  • Keep Crews under the max mass gathering allowance for your county.
  • If a larger number of individuals is needed to complete work, assign crews to a section of the ditch and do not gather as one large group. We have seen acequias give assignments to each car separately, organize individuals in advance, etc.
  • You could also schedule groups of parciantes and peonies to come on separate days.
  • Consider what will work best for your ditch.
  • Individuals in work crews should always stay a minimum of 6 feet apart and wear masks.
  • Hire one crew to clean the entire ditch in order to limit potential exposure to large numbers of people. We have spoken to a number of acequias who decided the safest and easiest option was to hire one consistent group of workers to clean the entire ditch with the supervision of the Commission and or Mayordomo. While this means not all parciantes will be able to participate, it ensures the task is completed.
  • Some acequias have opted to “excuse” members who are at higher risk due to age or other health considerations.
Whatever method you choose we encourage you to stay safe, take pictures and share with us any lessons learned, or methodologies we have not considered! Send pics and or questions to serafina@lasacequias.org

Further Guidance for ACEQUIA MEETINGS

Acequias should adhere to the county  restrictions imposed by the recent health order when scheduling any acequia meeting.  Acequias should also remember that the guidance from the Attorney General that we have shared over the course of the last year is still in effect. If you do not have urgent business you may opt to not hold your meeting. If you do not hold your annual meeting, it is encouraged that you still communicate with your parciantes via other means such as email, phone or snail mail.
If you choose to have a meeting, the AG recommends that the meeting be held remotely.  NMAA continues to offer technical hosting of zoom meetings which accommodate people calling in from a phone and video conferencing at the same time. We can also assist with the proper noticing of the remote meeting. Contact emily@lasacequias.org for more assistance.
 
Things to consider:
  • Both in-person and remote meetings have their pros and cons. Some people may feel unsafe meeting in person, others prefer it, not all individuals are equally open or comfortable with remote meetings, and others find it more accessible. You need to weigh what will be most safe, productive and inclusive for your acequia.
  • Quorum –  If your acequia needs a quorum that is greater than the max mass meeting attendance in your county your only option is to have a remote meeting.
  •  Keeping the Meeting to the Appropriate Size – If you want to have an in-person meeting but are concerned you may get more than the number of participants the PHO allows, then urge members to RSVP the day prior. Include in your notice that if you have more RSVPs than the amount allowed you will have to hold the meeting remotely or cancel. The goal is to encourage participation, so we don’t want to discourage any one from RSVPing.
  • Noticing Outdoor Meetings – In accordance with the Open Meetings Act, the location of your gathering needs to be publicly accessible and the location well described in your meeting notice. This might include a physical address along with a description of where in the parking lot of “X” building you will be meeting.
  • Noticing All Activities – It should be clear in communications for cleanings or meetings that social distancing and face masks are required by all participants. No one with covid symptoms should be participating.
  • Informational Meetings – If you do not feel you can get a quorum by either means, you can still have an informational meeting where NO ACTIONS are taken (aka no items are decided on, even approving the agenda). Informational meetings should still be  properly noticed and can  be in-person or remote.
  • “Mass gatherings” and  public officials – The PHO’s definition of “mass gathering” excludes the gathering of public officials working in the course and scope of completing their officials duties.  Acequia commissioners and mayordomos may continue to meet, provided that they are socially distanced and masked.  However, because meetings of commissioners are public meetings they must be properly noticed.  Given that any parciante and member of the public may attend a commission meeting, please plan accordingly and consider whether the meeting is better held remotely or in person to ensure that the meeting does not run afoul of the PHO.  Once members attend the meeting, a commission meeting may be considered a “mass gathering” and the public official exclusion may no longer apply to that meeting.

Please call the NMAA team if you would like assistance thinking through your spring meeting or limpia at 505-995-9644. We wish you the best in all your acequia business this spring – and stay safe!

APPLY: Farmer/Rancher Infrastructure Grant Program

Covid-19 Local Food Supply Chain Response Fund –

Infrastructure Grant Program

* APPLICATION FOR FARMERS AND RANCHERS *

APPLICATIONS DUE: March 17th 2021

The New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association (NMFMA), in collaboration with the New Mexico Acequia Association (NMAA), is pleased to introduce the 2021 Infrastructure Grant Program. This grant was developed using a participatory grant process with an Advisory Council of eight farmers from across the state.

Our intention is to provide NM farmers and ranchers with financial support for infrastructure needs to support goals including…

  • Growing or improving the economic viability of agricultural operations!
  • Increasing soil and ecosystem health!
  • Increasing access to healthy and culturally important food in our families and communities!
  • Supporting the next generation of young farmers and ranchers!

Farmers, ranchers, and producer collectives who are residents or whose farms are located in NM are invited to apply. Your farm does not need to be a registered business.

Applications are due March 17, 2021 at 5:00 PM.

QUESTIONS? Contact NMFMA – Sarah Grant at 505.983.4010 ext. 2 OR the New Mexico Acequia Association – Emily Arasim emily@lasacequias.org, (505) 995-9644

APPLICATIONS HERE:

More Details….

*Collectives do not need to be official/legal groups or coops – they can be informal groups of farmers/ranchers working together. If you apply as a collective, please fill out the top part of the form with the name/contact info/details for a primary contact. There is space at the end of the form to list all collective members.

We aim to fund a maximum of 10 projects with a budget of up to $10,000 – 20 projects with budgets of up to $2,500 – and 50 projects with budgets of up to $1,000. An itemized list of project expenses is required with your application, but don’t be afraid! If you need assistance with your budget/itemized list, please call us, we will be happy to help.

Please know that we understand infrastructure to be things that will contribute to the long term health, success and sustainability of your farm/ranch – this can include marketing, processing, etc. While we are not funding daily labor, your budget can include the labor needed to implement/install an infrastructure project.

We are unable to fund:
– Operations (routine labor for harvesting/weed, taxes)
– Consumables/expendables (seeds, soil amendments, etc)

Click here to download and share a flyer with your community – English  –  Español

ACTION ALERT – Support HB 30, Water Lease Due Process

House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee
Tuesday, February 2, 2021 at 8:30 am via ZOOM
Join the meeting at this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82072641109
Or use your telephone by calling this number: 1-669-900-9128
Webinar ID: 820 7264 1109
 Call, text, and email committee members 
in support of HB 30!!
“I support HB 30 because it is important to protect water rights and due process.”
“Please support HB 30 and protect existing water rights.”
Derek Lente, Chair
505-986-4341
505-507-3063
Susan Herrera, Vice Chair
505-986-4249
505-579-0092
Anthony Allison
505-986-4436
505-787-8994
Cathrynn Brown
505-986-4227
575-706-4420
Candy Spence Ezzell
505-986-4454
575-625-0550
Dayan Hochman-Vigil
505-986-4432
505-948-2320
Marian Matthews
505-986-4432
Nathan Small
505-986-4319
575-496-9540
Martin Zamora
505-986-4211
575-309-2334
Talking Points:
  • HB 30 protects existing senior water rights from impairment. Constitutional and statutory protections of priority water rights are at stake.
  • HB 30 protects due process in water lease applications before the State Engineer.
  • Current law requires the following: 1) The State Engineer has to consider impacts on existing rights of any new uses of water and 2) those who may be affected by the new use of water can file objections and 3) a public hearing MUST BE HELD where their concerns MUST BE ADDRESSED.
  • HB 30 is needed because the State Engineer in recent years has used an unlawful administrative procedure he calls “preliminary approval,” in which he preliminary approves pending protested water use lease applications before a mandatory public hearing has been held. This violates protection of existing water rights and due process.
  • The water leasing statute does not contain a provision for “preliminary approval” of water lease applications. By allowing applications to proceed before a hearing, senior water right uses, such as irrigation districts, Pueblos, rural community water systems, villages, and acequias, could be impaired while a protest is pending.
  • A judge in the Fifth Judicial District recently ordered the State Engineer cancel permits granted through preliminary approval to Intrepid potash and ruled that the State Engineer did not have the statutory authority to grant preliminary approval for water lease applications.
  • If there is a need for expedited procedures for water leases in New Mexico, proposed policy changes should be developed through the legislative process in a manner that considers constitutional and statutory protections for existing water rights.

We urge you to support HB 30 to protect existing, senior water rights and due process in water lease application procedures.

To join the meeting, you will need access to Zoom on your computer or phone. Instructions to download Zoom are provided below. On the day of the committee meeting, sign on early by 8:15am with this link. When HB 30 starts, you can “raise your hand” on Zoom. If you are on your phone, you can raise your hand by pressing *9. 

Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82072641109

US: +1 669 900 9128
Webinar ID: 820 7264 1109
Contact NMAA at 505-995-9644 or Emily Arasin, emily@lasacequias.org, with questions about Zoom. Contact Jaimie Park, jaimie@lasacequias.org, with questions about HB 30.
You can also view weekly legislative updates on our website:

Acequia Career Day – March 4, 2021

Acequia Career Day!

Thursday March 4th, 2021 from 4:00-6:00pm

Online using Zoom or phone (instructions below) 

REGISTER HERE – https://forms.gle/qX9v3WeeLg4aLgG97

New Mexico youth are invited to join an exciting ACEQUIA CAREER DAY event! This gathering will include presentations by inspiring experts and leaders who work in many diverse ways to protect NM acequia waters and acequia culture and traditions – such as acequia commissioners and mayordomos, historians, documentarians and storytellers, political advocates, lawyers, artists, musicians and poets, farmers and ranchers, herbal medicine makers and food business owners, scientists, caretakers of forests and soil, and more!

After the main panel, youth participants will be able to choose which career and livelihood paths interest them, and go into small groups to ask questions, dig in deeper, and brainstorm about how they can get involved in this work now and in the future!

This event is designed for middle school, high school and college aged youth, but is open to all ages and to families.

HOW TO JOIN:

PLEASE REGISTER HERE SO WE KNOW TO EXPECT YOU – https://forms.gle/qX9v3WeeLg4aLgG97

OPTION A – Connect from your computer or smart phone app:

  1. Download Zoom (free – you only need to do this once the first time you use zoom): https://zoom.us/download
  2. Click or type this web address in your browser: https://zoom.us/j/92954264224
  3. As the program opens, a box will pop up on your screen asking if it is okay to launch Zoom – click ‘yes’ – and then click ‘join audio conference by computer’
  4. If you can see but cannot hear when you join – look in your bottom left corner for the headphone icon and click ‘join audio’

OR OPTION B – Call in from your phone:

  1. Dial: 346 248 7799 OR 888 788 0099 (toll-free)
  2. Enter the ‘Meeting ID’: 929 5426 4224

FEATURING wisdom keepers and acequia caretakers:

  • Gilbert Sandoval & Juanita Revak – father/daughter duo, Mayordomo for East and West Sandoval Ditch in Jemez
  • Lucia Sanchez – Commissioner, Acequia del Alcalde
  • Dr. Estevan Rael-Gálvez – Director of the Manitos Project and former State Historian of New Mexico
  • Levi Romero – New Mexico Poet Laureate 2020, Author and Assistant Professor in the Chicana and Chicano Studies department at UNM
  • Olivia Romo – Acequia Poet and Water Rights Activist
  • David Garcia – Acequia and community anthropologist, storyteller and músico
  • Jeremiah Martinez – Acequia músico, songwriter, guitarist
  • Don Bustos – Acequia farmer, Santa Cruz Farms
  • Miguel Santistevan – Acequia teacher and farmer, Sol Feliz Farms
  • Donne Gonzales – Acequia farmer, Chicoyole Farm and NMAA Los Sembradores Farm Trainer
  • Aracely Chapa – PBS/NPR Broadcaster and Documentary Filmmaker, currently producing the documentary “Acequias: The Legacy Lives On
  • David Benavides – Acequia lawyer,  Director of the land and water rights project for New Mexico Legal Aid
  • Paula Garcia – Acequia policy advocate, Executive Director of the New Mexico Acequia Association
  • Enrique Romero – Director of Legal Services for the New Mexico Acequia Association
  • Margaret Garcia – Farmer and food business owner, Taos Real Foods
  • Pilar Trujillo – Traditional herbal medicine remedio maker
  • Olivia Chavez –  Traditional herbal medicine remedio maker
  • Chavela Trujillo – Mapping Specialist for the New Mexico Acequia Association
  • Marcos Valdez – District Manager of the East Rio Arriba Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Clifford E. Sánchez – Natural Resources Specialist Technical Contractor with NMAA, NM Association of Conservation Districts, and Valencia Soil Water Conservation District
  • Thomas Gonzales – Soil Conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Hernandez Field Office
  • Lily Conrad – Graduate Research Assistant with NM Water Resources Research Institute
Email emily@lasacequias.org or call (505) 995-9644 with questions.

Upcoming Event – Acequias and Science: A Community Conversation, January 14

Thursday January 14 6:00 – 7:30 pm
Online via Zoom or phone

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER AND RECEIVE CALL-IN DETAILS: https://forms.gle/CATcQwrvRJ1kqyU88
Join the New Mexico Acequia Association and New Mexico State University for a workshop connecting communities with acequia research to help mayordomos, commissioners, and parciantes understand scientific results and real-world implications.
The workshop will include research presentations about the newly released book “Acequias of the Southwestern United States: Elements of Resilience in a Coupled Natural and Human System” (click here to download the book), a Q&A, and a community-oriented discussion about future acequia research that can better address stakeholder need.

Una Tardeada Acequiera – New Year’s Eve

Una Tardeada Acequiera

New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2020

6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

 

A “tardeada” is an afternoon/evening gathering, a beautiful way to spend the “tarde” or the latter part of the day. Join us to connect with friends from the acequias who work together all year long to be caretakers of our precious waters and to imagine what the coming year might hold for us. We will connect in between

Music and Versos by our beloved Vicente Griego and David Garcia.

If anyone else wishes to share art, words, or music, email paula@lasacequias.org.

 

Register here https://forms.gle/6fUHeayMoFUBErvMA  to get the Zoom link and phone number.

Photo credit: Donatella Davanzo

 

2020 Acequia Art & Photo Contest Winners!

Thank you to everyone who submitted fantastic art, photography, videos and poetry to the 2020 Acequia Art and Photo Contest! Special thanks go to the students from Peñasco Elementary, Middle and High School who joined the contest as part of their art class!

We are pleased to announce our winners!

Youth Photo:

1st Prize – Alyson Archuleta, Chamisal, Acequia de Abajo
2nd Prize – Joshua Roberts, Chimayo, Acequia Martinez Arriba
 
3rd Prize tie –  Ignacio Gonzales, Chamisal, Acequia del Monte
3rd Prize tie – Dominique Martinez, Peñasco
 

Youth Art:

1st Prize – Anastacia Santistevan, Canon de Taos, Acequia Madre del Sur del Río Don Fernando de Taos
2nd Prize – Lylie Vigil, Peñasco

3rd Prize tie – Elaine Mitchell, Peñasco
 
3rd Prize tie – Simona Santistevan, Canon de Taos, Acequia Madre del Sur del Río Don Fernando de Taos
 

Adult Photo:

1st Prize – Charles Gabaldon, Peralta, La Joya Community Ditch
 
2nd Prize- Miguel Santistevan, Canon de Taos, Acequia Madre del Sur del Río Don Fernando de Taos

3rd Prize – Arnold Vigil, Nambé, Acequia de la Comunidad

Adult Art:

1st Prize – Alessandra Ogren, Peñasco
-2nd Prize – Emilio Arellano, Taos, Acequia Madre del Rio Grande

3rd Prize- Floyd Archuleta, Arroyo Seco

Plan For The Future – USDA Programs For Your Farm Or Ranch

The NMAA is pleased to announce our Acequia Farmer and Rancher Outreach project which is a partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide support to farmers and ranchers with their operations; provide training workshops to new and beginning farmers and ranchers; and support more participation in USDA programs with one-on-one technical assistance. 

During the Fall and Winter, it is a good time for producers to plan ahead for next year in terms of improvements you would like to implement on your farms or ranches. These include conservation practices that can improve soil health, water conservation, and overall viability of your operations. USDA programs can also be used to fund season extension practices on your farm such as high tunnels (a type of greenhouse). This month, our focus is on conservation programs through the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). 

Do you want financial and technical support to:

– Enhance your soil and sequester more carbon?

– Improve your irrigation infrastructure?

– Extend your growing season with a high tunnel?

– Implement any other improvements on your farm or ranch?

Some of the programs that are of most interest to acequia parciantes include:

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Through EQIP, NRCS provides agricultural producers with financial resources and one-on-one help to plan and implement improvements, or what NRCS calls ‘conservation practices’.  Using these practices can lead to cleaner water and air, healthier soil and better wildlife habitat, all while improving agricultural operations.  

Through EQIP, NRCS co-invests in these practices with you through a cost share program in which NRCS will reimburse the producer for a portion of the cost. Some common conservation practices include irrigation systems (gated pipe, subsurface irrigation, drip irrigation), leveling of fields, planting cover crops, planting pollinator-friendly crops, managing soil erosion, etc. Starting with the 2018 Farm Bill, acequias and land grants are both eligible for the EQIP program. You may apply as an individual or as an acequias. 

Resource Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). Also an NRCS program, RCPP is based on state or regional partnerships. In New Mexico, the New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts (NMACD) is the lead partner on an RCPP grant focused on acequias. Acequias apply directly to NMACD to participate in the RCPP program. RCPP funds can be used for acequia irrigation improvements. NMACD works with several partners, including the Interstate Stream Commission, local SWCDs, and the NM Acequia Association, to conduct outreach and encourage acequias to apply. RCPP will provide either technical assistance (for engineering design) or financial assistance (funding for construction). 

The NMAA is here to assist parciantes, especially those historically underserved by the USDA, to access on-farm improvements offered by the NRCS, or financial services offered by the FSA. Our team will help you navigate the process from application to implementation. Next newsletter, we will provide an overview of FSA programs. 

Please contact: toribio@lasacequias.org, serafina@lasacequias.org, or 505.995.9644

PRESS RELEASE: Acequias Gather in Response to Climate Change and Pandemic, Senator-Elect Ben Ray Lujan to Speak

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, December 7, 2020

MEDIA CONTACT

Paula Garcia, Executive Director, lamorena@lasacequias.org, 505-231-7752

Emily Arasim, Communications Coordinator, emily@lasacequias.org

Acequias Gather in Response to Climate Change and Pandemic, Senator-Elect Ben Ray Lujan to Speak

(Santa Fe, NM) – The first ever virtual Congreso de las Acequias, the annual membership meeting of the New Mexico Acequia Association (NMAA), will convene on Saturday, December 12, 2020 via Zoom.

Harold Trujillo, NMAA President said, “This year, the Congreso will capture an important moment in history with strategies for building stronger communities that will emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and that will adapt with lessons learned from ongoing drought.”

“The year 2020 has hit us hard in rural New Mexico with both drought and pandemic,” said Paula Garcia, Executive Director, “Our resolve to continue building food sovereign communities while adapting to climate change has grown during this time of adversity.”

The theme for the gathering will be “Unidos con Fuerza: Acequias Rising to meet the Challenges of our Time.” The gathering will honor the hard work of acequias to maintain the “essential work” of keeping water flowing to farms and communities throughout the pandemic. The agenda also addresses some of the most pressing issues facing acequias, such as climate change resilience, deepening youth engagement, and strengthening the ability of acequia-based farmers and ranchers to grow more food for their families and communities.

Some of the highlights include remarks from Senator-elect Ben Ray Lujan, who will discuss recent policy gains at the federal level with the Farm Bill and passage of legislation recognizing acequia and land grant traditional uses on lands managed by the US Forest Service. NMAA leaders will give a ‘State of the Acequias’ report which will highlight the ways that acequias responded to the drought and pandemic in 2020. A declaration on Water, Food, and Youth will summarize some broad strategies for building stronger communities through local, grassroots actions.

As is customary, the Congreso de las Acequias will feature music and poetry along with the  Bendición de las Aguas, or blessing of the waters. As means of adapting the regular in-person blessing, participants are invited to send pictures of themselves with their acequia or river to be shared during the gathering.

The Congreso will take place on Saturday, September 12th from 10am to 2pm with a lunch recess. Registration is free of charge and open at https://lasacequias.org/congreso/. For more information, call 505-995-9655.

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The New Mexico Acequia Association – www.lasacequias.org

The mission of the New Mexico Acequia Association is to protect water and our acequias, grow healthy food for our families and communities, and to honor our cultural heritage.

2021 Los Sembradores Farmer Training Program – Now Accepting Applications!

NMAA is pleased to announce that we will be starting the fifth year of our Farmer-to-Farmer training program, Los Sembradores in 2021!

The program uses a hands-on approach and a 18-point curriculum created by our partners at ASFC, based on the successful farm model pioneered by Don Bustos. Training includes: farm and business planning, season extension, fertility and soil health, irrigation methods, maintenance of equipment and usage, planting and harvesting techniques, organic pest management, marketing, value added processing, seed saving, remedio making, processing of traditional foods, leadership training, and participation in different NMAA events throughout the season.

Program dates: Mid-Feb. to Mid-Dec. 2021

Must commit to 3 days a week for the full term of the training!

Work stipends provided!

*Our program is typically run on-site at Chicoyole Farm in Chamisal, NM – however we are committed to being covid safe and will be implementing a remote model as long as necessary for community health and safety. At this time, we are encouraging interested applicants from across the state to apply – preference will be given to applicants who have access (or strong prospects of access) to land in their own area to carry out their garden/farm work throughout the program. If/when it becomes safe to come together in person, apprentices may be asked to travel to Chamisal for certain program days.

Applications due January 4th, 2021

If you are interested in applying for the program, contact:

donne@lasacequias.org (505) 995-9644

Click here to DOWNLOAD A PROGRAM FLYER to share with friends, family and community!