Area in foreground, unprotected by fencing, shows bare, eroded soils from overgrazing by feral horses. Behind the fence, native grasses grow, protecting the soil from erosion.
Three district supervisor seats are open on the 5-member board of the Coronado Soil and Water Conservation District (Coronado SWCD) and three free-roaming horse advocates are hoping to get elected to them on Tuesday. This might be amusing if it weren’t such a bad idea. District Supervisors are charged with helping farmers, ranchers and other landowners address soil and water conservation needs—and the overpopulation of free-roaming horses in our District and throughout New Mexico is a serious cause of environmental degradation.
Patience O’Dowd, President (and perhaps the only remaining member?) of the Wild Horse Observers Association (WHOA), is running against incumbent supervisor Patricia Bolton in hopes of joining her cousin Gary Miles on the Coronado board. We think O’Dowd, who actively promotes the presence of free-roaming horses on District grasslands, riparian areas and watershed–despite the environmental damage this causes–and who has a history of burning bridges with people she works with, would make a poor supervisor.
Two other associates of Miles–Jami Watson and Renee Sposato– are running against incumbent supervisors Al Baca and Marvin Mendelow. Sposato and Watson are or were part of Gary Miles’/Placitas Animal Rescue’s self-proclaimed “Wild Horse Management Team.” Watson, Sposato, and O’Dowd (as well as Miles) all live in the Indian Flats neighborhood of northeastern Placitas. We think the District benefits from having supervisors outside the Placitas area. Baca and Mendelow are from Algodones and provide representation and understanding of soil, water and flood control issues in that part of the District.
We’re also skeptical that O’Dowd, Sposato and Watson are interested in organizing conservation projects, restoring degraded habitat, and building positive, effective relationships throughout the District. Given their history of working on free-roaming horse issues, it strikes us as implausible that all three have suddenly developed an interest in natural resources conservation work. We think it’s more likely they are looking for a platform to espouse their views about free-roaming horses–or maybe they just can’t forgive Coronado for issuing a resolution in 2013 that pointed out the environmental damage feral horses were causing.
After a couple years of turnover and turmoil, Coronado SWCD is starting to find its feet again and get some new projects going. If you support soil and water conservation and you’d like to see Coronado SWCD become a more effective organization, we urge you to vote for Alfred Baca, Patricia Bolton and Marvin Mendelow. Coronado Soil and Water Conservation District elections have a very low turn-out, so your vote will make a difference.
Polls are open Tuesday, May 5th, 7 am to 7 pm, Our Lady of Sorrows Gymnasium, 301 S. Camino del Pueblo, Bernalillo. Bring proof that you reside in the District, which includes Algodones, Bernalillo, Placitas, San Ysidro, Town of Cochiti Lake, and all or parts of several pueblos, including Santa Ana and San Felipe.
You can learn more about Coronado SWCD at www.coronadoswcd.org and learn more about the candidates and election here and in this Sandoval Signpost article.