Wednesday, August 20, 2014



[Photo above was received and added to the post August 23.] 
Pecos River Canyon, about 30 miles from Santa Fe,
 a favorite spot for New Mexico public servants to be sick,
on sick days.
Folks are speculating those are the Appellate Court judges
in the photo above.  Good.  I hope it's them.  
Fishing can make you honest.  
Here's something we just got from Don Wiltshire:
"Save your gas and put your Duct Tape away:
 The New Mexico Appellate Court hearing over the matter of the Augustin Plains Ranch LLC's application to mine water, set for Thursday, August 21st has been CANCELLED! 
What does this mean? Is this a good thing?
 We don't know. We will find out.
 We will let you know!"
Thanks Don!

 From El Defensor Chieftain

Socorro, New Mexico

Letters to the editor (08/21/14)

Water project doesn’t benefit counties
Are you incensed? Well if you are not, you should be.
The Augustin Plains Ranch, LLC just filed another amended application for 54,000 acre feet of water on the Plains of San Agustin. In their new application, they only want the water for export to the Rio Rancho and Albuquerque area, to include the Middle Rio Grande area. None of it is to be applied to the ranch property. The permit only lists the following beneficial uses: municipal, industrial, commercial, and other (to offset surface water depletions, replacement, sale and/or lease).
This water mining project is not for the benefit of Catron and Socorro Counties; it is targeted for the upper portion of the Middle Rio Grande Basin. There will be no royalties or other payments to offset the loss of this water for the counties. The adjacent land owners and most of the properties in the north basin of the San Augustin Plains will have their property values greatly diminished due to the lack of available ground water.
The north basin will also undergo hydrocompaction and deferential settlement, with a strong likelihood of tension cracks forming due to the types of sediments from which the ground water is being extracted. (These sediments were saturated with water soon after their deposition when water was able to attach to the sediment grains keeping them apart. As the sediments accumulated some of the water got squeezed out and forced into the more open-pored sediments.) When over pumping occurs, the water holding the sediment particles apart can no longer add to supporting environment and sediments collapse into each other. With hydrocompaction, once the ground water is extracted there is no possibility of recharging the aquifer.
Dr. Frank Titus, a hydrogeologist, told me in a personal communication, before his passing; that he thought that the pumping being proposed would deplete the basin in about 10 years. The question then is what are the options when no water is available in the north basin? Your county commissioners need to address this problem, as well as those of you who are reading this article.
The Augustin Plains Ranch, LLC proposal also states that they intend to recharge the basin as they are pumping down the water table. In this environmental setting that is just ludicrous. We are in the sixth week of our monsoon season, and no water has yet flowed down any of the ephemeral channels in this part of the basin. Their idea that they can capture this overland flow and put it back into the ground before it is lost to evaporation is just plain stupid.
The water that occasionally flows out onto the plains is used by the native plants and the ranchers that have property below these draws. If the Augustin Plains Ranch blocks these draws with structures to divert the flows, that would be considered a “taking” and would require additional permits from the state engineer. Any structure like those being proposed is a point of diversion and requires a permit from the state which I did not see in their application.
I would like to know what is the benefit to our counties; a couple of maintenance jobs and temporary construction jobs? This proposal only benefits some other part of the state and the Augustin Plains Ranch, LLC owners. We get our resources plundered to what end? If the citizens of our counties don’t care about this, then we deserve what happens if they prevail. We all need to protest in writing and make our voices heard.
Also, contact the San Augustin Water Coalition at
Dennis Inman

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Here's an e-mail being circulated by Bruce Frederick,
attorney for the good guys in the water grab.
A couple of significant things have happened to which I’ve had to quickly respond. As you know, the Court asked the parties to file supplemental briefs on the issue of whether the “new” application filed by the Ranch  makes the 2007 application and the Ranch’s appeal “moot.” An appeal or law suit becomes “moot” when there is no longer any controversy among the parties. 
 In our supplemental brief, we argued that the “new” application did not remove the controversy, because the “new” application is in all material respects the same as the old application. The OSE took the position that the appeal is moot; the Ranch argued that the appeal would become moot if the OSE accepted its “new” application.
 The Court responded that it did not find the supplemental briefs altogether helpful, and it ordered oral argument on August 21 on seven topics (see attached order).
 The Court inexplicably excluded us from participating in the oral argument*, although it allowed us to attend (it’s open court after all). I filed an objection and request for  reconsideration (attached), asking the Court to allow us to participate, especially because the seven topics went right to the merits of the appeal.
 The Court has not yet responded, but the Ranch filed another supplemental brief informing the Court that the Ranch has abandoned its “old”  application. This strongly implies that the Ranch and the State Engineer have a private deal of some kind. Call if you have questions about this.  We’re still waiting for the Court to respond. If it dismisses the appeal, we can apply to the NM Supreme Court for review. The Supreme Court does not have to review our case, but we can make a good showing that they should.
 There are other possibilities that we can discuss.  So, as of now: Oral argument is still scheduled for August 21, and people should come if they can to show support. However, as it stands, the Court has excluded me from presenting any argument on your behalf. I will be there regardless. I will let you know as soon as I hear anything else.  
R. Bruce Frederick,
 Staff Attorney New Mexico Environmental Law Center 
 1405 Luisa Street, Suite 5
 Santa Fe, NM 87501
 Editor's note: I didn't get any of the attachments Bruce
refers to....if I can find them somewhere (when time allows)
 I'll put them up.

Michel Jichlinski, Project Director for the
Augustin Plains Ranch, LLC.
No experience in ranching, but lots of experience in
engineering the theft of millions of U.S. taxdollars
on contracts in war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Read this post for more - this guy's a pro thief. 
Here's something from that post:
You have to wonder what the hell possibly
possessed Verhines, that he would even think
of hanging out with this guy, publicly,
 in the state capitol.  Is he stupid, or did he
  figure no one would know just who
 his sidekick really was, or is it that
 he doesn't give a rat's ass,
one way or the other? 
 It had been less than 90 days since the feds
 had levied their record-setting fine.
Jichlinski was then technically out of
The Louis Berger Group,
but was the major player when all these
 crimes happend,
and now he had come to New Mexico -
to ply his trade.
  He knows a lot about "cooking the books" -
(fraudulent accounting practices), and bribery.
Oh, perfect!  It's a buyer's market in this place!
True, but it's not just that they're cheap,
they're also a public embarrassment.
What, do they think people can't figure it out?
They're as bad as the Whore of Babylon.
 There's no shame here. Has there ever been?
Verhines could just as easily have been
 hanging out with the devil himself.
  Well, maybe he was,
come to think of it.
 Ah, New Mexico.
La Tierra de Encantada -
 The Land of Enchantment.
La Tierra de Los Ladrones -
The Land of The Thieves.
Ladron Peak, northeast of Magdalena

Monday, August 11, 2014


 Our first story is another piece about the
new application submitted by the foreigners.
   The Socorro Defensor-Chieftain had additional info
 that wasn't in previous articles.
It deserves a look.
We've edited the full article for brevity sake.
The link to the full article is as the bottom.
Augustin Plains submits new application
by John Larson - July 24, 2014
On July 14, Augustin Plains Ranch , LLC’s president Rich Radice re-submitted its application for a permit to pump, reclaim, and transport water from the west-central New Mexico aquifer up to the middle Rio Grande River area. Attached to the application were letters from Rio Rancho Mayor Greggory Hull and Rio Rancho City Manager Keith Reisberg indicating they would consider being customers of San Augustin Ranch LLC if the permit was granted.
In an e-mail sent last week, Project Director Michel Jichlinski said he believed the application contained the information needed to move the project forward.
“It was developed following many months of meetings with people across the state who have an interest in developing new sources of water for New Mexico, including water policy experts and leaders, elected officials, scientists and hydrologists, and more,” Jichlinski stated. “One of the nation’s leading financial advisory firms for environmental technologies has been in contact with us and with potential investors and believes that the project is positioned to attract the necessary equity investment it needs to move forward.”
Attorney Bruce Frederick of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center is representing approximately 80 individuals and organizations who are concerned about the impacts of pumping on livestock, wildlife, springs, and on the Rio Grande and Gila Rivers, which are hydrologically connected to the San Agustin Plains. The Gila being the last undammed river in the Southwest.
“The (latest) application is another public relations piece and suffers from the same basic legal deficiency as the prior applications,” Frederick said. “The ranch has again failed to identify any actual place or purpose of use of water. It has again only identified potential places and purposes of use. This violates a basic precept of western water law, as codified in New Mexico’s Constitution, which makes ‘beneficial use the basis, the measure and the limit of the right to use water.’”
Frederick said the fact that the company has no particular place or purpose of use in mind also leads to several practical problems.
“For example, absent any particular place and purpose of use, the State Engineer has no way of evaluating whether the requested amount, 54,000 acre-feet per year, is necessary or whether the proposed appropriation will impair existing water rights,” he said. “The Ranch is simply trying to lay claim to a tremendous amount of water, which belongs to the public before it has any need for that water.”
 New Study Ongoing 
More from the Defensor-Chieftain
Geologist Stacy Timmons describes what studies have shown
 so far about the characteristics of the San Agustin aquifer.
Stacy Timmons, interim manager of the Aquifer Mapping Program the Bureau of Geology at New Mexico Tech, said she has been collecting data since 2009, focusing on annual water level measurements, and that final results of the studies will include groundwater elevation contour map, detailed geologic maps and a technical summary report describing the nature of the groundwater system in the area.
“The project will provide impartial hydrologic information to the state’s regulatory agencies, industry and public about the aquifers and the possible hydrogeologic interconnection with Alamosa Creek and the adjacent aquifers in the Rio Grande Valley,” Timmons said. “We anticipate that our final products of our aquifer mapping should be available by 2015, and will be publicly available through the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources Web page.”
Preliminary results of a groundwater sampling campaign by hydrologists at the Bureau of Geology suggest that there is limited recharge occurring in the region of the San Agustin Basin.
“The ages of groundwater that we have collected within the San Agustin Plains, based on carbon-14 dates on groundwater, is on average about 12,000 years old,” Timmons said.
Another analysis done on the water is “examining the tritium content, which shows an average less than .5 tritium units,” she said. “This indicates that there is likely no recharge in the the last 50-plus years in the area where we have sampled,” Timmons said.
Rep. Don Tripp, a member of the New Mexico Legislature’s Agriculture and Water Committee and Water and Natural Resources Committee, said in 2007, the plan was “ludicrous. A shot across the bow. First of all, if there’s water appropriated, it has to be put to beneficial use.”
Tripp said if the latest permit are not approved, the company may try to apply again.
“They could make minor changes in the request and try again,” he said. “But any water purchase would have to be appropriated through the legislature.”
Among the protestants currently on file are University of New Mexico, New Mexico Tech, USDA Gila and Cibola National forests, Cibola National Forest, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Phelps-Dodge Mining Company, Catron County Commission, Pueblo of Isleta, Middle Rio Grande Water Conservancy, the Bureau of Land Management, New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, U.S. Dept. of Interior Bureau of Reclamation, New Mexico Dept. of Game and Fish, Socorro Soil and Water Conservation District, Navajo Nation Department of Justice, Coalition of the Six Middle Rio Grande Pueblos, Gila Conservation Coalition and Socorro Catron Farm Service Agency.


A few years back I first heard the story
of the Augustin Plains Ranch LLC crew coming
in to the "Eagle Guest" in Datil 
for a big crew dinner,
and what happend when Carol Coker,
a lady that's had a hand in running the
place for many years, found out
 who these guys were.
Let's go back a little here.
Guys from the foreigners' ranch had been
coming in for some time, but not as a group.
Individuals, or a few, buying a few groceries
and some gas, and going on their way.
From all I can gather in talking to folks,
they didn't make any effort to strike up a
conversation or "buddy up" with the locals.
  There was no horseshoe pitchin' and Bar-B-Q.
This was a "closed shop" you might say.
 Nobody knew who these guys were. 
Of course, in time, news about the application
 from the ranch to drill the 37 wells was printed
 in the local press, and the locals, well,
  The main owner of the LLC,
 Bruno Modena, from Italy, had never been seen.
  But everything about the Modenas is secretive
 and clandestine.  An Italian newspaper talked openly 
about the  family's confidentiality obsession,
 and the fact that they do not like their investors
 being exposed.
 But here, in Datil, New Mexico, one sunny
day, are the lackeys for the Modena Organization -
a bunch of yahoo's working for the enemy,
completely ignorant about what they were
walking into, in terms of Western Drama
in the twenty-first century, right here!

"No sabe, the burro!" goes the old saying.
Indeed no sabe - idiots through and through,
to think this would somehow pass inspection. 
The sun shone bright this day, and
scattered the darkness, as the preacher says.
Carol Coker came around their table....what,
 she must have been filling iced tea glasses or
something.  She looked 'em over I am sure,
with that look that only a woman from the West
seems to have - a careful inspection and analysis of
what sort of home sapiens she's dealing with.
She also has a tongue on her, and isn't in
the slightest afraid to speak up.
(Here I'm just giving a rough version, 2nd hand,
 from a few folks I've talked to.
But it all rings true.)
"Well, where are you boys from?....
what outfit do y'all work for?"
Someone (the dumbest one I assume) answered:
"Augustin Plains Ranch."
(there must have been a dramatic pause here) 
Carol then replied:
"Well, I sure hope y'all enjoy your meal,
because it'll be
I bet she sounded tough AND sweet, with a lilt,
a rough combination, but you don't know Carol.
Apparently there was more added - don't come
in for groceries or ANYTHING, no gas,
no nuthin'.
This was a new take on the
"Your money's no good here!" line,
something you see on TV and in the movies,
but seldom witnessed in real life.
I'm sure it's all quite confusing to our
misguided Sons of Abraham,
the Modena bunch and Jichlinski.
"What kind of Balwwan 
(Yiddish for moron, dummy, or cabbagehead)
 refuses money, cash money?
We could be great customers, Carol!
We're your neighbors, your friends!
  Be sensible, we're talking MONEY here Carol,
It's obviously beyond them.
It's way over their heads, their cabbageheads.
The worthless un-American mercenaries
working for the foreigners had met Carol Coker,
as good a symbol for the values and integrity
of the Old West as you could have.
Hell, she's a hero, excuse me, A HEROINE,
in this part of the country.
But women out here have been standing up
to saddle-tramp trash for a long time.
The dirtbags working for the Italians can't
go have a steak at "The Eagle,"
or get gas, or buy some SKOL or chewin' gum. 
Well, good.  Damn good.
Incidentally, they serve damn good steaks.
Michel Jichlinski, the LLC Project Director,
 whined about the Ranch not being able to
 get gas locally in a Rio Rancho Observer 
 webpage last year.
The fact is Michel:
 Neither you, those foreign operators you
 work for, or any of your people, are
welcome in this country.
Wasn't Carol clear enough?
Get out of here.