Morning Word

CCA Plans Partial Reopening in May

Wildfire lands Rio Gallinas on endangered river list

CCA now plans to reopen cinema

Following a successful fundraising-pledge campaign, the Center for Contemporary Arts board of directors now says it intends to re-open the cinema next month. It will do so with a “strategic partner” that can maintain the cinema, the board said in a press release, noting that “several entities and groups are presenting plans to partner with CCA, and the board is actively evaluating options and performing the necessary due diligence.” The board says it will meet, interview and evaluate the candidates and hopes to reopen May 3. The latest turn in the 40-plus-year arts nonprofit’s trajectory follows the board’s abrupt April 6 announcement of immediate closure. In the ensuing outcry, board member Ellen Premack initiated a pledge campaign that has thus far garnered more than $200,000 in pledges, Board Chairman David Muck tells SFR. The cinema would reopen with Emmy-winning editor and producer Paul Barnes serving as general manager, as well as returning to the board, on which he formerly served as vice chairman. Muck says the board also discussed an evolving plan to also reopen the Tank Garage gallery space, most likely with a partnering organization. For now, the board will be following up on securing the pledged donations, and continuing to take new ones through the CCA’s online donation portal.

Wildfire damage lands Rio Gallinas on endangered list

American Rivers, a national nonprofit focused on clean water and river health, yesterday named the Rio Gallinas to its annual list of America’s most endangered rivers for 2023, “most notably for the consequences of the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon fire and associated outdated agency protocols for forest management, prescribed burning, and watershed management,” the organization said in a news release, noting: “These factors pose serious threats to local drinking water, traditional acequia agriculture, and long-term watershed health.” The Rio Gallinas originates from the east side of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and provides water to the town of Las Vegas, NM. The fire, which began on April 6, 2022 and grew into the state’s largest wildfire, ignited as a result of different types of US Forest Service prescribed and controlled burns. The federal government has allocated close to $4 billion in compensation to the state, with some of the funds earmarked to water treatment facilities damaged by the fire. “Without a strong connection to its floodplain and with a loss of wetlands, the Rio Gallinas is experiencing a deficiency in natural water storage that mitigates floods and helps maintain flows during drought,” Hermit’s Peak Watershed Alliance Founder and Executive Director Lea Knutson said in a statement. “Drinking water, farming, fish, wildlife, and overall watershed functions are at risk.” San Miguel County Commissioner Max Trujillo, who also is a New Mexico field coordinator for Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting and the Outdoors, in a statement described last year’s fire as “catastrophic” and noted, “We can’t afford to have something like this happen again. We need our federal and state agencies to establish stronger policies and protocols for engaging with the local community around watershed management and prescribed burning.” The Rio Gallinas placed ninth out of 10 endangered rivers, with the Colorado River at the Grand Canyon in the top spot. No other New Mexico rivers appear on the list this year; the Pecos River was #5 in 2021.

Ebb and flow

The forecast for federal water managers appears more optimistic than in recent years, thanks to heavy snowpack and anticipated spring runoff, the National Weather Service said yesterday. The Associated Press reports Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado mountain ranges—which serve as headwaters for both the Rio Grande and Pecos rivers—have nearly double the snowpack of historic averages. The snowpack will mean a boost for reservoirs, already augmented by last summer’s heavy monsoons. “This is really good news for us because one of the big things that’s been killing water supply for the last 10, 15 years is really dry soils soaking up a lot of that runoff before we could ever get any of it. That is not going to be the case nearly as much this year,” NWS senior hydrologist Andrew Mangham said. “We’re going to have a much more efficient runoff coming out of this.” The Santa Fe River also could experience a relatively wet summer. The river has been flowing for the last few weeks and local water managers say it will do so more this year than it has for the last few via a controlled flow plan managed by the city. Early and heavy spring runoff also has led to severe flooding in Jemez Springs Village; Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham yesterday declared an emergency in Sandoval County, allowing for $750,000 in emergency funding to help manage the situation for the village’s water treatment facility, the Jemez/Walatowa Pueblo and the Village of San Ysidro.

Rust to resume filming this week

CNN reports principal photography for Rust is scheduled to resume filming Thursday at Yellowstone Film Ranch in Montana. Work on the movie follows First Judicial District Judge Bryan Biedscheid’s decision earlier this week to seal the wrongful death lawsuit settlement against producer/actor Alec Baldwin and others stemming from the fatal Oct. 21, 2021 on-set shooting that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Some of the terms of that settlement were released in October and include dismissal of the case and resumption of the filming of Rust, with Halyna Hutchins’ widower Matthew Hutchins serving as executive producer. “The production will continue to utilize union crew members and will bar any use of working weapons and any form of ammunition,” Melina Spadone, senior counsel at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and attorney for Rust Movie Productions, LLC, said in a statement provided yesterday to Agence France-Presse. Both Baldwin, who is returning to the film and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who reportedly is not, face involuntary manslaughter charges for their roles in the fatal accident; preliminary hearings are scheduled to begin May 3.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported April 18New cases: 138; 678,247 total cases. Deaths: four. Statewide fatalities: 9,168; Santa Fe County has had 404 total deaths; Statewide hospitalizations: 91; patients on ventilators: nine. The state health department will stop reporting daily COVID-19 cases on May 11.

The Centers for Disease and Prevention most recent April 13 “community levels” map shows improvement for New Mexico, with the entire state turning green, which indicates low levels (last week Union County was yellow, for medium). Corresponding recommendations for each level can be found here.

Resources: Receive four free at-home COVID-19 tests per household via; Check availability for additional free COVID-19 tests through Project ACT; CDC interactive booster eligibility tool; NM DOH vaccine & booster registration; CDC isolation and exposure interactive tool; COVID-19 treatment info; NMDOH immunocompromised tool kit. People seeking treatment who do not have a medical provider can call NMDOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453.

You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.

Listen up

Last week, the US Interior Department released a draft plan that analyzes three options in the Colorado River Basin to address ongoing water shortages and low runoff. Seven states—Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, California and Colorado—rely on the imperiled river. Yesterday, Colorado Public Radio launched a 10-part limited podcast series, Parched to examine both how this crisis evolved and the possible ways forward. The first episode, “The Last Straw,” travels “high up in the Rocky Mountains” along with visiting “ground zero” for the West’s water woes: the Hoover Dam. Vox also has just launched a multi-part series examining the Colorado River crisis.

Power ballads

When soprano Leah Hawkins opens the Santa Fe Opera’s summer series as Tosca this summer, she’ll be singing her arias in an opera house now powered by 400,000 kWh of clean energy annually. The opera announced yesterday it has successfully installed a new 214 kW solar power system, designed and installed by Positive Energy Solar, consisting of 431 solar panels that will provide clean energy to the Crosby Theatre, rehearsal facilities and the opera’s administrative buildings, along with the Cantina. According to a news release, the new system over its lifespan will save the opera more than $1.3 million in electricity costs and reduce its emission of greenhouse gasses by 13 million pounds. “In a place where we have such abundant natural beauty, we take seriously our responsibility to care for the land and natural resources,” General Director Robert K. Meya said in a statement. Moreover, “being an open-air venue, the landscape plays a leading role in each and every one of our productions. Not only do we have a responsibility to care for our natural environment, but transitioning to solar power aids the long-term financial health of the organization, and helps to preserve both the art form and our beautiful setting for generations to come.” In addition, because three of this season’s productions feature water on stage (Pelléas et MélisandeRusalka and Orfeo), the opera—to conserve water—constructed new PVC piping through its stage floor that will transfer the water into holding tanks beneath the theater that regularly capture 80,000 gallons of rain each summer from the roof, which is used to irrigate the property grounds.

Flower power

Historic Hotels of America this week revealed its top 25 “most magnificent gardens,” with La Posada de Santa Fe earning a spot on the list. A member of Historic Hotels of America since 2019, La Posada traces its history to the 1880s when Abraham Staab, a merchant, built his three-story brick mansion “in the French Second Empire-style” and he and his wife Julia “entertained Santa Fe society in the grand residence decorated with the finest European materials.” (These days, La Posada would appear to be part of Marriott’s “tribute portfolio.”). The gardens on La Posada’s six acres, Historic Hotels notes, date back to the ones Julia Staab planted in the late 1800s. “Today, there are many walkways for guests to explore a variety of fruit trees, walnut trees, hickory trees, elm trees, aspen trees, and cherry blossom trees. Some of these historical trees are over 130 years in age. Guests can view the beauty of natural grasses with a variety of roses, all shades of lilacs, butterfly bushes and daffodils.” The write-up recommends May through September as the best time to visit, an assessment with which we would concur, at least as far as the flora goes.

Blowing in the wind

Critical fire weather continues today, with both a red flag warning and high wind advisory for most of the day. The  National Weather Service forecasts sunny skies with a high temperature near 67 degrees; windy, with a southeast wind 10 to 20 mph becoming west 20 to 30 mph in the morning; guests as high as 45 mph and areas of blowing dust this afternoon.

Thanks for reading! The Word fell asleep early last night, but caught up first thing with what the late-night comedy hosts had to say about yesterday’s settlement.

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