Overnight In the Ojito Wilderness

Limestone formations along a hiking trail in the Ojito

The Ojito Wilderness is about 11,000 acres of Sandoval county, New Mexico that was designated wilderness by congress in 2005 throught the 1964 Wildness Act. It is located west of Rio Rancho, New Mexico and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

The glow from Albuquerque can bee seen east of the Ojito. The Sandia’s can bee seen to the left of the short mesa and right of the tall light tower. The small red lights are from the radio towers on top of the Sandias.

People have been going to the Ojito for years before it was protected as a wilderness, it’s not one of the better known outdoor areas near the Albuquerque. The Ojito is a combination of desert; sand, cactus and scrub but also contains some pine trees and grasses. It’s sort of a transition area between the deserts in Albquerque and the forests of the Jemez. What makes the Ojito special is the number of impressive rock formations. There are a number of hoodoos formed by water millions of years ago, badlands and buffs.

Ojito Hoodoos
Ojito Hoodoos
Ojito Badlands
Ojito Badlands

I have had two trips to the Ojito, once in April of 2011 and this last time in June of 2012 and it will probably be a annual trip for me. Spring or Fall are good times to spend overnight in the Ojito, June is not. It’s hot, most plants have stopped flowering and there was a large number of nats and other flying insects. One of the reasons I like living in the desert is the lack of flying bugs so I was surprised at how many there was. There is no water, lakes or streams and people must bring it with them. As this is official Wilderness land no wheeled vehicles are allowed. Including bicycles. This probably keeps people away but backpacking a short distance in is well worth experience.

Firepit with hoodoos and a pine tree in the background
Firepit with hoodoos and a pine tree in the background

The area I camped included a group of hoodoos with a large area of sand and trees farther out. In the middle of the sand area there is a fire pit. Believe it or not while the rest of the state was under fire restrictions the Ojito was not. I verified with the BLM and was specifically told that the Ojito was not included with the rest of the state. Part of the reason might be because there is so little to burn. There are some pine trees spotted around the area the vegetation is pretty spares and well adapted to not getting water.

Trying to find out the fire restrictions in the Ojito was difficult. The official BLM webpage for the Ojito doesn’t tell a whole lot about restrictions in federal lands, as they are often different from the state lands. NM Fire Info lists state land fire restrictions and Public Lands Information Center lists federal fire restrictions.

FInally, New Mexico First District Representative Martin Heinrich created the Ojito.org website.

“Thank you for visiting the Ojito website. I hope you find the information here useful as you learn about and explore this unique and beautiful place. As someone who dedicated several years of my life to the creation the Ojito Wilderness, I also hope you will leave the area just as you found it. If we are all good stewards of this wild landscape, generations to come will continue to enjoy Ojito’s opportunities for hiking, hunting, photography and outdoor adventure. Enjoy. This is where the West is still wild.”

Advertisements

No Hockey This Winter At The Santa Ann Star Center

The Santa Anna Star Center was built in Rio Rancho to primarily be a venue for the New Mexico Scorpions hockey team. Not only are the New Mexico Scorpions not playing there, the New Mexico Mustangs won’t be playing there either according the the Rio Rancho Observer “Mustangs ‘inactive’ for season“.

The New Mexico Mustangs, who called the Star Center home for the past two seasons of North American Hockey league competition, were officially “granted inactive status” by the NAHL and will not compete in the league in the 2012-13 season.

A ticket to a Mustangs’ game wasn’t exactly the hottest item in town: The team drew an average of 802 fans for each of its 29 home games in 2010-11 and then 721 fans for each of its 30 home games in the just-completed season.

The situation with the Santa Anna Star Center was covered by the New York Times in 2011. The company that convinced the city to build the center, Global Entrainment, went around the country getting a lot of cities to build similar arenas making promises that didn’t come true.

RIo Rancho Gets Sandoval County's Problems

A KOAT article “Animals Run Wild In Rio Rancho, Retired Officer Says” says that stray animals from the rest of Sandvoal County are being dumped in Rio Rancho.

“They’re either being brought by the citizens, who are dumping them in Rio Rancho, or they’re wandering in, and that’s just a burden in Rio Rancho,” he said.
Sandoval County leaders said the only animal control officer was transferred after he was involved in a criminal incident that was still under investigation.
Sheriff’s deputies were expected to continue to respond to certain animal control calls. Because they cannot transport animals, county leaders asked residents to take stray animals to local shelters to help with the problem.

The Village At Rio Rancho Will Be Here Some Day

The Village At Rio Rancho, a Albuquerque Uptown style outdoor shopping center, is still coming soon. According to the Rio Rancho Observer the city planning and zoning was to approve the plan on January 24th (and they did) which would allow the developer to start work on the Cinemark movie theater.

Building a new movie theater so close to the recently built Premiere Cinemas is a mistake according to me. I’m more interested in having the rest of the complex built where I predict there will be an Apple Store.

Cows And Guns In Rio Rancho

Back in October, the local news station KRQE recently two stories about Rio Rancho. I like living in Rio Rancho, I like being on the edge of civilization and I will deal with the occasional scorpion, dust storm. Or cows.

When I moved here 15 years ago I used to drive around in the desert that is now Northern Meadows. There were cows then just like there are cows now.

Residents in Rio Rancho’s North Meadows say they don’t know what to do with a growing problem. A cattle herd has been traveling from the west ends of the city limits into neighborhoods causing car crashes and eating gardens at some homes.

Another thing I did when I moved here was to go out and shot guns at the end of Southern Blvd. Then there wasn’t a house in site but now that the area has developed, people, not me, are still out there shooting.

That’s because Sara–who asked News 13 not to use her real name because she fears retaliation–lives in an area that is a popular but illegal shooting range. She said she often hears nonstop gunfire, especially on weekends, from people shooting weapons in the desert near her home at the far west end of Southern Boulevard near 38th Street.

Having people guns near and at your house makes having a cow problem not so bad.

Rio Rancho City Government Gives Up On Green2V While The Rest Of Us Did Months Ago

Green2V logo

Here we are in December of 2010, where is Green2V which hasn’t broke ground this summer as promised? I was skeptical of Green2V from the very beginning. A company no one had heard of with no website (and still doesn’t have a website) decided to build a new factory in my hometown of Rio Rancho, New Mexico with a very aggressive schedule.

An article from Rio Rancho Observer says that the city is giving up.

On Dec. 15, the Rio Rancho City Council will consider two measures repealing the city’s incentives in trying to lure the green energy start-up company. “We think that based on where we are right now, it’s been eight months since we first received those assurances (of funding), the documents are a bit stale,” said City Manager James Jimenez. City Councilors are being asked to repeal the Green2V industrial revenue bond inducement resolution the city passed in April, and the city’s economic development act it had with Green2V.

The article goes on to say that the city was promised 3 times that the money was coming and that the city of Rio Rancho trusted former Intel executive Bill Sheppard. There’s a quote from City Manager James Jimenez that I think is true as well.

“We pride ourselves as being competitive when it comes to economic development and aggressively pursuing (projects). Frankly, I’m well aware that we would have been criticized heavily if Green2V had been able to get its financing together and locate in Arizona if we knew we had a chance to bring them here and didn’t – for whatever reason – aggressively pursue them.”

The Albuquerque Journal had an article in May titled “Betting on Solar … Again” about the poor track record of OCS capital who was supposed to originally finance Green2V.

OCS lists numerous clients and industrial revenue bond financed projects on its website that have never materialized, among them the $16.5 million Big Event Amusement facility and Beach Waterpark in Albuquerque; the $210 million Nuchick poultry processing plant in Artesia; and a $22 million project to build an aircraft manufacturing plant in Odgen, Utah. The website does not mention that none of these projects came to fruition. Although the OCS name appears on a letter included in the bond application Green2V submitted to the city, Housley said Green2V never paid OCS money and terminated its relationship because it found another company to work with.

Then Green2V switched from OCS capitol to GP3, Ltd. The New Mexico Watchdog couldn’t find that either OCS Capital or GP3, Ltd seem to exist.

New Mexico Watchdog has learned that no limited partnership called GP3 exists in California according to the records of the California Secretary of State. The only limited partnerships with the term “GP3″ in their titles have had their partnership status canceled. One was GP3 Asset Acquisition, LLC, which was formed in 2007. It traces back to an Ann Arbor, Michigan, address, but is no longer a recognized limited partnership in California. The other was entitled Walton 425 GP3 IV, and traces back to a Chicago address. But its status as a limited partnership in California has also been canceled.

I can’t blame the City of Rio Rancho going forward with this based on the recommendation of the governor but clearly all of those involved should have done more research on the company. It doesn’t appear that the city is out of a significant amount of money. Hopefully the City will do a better job in the future of bringing in high tech companies.

1000 People To Be Laid Off At Intel Rio Rancho Plant

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — Intel Corp. said Tuesday that it expects to cut more than 1,000 jobs at its Rio Rancho plant as the company ends production of an older silicon wafer technology. Intel will stop making the 200-millimeter wafers at the plant by the end of August, and affected employees will be offered severance packages or can apply for other jobs within the company, spokesman Jami Grindatto said.

Anyone who works at the Intel Rio Rancho plant knew this was coming. I know a large number of people that have been waiting to for a chance to get out with a severance package. Still, this sucks. One fifth (20%) of the people that work at this plant will be gone wether they like it or not.

The AP article doesn’t mention when Intel expect to have everyone out but this KOB article say they start in August.

A article from the Albuquerque Tribune says:

Larry Waldman, a senior economist with the University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, projects the layoffs expected to come in August could cause the loss of another 1,000 jobs in places such as the retail and service sectors. “It’s not going to be just 1,000 jobs when you look at effects on other parts of the economy,” said Waldman, referring to retail and service jobs that might supplement Intel workers. While that may not be the rosiest picture, Waldman said the losses will have only a minor impact on the economies of both the state and Albuquerque metro

Update 5/7/07: From the Trib:

U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici has asked Labor Secretary Elaine Chao to assign staff from her agency’s Dallas office to coordinate job placement programs for the 1,000-plus workers expected to lose their jobs at Intel Corp.’s Rio Rancho plant.