A bioblitz, Hurricane Andrew and a new football team


As part of our weekly series, The Taos News dug into the newspaper's archives to uncover the top stories of the week from 10, 25 and 50 years ago.

- 10 YEARS AGO - 'Biodiversity treasure hunt blossoms in Taos', Sept. 20-26, 2007, By Susan Lahey Wingard

Thirty-six different bird species, 50 medicinal plants, dozens and dozens of bug species - all on 15 acres of land in Taos.

That's what 40 volunteers counted a decade ago during what may have been New Mexico's first bioblitz, an effort to tally up all the biological species on a piece of land.

The land was owned by Barbara Waters, wife of the late author Frank Waters. She had read about the bioblitz from a book by Harvard biologist and renowned conservationist E.O. Wilson. She asked a coalition of groups - the Taos Land Trust, the Frank Waters Foundation and the chapter in Taos of the New Mexico Native Plant Society - for help in conducting a bioblitz.

Rob Hawley, herbalist and owner of Taos Herb, was among those who participated in the blitz.

"A lot of people in our society have lost contact with the earth," Hawley told reporter Susan Wingard. "If you can walk out into your backyard and know what the plants are and what they're good for, that gives you a connection with the land."

Hawley's words hold true today.

There was a time when many families in the Taos Valley and Taos County hailed from families that spent a lot of time in the woods, fields and range. They knew the plants that were edible and the ones that could kill you. That knowledge base has shrunk as people left the land and worked elsewhere. Efforts by local gardeners, farming collaboratives and schools are underway to preserve and expand that traditional knowledge.

If you want to see what a bioblitz is all about, check out an upcoming one in Questa. Federal public land agencies, the state Department of Game and Fish and Amigos Bravos are hosting a bioblitz Thursday (Oct. 21) from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. They are seeking volunteers to help catalog plants and animals. The event is free.

Volunteers can gather at the Red River Fish Hatchery at the end of State Road 515, off of State Road 522, 2 miles south of Questa.

For more information, call (575) 587-2255.

- 25 YEARS AGO - 'Locals take off, pitch in with Hurricane Andrew's victims', Sept. 17, 1992, By Jess Williams

After Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, Texas, and Hurricane Irma slammed into Florida recently, flooding out tens of thousands of people, it wasn't the first time Taoseños jumped in to help their disaster-rocked neighbors with expertise, supplies and cash.

A quarter of a century ago, Hurricane Andrew punched through Florida, leaving a broken landscape and communities in its wake. Taos County Ambulance Service sent trained crews to help with the thousands of medical emergencies. "It was like being on a space station. The place looked like a science fiction book cover," said Carl Gilmore, of Taos, who was asked to head security for an outpost medical station in Dade County, told reporter Jess Williams.

The team's members reached a neighborhood clinic and overnight turned it into a trauma center. They worked in stark conditions, with temperatures inside the building reaching 100 degrees and humidity topping 90 percent.

Another Taos member of the team, Fred Shumate, estimated he and his teammates treated 300 people a day - every condition from diabetics to patients suffering with AIDS. And they delivered a lot of babies. "Something about a disaster makes babies seem to want to come out," said Shumate.

Back in Taos, the rest of the ambulance crew members shouldered the burden of extra work so their colleagues could go help their Florida neighbors in desperate need.

Whether wildfires, floods or other disasters, Taoseños always step forth to help others.

- 50 YEARS AGO - 'Wildcats tally first win ever', Sept. 21, 1967

It was a big week for the Questa Wildcats, as the high school's first football team won its first game. "Bristling from a last minute loss to Escalante in its season opener, Questa High School took its revenge out on the Taos Junior Varsity last weekend by overwhelming them, 30-6," said the staff report in The Taos News.

The Wildcats were coached in their inaugural season by former professional football player Dewey Bohling, who had been with the AFL Jets and Buffalo Bills.

Running back Kurt Johnson and quarterback Manuel Gonzales led the attack for the Wildcats in their second game of the season.

The Wildcats went on to beat Dulce and lose to Cuba, ranked No. 7 in the state that year. By the time Questa ended the season, the team had a 4-6 win-loss record. "It's just amazing to me to watch these boys play; they came from nothing and now they're doing this," said Bohling.