Editorial: All it takes is a spark

Posted 5/31/18

All it took was a blown tire and the metal rim scraping on the highway pavement to strike a spark. The spark landed in a patch of grass on the side of the road and started a fire only a few hundred …

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Editorial: All it takes is a spark

Posted

All it took was a blown tire and the metal rim scraping on the highway pavement to strike a spark. The spark landed in a patch of grass on the side of the road and started a fire only a few hundred feet from a house in San Cristobal before Memorial Day.

That’s how dry it is, folks. One tiny spark, one little ember, can set off a blaze as drought continues to tighten its stranglehold on the state and across Taos County. Since May 1, there’ve been 30 wildland-type fires in Taos County, according to officials. Over the Memorial Day weekend, firefighters were called to address nine illegal campfires on the road to Taos Ski Valley.

Thanks to the rapid response of firefighters, most of them volunteers, none of those fires have spread out of control. In years past, many of Northern New Mexico’s biggest infernos started in May. So far this month we’ve lucked out and avoided such catastrophic fires.

Not all fires are bad. Grasslands and some forest types benefit from low intensity fires periodically to stimulate seedlings and burn off undergrowth.

But the overgrown condition of some portions of the Carson National Forest and the number of houses now bumping up against those forests make it more difficult and dangerous to let nature take its course with fire. Many of the forests around Taos are ripe for a catastrophic blaze that could threaten watersheds, destroy communities and dramatically change the landscape for decades.

The tinder-dry conditions remind us to be extra cautious. Pay attention to fire restrictions. Use common sense. Toss that cigarette butt in an empty soda can in your car instead of tossing it out onto the ground. Don’t burn weeds when the wind is blowing. And if you are in an area where campfires are allowed, make sure those ashes are cold to the touch before leaving your fire ring.

Be careful out there.

Get out and vote

Speaking of fire, the primaries are red hot now in Taos County, and the battles for elected positions will come to a head on Election Day Tuesday, (June 5). Aside from choosing a new Governor, Lt. Governor, and State Auditor, Taos County voters will choose a sheriff, three commissioners, two magistrate judges, probate judge and county assessor.

If you are still not sure who to vote for, check out our extensive background coverage online of each candidate, including their answers to a questionnaire. We’re also carrying a series of stories about statewide races by our sibling newspaper, The Santa Fe New Mexican. And you can find videos of all three political forums hosted by The Taos News archived on our website as well at taosnews.com and on our Facebook page.

Here are our picks among the candidates:

For Governor: Michelle Lujan Grisham

For Lt. Governor: Howie Morales

For Auditor: Brian Colón

For State Land Commissioner: Garrett VeneKlasen

For House Rep. District #40: Paula Garcia

For House Rep. District #41: Susan Herrera

County Commissioner Dist. 1: Jim Fambro

County Commissioner Dist. 2: Mark Gallegos

County Commissioner Dist. 5: Candyce O’Donnell

Magistrate Judge, Division 1: Ernest Ortega

Magistrate Judge, Division 2: Jeff Shannon

Taos County Sheriff: Jerry Hogrefe

Not sure which district you are in or where your polling place will be? You can find a district and precinct maps online at taoscounty.org You can also call the friendly, knowledgeable staff at the Taos County Bureau of Elections at (575) 737-6400 or email them at rosa.flores@taoscounty.org or elena.struck@taoscounty.org.

Early voting is underway and available until Saturday (June 2). The big election day is Tuesday (June 5) with polls open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Honor our democracy and those who’ve fought to protect it. Participate in choosing the people whose decisions affect your life: the roads you drive, the law enforcement and fire crews that protect you, the public spaces and utilities you use, the taxes you pay.

Get out and vote.

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