2013

  • By Charles D. Brunt
    Albuquerque Journal
    November 21, 2013

    Public comments on a pair of proposals by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that would affect gray wolf recovery efforts nationwide ran about 2 to 1 in favor of expansion of the wolf recovery program, but cattle and sheep ranchers said the program is a failure and needs to be discontinued.

    A near-capacity crowd of about 500 conservationists, ranchers, landowners and concerned citizens weighed in on the proposals during a three-hour public hearing here Wednesday at Embassy Suites. More than 100 of them signed up to make 2-minute comments on the proposals.

    Gary Frazer, the agency’s assistant director for ecological services, opened the hearing saying the goal of the proposed changes is “securing the species from the threat of extinction.”

    While those efforts have dramatically expanded the range of wolves in the Western Great Lakes and Northern Rocky Mountains, they are proving less effective on the Mexican wolf, he said.

    Fish and Wildlife officials say reintroductions of the gray wolf in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho have been successful and they are no longer endangered. The agency estimates the number of gray wolves in the continental United States at more than 5,000.

    Others, like state Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, urged agency officials to “make decisions based on science,” rather than political or any other basis. “Make that the hallmark of your decision-making,” he said.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency charged with saving wolves from extinction, hopes to remove federal protection of gray wolves and to concentrate on the recovery on another wolf subspecies – the Mexican wolf.

    Another proposal would revise a rule that classifies Mexican wolves as an “experimental population,” a designation that affects how the wolves are managed.

    Conservation groups – which were well-represented at the public hearing – generally opposed removal of the gray wolf from the endangered species list and expressed concerns with other proposals affecting the Mexican wolf.

    Las Cruces City Councilman Nathan Small said he thinks recovering the Mexican wolf would be beneficial to southern New Mexico, and that as an outdoorsman and hunter, he thinks the presence of wolves would enhance all outdoor experiences.

    Saying wolves are “vital to the health of the ecosystems” in which they have historically lived, outdoor writer Ruth Rudner urged expansion of the lands they are allowed to roam and claimed wolves have “become the scapegoat for increasingly anti-everything politics.”

    Barbara Bacon of Albuquerque said she was concerned that the proposed changes “are not going to promote full recovery of the Mexican gray wolf.”

    She also said she supports expansion of the wolf recovery area as far south as the Mexican border because “wolves can’t read maps.”

    Citing losses of livestock to wolf depredation, ranching groups – also well-represented at the hearing – strongly back federal efforts to remove gray wolves from the list of endangered species, even though they typically receive compensation from the federal government for livestock losses attributed to wolves.

    Rex Wilson with the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association and Caren Cowan with the New Mexico Wool Growers Association said wolf reintroduction in New Mexico had failed and needs to be discontinued.

    “There is ample scientific evidence for removing the gray and Mexican wolves from the endangered species list,” Wilson said.

    “After 15 years, it is clear the experiment has failed,” he said, adding that there is not enough wildlife in New Mexico to justify restoring wolves here.

    He and Cowan said they support taking not only the gray wolf from the endangered species list, but the Mexican wolf as well.

    “This experiment has gone on too long,” Cowan said, adding that the program “is not working for anyone, especially them (the wolves).”

    Michael Robinson with the Center for Biological Diversity expressed concerns about a lack of biological diversity among the existing wolf population in New Mexico and said it’s Fish and Wildlife’s fault for limiting their reintroductions.

    The Mexican wolf was added to the federal endangered species list in 1976. Efforts to reintroduce them in the Southwest have stumbled due to legal battles, politics, illegal shootings and other problems. Since reintroduction efforts began in 1998, more than 50 illegal wolf killings have been documented.

    The Mexican gray wolf recovery area includes 3.3 million acres in the Gila National Forest and 1.1 million acres in the Apache National Forest in Arizona. Tribal or private lands adjacent to those areas can also allow wolves on their lands, such as the Ted Turner-owned Ladder Ranch in New Mexico and the White Mountain Apache Tribe’s Fort Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona.

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials said there are about 75 Mexican gray wolves in the recovery area, and only three breeding pairs.

    In August, the Center for Biological Diversity reached a settlement agreement with the Fish and Wildlife Service that allows direct release of captive-bred wolves into the Gila National Forest and permits wolves to roam over a broader area than is currently allowed. The agreement requires Fish and Wildlife to finalize a rule authorizing those moves by Jan. 12, 2015.

    The Center also objects to a proposal that would require removal of any Mexican gray wolf found north of Interstate 40 or south of Interstate 10, saying it would prevent the establishment of new, genetically diverse populations of wolves in the southern Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon ecosystem and in Mexico.

    The public comment period for the proposed changes, originally set to expire on Sept. 11, has been extended through Dec. 17. For more information, go to www.fws.gov/home/wolfrecovery.

  • The Wild Guide 2014 is available for pre-order! Plus, learn what you can do to stand up for wolves and more in this week’s Wilderness Weekly eNews.

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  • The Deming Headlight
    06/06/2013 

    LAS CRUCES, N.M. >> William Greenberg, a former World War II bombardier navigator returned to Doña Ana County the week of the anniversary of D-Day to visit a land he last saw seventy years ago.

    In 1943 & 1944 Greenberg was stationed at the Deming Air Base, where he trained on secret navigational equipment called the Norden Bombsight. The bombsight greatly improved the accuracy of high altitude bombing and has been cited as a major factor in ending the war in Europe. As a part of their training program, the Army Air Corps built 24 large bull’s-eye targets in the desert and mountains around Deming. These targets became essential training aids for pilots who were instrumental in World War II and are still visible today.

    Six of these targets, known to some as the “Deming Bombing Targets,” are part of the proposed Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. Local elected officials, business owners, sportsmen, veterans, conservationists, Native American leaders, and others are working to get the President and Congress to protect this region as a national landmark.

    Mr. Greenberg will be taking an aerial tour of the bombing targets in the Sierra de las Uvas Mountains this morning, and later today will be joined by over twenty veterans and others to take a ground tour of a bombing target that is located near the historic Butterfield Stagecoach Trail.

    “I am enthused to have the opportunity to view again, after 70 years, these remarkable targets that prepared me for service to my country in World War II. I think it’s very important to preserve these unique targets so that future generations of Americans can better understand the history of their country,” said Greenberg.

    Dr. James Williams, a Native New Mexican, Las Cruces resident and member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, also voiced support for protecting the targets.

    “As Tuskegee Airmen, we protected many of the flight crews that trained over the Deming bombing targets with the Norden Bombsight. New Mexico played a key role in winning World War II, and I think we should protect this rich history in a new national monument,” said Williams.

    Many area residents have personal stories and histories that connect to the Deming Air Base and the bombing targets.

    Doña Ana County Commissioner Billy Garrett recounted how his grandmother served as a file clerk for the group that designed the Norden Bombsight.

    “Growing up, I remember stories about the importance of the Norden Bombsight and how my grandmother had no problem getting a job at White Sands because she had a ‘top-secret’ clearance due her involvement with Norden. These targets are still visible in the mountains west of Las Cruces,” said Commissioner Garrett . “We have an incredible opportunity to protect them along with nearby Native American archeological sites, evidence of the Butterfield Stagecoach Trail, and our beautiful Chihuahuan Desert.”

    Freda Flores, President of the Mesquite Historic District’s Las Esperanzas Neighborhood Association, has deep ties to the Deming Air Base, as do many long-term Doña Ana County residents. “This base was not only important to our country, but to our region and our families. My mother got her start working at the Deming Air Base and my father was a Bataan Death March survivor. Coming from a proud family who served our country, I hope these national treasures can be protected in a National Monument.”

    History of the Deming Bombing Targets

    Deming was a sleepy farm and ranch town with a population of 3500 in 1942, when contracts were let for the construction of the 338th Army Base/Airfield. A contract was also let for construction of the 24 targets, which were located on a rectangular grid across a span of roughly 40 by 50 miles of diverse and remote terrain. Each target consisted of four concentric rings of 100, 200, 300 and 500 foot diameters, with a white wooden “shack” resembling a pyramid at the center. Nighttime targets included generators to power a string of lights forming a “crosshair” on the ground. Some of the targets had outlines to simulate the appearance of ships or buildings from the air. The concentric circles were constructed primarily by blading the dirt, sometimes leaving a ring of rocks around the perimeter. Remnants of both are visible from the ground and air to this day.

  • The Deming Headlight
    06/06/2013 

    LAS CRUCES, N.M. >> William Greenberg, a former World War II bombardier navigator returned to Doña Ana County the week of the anniversary of D-Day to visit a land he last saw seventy years ago.

    In 1943 & 1944 Greenberg was stationed at the Deming Air Base, where he trained on secret navigational equipment called the Norden Bombsight. The bombsight greatly improved the accuracy of high altitude bombing and has been cited as a major factor in ending the war in Europe. As a part of their training program, the Army Air Corps built 24 large bull’s-eye targets in the desert and mountains around Deming. These targets became essential training aids for pilots who were instrumental in World War II and are still visible today.

    Six of these targets, known to some as the “Deming Bombing Targets,” are part of the proposed Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. Local elected officials, business owners, sportsmen, veterans, conservationists, Native American leaders, and others are working to get the President and Congress to protect this region as a national landmark.

    Mr. Greenberg will be taking an aerial tour of the bombing targets in the Sierra de las Uvas Mountains this morning, and later today will be joined by over twenty veterans and others to take a ground tour of a bombing target that is located near the historic Butterfield Stagecoach Trail.

    “I am enthused to have the opportunity to view again, after 70 years, these remarkable targets that prepared me for service to my country in World War II. I think it’s very important to preserve these unique targets so that future generations of Americans can better understand the history of their country,” said Greenberg.

    Dr. James Williams, a Native New Mexican, Las Cruces resident and member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, also voiced support for protecting the targets.

    “As Tuskegee Airmen, we protected many of the flight crews that trained over the Deming bombing targets with the Norden Bombsight. New Mexico played a key role in winning World War II, and I think we should protect this rich history in a new national monument,” said Williams.

    Many area residents have personal stories and histories that connect to the Deming Air Base and the bombing targets.

    Doña Ana County Commissioner Billy Garrett recounted how his grandmother served as a file clerk for the group that designed the Norden Bombsight.

    “Growing up, I remember stories about the importance of the Norden Bombsight and how my grandmother had no problem getting a job at White Sands because she had a ‘top-secret’ clearance due her involvement with Norden. These targets are still visible in the mountains west of Las Cruces,” said Commissioner Garrett . “We have an incredible opportunity to protect them along with nearby Native American archeological sites, evidence of the Butterfield Stagecoach Trail, and our beautiful Chihuahuan Desert.”

    Freda Flores, President of the Mesquite Historic District’s Las Esperanzas Neighborhood Association, has deep ties to the Deming Air Base, as do many long-term Doña Ana County residents. “This base was not only important to our country, but to our region and our families. My mother got her start working at the Deming Air Base and my father was a Bataan Death March survivor. Coming from a proud family who served our country, I hope these national treasures can be protected in a National Monument.”

    History of the Deming Bombing Targets

    Deming was a sleepy farm and ranch town with a population of 3500 in 1942, when contracts were let for the construction of the 338th Army Base/Airfield. A contract was also let for construction of the 24 targets, which were located on a rectangular grid across a span of roughly 40 by 50 miles of diverse and remote terrain. Each target consisted of four concentric rings of 100, 200, 300 and 500 foot diameters, with a white wooden “shack” resembling a pyramid at the center. Nighttime targets included generators to power a string of lights forming a “crosshair” on the ground. Some of the targets had outlines to simulate the appearance of ships or buildings from the air. The concentric circles were constructed primarily by blading the dirt, sometimes leaving a ring of rocks around the perimeter. Remnants of both are visible from the ground and air to this day.

  • By Steve Ramirez/This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    06/05/2013 

    LAS CRUCES — Bombing targets in the southern New Mexico desert, near the Las Cruces International Airport, were still much the same Wednesday as 89-year-old Bill Greenberg remembered.

    Aboard a small single-engine plane that only sat three people, Greenberg, a World War II bombardier navigator, got to relive the six months he spent training at Deming Air Base, which operated from November 1942 until December 1945. Greenberg, then a young 19-year-old Army Air Corps officer flew training missions over six bombing targets in the Sierra de Las Uvas Mountain north and west of Las Cruces.

    Sixty-nine years ago today, June 6, 1944, 160,000 Allied troops from 12 countries, including the U.S., invaded the beaches and airspace of Normandy in a major military offensive that factored into the outcome of World War II.

    “Seventy years ago I saw the same thing I saw (Wednesday),” Greenberg said.

    “I am enthused to have the opportunity to view again, after 70 years, these remarkable targets that prepared me for service to my country in World War II.”

    In late 1943 and early 1944 Greenberg trained on secret navigational equipment called the Norden Bombsight. The equipment greatly improved the accuracy of high-altitude bombing for U.S. warplanes and was a major factor in ending World War II in Europe. The bombsight was so hush-hush that Greenberg and others using the equipment had to pledge they wouldn’t let it fall into enemy hands under any circumstances.

    As a part of the training program, the Army Air Corps built 24 large bull’s-eye targets in the desert and mountains near Deming and Las Cruces. Six of the targets, known to some as the “Deming Bombing Targets,” are included in land that supporters are working to get officially designated as the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.

    Add Greenberg to the list of people who are pushing for the proposed national monument.

    “I think it’s very important to preserve these unique targets so that future generations of Americans can better understand the history of their country,” Greenberg said.

    “I feel if we don’t do something about this country we’re not going to have a country. Our children are going to lose and their children are going to lose if this is a part of history that becomes lost.”

    The six bombing targets are in a pristine area that is about 15 miles north and west of Las Cruces airport. From about 800 feet above the ground, the old bombing targets are large concentric circles of 100, 200, 300 and 500 feet, and are still clearly visible. The large circles were built by scraping the ground, sometimes leaving a ring of rocks around the perimeter.

    “These circles are going to be there for infinity,” Greenberg said. “…You could still (also) see the outlines of ships in the sand.”

    Although the Deming Air Base only operated a little more than three years, it sparked memories from Las Crucens and Doña Ana County residents.

    Doña Ana County Commissioner Billy Garrett recalled his grandmother worked as a file clerk for the group that designed the Norden Bombsight.

    “Growing up, I remember stories about the importance of the Norden Bombsight and how my grandmother had no problem getting a job at White Sands because she had a “top-secret’ clearance due her involvement with Norden,” Garrett said. “These targets are still visible in the mountains west of Las Cruces. We have an incredible opportunity to protect them along with nearby Native American archeological sites, evidence of the Butterfield Stagecoach Trail, and our beautiful Chihuahuan Desert.”

    Las Crucen Freda Flores remembers the Deming Air Base well, and also wants the bombing targets preserved as part of a national monument.

    “This base was not only important to our country, but to our region and our families,” said Flores, president of the Las Esperanzas Neighborhood Association. “My mother got her start working at the Deming Air Base, and my father (Ruben Flores) was a Bataan Death March survivor. Coming from a proud family who served our country, I hope these national treasures can be protected in a National Monument.”

    Las Crucen James Williams, a member of Tuskegee Airmen, who distinguished themselves during World War II, also remembers the Deming Air Base well.

    “As Tuskegee Airmen, we protected many of the flight crews that trained over the Deming bombing targets with the Norden Bombsight,” Williams said. “New Mexico played a key role in winning World War II, and I think we should protect this rich history in a new national monument.”

    Steve Ramirez can be reached at 575-541-5452. Follow him on Twitter @SteveRamirez6

    D-Day

    • Sixty-nine years ago today, June 6, 1944, 160,000 Allied troops from 12 countries, including the U.S., invaded the beaches of Normandy in a major military offensive that factored into the outcome of World War II

    • Deming Air Base operated from Nov. 15, 1942 until Dec. 18, 1945

    • Bombardier training for the U.S. Army Air Corps was conducted there, as was training for the Second Air Force 16th Bombardment Training Wing

    • Altogether, 24 bombing training targets were constructed in Luna and Doña Ana counties

    • The bombing targets are included in what could become the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument.

  • By Steve Ramirez/This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    06/05/2013 

    LAS CRUCES — Bombing targets in the southern New Mexico desert, near the Las Cruces International Airport, were still much the same Wednesday as 89-year-old Bill Greenberg remembered.

    Aboard a small single-engine plane that only sat three people, Greenberg, a World War II bombardier navigator, got to relive the six months he spent training at Deming Air Base, which operated from November 1942 until December 1945. Greenberg, then a young 19-year-old Army Air Corps officer flew training missions over six bombing targets in the Sierra de Las Uvas Mountain north and west of Las Cruces.

    Sixty-nine years ago today, June 6, 1944, 160,000 Allied troops from 12 countries, including the U.S., invaded the beaches and airspace of Normandy in a major military offensive that factored into the outcome of World War II.

    “Seventy years ago I saw the same thing I saw (Wednesday),” Greenberg said.

    “I am enthused to have the opportunity to view again, after 70 years, these remarkable targets that prepared me for service to my country in World War II.”

    In late 1943 and early 1944 Greenberg trained on secret navigational equipment called the Norden Bombsight. The equipment greatly improved the accuracy of high-altitude bombing for U.S. warplanes and was a major factor in ending World War II in Europe. The bombsight was so hush-hush that Greenberg and others using the equipment had to pledge they wouldn’t let it fall into enemy hands under any circumstances.

    As a part of the training program, the Army Air Corps built 24 large bull’s-eye targets in the desert and mountains near Deming and Las Cruces. Six of the targets, known to some as the “Deming Bombing Targets,” are included in land that supporters are working to get officially designated as the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.

    Add Greenberg to the list of people who are pushing for the proposed national monument.

    “I think it’s very important to preserve these unique targets so that future generations of Americans can better understand the history of their country,” Greenberg said.

    “I feel if we don’t do something about this country we’re not going to have a country. Our children are going to lose and their children are going to lose if this is a part of history that becomes lost.”

    The six bombing targets are in a pristine area that is about 15 miles north and west of Las Cruces airport. From about 800 feet above the ground, the old bombing targets are large concentric circles of 100, 200, 300 and 500 feet, and are still clearly visible. The large circles were built by scraping the ground, sometimes leaving a ring of rocks around the perimeter.

    “These circles are going to be there for infinity,” Greenberg said. “…You could still (also) see the outlines of ships in the sand.”

    Although the Deming Air Base only operated a little more than three years, it sparked memories from Las Crucens and Doña Ana County residents.

    Doña Ana County Commissioner Billy Garrett recalled his grandmother worked as a file clerk for the group that designed the Norden Bombsight.

    “Growing up, I remember stories about the importance of the Norden Bombsight and how my grandmother had no problem getting a job at White Sands because she had a “top-secret’ clearance due her involvement with Norden,” Garrett said. “These targets are still visible in the mountains west of Las Cruces. We have an incredible opportunity to protect them along with nearby Native American archeological sites, evidence of the Butterfield Stagecoach Trail, and our beautiful Chihuahuan Desert.”

    Las Crucen Freda Flores remembers the Deming Air Base well, and also wants the bombing targets preserved as part of a national monument.

    “This base was not only important to our country, but to our region and our families,” said Flores, president of the Las Esperanzas Neighborhood Association. “My mother got her start working at the Deming Air Base, and my father (Ruben Flores) was a Bataan Death March survivor. Coming from a proud family who served our country, I hope these national treasures can be protected in a National Monument.”

    Las Crucen James Williams, a member of Tuskegee Airmen, who distinguished themselves during World War II, also remembers the Deming Air Base well.

    “As Tuskegee Airmen, we protected many of the flight crews that trained over the Deming bombing targets with the Norden Bombsight,” Williams said. “New Mexico played a key role in winning World War II, and I think we should protect this rich history in a new national monument.”

    Steve Ramirez can be reached at 575-541-5452. Follow him on Twitter @SteveRamirez6

    D-Day

    • Sixty-nine years ago today, June 6, 1944, 160,000 Allied troops from 12 countries, including the U.S., invaded the beaches of Normandy in a major military offensive that factored into the outcome of World War II

    • Deming Air Base operated from Nov. 15, 1942 until Dec. 18, 1945

    • Bombardier training for the U.S. Army Air Corps was conducted there, as was training for the Second Air Force 16th Bombardment Training Wing

    • Altogether, 24 bombing training targets were constructed in Luna and Doña Ana counties

    • The bombing targets are included in what could become the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument.

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