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Our Work

The Taos News
April 27, 2013
The author, Jenny Vincent, a musician, is a resident of Taos.

Earth Day is my birthday. I have made that statement with pride since the first Earth Day was declared in 1970.

This Earth Day will be my 100th birthday, and that makes me especially proud to mark the day.

As I enter my second century on this earth, I have much to look back on and celebrate. Our earth has changed in these hundred years.

Some improvements have been seen, as in the quality of air and water in parts of the United States. But, much remains to be done, and our beautiful lands and waters need protection in this time of a changing earth and climate.

I first came to New Mexico in 1936. The purpose of the visit was to meet Frieda Lawrence, the widow of D.H. Lawrence. I had met Frieda’s sister in Germany a few years before, and her insistence that my husband and I meet her sister in New Mexico changed the course of my life.

During that first visit, we saw Frieda at her Kiowa Ranch, perched above the San Cristóbal valley at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Funny how one thing leads to another: we were escorted on horseback by Diego Arellano through the mountains to the upper reaches of the valley. The beauty and splendor of the aspen groves and ponderosas, and the views of the Río Grande gorge pulled on my emotional and physical being.

I knew I had found my home. The rest is my personal history.

We bought a ranch at the head of the valley, ran a summer camp, and moved permanently to San Cristóbal in 1940. Craig Smith’s article in the 2013 “Adventures de Taos” supplement to The Taos News spells out more of the detail of that time.

The mountains to the east were always a backdrop to our daily lives. Gardening, irrigating, harvesting, hiking, horseback riding, and contemplation. The guests at our ranch marveled at the natural beauty.

Many of them returned to Taos County to live and work, and contribute to our amazing community. San Cristóbal Canyon and the Sangre de Cristos provided my three sons with a place to grow and learn. They hiked the canyon to the ridge and on to Lobo Peak. They combed the ground for signs of pit houses and other artifacts left behind by those who first came to this land to live, hunt and raise their families.

San Cristóbal Creek, one of the smallest watersheds in the area, provided, and continues to provide the life blood to our local acequia, and domestic water system. These mountains have nurtured and sustained us.

San Cristóbal Canyon, and all the lands between Questa and Arroyo Hondo, and Red River, Taos Ski Valley — those lands known collectively as the Columbine-Hondo — were declared a Wilderness Study Area in 1980.

This first step toward permanent protection was controversial at first. But virtually everyone who knows, loves and uses this land has come to know the benefits of increased protection. It is time for the Columbine Hondo to be designated by Congress as wilderness, to ensure its permanent protection.

Taos County and the entire State of New Mexico are celebrating the establishment of the Río Grande del Norte National Monument. The next step is wilderness status for the Columbine Hondo.

Our Congressional delegation is behind this proposition 100 percent, as are permitees, acequias, land grants, businesses, organizations, individuals and political bodies. Join them!

I want to celebrate my next birthday at the foot of our newest wilderness.