Rio Grande Valley Broadband • Entered by Susan Ostlie on December 30, 2020

Sandia Collaborative Tres Pistoles project

December 8, 2020

Participants and Hours

Pre Planning hours 6
Post Admin hours 2
Activity Hours 1
Participants 1
Total Hours 9

Key Issue: Multiple apply
Activity Type: Other Administration (reporting, emails, calls, planning)
Key Partners: Sandia Collaborative members and residents of the Sandia Mt. area
Landscape/area: Sandia Mountain Wilderness (37256 acres)

Short Description of Activity

Agenda: December 8, 2020
Sandia Collaborative
Tres Pistolas Team Meeting
December 8, 2020 – 2:00-3:15 PM

Moderator: Marsha Kellogg
Team members present with introductions:
• Catherine Kelly, Friends of Tijeras Pueblo, human relationship to the area is pre-hispanic. She’s “lurking”, to learn more.
• Daniel Poli, Board of Directors, Monticello Subdivision Homeowner’s Association, He has lived at Tres Pistolas for 27 years. Recreation usage of Tres Pistolas has doubled during pandemic. Their HOA helped upgrade the trailhead with trash cans, bulletin boards and signs to direct users to trailhead. HOA takes care of trash for FS and CABQ. CABQ provides equipment, but can’t travel outside of city limits to pick up trash. NA dumps about 1/2 – 1 bag of trash per week. HOA group picks up bags, etc from Open Space at Elena Gallegos in ABQ.
• Susan Ostlie, chairwoman of Tres Pistolas team and leader, Rio Grande Valley Broadband of the Great Old Broads for Wilderness, founding member of the Sandia Collaborative. Also Mgmt Committee member. Interested in land grant issues, recreational users, but most importantly wilderness possibilities and wildlife corridors.
• Jim McGrath, botanist, Conservation Committee, Native Plant Society of NM – Albuquerque chapter, Jim hikes 3 Gun Trail about 2x/week. He is concerned about mtn bike use, and that the area retains its natural character and at the same time serves the public. Very important area to ABQ residents.
• Stephanie Long, Board of Directors, Friends of Tijeras Pueblo and Sandia Mtn Bear Collaborative. Interest in wildlife; shares concerns about mountain bikes. Worried about wildlife-human conflict, because wildlife always gets removed. She mentioned Justin Chavez-Davis, from Bernalillo County Open Space; he is associated with Carlito Springs and might have an interest in Tres Pistoles.
• Chuck Schultz, NMDGF, habitat biologist. Hasn’t been to Tres Pistolas area in many years. Hiked to Hawkwatch site when they wanted to establish a site up there in 1992. Attending meeting for general support.
• Other stakeholders who would be useful to have on the project – Moises Gonzales, Carnue Land Grant Assn; Seth Bush – AMBA; Kyle Bality – ABQ Open Space.
Marsha, the facilitator, began the meeting with some reminders of what Sandia Collaborative has been generally doing. The power point for Collaborative values, etc. is available on the website. (LINK?)
Marsha emphasized the La Madera Project which focuses on that portion of Sandia District north of I-40. Tres Pistolas is one of 5 teams. The others are Las Huertas, La Madera landscape, East side – Casa Loma to Canoncito, Invasives – west side.
Marsha mentioned a stakeholders list and said she would be sending it out to team members.
Susan, Dan and Stephanie talked about maintaining communication with ABQ Open Space. Kyle Bality is the main contact, but he doesn’t work on Mondays and Tuesdays, so meetings on those days might be problematic; Dan said he coordinates with Jim Sattler, the head of Open Space. Dan said Jim Sattler wants to be a good neighbor. Stephanie and Susan both mentioned that Bill Pentler is an effective person to work with at ABQ Open Space, if it is difficult to get their input. Jim has also had positive interaction with Pentler with the Yerba Mansa Project
Marsha indicated the Sandia Collaborative website has information on meeting announcements.
Susan indicated 10 people on Tres Pistoles team (with Chuck now added).
Marsha gave a brief overview of La Madera Project topics that need to be considered by the Tres Pistoles team: ecological integrity, recreation, cultural issues, wilderness, etc.
Watershed protection and erosion were mentioned as an issue to consider.
Dan mentioned that the parking lot and access road now have blacktop. However, water drains off these surfaces down the access road, depositing sediment down near the curve in the access road near where the access road starts.
Jim mentioned that people (himself specifically) have a tendency to drive too fast as they round that curve. There is a 15 mph sign that is in a poor place among some trees and you only see it when it is too late to slow down. Therefore, that 15 mph sign needs to be placed right where the access road starts at its junction with Allegro Rd.
Dan mentioned that the actual spring at the upper end of Tres Pistoles or 3- Gun Spring canyon has not been generating surface water the last couple years – obviously due to the drought. Chuck and Dan seemed to agree that the spring is now intermittent.
Dan and/or Chuck mentioned the moratorium on trapping in the Sandia District.
Apparently 9 bobcats and 2 foxes had been trapped prior to the moratorium in this area. Residents have had pets caught in the leghold traps. Perhaps hikers have encountered the traps as well.
1) There has been talk of an east-west connecting trail.
2) ORV use as a concern. Dan says no such problem at this time and Jim agrees.
3) User-created trails are common between the trailhead and the wilderness boundary.
4) Bicycles have occasionally been using the trail and bicycle use of the Tres Pistoles trail is a concern.
Cultural Uses
1) Native plants have been collected for cultural use by land grant members.
2) Mahonia is apparently one plant that may be subject to such cultural use.
Jim said they may be talking about Mahonia (Berberis) repens, which is Oregon grape which actually occurs in pine forests and, therefore, not in
Tres Pistoles area. Stephanie mentioned a holly-like plant and Jim indicated that she is probably talking about the same plant Jim mentioned.
Wilderness expansion
1) Susan is interested in protection of wildlife corridor
2) Bicycle folks wanted half the proposed wilderness expansion to be available for bicycle use.
3) Wilderness expansion may cause a hardship for harvesting native plants. Jim asked what native plants would be harvested.
Other Comments
1) Dan reported that the NA installed 8 new signs. Jim mentioned that he noticed the new signs at the TH and on access road and said they made a difference when he tried to tell folks how to reach the trailhead.
2) Dan mentioned that Hawkwatch monitoring stopped 6-7 years ago.
Preparation for January meeting
1) Determine current conditions in Tres Pistoles
2) Given current conditions, what do we want to change to improve conditions.
Notes taken by Jim McGrath 12_08_20
Ecology: The ecological integrity of the Sandia Mountains where functioning and healthy ecosystems and watersheds are maintained and restored for wildlife and people alike.
Native plants in the canyon
Wildlife protection, including corridors
Wildlife access to spring
Tres Pistolas water resources and watershed protection; the spring is seasonal, but last 1-1.5 years there was no standing water. Well depth levels have dropped 10-15 feet.
Erosion, especially in the first ¼ of the trail.
The road to the trailhead is directly below the arroyo…prone to potholes. It directs water to properties at bottom, which is a flooding issue. The Monticello HOA is working with the County on this.
Trapping season; trapped out 9 bobcat and foxes. 4 year moratorium on trapping in SRD. This is a statewide issue; it will be brought up again at the Game Commission meeting.
Recreation: The close proximity of high quality recreational opportunities for a diversity of users and the social, physical, and mental benefits these recreational assets provide.
East-west, multi-use connecting trail. (There is no low-elevation East-side/West-side connector.)
Many User created trails above ABQ Open Space area have impacts on the canyon.
Off-road motorized vehicle use has not been observed by locals, but bicycles are often observed on trail.
Wilderness: Its intrinsic value as our wildest places and the ecological and spiritual benefits wilderness provides.
Expansion of wilderness into canyon as wildlife corridor and increased habitat protection.
Wilderness does not accommodate mountain bikes.
Topography necessitates switchbacks which slows down users, but without switchbacks, a perimeter trail would require much more acreage in this area.
Culture: The cultural and historic resources of the Sandia landscape and the cultural practices of New Mexico’s indigenous tribes and Hispanic communities.
Traditional plant protection and harvesting.
Carnue Land Grant access/use.
If designated wilderness, would the history of Land Grant lands being moved into public lands make it more difficult for land to be returned to Land Grants?
If wilderness, possibly a special use permit?
Firewood extraction?
Education: The learning and personal development opportunities provided by the Sandia Mountains for our children and youth, the future stewards.
Hawkwatch spring migration banding. (Up to site at top.) Roger Grinnel said the group is not using the site anymore. They haven’t used it in 6-7 years.
Jim is leading field trips; e.g. grass identification. (But trying to get away from it.)
Aesthetics: The beauty the forest and mountains provide as our backyard.
Impacts on local neighbors from proposed actions.
User created trails. (Lots)
Increase in traffic. Signage from USFS was worn. HOA created 8 new signs to more easily direct people to the trailhead. They also put out trash bags and dog waste bags, and empty the trash every week. Monticello HOA has been very helpful.
Shared Stewardship: People and communities working together to ensure its sustainable use for future generations
Neighborly relations between Monticello HOA, land grant residents and open space administration.
From 2019 Draft Forest Plan Review conversations:
Wilderness boundary needs to be expanded to mouth of canyon to:
Increase wildlife access to spring
Increase wildlife potential to access and travel the corridor
Barriers: USFS $$ to move fence and signage
Increase bird habitat
EMRTC wants a loop trail access, hiking versus mountain biking trail. A small easement would be necessary to accommodate EMRTC trail. Please read here about the Perimeter Trail.
SC Desired Condition
Move the Wilderness boundary south as far as possible
Constraints on meeting desired conditions
EMRTC would like enough non-wilderness land north of the parking lot to remain, so that the trail, suitable for all users, mountain bikes included, would be able to pass from east to west.
Opportunities to achieve desired conditions
EMRTC would like to adjust the Wilderness boundary on 8 sections along the fence line with private property, totaling 200 acres, so that mountain bikers would be able to ride all but the 7 miles of Piedra Lisa Trail. Trade 260 acres of wilderness at Tres Pistolas for 200 acres at the other 8 sites.
Wilderness groups
Audubon Society
User Groups- mountain bikers, long distance runners, hikers, equestrian


Turn out was better than expected, but two or three of the most important stakeholders did not show, nor RSVP. Their interests will not be represented by this committee if they can’t show up. I am the chairperson of this project, and if those groups ( Mt. Bikers, Alb. Open Space, and Land Grant members) do not participate in the next meeting in Jan., I will not consider their interests in my committee recommendations. Others on this committee agree with me in this position.

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