Editor’s Note: A week ago, an ad appeared in the Taos News with notice of a zoom meeting on the proposed Kachina Base Area Master Plan scheduled for October 2. This plan lays out the development potential of the Kachina Basin at the Taos Ski Valley, a plan that’s been in development over the last year, contracted to a design company but presented to the public with a week’s notice for comment, due October 9. At the zoom meeting, both a public survey link and a direct link to the project designer, Jessica Garrow, for comment were offered. The survey is limited to responses that address only whether the original development proposal— many thousands of new commercial and residential spaces—or a modified, scaled down proposal from the existing basin landowners—should be considered. Many people concerned about any development are asking for an extension of the comment deadline so the public may weigh in on this very consequential development. The editorial below is from a longtime Arroyo Hondo resident who’s worked for many years to protect the Rio Hondo and the downstream communities.
Editorial By PHAEDRA GREENWOOD
On October 2nd I attended the virtual meeting for the Kachina Base Area Master Plan, which was short and lucid with lots of graphics and covers all the major points. I appreciate that after Shopoff sold the land to Taos Land & Cattle (Bob Corroon), the seven stakeholders worked together for a year to come to an agreement on the greenest way to develop the property, to keep it relatively small and cozy for a “pure” and “rugged” alpine experience. (With a hot tub and spa, or course!) With low-density and tasteful commercial construction. Shuttles, walking and biking paths. They did a good job of hiring companies to study the land and water and constraints to building. If this development were anywhere else—in a deserted mountain area of Colorado—I would say bravo! Onward!
Unfortunately, for us who live downstream and depend on the Rio Hondo for our gardens and fields, livestock and domestic use, any new development, however modest, will only add to a major impact on the headwaters of our watershed and the over-stressed Rio Hondo. Thanks to rising temperatures and climate change, one year we might have good snowpacks, the next year, no run-off. We are concerned about how much sewage the new plant can handle when the Rio Hondo is reduced to a trickle, especially during hot, dry summers. The wildlife is stressed. There is a surprising lack of trout in what was once defined as a cold water fishes stream.
Historically, our acequia systems sustain important riparian areas for many species of animals and plants. But now large patches of algae are appearing in slow-flow spots in the acequias and in the Rio Hondo. Wetlands in Taos and Hondo are drying up. The Phoenix spring, which once made a major contribution to the streamflow of the Hondo, is now be co-opted, chlorinated and used for the Village of Taos Ski Valley and available for new development in the Kachina area. The population of the Village is already consuming 180,000 – 207,000 gallons per day. If drought and climate change continue, how will the river survive? What will be the impact on the sewage treatment plant/Rio Hondo, of another 210 lodging/residential units on 57 acres around the Phoenix and Bavarian restaurants?
There are limits to growth, especially in times of climate fluctuation. God help us if our watershed ever catches fire and there is not enough water at TSV to put that fire out. To many of us water is sacred. For all of us, water is life.
The link to the virtual open house recording of Kachina Area Base Master Plan of October 2, 2021 is:https://designworkshop.box.com/s/ilahna8d6nqsm0b6npg7iyg6swpt09o2
Questions or comments? Contact Jessica Garrow, of the landscape designers’ group for Kachina. Her e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org or her cell phone: 303-913-3586. You can ask for an extension of the deadline for the comment period which ends October 9th. One week is surely not enough time for the public to track down and absorb so much information and make an educated comment on a Master Plan that will have such weighty consequences.
The public is also encouraged to participate in the Master Plan survey at: https://designworkshop.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_efxbMtXGBpvzpQy
Or the shortcut: https://bit.ly/3a6yhbo