Repairing Community Irrigation Channels
Provide Representative Tara Luyan and the Coalition for Fire Fund Fairness over the damaged acequia system that supports traditional Mexican and Native American families.
Our flight took us over the Cerro Pelado Fire, which started as a prescribed burn in New Mexico in April 2022, and grew out of control due to dry conditions and seasonal high winds. The Cerro Pelado Fire burned about 45,000 acres and began a few weeks after the Hermit's Peak/Calf Canyon Complex Fire, the largest and most destructive wildfire in New Mexico's history, which burned over 340,000 acres.
The fire had disastrous effects, destroying infrastructure and displacing thousands of people throughout Mora, San Miguel, and Taos Counties, burning largely within the historic boundaries of La Merced De Santa Gertrudis de lo de Mora - the Mora Land Grant. The Mora Land Grant was an area formalized by the Mexican government in 1835, which supports a complex of Mexican and Native American families. The land was integral to the Norteño's traditional way of life, supporting agriculture, grazing, timber, food, and medicine. The heirs of the Mora Land Grant had raised concerns about the prescribed burns that were scheduled in April, a windy time of year, but their concerns were largely overlooked. Now, the Norteño communities in Mora County bear the effects of the disastrous fires that greatly affected their water system, the acequias, community-managed irrigation channels.
Our overflight examined the acequias, the extent of the wildfire damage, and how restoration efforts can continue to move forward to repair water transport. There are over fifty acequias in Mora County and our partners are working to educate officials and the community of Mora and San Miguel counties on restoration and how to navigate the effects of this disaster. Our partners are also working to ensure the direct heirs of Spanish and Mexican Land Grants - like the Mora Land Grant - are involved in the restoration of their lands. These land heirs have long cared for and properly managed their lands, using generations of traditional knowledge that is essential to land management and acequia restoration.
Click for geo-referenced photos from the flight. This .kmz file is best viewed in Google Earth.