Chair's message: Fraser was longtime chapter leader, conservationist

Rio Grande Chapter chair John Buchser

By John Buchser, Rio Grande Chapter chair, 03/24/14
Former Northern Group and Chapter chair Doug Fraser passed away unexpectedly earlier this year. I still remember him calling me before every Group executive committee meeting and cheerfully reminding me to come and share with the group. Doug was a warm and enthusiastic leader.
He learned his ways through his engagement in politics, and he had what I call the “Emilio Naranjo” style — he took charge and ran the show. Doug had a never-ending passion for education — once he landed in New Mexico he attended UNM, earning first a B.S. in civil engineering, then a Juris Doctor. He subsequently earned a master’s from the Annapolis campus of St. John’s. He was a major player in attaining the passage of the Hard-Rock Mining Act in New Mexico in 1993. After serving the Club as a volunteer leader from 1997 to 2006, he was a founding member of Los Amigos del Valles Caldera. He is survived by his wife, Kathy, who is living in the palatial “mud hut” that Doug built on the outskirts of Santa Fe — an enduring testament to his skills.
Hearing by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell a huge success
From the Las Cruces hearing in January, Chapter Director Camilla Feibelman showed me photos of the supporters of the full Organ Mountains/Desert Peaks monument and the objectors — easily a 10:1 ratio (see Page 1 and Page 14). Thank you to all those who attended. We clearly made the point that there is broad support for protecting our wild places.
Legislature a wild ride …
I went to the hearing on SB89 — Peter Wirth’s bill on dedicating monies on the Gila settlement to conservation (see Page 8). It is most curious to me that more than 200 supporters of this bill vastly outnumbered the handful or two who objected, and yet the bill died. We owe major thanks to former Interstate Stream Director Norm Gaume, who eloquently pointed out that siltation of the $350 million project would likely doom it. The project has been studied by the ISC for more than nine years. A recommendation is due this year. It is at least $200 million short of funding, if a diversion alternative is selected. One elderly farmer who lived downstream lamented about the lack of water for his farm this last year. Given that the cost per unit of water can only be afforded by urban dwellers, his way of life is doomed no matter of a diversion/storage project or not. There is a lot of change coming to farming — a necessary part of supporting all of us on this planet. Current minor diversions on the Gila are nowhere near the scope of spending being considered.