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Thursday, July 07, 2011

How to Help Family's Efforts to Save Dixon's Apple Orchard From Fire and Flood Impacts

Images Who hasn't enjoyed the magnificent fruit provided each year -- if all goes well -- by Dixon's apple orchard near Cochiti lake? We each have our favorites among the Champagne, Sparkling Burgundy, Red Rome or Red Delicious apples. The Champaign and Burgundy varieties, in particular, are precious -- having been developed over decades by the family-run operation and embued with unique qualities produced by the special soil, climate and location of the orchard. Even more distinctive and admirable has been the family's devotion to the orchard, and to making a visit to the orchard into a warm and wonderful experience, no matter what your age or circumstances.

Now all that is in danger of extinction.

As many of you know, Dixon's orchard came close to being wiped out entirely by one of the voracious arms of the massive Las Conchas fire, which is still burning virulently farther north in New Mexico. Luckily, "only" about 300 trees -- or about 10% of the orchard -- failed to survive the fire. That's bad enough, but Becky Mullane, Fred Dixon's daughter, and her husband Jim and their kids lost their residence at the orchard as well as a few other structures to the fire.

Even worse is what may happen in the aftermath of the flames, when our monsoon kicks in any day now and the burnt hills and canyon walls that surround the orchard can no longer hold the cascading water that pours down. The orchard is now in serious danger of complete destruction via flooding and serious erosion. We can't let that happen.

Friends of Dixon's t-shirt

Red Tape
Unfortunately, the Mullanes have run into problems with the state Risk Management Division refusing to permit them to start immediately on work to mitigate the impacts of the coming downpours. Because the land is owned by the state, the Mullanes must abide by the orders of Risk Management and other state agencies in how they handle certain aspects of the emergency. At the moment Risk Management is saying the Mullanes won't be able to start on reseeding, clearing of the creek bed or stabilization of the hillside until Friday, and that might be too late. As the Santa Fe New Mexican reports:

The apple trees that survived the Las Conchas Fire sit on a flood plain directly below six miles of canyon and 20,000 acres filled with ash and soot — all ready to be flushed toward the orchard and Cochiti Lake with the summer monsoons. This watershed supplies Cochiti Pueblo, Cochiti Lake and a significant amount of the water supply for the Rio Grande Valley. 

NM Land Commissioner Ray Powell is one of the government officials who's working hard to speed up the process of prevention and mitigation:

State Land Commissioner Ray Powell has been working with officials from Cochiti Pueblo, the National Resource Conservation Service, the Bureau of Land Management, UNM and other agencies to bring help to Dixon's Apple Orchard. 

"There is a huge amount of expertise and a will to do something," Powell said, "but it all revolves around getting the resources to apply it to the land and getting those resources quickly."

How Can We Help?

Dana Rickard, a family friend of the Mullanes and manager of their promotions and weddings, is currently establishing a public donation fund. The best support the general public can offer Dixon's Apple Orchard right now, according to Rickard, is to donate $50 for a T-shirt at friendsofdixons.com

Ray Powell advises people to call local legislators and members of the congressional delegation to push for more immediate funds to protect the orchard and the watershed just beyond it. 

The family and supporters are also planning for a benefit fundraiser to be held on August 27th. To help with contributions, time, silent auction high ticket items or raffle items for the Mullane family benefit please contact Kim Duran @ kim2955@aol.com.

You can stay current with the happenings at the orchard at the familly's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/dixons.apples

Let's all pitch in and put maximum pressure on government officials to help save this New Mexico treasure!

July 7, 2011 at 01:14 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink


Apparently there's a benefit for them tomorrow night. In today's Albuq. Journal Venue section, p. 3:

"No truth to rumor that Thor played one

Russell Cook builds and performs on hammer dulcimers. While the instrument is not widely known, the musician will showcase it during a performance at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 9, at Heights Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 8600 Academy NE."

"The perfomance is free, yet donations are accepted. Proceeds from the concert will be donated to Dixon's Apple Orchard, which was partially damaged in the Las Conchas Fire."

I love hammer dulcimer when John McCutcheon plays it! Couldn't find this on the web anywhere.

Posted by: Michelle Meaders | Jul 8, 2011 5:20:25 PM

I have lived in NM all of my life and this is the first time I have heard about the Dixon Apple Orchard. I have heard of apple irchards in Dixon. Anyway I wonder why all of the hulla ballou as related to a private apple orchard. Donate $50.00 for a T-shirt? How about others who have lost homes and livelyhood in this summer's fires.

This is a private business and as such has no more rights to money than anyone else who lost property. But they have a heck of a PR program.

Posted by: Joe Morgan | Jul 9, 2011 8:57:29 AM