Welcome Packet

Welcome Letter

Timberlake’s Code of the West

Revised 2020

What follows below is TRLA’s version of the modern Code of the West.  We present it here so that potential residents get an idea where all this “Rural Living” stuff is coming from.  If you intend to hang out in New Mexico for a while, you need to know this information – it could save your life.

The Code of the West was first chronicled by the famous western writer, Zane Grey.  The men and women who came to this part of the country during the westward expansion of the United States were bound by an unwritten code of conduct.  The value of integrity and self-reliance guided their decisions, actions and interactions.  In keeping with that spirit, we offer this information to help Timberlakers who wish to follow in the footsteps of those rugged individualists by living outside city limits.  Some of the body of this document wording was taken from a work by John Clarke and adapted to Timberlake.


It is important for you to know that life in the country is different from life in the city.  County governments are not able to provide the same level of service that municipal governments provide.  To that end, we are providing you with the following information to help you make an educated and informed decision when choosing to live in the rural environment of Cibola or McKinley County.  Detailed information can be found on www.trnews.info website.

Access and Emergency Concerns:

The fact that you can drive to your property today does not necessarily guarantee that you, your guests and emergency service vehicles can achieve that same level of access at all times.  Please consider:

1. Emergency response times (sheriff, fire suppression, medical care, etc.) cannot be guaranteed.  In some extreme conditions, you may find that emergency response is hindered by Mother Nature.  You need to know your rural address or Red tag number.  To obtain this, you must contact McKinley County at 505-863-9517.  Phone landlines can always call 911.  Cell phones calling 911 must ask for McKinley County Metro.  The best-case scenario will be 10 minutes depending on road conditions.   Ramah District will transport for life and limb, but not for nonlife-threatening situations.  They will standby and give base level care until Pinehill Emergency Vehicles arrive.  Pinehill transports as well as Ramah District to Zuni.  Zuni only transports to ZPHS Emergency Room but will transport again after conditions stabilize.  They will divert to Gallup if Zuni is full.  Air ambulance is available from PHI Cares or ZPHS.  Non-native Americans can request to be taken to Gallup (Rehoboth McKinley Christian Hospital).  Pinehill Policy will respond to 911 calls most of the time for threatening circumstances or you can also call 1-505-775-3223.

2. PHI Cares (helicopter service) requires an annual membership fee of $40 per household.  The application form can be downloaded from www.phicares.com.  Please make sure you indicate TRLA as the Group Name on the form.

3. AirMedCare Network is another fixed wing/rotor wing flight service to the closest hospital.  Coverage is for northern NM, AZ and southern CA.  Medicaid enrollees are not eligible.  PHI and AirMedCare will not honor each other company’s membership, so some families carry coverage with both companies.

4. New Mexico only recognizes its own EMS-DNR (do not resuscitate) legal form.  Emergency staff has to treat if there is no advance directive on file in New Mexico.  The form (with all required signatures) must be with the patient and presented to EMS personnel at the time of the incident.  EMS cannot accept that there is one.  Go to nmhealth.org and “search DNR”.  Contact Department of Health Emergency Management, 1190 S. St Francis Drive, Santa Fe, NM 87505 for a copy of the form or more information.

5. An Emergency Evacuation Program is in effect and can be found on TRLA website.

6. You can experience problems with the maintenance and cost of maintenance of your private driveway.  TRLA maintain 38 miles of side roads within budgetary HOA constraints.  TRLA does not snowplow private driveways or remove berms left by snowplow.  McKinley County and Cibola County maintain Timberlake Road leaving Hwy 53 since it is a public county road.  This can be spotty at best without a set pattern of maintenance (minimum of twice per year).   A portion of this road is BIA land as well as private property.  Additionally, there are many miles of county roads that are not maintained by the County – no grading or snow plowing.  There are even some public roads that are not maintained by anyone.  Make sure you know what type of maintenance to expect and who will provide that maintenance.

7. Extreme weather conditions can destroy roads.  Many roads were not built to current standards, and the combination of the weather and increased loads will result in high maintenance costs.

8. Many large construction vehicles cannot navigate small, steep, narrow roads.  If you plan to build, it is prudent to check out construction access.  Also, make sure emergency vehicles can easily navigate in your driveway.  They need a minimum of 16 to 20 feet.  School buses travel only on maintained County roads that have been designated as school bus routes by the School District.  You may need to drive your children to the nearest paved road so they can get to school.  If you drive your children to school, you may be reimbursed by the School District for mileage.

9. In extreme weather, even county-maintained roads can become impassable.  You may need a 4WD vehicle with chains on all four wheels to travel during those episodes, which could last for several days.

10. Also, in extreme weather (i.e. below zero), it may be necessary to use engine block heaters, especially if you don’t have a garage.  Wax crystals begin to form in diesel fuel below 15 degrees F, which forms a gel that will clog the fuel filter or fuel line.  To avoid this situation, use a “winter fuel conditioner/diesel anti-gel”.  Also, you may not want to just start your vehicle and let it idle unattended if the fuel is beginning to gel.  You should increase the rpm to at least 1000 rpm and fluctuate slowly.  Once the water temperature gauge rises, your battle is over.

11. Unpaved roads generate dust with traffic.

12. Unpaved roads are not always smooth and often have severe washboards.  They can be slippery when they are wet due to the clay type soil.  You will experience an increase in vehicle maintenance costs when you regularly travel on rural county roads.  Please adhere to the posted speed signs and go even slower when severe weather conditions exist.

13. Mail delivery is not available to your doorstep.  To obtain a mailbox at the Timberlake Fire Station or in Ramah, you will have to present two forms of identification, one with a photo ID and have a physical address in Timberlake (landowners often present a bill from Continental Divide as an example) to the Ramah Post Office.  Rural boxes are free.  Request a box ASAP and if none are available, make sure you request to be put on the waiting list.

14. Normal mail should be addressed to your rural mailbox address (i.e. HC 61 Box 111).  Use your physical address for UPS and Fed Ex.

15. Standard parcel and overnight package delivery can be a problem for those who live in the country.  Timberlake is serviced by UPS and Fed Ex when weather permits.  During bad weather, packages are sometimes left at the Stagecoach Café in Ramah or Ramah Post Office.

16. Newspaper delivery is similarly not always available to rural areas.  Check with the newspaper of your choice before assuming you can get delivery.

17. JRL Enterprises is the closest towing service (located in Ramah).  Phone number is 783-4797.   


1. Telephone communications can be a problem, especially in the mountain areas.  Cellular phones may not work or get good reception in all parts of Timberlake.  For improved service you may want to consider using an antenna/booster system.  Verizon usually provides the best signal for cell phones.  Service may be interrupted during and after severe storms.  DSL is not available at this time but may be within the next two years since it is available in Ramah.  Satellite service for computers and TVs is strongly recommended.   Dish and Direct for TV and Oso Internet Solutions and Hughes.net are the most common.

2. You will need to have an approved on-site septic system installed.  The type of soil you have available for a leach field will be very important in determining the cost and function of your system.

3. The cost for well drilling can be considerable.  The quality and quantity of well water can vary considerably from location to location and from season to season.  It is strongly advised that you research this issue very carefully and not build until you have a well on your lot.  Not all wells can be used for watering, landscaping and/or for livestock.  It may also be difficult to find enough water to provide for your needs depending on how many gallons/minute the well produces.  Well depths range from several hundred feet up to 900’.  Please refer to TRLA Well Policy at the Ranch House under Rules and Regulations on website.

4. Electric service is available to every landowner by Continental Divide.  Their telephone # is 1-505-863-3641.  If you are buying an existing home with existing electrical service, you will be required to pay a $53.38 service call to install in your name plus a $50 deposit.  If you require new service, contact Continental Divide to discuss possible routes to your building site.  Approximately the first 120’ will be at no charge.  Charge is $250 to run service to your meter pole and includes the $50 deposit fee.  To obtain a meter pole you will need to contact an electrical contractor.  It can be expensive to extend power lines to remote areas.  Electric power may not be available in two phase and three phase service configurations.  If you have special power requirements, it is important to know what level of service can be provided to your property.

5. Power outages and surges can occur in outlying areas with more frequency than in more developed areas.  A loss of electric power can also interrupt your supply of water from a well (keep an adequate supply of water on hand depending on the size of your family).  You may also lose food in freezers or refrigerators and power outages can cause problems with computers as well.  It is important to be able to survive for up to a week in severe cold or heat with no utilities if you live in the country.  Propane generators can come in handy as well as surge protectors and backup power sources for your computers

6. Frozen pipes can be prevented if you use electric heat tape/insulation, especially if you have exposed pipes.  Record low temperatures were experienced during the 2010/2011 winter season with readings of -25 to -31 in Timberlake and Ramah.

7. Trash removal can be much more cumbersome and expensive in a rural area than in a city.  The Ramah Transfer station charges $1.00 and $2.00 per bag depending on the size and is open on Wed between 2-5 p.m. and on Sat from 9-5 p.m. (subject to change).  Zuni charges $.80 per bag or $5.25 per level truckload and $5.74 per truckload above the side rails and is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Sat.  There are several religious holidays when they are closed, i.e. in Dec.  They are also usually closed between Christmas and New Year’s.  Zuni’s phone number is 1-505-782-4986.  Tree brush and cleanup from lots can be brought to the burn pile by Timberlake Community Center Ranch House; but building materials and/or tree stumps are not allowed.  Be sure to bring your key to open the gate at the Ranch House to access the burn pile.  Recycling is not available.

8. Open burning of trash and yard debris is strongly discouraged – we do live in a forest and during Burn Bans completely prohibited.  Your property is in a forested area and drought conditions make it extremely dangerous.  You will need to contact Andy Wilson (Local Fire Chief).

9. The Forest Service may post bans at various locations when severe drought conditions exist.  Landowners need to get a burn permit through Andy Wilson.

10. Fire signs are located at the entrance to Timberlake and also by the Volunteer Fire Dept./mail box area.  The signs indicate the severity of the fire season in our immediate area: Low, Moderate, High, Very High and Extreme.  A “No Burn” sign is also attached when conditions warrant.

The Property:

There are many issues that can affect your property.

1. Construction of buildings or buying offsite constructed storage sheds greater than 120 square feet requires State issued permits.

2. There are Equestrian easements in Timberlake and this may interfere with your building site if you have one on your property.  Trailhead signs are located at existing horse easements except in CCT.  Information and maps can be found on the TRLA website.

3. Timberlake Ranch Landowners Association has Codes, Covenants and Restrictions.  This means your property is “deed restricted”.   It is important that you familiarize yourself with them on the website.

4. TRLA is required to take care of Common areas and side roads.  Annual HOA Dues are a requirement.  The Bylaws for TRLA will tell you how the organization operates and how the dues are set.

5. The surrounding properties will probably not remain as they are indefinitely.  Eventually, others will build and move here permanently or part-time.  Others will want only to enjoy camping.  Setbacks as required in the CC&R’s will help to keep the area as pristine as possible.

6. The location of a new residence is a particularly important decision because it is so permanent.  Recent arrivals often build their homes on the highest ridge or hilltop on their property.  However, what they may not realize is that the farther they can see from their picture window, the farther their home can be seen by others.  Weather conditions, like wind and snow, can affect your utility expenses if your residence is out in the open and subject to the elements.

7. Two sets of building plans should be provided to the Architectural & Maintenance Committee prior to building or adding a shed or other structure.  The TRLA website lists current members of the Committee.

Mother Nature:

Residents of Timberlake usually experience more problems when the elements and earth turn unfriendly.  Here are some thoughts for you to consider.

1. The physical characteristics of your property can be positive and negative.  Trees are a wonderful environmental amenity, but can also involve your home in a forest fire.  Building at the top of a forested draw should be considered as dangerous as building in a flash flood area.  Developing “Defensible perimeters” are very helpful in protecting buildings from forest fire and, conversely, can protect the forest from igniting if your house catches on fire.  There is a large amount of information on this under Fire Mitigation on website.  If you start a forest fire, you will be responsible for paying for the cost of extinguishing that fire if negligence is involved.  If the Volunteer Fire Department cannot access your property because the driveway is too narrow, your property as well as surrounding properties is at a big disadvantage.   

2. Steep slopes can slide in unusually wet weather.  Large rocks can also roll down steep slopes and cliffs which can present a potential great danger to people and property.

3. Expansive soils can buckle concrete foundations and twist steel I-beams.

4. North facing slopes or canyons rarely receive direct sunlight in the winter.  There is a strong possibility that snow will accumulate and not melt throughout the winter.

5. The topography of the land can tell you where the water will go in the case of heavy precipitation.  When property owners fill in ravines, they have found that the water that drained through that ravine now drains through their house.  Low areas will collect water when snow melts or large rain events occur.  Consider your property’s topography when designing structures and other development.

6. A flash flood can occur, especially during the summer monsoon season, and turn a dry gully into a river.  It is wise to take this possibility into consideration when developing your property or building.

7. Nature can provide you with some wonderful neighbors.  Most, such as deer and eagles are positive additions to the environment.  However, even “harmless” animals like deer can cross the road unexpectedly and cause traffic accidents, which is another reason to drive slowly.  Please drive defensively.  Rural development encroaches on the traditional habitat of coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, rattlesnakes, prairie dogs, bears, and other animals that can be dangerous and you need to know how to deal with them.  In general, it is best to enjoy wildlife from a distance and know that if you do not handle your pets and trash properly, it could cause problems for you and the wildlife.

8. For the New Mexico Game & Fish Dept., call 1-505-841-9256, option 3.

9. June is no-see-ums (Juniper gnats) month.  The bites can be nasty.  Have Benadryl cream handy.  Monsoon season increases mosquito population if you are near standing water.


1. It is possible that adjoining agricultural uses can disturb your peace and quiet.

2. Land preparation and other operations can cause dust, especially during windy and dry weather.

3. Animals and their manure can cause objectionable odors.  What else can we say?

4. If you choose to live among the farms and ranches of our rural countryside, do not expect County government to intervene in the normal day-to-day operations of your agribusiness neighbors.

5. The State of New Mexico has an open range law.  This means that if your property is located in an open range and you do not want cattle, sheep or other livestock on your property, it is your responsibility to fence them out.  It is not the responsibility of the rancher to keep his/her livestock off your property.

6. If you decide to have horses on your property, remember that the forest vegetation cannot support them.

7. The New Mexico Livestock Board Rep for our area is Mark Waters at 1-505-362-3923 (cell) or 1-505-863-9227 (home).  If you are going to transport horses within the State, you must have a hauling permit.  The fee per animal as of 5/2014 is $35 and Mark will come to your location.

In Conclusion:

Even though you pay property taxes to Cibola or McKinley County, the amount of tax collected cannot cover the cost of the services that you wish to be provided as a rural resident.

This information is by no means exhaustive.  There are other issues that you may encounter that we have overlooked and we encourage you to be vigilant in your duties to explore and examine those things that could cause your move to be less than you expect.