As firefighters continue to battle massive blazes in New Mexico and Colorado, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell is renewing his call to restore forests to a more natural state.
He says a combination of decades of vigorous fire suppression and the waning of the timber industry over environmental concerns has left many forests subject to the kind of super-fires that are now regularly consuming hundreds of homes and millions of acres.
A new online journalism organization called New Mexico In Depth has been established to publish investigative reports and articles on issues ranging from education and health care to politics and poverty.
The news outlet announced Wednesday it's receiving $525,000 over two years from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and plans to start publishing later this year.
Governor Susana Martinez said in a letter Tuesday that restrictions on fireworks are needed because of the state's drought and high winds. The state also is fighting two raging wildfires caused by lightning.
State law allows local jurisdictions the power to restrict the use of fireworks and to ban certain fireworks during droughts. However, local officials must hold a public hearing and issue a proclamation for a ban at least 20 days before a holiday for which fireworks can be sold.
The Santa Fe Board of County Commissioners has voted to ban certain fireworks in parts of Santa Fe County. The recent vote means unincorporated portions of Santa Fe County cannot sale or use missile-type rockets, helicopters, aerial spinners, stick-type rockets and ground audible devices.
In addition, all fireworks within the wildlands in Santa Fe County are banned as July 4th approaches. The move comes as the county continues to suffer from severe drought conditions.
A legislative committee reports that New Mexico's revenue outlook is better than expected.
The Legislative Finance Committee says that revenues are on a path to be about $205 million or 3.7 percent higher than what was forecast in December.
The latest revenue tracking report is based on actual collections through March. The current fiscal year ends this month and the LFC expects about $5.7 billion to flow into the state's general budget account.
By The Associated Press and The Albuquerque Journal
The University of New Mexico is planning to start construction on a $146 million adult-care hospital west of its current hospital. The Albuquerque Journal reports that plans for the construction this fall is slated to go before regents for approval Tuesday.
UNM hospitals chief executive officer Steve McKernan says if all goes according to plan, the six-story, 96-bed hospital will open in July 2014.
The Albuquerque-based Joy Junction is scheduled to announce plans to build a new dormitory, chapel and women's center on Wednesday. The move comes as Joy Junction founder and CEO Jeremy Reynolds says the homeless crisis in the state is the worst he's seen in decades due to the economy.
Officials say every night, the shelter is forced to turn away a dozen people or more because of a lack of space in a facility that can hold 300 people. On Facebook, Joy Junction gives daily updates on numbers turned away and asked followers to pray for them.
The Obama administration is expected to announce this week if the dunes sagebrush lizard will be listed as an endangered species. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports Tom Buckley, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Albuquerque, says a decision may come as early as Thursday in Washington.
Gov. Susana Martinez's administration says a new analysis finds repeat drunken driving offenders responsible for a growing share of traffic deaths in New Mexico.
The Traffic Safety Bureau reports that nearly 60% of alcohol-related traffic deaths last year involved a driver with more than one arrest or conviction for drunken driving. That's up from 35% in 2009 and 47% in 2010.
Santa Fe police say the city has seen a large spike in burglaries in the past year. KRQE-TV reports police say burglaries in Santa Fe have gone up by 53%, compared to a year ago.
Capt. Aric Wheeler says the police department plans to deploy more unmarked police units and officers on bike to neighborhoods that are considered hot spots. Authorities say many burglaries may also be tied to narcotic users breaking into homes to sustain their drug habits.
Federal agriculture officials and the New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger have announced a new mobile summer meal program aimed at reaching underserved children in rural areas.
The collaboration and the Moriarty-Edgewood school district plan on increasing access to summer meals for an estimated 100 children a day in some of Torrance County's poorest neighborhoods. A special school bus will be used as the mobile meal site.
By The Associated Press and The Albuquerque Journal and Ruidoso News
UPDATE 6/18 11:00AM:
Firefighters say they are continuing to take advantage of favorable weather conditions to battle a wildfire in southern New Mexico that has destroyed 242 homes and businesses.
Meanwhile, officials said Monday that the ranging blaze in the Gila Wilderness, already the largest wildfire in state history, grew another 1,000 acres and is now 463 square miles. That fire is 80 percent contained.
University of New Mexico students will likely see a rise in the cost of school-sponsored health insurance.
The Albuquerque Journal reports a regents finance committee approved a 22 percent increase in insurance costs Thursday. The proposal would raise premiums from $300 to nearly $1,700 annually starting next year. About 2,000 students, including student employees such as graduate assistants, are covered by the school insurance program.
The Fort Sill Apache Tribe has crossed another hurdle in its ongoing attempt to build a casino on its new reservation.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs recently sent a letter to the governor and other officials in New Mexico saying it has determined the tribe's reservation east of Deming is eligible for gaming, and it has begun the process of reviewing the tribe's request to build a casino on the 30-acre tract along Interstate 10.
Governor Susana Martinez and Native American leaders are meeting in southern New Mexico for an annual tribal-state summit. Education, water rights and natural resources, and tribal infrastructure and economic development are among the topics for Friday's meeting at a resort hotel and casino operated by the Mescalero Apache Tribe.
A banquet was held Thursday evening for the governor and leaders of New Mexico's 22 tribes and pueblos.
Wildlife officials are investigating the death of a female member of the Dark Canyon wolf pack.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told the Albuquerque Journal that the body of the Mexican gray wolf was found last month. It has been sent to Oregon for a necropsy to determine cause of death.
The wolf was from one of two packs that wildlife officials have been monitoring in the Gila Wilderness, where the largest fire in state history is burning. They say the blaze has not yet reached the packs, which may have pups.
New Mexico authorities detailed what they called a "recipe for fraud" as they announced the bust of a sophisticated ring that specialized in helping illegal immigrants obtain fraudulent driver's licenses.
District Attorney Matt Chandler says the recipe included reams of fraudulent documents that were used as proof of residency to obtain licenses in at least 54 cases. Chandler says the investigation is continuing.
The national Republican Party is setting its sights and its money on New Mexico, hoping to return former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson to Washington as the state's next U.S. senator.
Even before Wilson easily won her primary over Las Cruces businessman Greg Sowards on Tuesday, the National Republican Senatorial Committee had set aside $3 million in advertising for the New Mexico race, which is among the group's top 10 targets heading into the general election.
A former scientist at Sandia National Labs in New Mexico has pleaded not guilty to charges of stealing research to share with China. Jianyu Huang was arraigned Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque. The Albuquerque Journal reports Huang faces five counts of federal program fraud and one count of false statements.
Authorities say he passed off nanotechnology research that belongs to the U.S. as his own. They say he went online to share the data with state-run schools in China.
The owner of a Los Lunas auction business is facing criminal charges for the treatment of four emaciated horses found struggling for life. KRQE-TV reports Dennis Chavez, owner of Southwest Livestock Auction, was charged Tuesday with 12 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.
The Livestock Board began investigating the auction business in March after a graphic video was posted by a national livestock rights group. The group found sick and starving horses, and four downed animals were euthanized.
Bernalillo County Commissioner Michelle Lujan Grisham Tuesday won the Democratic nomination for Albuquerque's 1st Congressional District.
Grisham took 40% of the vote in what was a close three-way battle to replace Rep. Martin Heinrich, who won the Democratic nomination for New Mexico's open U.S. Senate seat. With nearly all the vote counted, State Sen. Eric Griego came in second with 35%. Former Albuquerque Mayor Marty Chavez trailed with 25% of the vote.
Republican Governor Susana Martinez and her allies flexed their muscle in legislative races by reaching across party lines to help moderate Democrats survive challenges from liberals, but the governor's favored GOP candidate lost in a Senate contest in eastern New Mexico.
Martinez adviser Jay McCleskey said a political action committee established by the governor's supporters spent $100,000 on mailings and radio ads to influence the outcome in eight House and Senate Democratic primary races and succeeded in seven of those.
Santa Fe County Clerk Valerie Espinoza and Bernalillo County Assessor Karen Montoya won the Democratic primaries Tuesday for seats on one of the state's most powerful, highest paid and most scandal-plagued commissions.
Espinoza won the Democratic primary for the northern New Mexico District 3 seat on the Public Regulation Commission while Montoya won the District 1 seat.
By The Associated Press and The Albuquerque Journal
The primary votes weren't even counted before the partisan barbs started flying.
In a preview of what promises to be a tough, expensive and closely watched race for New Mexico's open U.S. Senate seat, Republican nominee Heather Wilson and Democrat Martin Heinrich are jumping immediately from quiet primaries into negative territory.
Shortly after her race was called early in the evening, Wilson went straight to blasting Heinrich, saying he has made things worse for New Mexicans since he replaced her in Washington as Albuquerque's congressman.