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Local News
5:00 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Tamarisk-munching beetles travel the Rio Grande

Diorhabda elongata adult on saltcedar, or tamarisk, foliage.
USDA, Agricultural Research Service

Head north of Albuquerque and look over toward the Rio Grande and its forest, or bosque. Within that green ribbon of trees, you’ll also spot leaves that are reddish brown. Even from the Interstate, the dying trees are obvious.

Those leaves belong to tamarisk, or salt cedar. More than a century ago, the trees were introduced to control erosion and act as windbreaks. But they have overtaken riverbanks across the southwestern United States, sucking up water and choking out native species like cottonwoods and willows.

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Local News
9:25 am
Tue September 11, 2012

Feds take search for refuge name online

Last September, Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar and Bernalillo County Commissioner Art De La Cruz toured Price's Dairy.
Tami A. Heilemann-DOI Office of Communications

Federal wildlife managers are stepping into uncharted territory and are asking social media users for help in naming what will be one of the nation's newest urban wildlife refuges.

The refuge in New Mexico has yet to be formally established, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Southwest Region is getting a jump on things by asking people to suggest names on its Facebook page.

Voting started Friday and the list of suggestions has grown.

The favorites include Valle de Oro — Spanish for Valley of Gold — National Wildlife Refuge.

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Local News
9:12 am
Tue September 11, 2012

Government proposes prescribed burn near Santa Fe

The U.S. Forest Service is proposing a prescribed burn in the Pecos Wilderness near Santa Fe to reduce the possibility that a wildfire could severely damage the city's watershed.

The Espanola Ranger District of the Santa Fe National Forest has scheduled a meeting Sept. 20 to gather public comments and provide more information about the proposal to burn 2,900 acres in the wilderness area upstream from McClure Reservoir, which is east of Santa Fe and stores water for the city.

Local News
10:04 am
Mon September 10, 2012

Group seeks protection for relocated prairie dogs

Gunnison prairie dogs
Flikr/Andrew Holander

Animal conservationists are worried that hundreds of Gunnison's prairie dogs relocated from the city of Santa Fe to the El Malpais National Conservation Area in west-central New Mexico could become targets for shooters.

The nonprofit environmental group WildEarth Guardians is asking the Bureau of Land Management to consider restrictions on recreational shooting in the prairie dog relocation spot.

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Local News
9:54 am
Mon September 10, 2012

UNM gets grant for middle school science program

University of New Mexico professors and researchers have been awarded funding from the National Institutes of Health to implement a science enrichment program for several middle schools in rural New Mexico.

The funding will be doled out over five years and will target both tribal and predominantly Hispanic schools.

The university says there's a steady decline in the number of American Indian and Hispanic students graduating with science and engineering degrees.

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Local News
10:03 am
Thu September 6, 2012

Groups ask NM regulators for clean energy standard

New Mexico regulators are set to consider a petition filed by a coalition that is pushing for a voluntary program aimed at curbing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

The Public Regulation Commission is meeting Thursday in Santa Fe.

Western Resource Advocates filed the petition on behalf of 33 environmental groups.

WRA chief counsel Steve Michel says the proposal would allow utilities to voluntarily opt to reduce carbon emissions from their generating stations by 3 percent a year starting in 2014.

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Local News
4:53 pm
Wed September 5, 2012

Low Flows on the Rio Grande

Looking upstream on the Rio Grande at the Alameda Bridge in Albuquerque.
KUNM/Laura Paskus

Here, where the Alameda Bridge crosses the Rio Grande on the north side of Albuquerque, you can see what New Mexico’s weak monsoon season looks like on the ground.

The water is braided around sandbars and islands. It’s so shallow that even where the river is flowing, sand is visible just a few inches below the surface. Two Canada Geese honk beneath the bridge, then take off. When they land again, their feet are barely covered by the water.

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Local News
8:11 am
Wed September 5, 2012

Former hospital executive lawsuit to continue

A federal judge has denied a motion by a former St. Vincent Hospital executive facing fraud charges to dismiss a civil suit against him.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that U.S. District Court Judge James Browning recently denied that a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against Richard Crabtree on the grounds that the statute of limitations had expired.

A jury trial in the civil case is scheduled to take place in May 2013.

Local News
8:09 am
Wed September 5, 2012

Photo of man shot by state police draws fire

Authorities say a New Mexico state police officer is under investigation for taking a cell phone photo of a man shot and killed by state police.

KOB-TV reports that New Mexico State Police Chief Robert Shilling apologized Tuesday for the actions of the unnamed officer.

A picture depicting the body of Sam Pauly who was fatally shot by state police in October his Glorieta home was recently sent to KOB-TV. State police shot Pauly after reports of a road rage complaint earlier in the evening.

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Local News
8:07 am
Wed September 5, 2012

NM to host summit on state's black population

The New Mexico State Office of African American Affairs is convening a summit on black residents living in the state.

The office announced Tuesday that the summit will be held in Albuquerque on Sept. 21.

Yvette Kaufman-Bell, the office's executive director, said the event will be used to develop solutions of poverty and unemployment in the state's black community.

Blacks make up less than 3 percent of the state's population.

Local News
7:46 am
Wed September 5, 2012

Prosecutors accused of bad faith in Ponzi plea

An Albuquerque real estate executive is set to be sentenced after admitting to a Ponzi scheme that bilked 600 investors of $75 million.

A federal judge is expected to sentence Doug Vaughan on Wednesday to no more than 12 years under a plea agreement reached in December. The sentencing would wrap up a criminal case that ruined lives across eight states.

It is unclear whether the 65-year-old would be sent to a minimum-security federal prison camp for white-collar criminals or a traditional lockup with more hardened convicts.

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Local News
7:45 am
Wed September 5, 2012

Lawyer: Governor's Chief of Staff recorded on state email use

An Albuquerque attorney says he has a recording of Governor Susana Martinez's chief of staff, Keith Gardner, telling one of his clients that he never uses state email to conduct business because he didn’t want to "go to court (or) jail."

Defense attorney Sam Bregman released the audio Tuesday. He represents fired Department of Corrections worker Larry Flynn in a wrongful termination case.  It was in that case that the Martinez administration's use of private email accounts was first revealed. 

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Local News
7:22 am
Tue September 4, 2012

Forest Service approves Taos Ski Valley expansion

Taos Ski Area
Wikipedia

The U. S. Forest Service has approved Taos Ski Valley's request to expand its expert terrain by 60 percent with two new lifts that will take skiers to popular high alpine areas currently accessible only to hikers.

The plan also calls for upgrades to three other lifts, thinning of trees to expand two new glade areas for advanced intermediate to expert skiers, construction of a permanent tubing facility, a snowshoe trail system and a lift-served mountain bike trail for summer visitors.

Local News
7:19 am
Tue September 4, 2012

Black bear captured blocks from Santa Fe Plaza

Conservation officers with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish have captured a black bear that wandered into the center of Santa Fe.

Albuquerque television station KOB-TV reports the bear was first spotted at about 6:30 a.m. Sunday.

The Santa Fe New Mexican posted this video.  

A few hours later, the bear was found along the Santa Fe River, two blocks from the city's historic plaza.

Local News
9:41 am
Fri August 31, 2012

NM Quickly Reverses Decision to Drop Trail Funding

New Mexico has reversed its decision to pull out of a program that provides money to build, improve and maintain recreational trails.

The New Mexico Department of Transportation had informed the Federal Highway Administration on Wednesday that it was opting out of the Recreational Trails Program.

A day later, Transportation Secretary Alvin Dominguez wrote to the FHA saying he had reconsidered and would accept grant funds this year.

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Local News
9:36 am
Fri August 31, 2012

Construction of Casino at NM Fairgrounds Delayed

Soil issues have caused a delay in construction of a new 65,000-square-foot casino for the Downs of Albuquerque.

General manager Darren White says the building now will open about a month later than planned, early in the second quarter next year. He says engineers had found some areas where soil was not compacted deeply enough to meet specifications.

The construction also is expected to impact parking at the upcoming New Mexico State Fair.

Local News
9:33 am
Fri August 31, 2012

Fewer weeks of jobless benefits to be offered

Fewer weeks of unemployment benefits will soon be available to jobless New Mexicans and the Department of Workforce Solutions says it's because of a change in federal law.

A maximum of 54 weeks of unemployment compensation will be offered with claims effective Sept. 2. That's down from 60 weeks currently.

The department says New Mexicans eligible for 60 weeks of benefits before Sept. 2 can continue to receive payments for up to that amount of time during a phase-out period.

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Local News
9:22 am
Fri August 31, 2012

Independent tests confirms drug use in horses

Three trainers whose horses tested positive for an exotic painkilling drug could face suspensions, fines and criminal charges.

New Mexico Racing Commission executive director Vince Mares says independent lab tests have confirmed that nine horses had been drugged with dermorphin.

He tells the Albuquerque Journal that the cases are being forwarded to the state Attorney General's Office for possible criminal prosecution.

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Local News
8:11 am
Fri August 31, 2012

Wolf Reintroduction Program Officials Work to Develop New Coexistence Plan

Cm0rris0n

After more than two weeks, the Fox Mountain Pack alpha female wolf is still on the loose, foiling The Fish and Wildlife Service’s best efforts to trap and move her to an Arizona Sanctuary. For wolf advocates this is good news, because it's another day she can spend raising her pups. But for ranchers, it means a habitual livestock killer is still an active threat to their cattle. The Mexican Gray Wolf reintroduction program has been controversial since its inception, but a new coexistence plan seeks to fix that...through compromise.

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Local News
6:58 am
Thu August 30, 2012

Hopes for a Medicaid expansion grow

It sort of felt like a party at a recent health fair at the Rio Arriba County Health Commons in Española.  And perhaps it is something to celebrate when you can get lunch, hear some traditional mariachi music by El Trio de los Gallos, and get immunized against pneumonia and whooping cough for free, all at the same time.

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Local News
6:46 am
Thu August 30, 2012

GOP speech puts NM governor in national spotlight

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez used her debut on the national political stage to offer a message of hope and opportunity.  

You can hear her full address online.

Martinez described how she rose from modest roots in a border community to become the nation's first female Hispanic governor.

The governor made a prime-time appearance Wednesday night with a speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.

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Local News
8:05 am
Wed August 29, 2012

New Mexico's "Hard Choices"

Elephant Butte Reservoir
Laura Paskus/KUNM

On Tuesday in Las Cruces, New Mexico State University hosted the 57th annual New Mexico Water Conference. This year’s conference was titled “Hard Choices” and its participants were trying to figure out how New Mexicans can adapt to water scarcity. 

At the conference, there were federal and state water managers, scientists, activists, farmers—anyone with an interest in understanding how New Mexico’s water is managed and how it’s going to be managed in the future, as water becomes increasingly scarce.

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Local News
10:18 am
Tue August 28, 2012

Meeting to address tribal public safety challenges

Federal prosecutors, law enforcement officers and social workers are meeting in New Mexico to address some of the public safety challenges that are unique to American Indian communities.

The Four Corners Indian Country Conference is being put on by the U.S. Justice Department, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the U.S. attorneys in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West will kick off the three-day conference Tuesday with a keynote address that will focus on the Justice Department's efforts to protect victims.

Local News
10:04 am
Tue August 28, 2012

NM Medicaid to cover methadone treatment

New Mexico is expanding its Medicaid program to cover the costs of using methadone to treat people addicted to heroin and painkillers such as oxycodone and morphine.

A Human Services Department official says the change in policy should help in fighting a drug addiction epidemic. New Mexico has the nation's highest death rate from drug overdoses.

The Drug Policy Alliance said Monday that New Mexico joins about 30 other states in reimbursing outpatient methadone treatment.

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Local News
10:02 am
Tue August 28, 2012

State lawmakers wade into water battle

A dispute over New Mexico's water future along the Rio Grande was front and center at a hearing before state lawmakers.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that around about 30 lawmakers from around the state met Monday in Truth or Consequences to listening to opposing sides of a major Lower Rio Grande Basin legal dispute.

One side says New Mexico river water is being handed away, improperly, to Texas. Another side says New Mexico groundwater is being preserved, rightfully, for use by Dona Ana County irrigators.

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Local News
4:46 pm
Mon August 27, 2012

Hearings resume on pit rule for oil and gas industry

Flcelloguy, via Wikimedia Commons

Hearings resume on Aug. 28 on drilling wastes generated by the oil and gas industry. At issue are rules put in place under the previous administration governing thousands of waste pits and underground storage tanks.

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Call In Show
10:28 am
Mon August 27, 2012

To Expand or Not to Expand, Medicaid is the Question

clevercupcakes via Flickr

KUNM Call In Show 8/30 8a: Should New Mexico expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act?  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the federal government cannot force states to expand the program that provides healthcare to the poor.  Gov. Susana Martinez's administration says the decision has not been made, yet.  We'll hear from a community advocate and a physician.  We'd like to hear from you, too!  Email callinshow@kunm.org, post your comments online, or call in live during the show.  

505-277-5866 or toll-free 866-899-5866

Guests: 

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Local News
10:21 am
Mon August 27, 2012

State Land Office lease sale brings in $7.39 million

The New Mexico State Land Office says this month's sale of oil and natural gas leases brought in nearly $7.4 million.

The August sales included 26 tracts of land that covered more than 8,000 acres. Revenues from the sales go toward public schools, universities and hospitals.

The agency says the highest sealed bid of $466,140 was made by Ronald Miles of Roswell for about 163 acres in Eddy County.

Miles also had the highest oral bid — $2 million for about 640 acres in Lea County.

The next lease sale will be Sept. 18.

Local News
10:19 am
Mon August 27, 2012

Curry County official questions assault report delay

A Curry County Commissioner wants to know why county officials said a report about a jail assault was just being started when it appeared to have been nearly complete.

Commissioner Robert Sandoval says he believes there's been a "huge cover-up" surrounding the report of the June 27 assault.

County Attorney Steve Doerr had claimed the report was ordered after the county was threatened with a lawsuit two days after inmate Jaime Perez was assaulted by another inmate. He claimed it was therefore protected by attorney-client privilege.

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Local News
10:17 am
Mon August 27, 2012

Search on for victims of NM man in porn ring case

Federal authorities say they are looking for possible victims of a New Mexico man who authorities say talked about raping and cooking children and is charged in a massive child porn investigation.

Richard Dates is scheduled Monday to appear for a preliminary hearing in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque. The 67-year-old was charged last week with possessing child pornography in a case that began in Massachusetts with the arrest of a Sheraton hotel manager.

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