Associated Press

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A state park in western New Mexico offers a program for viewing an annular eclipse of the sun later this month.

It's one more step forward for a plan by Arizona's largest utility to restructure ownership of a coal-fired power plant it operates in northwestern New Mexico.

Arizona utility regulators have approved Arizona Public Service Co.'s purchase of Southern California Edison's 48 percent share of two units at the Four Corners Generating Station.

The $294 million deal still needs approval from federal regulators, but the Arizona utility expects to close on the sale later this year.

A state Livestock Board official says an inspector took appropriate action when he was told about four dying horses at a Las Lunas auction. But the inspector has been reprimanded for how he dealt with animal rescue group members.

Livestock Board Executive Director Myles Culbertson tells the Albuquerque Journal that inspector B.J. Winchester is back on the job.

Major League Baseball expanded its playoff format to 10 teams Friday, adding a second wild-card in each league.

The decision establishes a new one-game, wild-card round in each league between the teams with the best records who are not division winners, meaning a third-place team could win the World Series.

This is the only change in baseball's playoff structure since the 1995 season, when wild-card teams were first added.