Rita Daniels

Reporter

Rita Daniels is an award winning reporter and radio producer who was raised off the grid in the Wild West by a pack of hippies and Pueblo Indians. She's pretty sure these unique circumstances have something to do with her love of the oral tradition as well as her unyielding obsession when it comes to to capturing stories about the human experience. Upon graduating from Emerson College in the Media Arts, Rita began recording and producing radio stories while roaming the planet. In 2010 she was invited to join NPR's Snap Judgment Team as a founding producer. Building on her previous work with The National Radio Project, Rita is now reporting the news of New Mexico for KUNM.

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Cowgirl Jules via Flickr / Creative Commons License

UPDATED 8/28: The state Game Commission has voted unanimously to approve the expansion of cougar and bear hunting in New Mexico.

The vote came Thursday during a meeting in Santa Fe that was attended by dozens of wildlife advocates who voiced concerns about the proposal.

The new rules will allow for more black bear hunting in all but two of the state's game management districts as well as the doubling of cougar hunting limits. The trapping and snaring of cougars on private land and state trust land will also be allowed without special permits.

The Game and Fish Department says new population data warranted an update of the hunting limits.

Critics argued that the department's plan wasn't based on science and that more hunting will have negative long-term effects on animal populations.

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The State Game Commission is considering several controversial new rules, including one that would allow hunters to kill 25 percent more bears in New Mexico. Wildlife conservation advocates are planning to protest at the commission meeting on Thursday in Santa Fe. At issue is how to interpret the state’s bear density study.  

Rita Daniels

New Mexico could get more money for schools and roads if the U.S. increases royalty rates for coal mined on federal land. The feds held the last of a series of nationwide listening sessions in Farmington on Thursday.

Rita Daniels

Farmers and livestock owners are free to draw water from the San Juan and Animas rivers again after 3 million gallons of mine waste spilled into the watershed. No one knows what the long-term effects of the contamination will be on wildlife in the rivers, but biologists are tracking the spill’s impact.

Rita Daniels

New Mexico lifted water restrictions on the Animas and San Juan Rivers over the weekend in the wake of a toxic mine spill in Colorado.

Water samples showed spikes in heavy metals, but state and federal officials say contaminants have been diluted and dispersed downstream.

That brought relief to farmers in San Juan County who are not on the Navajo Nation. They were given the go-ahead on Saturday to irrigate and use the water for watering livestock after the San Juan and Animas Rivers had been closed for more than a week.

Rita Daniels/KUNM


Water managers in Northwestern New Mexico are trying to figure out how much contamination from the Gold King Mine spill has seeped into ditch irrigation systems. 

Rita Daniels/KUNM

Trucks delivered 200,000 gallons of water Thursday for irrigating crops in San Juan County after the Animas and San Juan rivers were closed due to contamination from the Gold King Mine spill. 

Rita Daniels/KUNM

People with domestic wells in the floodplain of the Animas and San Juan rivers are free to use their water today as of midday Friday, August 15, 2015. New Mexico lifted a ban on water use from these wells after initial tests showed no contamination from the Gold King Mine spill.

Peter Nathanson with the state’s Drinking Water Bureau said they inspected wells within 500 feet of the river where the groundwater level is higher than the river water. 

Clyde Frogg via Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons License

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency has ordered agency offices nationwide to stop field investigation work for mine cleanups while they reassess the work to ensure there's no potential for spills similar to the one in Colorado.

Rita Daniels/KUNM

Communities along the Animas and San Juan rivers are still waiting on test results from the Gold King Mine spill. The first round of test results from the toxic plume’s impact on the rivers near Farmington aren't expected until Wednesday.

Rita Daniels/KUNM

The first results from tests of the water in northwestern New Mexico contaminated by the Gold King Mine spill are expected on Wednesday. 

Environmental Protection Agency

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has declared an emergency that frees up state funds to address a massive spill of wastewater from a Colorado mine into the Animas and San Juan rivers.

La Plata County

Mine wastewater is still flowing into a tributary of the Animas River in Colorado after an accident on Wednesday. Environmental Protection Agency officials say they’re working to stop the contamination and now have a better idea of what exactly is in the toxic sludge.

Jonathan Thompson / High Country News

Farmington has shut off drinking water pumps from the San Juan River after about a million gallons of contaminated water from a mine spilled into the watershed upstream.

Rita Daniels

The Obama Administration released details this week on the Clean Power Plan which calls for power plants across the country to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Screenshot of KOAT-TV livestream of Monday's hearing.

A judge heard testimony Monday in a preliminary hearing for a case against two Albuquerque police officers who fatally shot homeless camper James Boyd last year. The judge will determine whether or not the officers, who face murder charges, will go to trial.

Rita Daniels

 

This week the superintendent for the Taos school district announced her final decision to relocate the alternative high school. The shakeup has caused teachers to quit, and some students said they’re being left in the lurch.

Rita Daniels

CUBA, N.M.—Kids from Sandoval County have been raising animals in anticipation of the annual fair this weekend. 

Rita Daniels

SHIPROCK, N.M.—Navajo youth are walking hundreds of miles across their reservation for what they call a Journey for Existence. They will be summiting one of their sacred mountains near Cortez, Colorado, this weekend to offer prayers for the planet.

Rita Daniels

Faith leaders in New Mexico are asking citizens to take personal responsibility for tackling climate change.

Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders stood together beneath the broiling sun Tuesday morning, pledging their support for a new Papal Encyclical, which encourages people to curb their consumption of energy.

Sister Joan Brown is with the religious nonprofit New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light.

liikennevalo via compfight

The Environmental Protection Agency awarded the Environmental Health Department more then $150,000 to continue keeping tabs on the amount of microscopic particles floating in the air.

Rita Daniels

Much to the dismay of many educators and community members in Taos, the district’s superintendent is threatening to relocate the alternative high school that serves at-risk kids. 

(c) Gilbert Hernandez courtesy Fantagraphics

Who decides what teenagers get to check out from their school library? That question is at the center of a controversy in Rio Rancho, where school staff violated policy when they removed a book.

It all started back in February when a ninth-grader checked out a book from the library at Rio Rancho High School. He took it home and his mom saw it. 

Dick Thomas Johnson

UPDATE 6:05 pm - NEA New Mexico's Charles Goodmacher was in the courtroom late this afternoon and said the judge ruled in favor of the union. We will be following this story as it unfolds. Check back for updates.

Rita Daniels

Key players in New Mexico’s energy economy came together Wednesday in Albuquerque to talk about some of the challenges they face.

via Engaging Peace

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling this week on a law limiting mercury and other emissions from power plants will not affect a coal-fired plant in northwestern New Mexico.

EcoFlight

If you are a member of the Navajo Nation with respiratory problems and you live near the Four Corners Power Plant, you may have more access to health care soon.

Rita Daniels / KUNM

The federal monitor overseeing reform of the Albuquerque Police Department held his first public meeting in town this week.

James Ginger responded to skeptics who questioned his take on what successful police reform will look like and criticized him for not including anyone from New Mexico on his 10-person team.

“Cut us a little bit of slack,” Ginger said. “Let us get our feet on the ground. Let us do a reconnoiter. Let us figure out what it is we need to do, and then we’ll have meetings like this periodically throughout the year.”

Wikimedia Commons

The Environmental Protection Agency is considering whether to recertify an underground nuclear waste storage facility in southeastern New Mexico. It’s the first time the Department of Energy has gone through this process since a drum burst deep underground at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, leaking radiation and contaminating workers.

Rita Daniels

This weekend marks Albuquerque’s 39th PrideFest, promoting a positive image of the LGBT community. But many transgender people feel like there’s still a long way to go in the fight to end discrimination.

Over one hundred people got together Thursday night at the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico before the candlelight vigil that launches Albuquerque’s PrideFest weekend. 

Agomezig via Compfight

The Santa Fe National Forest Service is asking the public what kind of environmental protections they would like to see for geothermal energy development in the Jemez Mountains. The U.S.

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