KUNM

Air Force Looking To Expand Airspace In NM, Drought Is Effecting The Rio Grande

Apr 13, 2018

Air Force Looking To Expand Airspace In New Mexico – The Associated Press & The Roswell Daily Record

U.S. Air Force officials continue trying to ease concerns over an idea to expand military training airspace in southeastern New Mexico.

The Roswell Daily Record reports local business and government leaders fear that the proposed expansion could affect the residents' lives and the local economy.

Holloman Airspace Manager Juan Lavarreda Perez and Ed Chupein, deputy chief of operational training systems and infrastructure with Air Force Headquarters, held meetings on Wednesday and Thursday in Carlsbad, Artesia and Roswell to clear up some concerns and answer questions.

Chupein says they are looking to expand the airspace to meet modern aircraft and flight training needs, something that is necessary as the Holloman Air Force Base is facing a pilot shortage.

He says the ideas presented are preliminary and will be revised.

Minnow Rescue Under Way As Portions Of Rio Grande Dry UpThe Associated Press

Federal water managers say they will be facing some difficult decisions as the worsening drought is significantly affecting flows on the Rio Grande.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released their operating plan for the river Thursday.

Officials say some of the lowest snowpack reports on record will leave managers with very little water and they will have to decide how and when to best move water for downstream users and for the Rio Grande silvery minnow.

The tiny fish is protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

More than 10 miles of the river have already dried in the Bosque del Apache area.

The bureau is working with federal wildlife managers on fish rescues in the areas of the river that have dried.

Subdivisions Remain Under Pre-Evacuation NoticesThe Associated Press

Cibola National Forest officials say residents of several subdivisions in the Zuni Mountains near Grants in northwestern New Mexico should remain poised to evacuate if necessary because of two wildfires.

However, forest officials said Thursday that containment lines were holding after the fires had little growth overnight. Each was estimated at 1,000 acres.

Subdivisions remaining under pre-evacuation notices include Bluewater, Bluewater Acres, Bluewater Village and La Jara.

Officials say a Type One management team was assembling to take over management of both fires.

Causes of the fires remain under investigation.

Koch-Funded Group To Hold Forum On GOP Tax CutsThe Associated Press

A Koch brothers-funded group is hosting a New Mexico forum as part of a national effort aimed at convincing Hispanic voters that the GOP-sponsored tax reforms help them.

The LIBRE Initiative is scheduled Saturday to hold an event in Albuquerque and is inviting Hispanic business leaders to attend and speak on how they've benefited from the tax cuts signed by President Donald Trump last year.

The conservative-leaning group is organizing similar forums in other states with a large number of Latino voters who could swing midterm elections.

LIBRE president Daniel Garza called the tax cuts "a once in a generation" opportunity and expects Republicans to pursue similar reforms.

But the Democratic Party of New Mexico called the tax cuts a "sham" that mainly helps millionaires and billionaires.

Four New Fires Burning Around New MexicoKOB-TV

New Mexico State Forestry Officials said two wildfires have burned about 1,000 acres each near Mount Taylor and were uncontained Thursday night. Another two were burning in southeastern New Mexico.

KOB-TV reports the Diener Canyon Fire began as a prescribed burn that was started earlier this week but jumped its containment lines.

The fire is in the Zuni Mountains about 15 miles west of Grants. The second fire called the Bluewater Fire prompted officials to call for pre-evacuation notices of nearby Bluewater Acres and Bluewater Village.

KOB reports there are two additional fires in southeast New Mexico. One has grown to 1,000 acres near Capitan and another 60,000-acre fire is burning between Tatum and Milnesand.

Trump Administration Pauses Legal Orientation For Immigrants - By Amy Taxin, Associated Press

The federal government is putting on hold a program that helps tens of thousands of immigrants navigate the country's complex immigration court system.

The U.S. Department of Justice said this week it was placing the program that provides legal orientation to immigrants in deportation proceedings on hold pending review.

Immigrant advocates were outraged by the move to cut off the assistance for immigrants who are pleading their own cases in immigration court.

The New York-based Vera Institute of Justice says the 15-year-old program helps more than 50,000 people in immigration detention centers every year.

Immigrants who can't afford an attorney must represent themselves in immigration court.

Albuquerque Mayor Passes Law Decriminalizing MarijuanaAssociated Press

Possession of small amounts of marijuana will no longer be a criminal offense in New Mexico's largest city.

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller signed legislation Thursday amending the city's criminal code, making low-level pot possession of an ounce or less without a valid medical marijuana referral a citable offense.

Instead of jail time and a criminal penalty fee, police would issue a $25 fine.

City officials say the new law will go into effect next week.

Albuquerque joins a growing list of U.S. municipalities that have similar measures in place, including Santa Fe.

City officials say law enforcement should be able to spend more time on violent crimes instead of minor marijuana offenses.

Blowing Dust Hampering Drivers In Arizona And New MexicoAssociated Press

Blowing winds and low visibility has forced the closure of two central Arizona highways and also hampered drivers in New Mexico.

Arizona Department of Transportation officials say State Route 347 was closed in both directions north of Maricopa Thursday afternoon, causing long backups.

Interstate 10 also was closed in both directions near Casa Grande due to limited viability.

There's no immediate timetable for the re-opening of either highway.

National Weather Service meteorologists say visibility is reduced along Interstate 40 between Winslow and the New Mexico border in northern Arizona and winds also are picking up along I-10 in the Willcox area of southeastern Arizona.

The New Mexico Department of Transportation says visibilities may be reduced on highways in Luna and Hidalgo counties in southwestern New Mexico due to blowing dust.

EPA Fires Back At Critics Over Colorado Mine WastewaterAssociated Press

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is firing back at a mining company that accused the agency of letting untreated mine wastewater get into a southwestern Colorado river.

Doug Benevento, the EPA's Denver region director, said Thursday the criticism from Sunnyside Gold Corp. was meant to distract attention from Sunnyside's responsibility to help with a Superfund cleanup of the area.

The company and the government are in a dispute over who should pay for a study to help devise a cleanup plan.

EPA ordered Sunnyside to pay because the company owns mining sites in the area.

Sunnyside argues it's not responsible. The company says EPA is making things worse by running a treatment plant below full capacity, letting pollution get into a river.

EPA says the plant is running as designed.

Minnow Rescue Under Way As Portions Of Rio Grande Dry Up – Associated Press

Federal water managers say they will be facing some difficult decisions as the worsening drought is significantly affecting flows on the Rio Grande.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released their operating plan for the river Thursday.

Officials say some of the lowest snowpack reports on record will leave managers with very little water and they will have to decide how and when to best move water for downstream users and for the Rio Grande silvery minnow.

The tiny fish is protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

More than 10 miles of the river have already dried in the Bosque del Apache area.

The bureau is working with federal wildlife managers on fish rescues in the areas of the river that have dried.

Popular National Parks To Raise Fees To $35, Not $70 - By Matthew Daly, Associated Press

The Interior Department is increasing fees at the most popular national parks to $35 per vehicle, backing down from an earlier plan that would have forced visitors to pay $70 per vehicle to visit the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and other iconic parks.

A plan announced Thursday would boost fees at 17 popular parks by $5, up from the current $30 but far below the figure Interior proposed last fall.

The plan by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke drew widespread opposition from lawmakers and governors of both parties, who said the higher fees could exclude many Americans from enjoying national parks. The agency received more than 109,000 comments on the plan, most of them opposed.

The fee increases apply to Yellowstone, Zion, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain and Grand Teton parks, among others.

8 Accused Of Sex Trafficking Minors In Arizona, New MexicoAssociated Press

Federal authorities say eight people have been indicted on sex trafficking charges that involved minors in New Mexico and Arizona.

Prosecutors said Thursday the defendants also are charged with conspiring to transport minors to engage in criminal sexual activity.

Seven of the defendants are from New Mexico and range in age from 19 to 29.

The eighth is a 54-year-old Phoenix man who has yet to be arrested in the case and is considered a fugitive.

The superseding indictment charges the eight defendants with conspiring to recruit and force minors to engage in commercial sex acts in New Mexico's Bernalillo County and elsewhere between February 2017 and January 2018.

Five of the defendants also are charged with transporting a minor in interstate commerce for the purpose of engaging in prostitution.

Española Rehires Its Former Manager Who Is Suing The CitySanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Española has rehired its former city manager who is suing the city after being fired by a previous mayor.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the city council voted 6-2 Tuesday to rehire Kelly Duran following the recommendation by recently elected Mayor Javier Sanchez.

Duran was hired by former Mayor Alice Lucero in 2014 and terminated two years later.

Duran and former city planning director Patrick Nicholson, who was also fired, sued Española, claiming Lucero ousted them for refusing to go along with her political cronyism. The lawsuit is ongoing.

The newspaper's attempts to reach Duran were unsuccessful.

City Councilor John Ramon Vigil voted against the hiring, saying he believed the Duran's litigation is a conflict of interest.

Drought Continues To Expands Across American SouthwestAssociated Press

Drought is stiffening its hold across the American Southwest as extreme conditions spread from Oklahoma to Utah.

The federal drought map released Thursday shows dry conditions intensifying across northern New Mexico and expanded in Arizona.

According to the National Drought Mitigation Center, nearly half of New Mexico and Arizona are facing extreme drought or worst conditions while around 60 percent of Utah is under severe drought.

On the southern high plains, Oklahoma remains ground zero right now for the worst drought conditions in the United States. About 20 percent of the state is facing exceptional drought conditions — the worst possible classification.

Most of Colorado also is under severe drought and almost all of the Texas Panhandle is seeing extreme drought or worse conditions.

Pro-Gun Rally Planned Outside New Mexico StatehouseAssociated Press

Supporters of gun rights in New Mexico say they will rally outside the state Capitol building this weekend in coordination with demonstrations across the country.

Robert Overton of Sons of Liberty Riders said he and other organizers hope to attract several hundred people at midday Saturday to hear speeches in defense of the constitutional right to bear arms. He says the rally will reflect that individuals who carry firearms are responsible, everyday people.

A group called the National Constitutional Coalition of Patriotic Americans has been spreading word of the gatherings at state capitals across the country.

The rallies come less than three weeks after hundreds of thousands marched in Washington and other U.S. cities to demand tougher gun laws after the February school shooting that killed 17 in Parkland, Florida.

Panel Tackles Lack Of Broadband In Tribal Communities - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

Two western senators are proposing to expand access to federal funds that have enabled public schools and libraries throughout the U.S. to obtain high-speed internet at affordable rates in hopes of closing the digital divide in American Indian communities.

Librarians and other experts gathered Thursday in Washington, D.C., for a panel discussion on the legislation and the needs of tribal communities.

Cynthia Aguilar, a librarian with Santo Domingo Pueblo, described bringing broadband to her tribe as an innovation as large as establishing the railroad more than a century ago in what was then the territory of New Mexico.

While 90 percent of public libraries in the U.S. have received funds through the federal E-rate program that supports improved internet access, officials estimate only 15 percent of tribal libraries have received any of this funding.