KUNM

Recovery Plan For Mexican Wolves Released, Toxic Algae Possible In Elephant Butte Lake

Jun 29, 2017

Feds Release Long-Awaited Recovery Plan For Mexican WolvesThe Associated Press

After repeated failures over decades, U.S. wildlife officials have finally drafted a recovery plan for endangered wolves that once roamed parts of the American Southwest and northern Mexico.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is under a court order to complete the plan by the end of November.

The draft document released Thursday calls for focusing recovery of the Mexican gray wolves in core areas of the predators' historic range. That means south of Interstate 40 in the two states and in Mexico. The document also addresses threats, such as genetic diversity.

The recovery plan is a long time coming as the original guidance for how to restore wolves to the Southwest was adopted in 1982.

The lack of a plan has spurred numerous legal challenges by environmentalists as well as skirmishes over states' rights under the Endangered Species Act.

Elephant Butte Lake Managers Warn Of Possible Toxic AlgaeThe Associated Press & KOAT

Elephant Butte Lake State Park managers are warning the public that toxic blue-green algae might be present in the lake.

KOAT-TV reported Wednesday that boating manager Salvador Gonzalez says the algae might have bloomed in the shallow areas of Elephant Butte Lake along Three Sisters Cove.

Officials say the algae could be harmful if consumed by humans and could be deadly if dogs ingest it.

Managers are still working to confirm whether or not the algae is toxic, though. They put notices up around the potentially impacted areas, as thousands of people are expected to head to the park for the Fourth of July weekend.

Albuquerque Mayor To Receive Public Safety Excellence Award Despite City’s CrimeThe Associated Press & The ABQ Journal

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry will receive an award on Thursday night for "excellence in public safety" even though violent crime in the city is on the rise.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce's award will be presented to Berry for several initiatives he launched to help fight crime.

Addressing the rise of violent crime in Albuquerque is at the forefront of many public policy discussions, including the mayor's race. Many of the candidates have blasted Berry, who is not seeking re-election, saying he is not doing enough to address the issue.

Chamber CEO Terri Cole says the inaugural award was created because business leaders have identified education, public safety and downtown transformation as the three greatest challenges facing the city.

New Mexico Confronts New Criticism On Welfare DelaysThe Associated Press

Attorneys for welfare recipients in New Mexico say thousands of residents have gone without emergency food assistance or heath care coverage under Medicaid because of processing delays at the state Human Services Department.

A federal court judge heard testimony Thursday on the agency's progress in meeting court orders related to a backlog of food and medical assistance claims.

The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty says one in 10 applicants for emergency aid are unable to buy food within the required seven-day period. That left 2,046 people without emergency food assistance in May, up from 1,167 the previous month.

The center also says many newborn babies are not being added by the state to Medicaid within the required three-day period, leaving them without medical coverage outside hospitals.

Western 'Buster Scruggs' To Begin Filming In New MexicoThe Associated Press

A series of feature-length Westerns backed by the Coen Brothers and Annapurna Pictures will begin filming in northern New Mexico in July.

The New Mexico Film Office says work on "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" will run through September. More than 180 crew members, 16 actors and hundreds of background talent will be hired for the project.

Written, directed and produced by Joel and Ethan Coen, the series consists of six separate stories. The first is about a singing cowboy, while the second follows a drifter and his unsuccessful attempts at bank robbery and cattle driving.

Other stories involve a gold prospector, a woman who finds herself in need of help while traveling the Oregon Trail, and five stagecoach passengers headed for a mysterious destination.

Head Of Troubled Navajo Housing Authority To Step Down - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

The chief executive of the largest American Indian public housing authority in the U.S. will be stepping down as the Navajo Nation looks to rebuild its reputation after concerns were raised about the lack of housing on the vast reservation.

Newly appointed members of the board that oversees the Navajo Housing Authority made the announcement Wednesday. Aneva Yazzie's last day will be Friday.

The board says it was a mutual decision and that Yazzie's departure will mark the first step in rebuilding the organization.

Navajo housing officials in recent weeks have defended themselves from accusations that they overspent millions of dollars in federal grant funds. The allegations spurred a congressional investigation, but federal officials have found no evidence of fraud or abuse.

Still, Navajo officials acknowledge that major changes need to be made to meet the tribe's housing demands.

Suspect In Navajo Girl's Murder To Change PleaAssociated Press

A man accused of kidnapping and murdering an 11-year-old girl whose death prompted new federal legislation is scheduled to change his plea in court.

Tom Begaye's change of plea hearing is on August 1 in Albuquerque. His attorneys said in court that he was looking to strike a plea deal, but it's unclear what he'll change the plea to. Begaye previously pleaded not guilty.

Begaye is facing murder, sexual abuse and other charges in the case that shocked the nation's largest American Indian reservation and prompted legislation that would expand the Amber Alert system to tribal communities.

Begaye is accused of luring Ashlynne Mike into his van in May 2016. Mike was reported missing but an alert didn't go out until the next day. She was later found in a remote area near the Arizona-New Mexico border.

Western 'Buster Scruggs' To Begin Filming In New MexicoAssociated Press

A series of feature-length Westerns backed by the Coen Brothers and Annapurna Pictures will begin filming in northern New Mexico in July.

The New Mexico Film Office says work on "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" will run through September. More than 180 crew members, 16 actors and hundreds of background talent will be hired for the project.

Written, directed and produced by Joel and Ethan Coen, the series consists of six separate stories. The first is about a singing cowboy, while the second follows a drifter and his unsuccessful attempts at bank robbery and cattle driving.

Other stories involve a gold prospector, a woman who finds herself in need of help while traveling the Oregon Trail, and five stagecoach passengers headed for a mysterious destination.

Western Governors Back Endangered Species Act, With ChangesAssociated Press

The Republican-dominated Western Governors Association has endorsed the aims of the Endangered Species Act but asked Congress to make changes, including giving states a bigger role and clarifying recovery goals for animals protected by the law.

The association approved a resolution on the act Wednesday during a meeting in Whitefish, Montana.

The association includes 14 Republicans, six Democrats and two independents. The vote count wasn't released.

Endangered species protection is controversial because it usually brings restrictions on mining, petroleum drilling, agriculture and other activities.

The governors said Western states benefit economically from healthy species and ecosystems but bear the burden of those restrictions and some of the cost of recovery programs.

Wolves, sage grouse, spotted owls and grizzly bears are among the species that have been protected by the law.

New Mexico Man Mistakenly Released From Custody Back In JailKOAT-TV, Associated Press

An Albuquerque man who had been mistakenly released from jail due to a paperwork error is back behind bars.

KOAT-TV reports John Sena, who is charged with assaulting two police officers on June 17, was released the next day on his own recognizance after being arraigned on two counts of battery on a peace officer.

But Sena was on probation at the time of his arrest. He just got done serving time in jail after he was convicted of assaulting an officer in 2011.

The U.S. Marshals Service states paperwork to keep Sena behind bars because of the violation wasn't sent to the Bernalillo County Jail fast enough.

U.S. Marshals named Sena New Mexico's Most Wanted Violent Offender in an effort to get him back into jail.

New Mexico Officials Invest $3M In New Child Abuse ProgramAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico officials have given $3 million in funding to eight private and nonprofit organizations in hopes of curbing child abuse and neglect in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the funding boost announced Tuesday is in response to the murder of 10-year-old Victoria Martens last year. The girl's mother, the mother's boyfriend and his cousin are accused of raping and killing her.

The contracts were given to the eight organizations under a two-year pilot program funded by a countywide tax earmarked for behavioral health services. The program's goal is to provide more children and families with prevention and treatment services not covered under Medicaid and other insurance programs.

Officials hope the services will lead to more stable home environments for children.

Santa Fe Commissioners Vote To Raise Gross Receipts TaxAssociated Press

Santa Fe county commissioners have voted to increase the gross receipt tax by one-eighth of a cent to fund essential services such as public safety and mental health.

The move is expected to generate an additional $4.6 million a year for the county. The tax increase will take effect Jan. 1.

County commissioners approved the increase Tuesday after hearing testimony from dozens of residents looking for funding for a behavioral health crisis center that would treat people with mental illness and addictions. The county says the money will also pay for 30 new public positions and give county employees a 1 percent pay increase for cost of living.

Santa Fe county residents will be able to vote on additional gross receipt tax increase in a special election in mid-September.

House Panel Backs Bill To Revive Nevada Nuclear Waste Dump - By Matthew Daly, Associated Press

A House committee has approved a bill that would revive the mothballed nuclear waste dump at Nevada's Yucca Mountain, while also moving forward with a separate plan for a temporary storage site in New Mexico or Texas.

Supporters said the bill represents a comprehensive package to solve a nuclear-waste management problem that has festered for more than three decades. The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the bill, 49-4, Wednesday, sending it to the full House.

The Trump administration has proposed reviving the long-stalled Yucca project 100 miles from Las Vegas. Nevada officials fiercely oppose the plan.

Meanwhile, private companies have proposed state-of-the-art facilities in remote areas of Texas and New Mexico to temporarily house tons of spent fuel that has been piling up at nuclear reactors around the country.

Attorneys Seek Grand Jury In New Mexico Shooting SpreeBy Morgan Lee, Associated Press

A defense attorney for the 21-year-old accused of shooting to death three relatives and two strangers in a rampage across northern New Mexico said the suspect still has the love and support of his family.

Prosecutors continued to gather and analyze evidence linking Damian Herrera of Ojo Caliente to the June 15 shooting spree, as the case moved Wednesday toward a grand jury review.

Search warrants filed in state district court and unsealed Tuesday say authorities found a revolver, a rifle with a scope and dozens of rounds of ammunition in one of the trucks Damian Herrera is believed to have used the day of the shootings.

Police have accused Herrera of killing his mother, stepfather and brother before killing a man who stopped to help him when he ran out of gas and another man he encountered hours later at a gas station.

Police: New Mexico Corrections Officer Took Drugs To PrisonAssociated Press

State Police say a 60-year-old corrections officer at a prison in Santa Fe was getting paid to take drugs into the facility.

Police say John Aragon of Albuquerque was arrested Tuesday after an undercover sting in which police pretended to sell heroin to Aragon.

Police began investigating Aragon last week when the state Department of Corrections alerted authorities of the allegations.

Aragon faces a charge of possession of narcotics with intent to distribute. He was arrested and booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center.

It's unclear whether Aragon has an attorney to comment on the allegations.

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