Regulators Ponder Giant Transmission Project, Bernalillo County Passes Fireworks Ban

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New Mexico Regulators Consider $2B Transmission ProjectAssociated Press

Developers of a $2 billion project aimed at getting renewable energy from New Mexico and Arizona to large markets in the American Southwest are looking to clear one more regulatory hurdle as they seek state permission for the massive project.

Consultants for the SunZia project and concerned ranchers will be testifying over the next five days before the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.

SunZia quietly submitted its application in March for approval of transmission line locations and right of way widths.

The project has been years in the making and not without controversy as disputes initially rose over its proximity to a U.S. military installation and environmentalists raised concerns about effects on wildlife.

The proposed transmission lines would cross about 520 miles of state, federal and private land in the two states.

Work Underway To Restore Gila Trout To New Mexico CreekAssociated Press

State wildlife managers say work is underway to restore Gila trout to a creek in southwestern New Mexico.

The state Game and Fish Department will be using chemicals next week to remove non-native trout from Whitewater Creek as part of the fish restoration project.

The portion of the creek to be treated stretches 2 miles upstream from the Gila National Forest boundary below the Catwalk National Recreation Trail parking area.

Officials say the resulting concentrations of the chemical ingredients pose little, if any, hazards to public health. They also say the treated water will not leave the project area.

In New Mexico, the heart of Gila trout habitat is the Gila and Aldo Leopold wilderness areas. These areas of the Gila Forest contain nearly the entire currently occupied habitat of the Gila trout.

Arizona Counties Want More Funds For Mexican Wolf RecoveryAssociated Press

The Cochise County Board of Supervisors is requesting more federal funding for Mexican wolf recovery efforts.

They're sending a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, asking him to consider a fairer compensation plan for the eastern Arizona communities hosting the recovery program and the state agencies managing it.

Federal authorities began efforts to conserve Mexican wolves in the southwestern United States in 1977 and released the first wolves into the wild in 1998.

The executive director of the Eastern Arizona Counties Organization — Pascal Berlioux — says the annual $200,000 funding for compensation to ranchers in both Arizona and New Mexico is around 10 percent of actual costs.

It's estimated the program has cost $38 million as of last year with the current Mexican wolf population thought to be 114.

New Colorado Wildfire Forcing EvacuationsAssociated Press

Over 1,300 homes have been evacuated by a new wildfire burning in Colorado's mountains.

The fire was reported Tuesday near the town of Silverthorne in Summit County, which is home to several ski resorts and is about 60 miles west of Denver.

Firefighters say residents of hundreds of other homes have been warned to be ready to evacuate because of the fire, which as burned about 90 acres. No homes have been lost.

The fire is burning near two densely populated developments.

Firefighters are getting some help from firefighting aircraft as they try to stop the fire early.

New Mexico District Attorney Refuses To ResignAssociated Press

The lawyer for a New Mexico district attorney who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges stemming from a 2016 traffic stop is rebuffing calls by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas for his client to step down.

Jim Foy said Tuesday that Francesca Martinez-Estevez will not resign and that the decision by the judge was fair to issue a conditional discharge given that she had "an incredibly clean record."

Martinez-Estevez was ordered to serve one year of probation for reckless driving and disorderly conduct.

Martinez-Estevez initially faced multiple charges after the traffic stop near Silver City and was accused of abusing her power. Prosecutors are appealing an earlier decision to drop charges related to governmental conduct rules.

At the time of the stop, officers thought Martinez-Estevez was impaired but didn't test her. Internal investigations were done and the officers were disciplined for how they handled the stop.

Taxpayers To Pay More Than $130K For Campaign's Legal FeesSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

New Mexico taxpayers will pay up to $133,000 to cover legal fees for U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce's campaign.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the Secretary of State's Office said the Republican's campaign could not transfer hundreds of thousands of dollars Pearce had accumulated running for Congress to finance his bid for governor. Then the office said the transferred funds would be capped at $11,000.

The Pearce campaign sued the state.

Rather than continue to fight the case, the two sides settled, with the state agreeing to pay some of the campaign's legal fees.

State Attorney General's Office spokesman David Carl said Monday the sides agreed lawyers can receive up to $133,032.15, or 85 percent of the legal fees the Pearce campaign incurred during the case.

Navajo Code Talker Samuel Tom Holiday Dies At Age 94Associated Press

One of the last surviving Navajo Code Talkers has died in southern Utah.

The Navajo Nation says Samuel Tom Holiday died Monday evening surrounded by friends and family. He was 94.

Holiday was among hundreds of Navajos who used a code based on their native language to transmit messages in World War II. The Japanese never broke it.

Holiday spent his later days living at the Southern Utah Veterans Home in Ivins.

Fewer than 10 Code Talkers are believed to be alive today. The exact number is unknown because the program remained classified for several years following the war.

Holiday will be buried in the Navajo community of Kayenta, Arizona, next to his wife.

The library at the Kayenta Middle School is named for Holiday.

Bernalillo County Commission Restricts FireworksAlbuquerque Journal

Ahead of the July 4 holiday the Bernalillo County Commissioners approved a ban on the use of fireworks in all wildland areas of the county because of ongoing drought conditions.

The Albuquerque Journal reports commissioners voted Tuesday to ban the sale and use of airborne fireworks like aerial spinners and missile-type rockets and ground audible devices.

Sparklers, smoke devices and other ground and hand-held fireworks must be used on paved or barren areas with a source of water nearby.

The ban will remain in place for 30 days. In April, commissioners passed a ban on open fires, campfires and smoking in unincorporated areas. The U.S. Drought Monitor map shows Albuquerque and Bernalillo County are under extreme drought conditions.