Thursday News Roundup: Court Upholds Mount Taylor Cultural Status

Feb 6, 2014

Court Upholds Mount Taylor Cultural Status -  The Associated Press

The New Mexico Supreme has upheld a tribal cultural designation that protects hundreds of thousands of acres on Mount Taylor.

In a ruling Thursday, the justices said the New Mexico Cultural Properties Review Committee acted lawfully when it granted the special designation for some 400,000 acres of public land on the mountain in 2009. The court did, however, reverse the panel's inclusion of 19,000 acres of land grant property, saying it was not state land as defined in the Cultural Properties Act.

Five tribes initially nominated the protected area and worked to show why it should be preserved. The land is home to cultural resources like pilgrimage trails, shrines, archaeological sites, burial sites and petroglyphs

The designation was made in 2009, but was overturned on a court challenge by uranium companies and private landowners.


Winter storm delays, closes some New Mexico Schools - The Associated Press

Snow flurries from a winter storm are decreasing but more snow is forecast and driving conditions remain difficult on some northeastern New Mexico highways. Meanwhile, some schools are closed or delaying their openings.

Schools in Rio Rancho are closed Thursday, while schools in Albuquerque and Clovis are among those delaying their starts, along with the University of New Mexico.

Winter weather advisories remain in effect. The National Weather Service says more snow is expected in western New Mexico, with expanded coverage Thursday night.

Difficult driving conditions are reported on a 133-mile stretch of Interstate 40 between Clines Corner and near the Texas line. Fair conditions are reported on a 157-mile mile stretch of Interstate 25 between Rowe and Raton.

Weather caused numerous accidents in Albuquerque Wednesday night.

Panel OKs proposal for university board changeThe Associated Press

A proposal is moving ahead in the House for revamping the selection of the governing boards for public universities.

The House Education Committee on Wednesday approved a proposed constitutional amendment to establish independent nominating commissions to recommend candidates to the governor for appointment as regents.

The bipartisan commissions would be similar to panels that screen applicants for judgeships and recommend candidates to the governor for possible appointment.

Democratic Rep. Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces said the proposed change would help ensure the "best and brightest" oversee New Mexico's universities.

The governor currently appoints regents and Steinborn said the positions often go to political supporters.

The measure heads to another committee.

If the Legislature approves the proposal, voters would decide whether to adopt it.

New Mexico panel endorses Navajo gambling compactThe Associated Press

A legislative panel is recommending the New Mexico Legislature approve a proposed gambling compact with the Navajo Nation that would allow the state's largest tribe to open more casinos.

The Committee on Compacts voted 12-4 yesterday to forward the gambling agreement to the House and Senate for a vote this session.

Navajo leaders said after the meeting that they are confident of winning legislative approval for the gambling agreement.

The Navajos operate two Las Vegas-style casinos in New Mexico under a compact expiring next year and a third casino offers low-stakes gambling not subject to state regulation.

Other tribes and pueblos have objected that the new compact would allow three additional high-stakes Navajo casinos.

The proposed agreement needs approval of the Legislature and the federal government to take effect.