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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT

  • Santa Fe propels urbanization trend in New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Among four major cities in New Mexico, the state capital of Santa Fe was the fastest growing over the past decade. The Census Bureau on Thursday released a trove of demographic data on how the U.S. population changed between 2010 and 2020. The data show that Santa Fe grew by 19,558 people to a population of nearly 88,000, not including outlying areas. That represents a 29% population increase. By comparison, Albuquerque grew by less than 4%. New Mexico mimicked national trends in becoming more urban. The state's under-18 population shrank. And the state's housing supply grew faster than its population.

  • New Mexico taps US pandemic relief to help harvest chile

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Lt. Gov. Howie Morales says the state is stepping in to ensure a timely chile harvest after growers and producers raised concerns about an inadequate supply of labor. Morales says the state will funnel up to $5 million in federal pandemic relief toward enhanced wages for farmers who harvest New Mexico's renowned green and red chile crop in the late summer and early fall. Republican state Sen. Crystal Diamond on Thursday applauded the move to help farmers. Some Republican state legislators blame the labor shortage on generous unemployment benefits, while Morales says the problem predates the pandemic.

  • Public health emergency orders on Navajo Nation for COVID-19

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation will return to "Orange Status" starting Monday due to a recent rise of COVID-19 cases. On Thursday, the Navajo Department of Health issued three new public health emergency orders for businesses and schools while revising in-person gathering limits for certain events. The tribe's mask mandate remains in effect, but there is no daily curfew or lockdown on the reservation that is the country's largest at 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) and covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The 50% maximum occupancy level remains in place for restaurants (including indoor dining, drive-thru, curbside and outdoor dining) plus tribal casinos, hotels, campgrounds and RV parks. 

  • New Mexico defends title as most Latino state in nation

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico has retained its title as the nation's most heavily Latino state, with 47.7% of respondents to the 2020 census identifying ancestry linked to Latin America and other Spanish-speaking areas. The Census Bureau on Thursday released new demographic details culled from the census. California and Texas were close runners up with about 39% of residents claiming Hispanic or Latino heritage. In New Mexico, Latino pride runs deep within a region of the U.S. where Spanish conquerors arrived in the late 1500s and Mexico governed for decades during the 19th century. The state is currently led by its third consecutive Hispanic governor.

  • US agency to join with New Mexico on air pollution study

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is joining forces with New Mexico regulators and a private company to study air pollution and climate change. Officials announced the partnership with New Mexico-based Sceye Inc. on Thursday. The five-year study will use high-altitude blimp-like platforms positioned in the stratosphere above New Mexico to monitor air quality and emissions from the oil and gas industry and other sources. Officials said they are still working on the specifics of the endeavor and how much it will cost. New Mexico Environment Secretary James Kenney said the data will help scientists and regulators better understand how pollution moves through the atmosphere.

  • New Mexico denies landowners' push to restrict stream access

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico regulators have rejected the requests of five landowners who sought to restrict public access to streams and rivers that flow through their properties. The state Game Commission voted Thursday to deny the applications, citing language in the state Constitution that implies all waters in New Mexico belong to the public. However, an attorney for the landowners argued that his clients' private property rights are being violated. The debate over stream access has been ongoing for years across the West. The New Mexico Supreme Court could provide more clarity once it rules on a petition filed by a coalition of anglers, rafters and conservationists.

  • First water cuts in US West supply to hammer Arizona farmers

CASA GRANDE, Ariz. (AP) — The Colorado River has been a go-to source of water for cities, tribes and farmers in the U.S. West for decades. But climate change, drought and increased demand are taking a toll. Next week, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is expected to declare the first-ever mandatory cuts from the river for 2022 as key reservoirs fall to historic lows. The projection will hit farmers in central Arizona the hardest because of longstanding priority systems. Pinal County is Arizona's top producer of cotton, barley and livestock. Farmers there have been finding ways to use water more efficiently but increasingly will turn to pumping groundwater. 

  • Navajo Nation reports 49 new cases as COVID-19 spreads again

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Wednesday reported 49 new COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths. The latest numbers pushed the tribe's pandemic totals to 31,715 cases and 1,386 known deaths. Health officials reported no deaths and only a handful of cases from Aug. 1-8 on the reservation that is the country's largest at 27,000 square miles and covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. But on Monday, the Navajo Department of Health issued a health advisory notice for 19 communities due to uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus. The health department plans to issue a new public health emergency order this week to transition the Navajo Nation back to "Orange Status" due to the recent rise in coronavirus infections.