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Local and State News

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

  • NEW MEXICO-CONSERVATION

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham wants to conserve more of the state's land and water. She says doing so will boost other state efforts to mitigate climate change effects. The Democratic governor signed an executive order Wednesday creating a committee that will draft a plan aimed at conserving 30% of New Mexico's land and water by 2030. The Biden administration in May set the ambitious goal of conserving a third of the entire U.S. To make progress, experts have said westerns states must play a key role in the effort. California and Nevada have taken similar action. Some critics worry that it will amount to a land grab by the government.

  • REPLACEMENT LEGISLATOR

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An environmental activist has been sworn in to fill a New Mexico House vacancy created by now-former Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton's resignation amid a corruption investigation. The Bernalillo County Commission on Tuesday appointed Albuquerque Democrat Kay Bounkeua to fill the District 19 seat. Bounkeua was among 10 applicants considered by the commission and is currently the New Mexico deputy state director for the Wilderness Society. She also recently served as the executive director of the New Mexico Asian Family Center. Local media outlets reported that Bounkeua is believed to be the first Asian American woman to serve in the New Mexico Legislature. 

  • BIDEN-IMMIGRATION COURTS

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court says the Biden administration likely violated federal law in trying to end a Trump-era program that forces people to wait in Mexico while seeking asylum in the U.S. With three liberal justices in dissent, the high court refused Tuesday to block a lower court ruling ordering the administration to reinstate the program informally known as Remain in Mexico. It's not clear how many people will be affected and how quickly. Under the lower court ruling, the administration must make a "good faith effort" to restart the program. There also is nothing preventing the administration from trying again to end the program.

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Tuesday reported 37 new COVID-19 cases and one more death. The latest numbers pushed the tribe's totals to 32,315 coronavirus cases and 1,398 known deaths since the pandemic began more than a year ago. The vast Navajo Nation spans parts of New Mexico, Utah and Arizona. Tribal President Jonathan Nez has said all Navajo Nation executive branch employees will need to be fully vaccinated against the virus that causes COVID-19 by the end of September or be required to submit to regular testing. The new rules apply to full, part-time and temporary employees, including those working for tribal enterprises like utilities, shopping centers and casinos. 

  • OIL AND GAS-SACRED SITES

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An Indigenous leader from New Mexico and former U.S. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt are calling on the federal government to overhaul its oil and gas leasing program to ensure the protection of cultural resources. Acoma Pueblo Gov. Brian Vallo and Babbitt highlighted the recommendations outlined in a report released Tuesday that looks at leasing policies across the West. The recommendations are focused on how land managers can incorporate tribal expertise into decision-making and better protect places such Utah's Bears Ears region and land surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico. Besides planning for future development, Vallo said, previous damage also needs to be addressed.

  • AP-US-DROUGHT-CLIMATE-OBSERVATORY

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Federal scientists are launching an effort to better understand the hydrology in the U.S. West. The U.S. Department of Energy on Tuesday announced a new kind of climate observatory near the headwaters of the Colorado River. Scientists say data gathered from the equipment will help better predict rain and snowfall in the region and determine how much of it will flow through the river. The multimillion-dollar effort led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory begins next week. The Colorado River serves 40 million people in several states and Mexico. A recent shortage declaration means Arizona, Nevada and Mexico won't get their full allocations of water next year.

  • EDUCATION LAWSUIT-BLUEPRINT

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico education officials have put together an outline for addressing education inequities that have fueled a years-long legal battle over underserved students. A copy of the draft report obtained by the Associated Press suggests the state will focus on increasing teacher training, reducing dropout rates and absenteeism and increasing funding for social services and at-home internet and computers. The draft is aimed at resolving the ongoing lawsuit over educational opportunities for Native American students and others. It states goals but does not specify solutions. Education officials say a final version will be released in December and will include specific fixes and explain how successes will be measured. 

  • AP-US-GORILLA-DEATH-ALBUQUERQUE-ZOO

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque's municipal zoo says a 48-year-old female gorilla has died after being stricken by a bacterial infection. ABQ BioPark Zoo officials say Huerfanita was euthanized Saturday once it became clear she wasn't going to recover from a digestive tract infection after being treated with medications. The 48-year-old western lowland gorilla had the same type of infection that killed a male siamang, a type of gibbon, at the zoo earlier this month. The infection was first discovered at the zoo in early August in a male gorilla. Zoo Director Stephanie Stowell said Huerfanita was beloved at the zoo and that staff were devastated by her death.