Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. MDT
- ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A bird that is inextricably linked to the piñon and juniper forests that span the Western United States has seen its numbers decline over the last half century. Environmentalists announced Tuesday that they're petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the pinyon jay under the Endangered Species Act as a way to save the species and the trees. A very social bird, the jay is known for stashing away piñon seeds, a habit that helps propagate the next generation of trees. Piñon and juniper forests across the West already have been effected by climate change, hotter and drier conditions and more severe wildfires.
- OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Fire crews that took advantage of a break in the weather in their battle to contain large fires in the West and Plains states fear the return of stronger winds could spread the flames further. Officials say a southwestern Nebraska wildfire that killed a former volunteer fire chief last week and destroyed several homes is about half contained. After a break in the weather Monday, a red flag warning was issued for the area Tuesday, with temperatures expected to be warmer, humidity dropping to as low at 15% and winds gusting up to 35 mph. Crews in the West continue working to corral blazes in northern New Mexico that have charred a combined 225 square miles over recent days. Several small villages are threatened and evacuations remain in place.
- WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is questioning lower-court orders that have blocked the Biden administration from ending a controversial Trump-era immigration program for asylum-seekers. Questions from conservative and liberal justices during nearly two hours of oral arguments on Tuesday suggested that the court could free the administration to end the "Remain in Mexico" policy that forces some people seeking asylum in the U.S. to wait in Mexico for their hearings. President Joe Biden suspended the program on his first day in office. After Texas and Missouri sued, lower courts required immigration officials to reinstate it, though the current administration has sent far fewer people back to Mexico than its predecessor.
- BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. wildlife officials have agreed to craft a new habitat plan for the rare, snow-loving Canada lynx that could include more land in Colorado and other western states where they would be protected. The plan for the wild cats must be released by 2024 under a legal agreement with environmentalists announced Tuesday. Two environmental groups had sued to enforce a prior court ruling that said federal officials wrongly excluded areas of Colorado, Montana and Idaho from a critical habitat designation for lynx. Scientists say the animals have rebounded in some areas, but warn that climate change could undo that progress by reducing lynx habitat and the availability of snowshoe hares that are a key lynx food source.
- WASHINGTON (AP) — A jury has heard attorneys' opening statements in the trial of a retired New York City police officer charged with attacking a police officer during the riot at the U.S. Capitol. A federal prosecutor told jurors on Tuesday that body camera video captured the rage on Thomas Webster's face as he swung a flag pole at one of the officers trying to hold off the mob on Jan. 6, 2021. But a defense attorney said another video from a different angle shows that Webster acted in self-defense after the Metropolitan Police Department officer punched him first. Webster's trial is the first among dozens of cases in which a defendant is charged with assaulting police at the Capitol.
- SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Law enforcement officials have released a trove of video and photographic evidence in the investigation of a fatal October shooting of a cinematographer by actor and producer Alec Baldwin on the set of a Western movie. Data files released by the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office on Monday included videos of investigators debriefing Baldwin on the day of the shooting inside a compact office as well as apparent rehearsal clips that show the actor in costume as he practices a quick-draw maneuver with a gun. Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said the investigation remains open and ongoing as it awaits the results of ballistics analysis from the FBI.
- ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Months of grim wildfire weather are ahead for the Southwest as a handful of large wildfires march across drought-stricken New Mexico. The flames have blackened more than 215 square miles in just the last few days, burning homes and forcing evacuations. But crews got a break Monday as cooler weather, higher humidity and much lighter winds settled over the region. Red flag warnings have expired for now, but forecasters warn that fire danger remains high around the West. The probability is high for above-normal temperatures across the Southwest for the next three months, while chances are slim that a wide swath of the region will see anything close to normal precipitation.
NAVAJO PRESIDENT'S RACE
- SHONTO, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez says he'll seek a second term in office. Nez's term as the tribe's top elected leader has been dominated by the coronavirus pandemic. He announced a reelection bid over the weekend from his hometown of Shonto. He highlighted his administration's handling of COVID-19 and says he wants to ensure that plans to rebuild the economy, and extend power and water lines continues. A handful of others have said they'll seek the position. The deadline for presidential hopefuls to file for the job is May 4. The primary election is in August.