Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. MDT
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has rolled out guidelines for a new youth service program meant to create job opportunities for Native Americans while boosting their cultural connections to nature through conservation projects on tribal and public land. The Indian Youth Service Corps is the latest addition to the Biden administration's plans for building a 21st century version of the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps. Projects will range from clearing brush to reduce wildfire threats to preserving historic sites. Haaland said Friday that it's time for Indigenous youth to have a seat at the table. Nearly $10 million in federal and private funding is being invested in the effort.
- NEW MEXICO WILDFIRES-LAWSUIT
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico residents are suing the U.S. Forest Service for information on a massive wildfire that's been burning in the state since late April. The agency has been criticized for its role in causing two wildfires that merged to become the largest blaze in New Mexico history. Mora County residents filed the federal lawsuit this week seeking planning documents, contracts and other information. They allege the Forest Service improperly withheld them after residents made a public records request. The agency says it does not comment on pending litigation. The wildfire has charred close to 500 square miles in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range and destroyed several hundred homes.
- PARTISAN AUDITS-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A Republican-led county commission in southern New Mexico is seeking to change the way ballots are collected and counted in the run-up to the November mid-term election. The commission voted unanimously Thursday to recount ballots from this week's statewide primary election by hand, remove state-mandated ballot drop boxes that facilitate absentee voting and discontinue the use of vote tabulation machines in the general election. The initiatives were proposed by commissioner and Cowboys for Trump cofounder Couy Griffin. He ascribes to unsubstantiated theories that the former president won the 2020 election.
- BC-NM-WATER COMPANY-DISCHARGE FINE
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Environment Department has fined El Paso Water $1.2 million for allegedly discharging more than 1 billion gallons of raw sewage into the Rio Grande in Sunland Park. The state compliance orders issued Thursday also require El Paso Water to fix the problems that caused the illegal diversion and clean up the impacted areas. Authorities say El Paso Water illegally discharged up to 10 million gallons of raw wastewater daily into the river just upstream of the Courchesne Bridge since last August. They say sewage traveled downstream along the New Mexico-Texas border for nearly 2 miles and the illegal discharge didn't stop until January.
- ALBUQUERQUE MAYOR-COVID
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller has tested positive for COVID-19 and has canceled his attendance at upcoming events. Keller's office said Thursday that he is experiencing typical symptoms. He had planned to attend weekend events in Albuquerque, including a Pride festival and Summerfest. His office says he also planned to visit Saturday with President Joe Biden who is scheduled to make a quick stop in New Mexico to be briefed on wildfires and recovery efforts. Keller's office says he's looking forward to returning to in-person duties once it's safe. Coronavirus cases are on the rise again in New Mexico, but health officials say infections are becoming more mild.
- BC-NM-HUMAN REMAINS IDENTIFIED
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say human remains found last month in Sandoval County has been identified as those of a 20-year-old woman reported as an endangered missing person in April. Bernalillo County Sheriff's officials say the Office of The Medical Investigator identified the remains as 20-year-old Yasmin Marquez, who was reported missing on April 15. There was no immediate word on a possible cause of death and it was unclear why Marquez was considered to be in danger. Sheriff's officials say her remains were located in an open field on May 26. They say homicide detectives, missing person unit detectives and crime scene investigators responded to the scene and began their investigation. Sheriff's officials say the investigation into Marquez's death is ongoing.