Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. MDT
- BC-NM-IMPAIRED DRIVER-FATAL CRASH-SENTENCING
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say an Albuquerque woman has been sentenced to 12 years in prison in connection with a fatal car crash in June 2020. A New Mexico district judge on Tuesday sentenced 42-year-old Bernadette Etsitty, who pleaded guilty in April on a charge of vehicular homicide while under the influence of alcohol. Prosecutors say Etsitty had consumed a 12-pack of beer and was driving 66 mph in a 40 mph zone at the time of the head-on crash that killed 18-year-old Roxana Saenz. According to the Albuquerque Journal, court records show Etsitty has been charged three times for driving while intoxicated including two offenses in 2006. The newspaper also reported that a third-offense DWI in 2018 for Etsitty was dismissed by a McKinley County magistrate judge in 2019.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Firefighter groups are applauding steps taken by the Biden administration this week to temporarily raise wages for the men and women on the front lines of the nation's largest wildfires. But they say the temporary wage hikes won't be enough to combat staffing problems, as federal agencies compete with local fire departments and a tight labor market. The National Interagency Fire Center has grown less able to fill crew mobilization orders as climate change makes the U.S. West hotter, drier and more prone to wildfires. Labor experts, firefighter advocates and federal officials say the land management agencies that employ federal firefighters must do more to keep pace and compete with other fire departments and industries.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — U.S. Forest Service employees made multiple miscalculations, used inaccurate models and underestimated how dry conditions were, causing a planned burn to reduce the threat of wildfires to turn into the largest blaze in New Mexico's recorded history. The agency on Tuesday released the findings of an investigation into a fire that ultimately displaced thousands of people and destroyed hundreds of homes. It also forced a pause on the agency's prescribed fire operations nationwide. Anger and frustration have been simmering among residents and elected officials. The blaze has charred more than 533 square miles, and forecasters are warning of post-fire flooding threats amid summer rains.
- BEARS EARS AGREEMENT
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Federal officials and tribal nations have formally reestablished a commission to jointly govern the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. The agreement signed Saturday was previously set forth by the Obama administration in 2016. It marks one of the first times a national monument will be jointly managed by federal agencies and Native American tribes. The agreement was altered to the chagrin of tribal officials when President Donald Trump downsized the monument in 2017. The five nations are the Hopi, Navajo Nation, the Pueblo of Zuni, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and the Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation.
- WESTERN WILDFIRES-ARCHAEOLOGY
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Wildfires in northern Arizona are crossing land rich with signs of human existence through centuries. The vast landscape marked by rugged mountains, high desert and towering ponderosa pines is dense with archaeological sites and artifacts. As efforts to fight wildfires advance, crews are doing more to avoid or minimize damage from bulldozers and other modern-day firefighting tools. Archaeologists say those efforts ensure ancient tools and dwellings unique to the arid U.S. Southwest are protected for future generations. Navajo archaeologist Jason Nez says the work also helps educate those on the fire line about the continued presence of Indigenous peoples.