Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MST

Jan 14, 2020

Group: Cattle hooves, manure spoiling Southwest US waterwaysFLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Environmentalists are suing the federal government to keep livestock away from rivers and streams in two national forests in New Mexico and Arizona. The Center for Biological Diversity sued the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week. The group argues the agencies aren't doing enough to ensure cows aren't pushing threatened and endangered species into extinction. It's an argument the group made in a courtroom more than 20 years ago. In that case, the Forest Service agreed to remove cattle from much of the riparian areas across hundreds of grazing allotments.


Georgia O'Keeffe Museum is backdrop to US humanities grantsSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The National Endowment for the Humanities is emphasizing private matching investment as it designates $31 million in public grants to support humanities projects in 45 states. The grant projects include the addition of a new exhibition building at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and conservation complex in Santa Fe,  New Mexico. National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman Jon Parrish Peede announced the 188 grants at a news conference Tuesday. Local humanities councils will get to disburse another $48 million. Santa Fe is a hub for collectors and creators of Native American and Southwestern art.


Black Hawks to start border flights in New MexicoALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal border agency officials have announced Black Hawk helicopters will start flights over a stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border including New Mexico and Texas for border enforcement and search and rescue operations. The Albuquerque Journal reported Monday that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations confirmed the U.S. Army is transferring three Black Hawk helicopters to the El Paso Air Branch to replace the older helicopters being retired and sold. Officials say the Air Branch is responsible for a large southwestern region including west Texas and all of New Mexico and Oklahoma and the helicopters can support federal, state and local partners in those states.


Aquifer storage well marks first for New Mexico utilityALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's largest water utility has started operating its first aquifer storage well. Testing of the new direct injection system began Monday on Albuquerque's north side. The well will allow excess surface water to be stored underground for later use, keeping it safe from any losses due to evaporation. Officials say the $1 million well is part of a larger water management strategy that also includes conservation and re-use. The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority says the new well is the first of several planned wells to come online in the utility's service area. 


New Mexico universities share $5M for forest research centerLAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — The National Science Foundation has awarded two New Mexico universities and the New Mexico Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute a $5 million grant to establish a comprehensive forestry research center for the Southwest. The five-year grant will fund the development of a Center of Excellence in Forest Restoration. The center will be charged with advancing the understanding of the effects of restoration activities on forested areas through a combination of research, education and stakeholder collaborations. It also will provide options for land managers and landowners who face the threat of catastrophic fires due to overgrown forests.


Democratic New Mexico speaker visits state's oil countryHOBBS, N.M. (AP) — Democratic New Mexico House Speaker Brian Egolf has visited the heart of the state's oil and gas region in advance of the legislative session. The Hobbs News-Sun reports Brian Egolf stopped in Hobbs on Friday as part of his Jobs Listening Tour in advance of the Jan. 21 opening of the 2020 session. Airports, roads, housing, education, broadband access and the oil and gas industry topped issues discussed. Rep. Cathrynn Brown, R-Carlsbad, alerted Egolf to a bill she is introducing to create a $60 million urgent needs fund for roads. The region is in dire need of new roads amid the high traffic from the oil boom.


US says Nevada misrepresenting facts in plutonium fightRENO, Nev. (AP) — U.S. government lawyers say the state of Nevada continues to intentionally misrepresent the facts in an ongoing legal battle over the Energy Department's shipment of weapons-grade plutonium to a site near Las Vegas. The state wants a judge in Reno to order the removal of the highly radioactive material. It says the shipment was illegal because the Energy Department refused to conduct the necessary environmental reviews. Lawyers for both sides said last week they've agreed on a process to determine what if any classified information will be released to the state while a judge considers the government's motion to dismiss the case.


Judge refuses to second-guess family separations at borderSAN DIEGO (AP) — A U.S. judge has ruled that the Trump administration is operating within its authority when separating families stopped at the Mexico border, rejecting arguments that it was quietly returning to widespread practices that drew international condemnation. The judge indicated he was uncomfortable second-guessing decisions to separate children on grounds that the parents were considered unfit or dangerous, or in other limited circumstances like criminal history, communicable diseases and doubts about parentage. He found no evidence that the government was abusing its discretion. In a partial victory for the ACLU, the judge said the government must settle any doubts about parentage with DNA tests.