Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. MDT

Aug 3, 2019

Officials help endangered minnow amid strong Rio Grande(Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com)SAN ANTONIO, N.M. (AP) — A federal agency is taking advantage of high water levels in the Rio Grande to help a tiny minnow listed as an endangered species.U.S. Bureau of Reclamation workers recently aided in creating more habitat for the Rio Grande silvery minnow on the Middle Rio Grande, the Albuquerque Journal reports.Reclamation crews worked from January to March of this year to lower and widen the riverbank on the southern end of private property near Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. They excavated 46,000 cubic yards (35,170 cubic meters) of dirt to create water channels where minnows could escape the fast-moving river.The tiny fish, listed as endangered in 1994, was once abundant throughout the Rio Grande Basin from Colorado to Texas and into Mexico. It's now found only in a fraction of its historic habitat as the river system has seen dam building and the straightening of its once meandering channels over the last 150 years.Doris Rhodes owns 629 acres near San Antonio in Socorro County, and for years she has been advocating for her property to host a Reclamation silvery minnow project. Earlier this year, her work paid off.Rhodes' land is nestled on the Rio Grande near Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, making it an ideal location for restoration and conservation, according to Reclamation project manager Ashlee Rudolph."What makes this project great is that it is a partnership between a private landowner who wanted to create habitat on her land and the federal and state agencies," Rudolph said. "It is so rare to have that partnership."Reclamation worked with the private non-profit Save Our Bosque Task Force, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's New Mexico Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to excavate zigzag patterns on nearly a mile of the river.The Rhodes property is one of few remaining historic wetlands in the San Acacia Reach of the Rio Grande, a primary habitat for silvery minnow.The property has no levees on the east side of the river, which has helped in the restoration of the area's natural floodplain, according to Reclamation Albuquerque Area spokeswoman Mary Carlson."The river used to braid and meander throughout the land," Carlson said. "Now it's confined, so the river is deeper and flows faster. Some species are not too happy about that. The little areas where water is slow, that's what minnows are looking for. The main goal is that they reconnect to the river."Chris Torres, who oversees river maintenance operations on the Middle Rio Grande for the Reclamation Albuquerque Area Office, said the slow-moving side channels are critical for minnow-spawning."Minnows like that edge habitat. It's worked perfectly," Torres said. "The water is backing the way it's supposed to, and we can see fish moving down through there. As the water drops, everything returns back to the main river like it's supposed to."Rudolph said that since 2016, there have been at least eight silvery minnow habitats constructed in the San Acacia Reach of the river. Reclamation is joined by the Interstate Stream Commission to create these sites and monitor the fish populations.___


Albuquerque reacts to Texas shooting by deploying policeALBQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's most populous city is reacting to the mass shooting Saturday in El Paso, Texas, by stepping up security at shopping stores and some department stores such as Walmarts.Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and Police Chief Mike Geier said the boosted police presence would continue through the back-to-school shopping weekend, which includes a tax-free holiday for school items.The officials commented in an Albuquerque Police Department statement that also said police would deploy a team to a Saturday evening downtown festival.The officials said in the statement that the moves were a "response to the tragic shooting today in El Paso" and that they wanted to reassure Albuquerque residents and others from around New Mexico.


Woman sought in New Mexico narcotics case arrested in UtahALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say a woman wanted in New Mexico in a drug trafficking case has been arrested in Utah.The FBI said detectives from the Utah County Sheriff's Office and the Provo Police Department booked 29-year-old Marysol Pena into jail Friday on suspicion of intent to distribute a controlled substance and of violation of probation or parole.The FBI also said Pena was sought on a federal warrant charging her with conspiracy and with drug distribution crimes.According to the FBI, arrangements will be made to return Pena to New Mexico to face federal charges. Those charges include conspiracy and drug distribution crimes.Pena remained jailed Saturday. Online court records don't list an attorney for her who could comment on the allegations.


New Mexico legislator pleads not guilty to aggravated DWISANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State Sen. Richard Martinez has pleaded not guilty to aggravated DWI and waived his right to an arraignment in court on the charge stemming from a June crash.The 66-year-old Espanola Democrat entered the not-guilty plea Thursday and no longer must appear in state District Court in Tierra Amarillo for an arraignment Monday as previously scheduled.Police have said Martinez crashed his Mercedes SUV into the back of a vehicle stopped at a red light in Espanola.According to police, Martinez refused a blood-alcohol test and could not move his fingers as an officer directed.Martinez became a state senator in 2000 after serving as a magistrate judge in Rio Arriba County. He has served for years as the chair of the Judiciary Committee.


1 charge tossed against judge in secret recording case(Information from: The Daily Times, http://www.daily-times.com)FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — A criminal charge against a former New Mexico magistrate judge accused of surreptitiously recording of private conversations has been dismissed.The Farmington Daily Times reports a state district court judge recently tossed out a misdemeanor count of contempt of court against former Aztec Magistrate Court Judge Connie Johnston.However, Johnston still faces 13 criminal charges filed by the New Mexico Attorney General's Office. She has pleaded not guilty.In 2017, the New Mexico Supreme Court removed Johnston from office for misconduct. A state commission said the misconduct included dishonesty, surreptitious recording of private conversations in the courthouse and abuse of her judicial power of contempt.Prosecutors say Johnston recorded telephone calls involving former Aztec Magistrate Court manager Lori Proctor that were likely made in a private.___


Highway to be closed in Otero County to remove crash debrisALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) — Federal and state officials plan to temporarily close part of a highway in southern New Mexico's Otero County for a day later this month to remove crash debris from an adjacent canyon.Lincoln National Forest officials say U.S. 82 will be closed Aug. 14 for nearly 7 miles (11 kilometers) between High Rolls and North Florida Avenue on the outskirts of Alamogordo.The driver of a tractor-trailer rig was killed May 7 when the truck crashed into a side of a tunnel and then caught fire.Officials say removing the debris will help maintain the area's scenic nature and ensure that unwanted materials don't enter the nearby waterways.


Video shows inmates beating officers at New Mexico prisonLAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Video of an assault on two corrections officers at a New Mexico prison shows inmates rushing them inside a pod before the altercation moves into a hallway.Officials released surveillance video showing the July 16 altercation at the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility on Thursday, the same day prosecutors announced seven inmates had been indicted in the 30-second attack on charges that include kidnapping and conspiracy.Two of the inmates — 32-year-old Rico Sena and 47-year-old Gabriel Sedillo — have been charged with attempted murder.Authorities say Officer Alex Benecomo and Sgt. Mitchell Lamb were accompanying a nurse delivering medication to the pod.Video shows inmates throw punches and kick the officers after they fall to the floor.Officials say the officers were treated for non-life threatening injuries.


Utility's tree trimmings becoming food for zoo animalsALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico utility's trimmings are becoming food for plant-eating animals at Albuquerque's zoo.Public Service Co. of New Mexico says it is collaborating with the Abq BioPark to have branches trimmed from trees routinely delivered to the zoo for donation as food for grazing animals such as giraffes and elephants.Utilities such as Albuquerque-based PNM routinely trim trees around power lines to maintain proper clearances under circumstances such as strong winds and sagging of wires because of heat.