President Biden Approves More Fire Aid Categories; Mora Residents Sue Forest Service Over Public Records | | Santa Fe Reporter

2022-06-11 00:06:02 By : Ms. Lianghong Duan

Biden expands fire funds, Mora residents sue Forest Service

In advance of a planned visit to New Mexico Saturday to discuss the impact of wildfires in New Mexico, President Joe Biden has approved a request from the state’s congressional delegation to add federal assistance eligibility in Colfax, Mora and San Miguel counties in five additional categories that include roads, bridges, public utilities, parks and other types of public buildings and facilities. The delegation continues to press the Biden administration to waive a 25% non-federal cost share requirement for federal assistance. “I welcome this much-needed expansion of federal funding that will provide resources to repair our infrastructure, including roads, bridges, acequias and water facilities,” US Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández said in a statement. “Even so, these fires have caused irreparable damage to our economy, heritage, and culture,” added the 3rd Congressional District representative, who last week called for an independent investigation of the protocols and processes behind the prescribed burns that led to the fires. Dozens of Mora residents also want answers about the prescribed burns, and earlier this week filed a lawsuit in US District Court against the US Forest Service in which they say the agency violated the Freedom of Information Act by refusing to provide documents related to the Las Dispensas prescribed burn that became the Hermits Peak Fire in early April.

Burn map released, trails stay closed

The expanded federal assistance also comes as the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Burned Area Emergency Response team releases a soil burn severity map analyzing 190,026 acres for the Sapello River, Upper Mora River, Coyote Creek and portions of Embudo Creek watersheds, of which 42,124 acres is within the Santa Fe National Forest; 14,969 acres is in the Carson National Forest; and 132,933 acres constitutes private land. According to a BAER news release, the analysis found approximately 43% of the phase two acres are either unburned or have very low or low soil burn severity, while 33% are moderate SBS and 24% are high SBS. As of last night, the fire encompassed 319,579 acres and was 66% contained. Heading into the weekend, the Santa Fe National Forest issued a reminder that while tomorrow is National Get Outdoors Day, people should not get outdoors in the Santa Fe National Forest, which remains closed due to fire danger. The Santa Fe City Council late Wednesday also extended the city’s closure of some of its trails to June 17. You can, however, visit the new Haiku Trail at the Randall Davey Audubon Center & Sanctuary (1800 Upper Canyon Road) to enjoy the confluence of nature and literary arts.

2,000 plus independents voted in NM primary

More than 2,200 independent New Mexico voters took advantage of a new law during the June 7 primary that allowed them to employ same-day registration, sign on with one of the state’s three major parties and vote in that party’s contested races. The state’s “closed primary” system requires voters be registered with a major party—currently the Democratic, Libertarian and Republican parties—in order to participate. The new law only allowed unaffiliated and minor party voters to register with a major party on election day; major party registrants were not allowed to use same-day registration to switch party affiliation. According to data provided to SFR by the Secretary of State’s Office, 2,217 independent voters used same-day registration to vote in the primary, a figure that represents less than 1% of the approximate 304,000 independent voters the state recorded in its most recent voter registration data. Close to 52% of them registered as Republicans; 45% as Democrats; and about 3% registered as Libertarians. In Santa Fe County, 234 people same-day registered with a major party for the election, nearly 64% of them as Democrats; close to 35% as Republicans; and under 2% (four people) as Libertarians. Eight Santa Feans who had been registered with minor parties changed to a major party in order to vote, including four Green Party members who registered as Democrats. Overall, 10,038 people utilized same-day registration for the primary. Just over 25% of the state’s more than 1 million voters cast ballots in the election.

Deaths: four; Santa Fe County has had 306 total deaths thus far; there have been 7,866 total fatalities statewide. Hospitalizations: 140. Patients on ventilators: 14.

Case rates: According to the most recent DOH report on geographical trends for COVID-19, as of June 6, the state had recorded 6,104 new cases in the preceding seven days—a nearly 55% increase from the prior seven-day period. Grant and Santa Fe counties had the two highest daily case rates per 100,000 population in the most recent time period: 82.5 and 64.8, respectively.

Community levels: Following Wednesday’s COVID-19 update from state health officials discussing rising cases in New Mexico, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “community levels” tracking system yesterday showed a sharp increase in those levels across the state. The federal framework uses case rates along with two hospital metrics in combination to determine the state of the virus on a county level. Using data from June 2-9, the CDC shows two New Mexico counties with high rates for the first time: San Juan and McKinley counties. There are now 17 counties, including Santa Fe County, classified with yellow or “medium” levels—up from nine last week. CDC recommendations for individuals and communities based on the community level rankings can be found here.

Resources: Vaccine registration; Booster registration Free at-home rapid antigen tests; Self-report a positive COVID-19 test result to the health department; COVID-19 treatment info: oral treatments Paxlovid (age 12+) and Molnupiravir (age 18+); and monoclonal antibody treatments. Toolkit for immunocompromised individuals. People seeking treatment who do not have a medical provider can call NMDOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453.

You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.

If the prospect of a Life Without Cheese feels like an impediment to eating a more plant-based diet, consider checking out the most recent episode of Animal Protection of New Mexico’s Teach Me How to Vegan podcast: “Say Cheese.” Hosts Tony and Mickey Quintana delve into cheese research and discuss “what makes cheese such a unique food and how it impacts our brains,” along with recommendations for giving up cheese, along with “vegan cheese” recommendations (you’ll find the recipes on the show page).

Outside Magazine puts Emerald, Porky, Cinder and other furry survivors of the current New Mexico wildfire season into the spotlight. Editorial Director Alex Heard, like the rest of us, has spent plenty of time monitoring the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire, from which bad news has abounded. But two Facebook groups, Calf Canyon–Hermit’s Peak Fire Inclusive Support Group and Calf Canyon Hermit’s Peak Fire Legal Resources, also provided many uplifting tales, and some of those tales involved tails. All the pet and wildlife rescue stories Heard recounts have happy endings (and wonderful photos). Take for instance, Emerald, a green-eyed cat who survived on his own for a month in the midst of the fire, returning home miraculously, albeit with soot-stained eyes. Owner Tina Heffner and her family had to relocate three times, and Emerald and Smokey, their other cat, were nowhere to be found when they had to flee. “I cried because we had to leave,” Heffner tells Heard. When she was able to return home nearly a month later, Smokey emerged right away, but Emerald didn’t come home until four days later. She doesn’t know how he survived, but she’s grateful: “I honestly thought I’d never see this cat again.”

Travelers will find advice galore for building road trips centered on all types of interests: food, baseball, even libraries. Roadtrippers magazine has built one around inter-dimensional portals. That’s right: It’s a Meow Wolf-centric road trip, with an itinerary that begins with Convergence Station in Denver, heads to Santa Fe’s House of Eternal Return and ends at Omega Mart in Las Vegas, Nevada. This trip is about the destinations, for sure: “A Meow Wolf visit reawakens your childhood sense of curiosity and exploration,” the story notes. But the journey has its merits as well with, as the story says, “plenty of wild and weird stops along the way, including Mount Sanitas in Colorado; the Meteor Crater National Landmark in Arizona; and the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge in Taos where “the incredible view of the earth cracked in half feels like something out of a fantasy novel.”

Hot and windy days for days, says the National Weather Service, which forecasts sunny skies and a high temperature near 94 degrees today, with northeast wind 5 to 15 mph becoming west in the afternoon. Temps remain in the 90s Saturday and Sunday.

Thanks for reading! The Word loved the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library’s announcement that it will donate 1,000 copies of Slaughterhouse-Five to Florida students who have been banned from reading the book (so much she donated money to help them do so).

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