Morning Word

East Pecos Wilderness Closed Due to Fire

Danger rate increases in the Gila as firefighters use helicopters in the Pecos

COVID-19 by the numbers

New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 122 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 204,392, with 192,475 designated as recovered. The Torrance County Detention Facility led with 26 new reported cases and Bernalillo County had 25 new cases. San Juan County was the third highest with 10 new cases.The state did not report additional deaths today; there have now been 4,302 fatalities. As of Tuesday, 107 people are hospitalized with COVID-19.Currently, 67.4% of New Mexicans have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 58.6% are fully vaccinated. In Santa Fe County, 76% have had at least one dose and 66.5% are fully inoculated.

New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins and Human Services Department Secretary Dr. David R. Scrase will provide a COVID-19 webinar today at 1 pm on the health department’s Facebook page.

You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here. If you’ve had experiences with COVID-19, we would like to hear from you.

People to city: Fix the pool

While a handful of days on the calendar remain before the official start of summer, it has already felt very much underway in Santa Fe with one notable exception: No outdoor swimming pool. The City Council voted on June 9 to shutter Bicentennial Pool for the season because of costly delayed maintenance and a major water leak. About 250 residents have signed a petition that names Mayor Alan Webber and (curiously) Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as targets for help. It reads in part, “During the summers there is often a long line of people waiting to swim with their families. Families need a safe place to swim and to teach their children how to swim. (Even with the little water we have, New Mexico consistently ranks high in the number of deaths by drowning.) Please sign the petition and tell the city that investing in the pool is investing in the people of Santa Fe.” A city spokesman told The Santa Fe New Mexican “there will be plenty of opportunity going forward for public comment” on the future of recreation in the city.

Wildfire and risk of more

As all five of the national forests in New Mexico remain under restrictions due to fire danger, federal officials said Tuesday the risk level in the Gila National Forest has moved to “very high.” This danger rating means “fires start easily from all causes and small fuels (such as grasses and needles) will ignite rapidly and immediately after ignition spread rapidly and increase quickly in intensity.” It increases the risk that small fires transform rapidly into large fires that can become extremely difficult to control, according to US Forest Service officials. Meanwhile, smoke from the Poso Fire near El Rito continues to coalesce with smoke from other regional fires to affect air quality. As of 6 am today, the east side of the Pecos Wilderness is closed to protect the safety of firefighters and and public health. The Rincon Fire continues to burn at an elevation of about 11,000 feet near Hamilton Mesa, so the restricted area includes all Forest Service lands, roads and trails on the eastern side of the Pecos Wilderness within an area roughly defined by Jacks Creek Trail #257 and Beatty’s Trail #25 on the west to Skyline Trail #251 on the north to the Pecos Wilderness boundary on the east to Lone Pine Mesa Trail # 214, El Porvenir Trail #247 and Skyline Trail #251 on the south, then heading north to Iron Gate Trailhead and Jacks Creek Trailhead. Daily fire update videos from Buck Wickham, section chief for fire operations, are posted on Facebook. Here’s yesterday’s. Firefighters can’t safely reach the blaze location on foot, so Wickham said efforts are largely from helicopter drops so far.

The race is on

Move over North Dakota, here comes New Mexico. The race for silver finish in the oil industry is neck and neck. The Land of Enchantment produced 1.16 million barrels of oil per day in March, compared to 1.11 million barrels from North Dakota. The Associated Press reports that the monthly data signals a shift, as “North Dakota has ranked as the nation’s second-biggest oil producer for nine years, but it’s on the verge of losing that status because oil production is soaring in New Mexico.” Texas remains the nation’s largest oil producer, in part because of the Permian Basin region on both sides of the border with New Mexico. North Dakota’s Bakken region overtook Alaska as a major producer in 2012. But the arrival close to the top of the list comes with pollution. A new air quality study by the Clean Air Task Force and Ceres indicates that small producers like many who locate in New Mexico are big offenders. While the 195 smallest oil and natural gas producers in the nation collectively account for just 9% of production, they are responsible for 22% of total reported emissions, according to the study.

Listen up

The newest episode of Littleglobe TV features “stories about the cathartic aspects of driving, skiing when there’s no snow, body image, COVID’s impact on mental health, becoming new parents” and more as the nonprofit’s team of filmmakers has been working with students from Nambe Pueblo’s Tewa Roots Society, Santa Fe and Capital high schools, New Mexico School for the Arts and the Masters program.

In the alcove with nature

The Alcoves exhibitions at the New Mexico Museum of Art have proven themselves to have legs, the current show being this year’s fourth iteration for the small spaces. This afternoon, join Alcoves artists JC Gonzo and Marietta Patricia Leis for a discussion about Gonzo’s installations, The Land in Spirit and Until the Rio Grande Runs Dry. The artists derive inspiration from nature, and at 1:30 pm today will discuss how each evokes a sense of place that is simultaneously internal and external. Register here.

Scary movie

A murder mystery starring Queen Latifah, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Beau Bridges has begun production in Albuquerque and will continue through August. According to the New Mexico Film Office,End of The Road is the story of a recently widowed woman, Brenda, who after losing her job, drives her family cross-country to start a new life. In the New Mexico desert, cut off from help, they must learn to fight back when they become the targets of a mysterious killer.” Ooh. Scary. It employs156 New Mexico crew members, five local principal actors, and 283 people in background talent from the state, the film office says.

Not cold

While some parts of Santa Fe saw actual raindrops fall yesterday afternoon, the monsoon pattern mostly produced wind in the city. Today’s forecast is much the same: a 20% chance of showers and thunderstorms after 3 pm. The National Weather Service is calling for a high near 91. Check out this tweet from the NWS that shows high temperatures and little rain predicted all over the state for the next week in a handy chart.

Thanks for reading! The Word has been trying to learn about birdwatching but they often fly away before successful identification. She is therefore trying to get better at rocks and is fascinated by what’s happening with the Perseverance rover on Mars, which uses a tool made in New Mexico to analyze Red Planet rocks.

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