Morning Word

NM Gov Signs Order Requiring Less Paperwork for Educators

Weather aids Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon firefighters, first soil analysis released

Gov reduces educators’ paperwork

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham yesterday signed an executive order aimed at reducing educators’ admin work. The executive order requires the state to review its administrative reporting requirements for schools and districts and, by the start of the 2022-2023 school year, cut by 25% the amount of time teachers and administrators spend on paperwork. Both Lujan Grisham and PED Secretary Kurt Steinhaus said in statements the goal of the executive order is to allow educators to focus on students. “We rely on districts and schools to provide important information to improve our education system, but we want to make it as easy as possible to meet those requirements so educators can better focus on the real task at hand: educating our kids,” Steinhaus said in a statement. “In addition to reducing paperwork, we’ll be improving efficiencies and the quality of information so school leaders can make better decisions, like how to improve math instruction or how to better help kids learn to read.” The move also comes as the state works to fill considerable educator vacancies. At the start of the year, the governor announced an initiative to recruit more substitute teachers (the governor volunteered in the classroom herself). The Legislature passed and the governor signed several bills earlier this year to raise teacher salaries. The new executive order primarily focuses on reducing program reports and data collection.

Lower temps, humidity help on Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon

The Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire spurred a mandatory evacuation—”go—in Santa Fe County yesterday in Upper Dalton Canyon (no other portions of Santa Fe County have any evacuation levels). That being said, officials in last night’s community meeting reported another productive day on the fire, which stands at 311,252 acres and 41% containment, with close to 3,000 personnel on the fire. Officials downgraded several evacuation statuses in Mora, San Miguel and Taos counties yesterday, allowing residents to return home. Fire behavior analyst Stewart Turner said cooler temperatures and elevated humidity levels should make for minimal fire growth—pending thunderstorms and increased wind—and good conditions for firefighters today and tomorrow, but a drying trend will begin again on Thursday with critical fire weather returning on Friday. Burned Area Emergency Response specialists have begun assessment of lands within the Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon burned areas for potential threats to the roads from flash flooding, debris flows and the overall infrastructure due to increased erosion, and yesterday released a soil burn severity (SBS) map analyzing 115,542 acres for the Headwaters Gallinas River and Tecolote Creek watersheds, showing approximately 51% of the first phase acres analyzed are either unburned/very low or low soil burn severity, while 28% sustained a moderate SBS and 21% identified as high SBS.

BAER assessment also has begun on the Cerro Pelado Fire, which stands at 45,605 acres and 85% containment. With reduced fire risk, Bandelier National Monument Superintendent Patrick Suddath yesterday announced Bandelier is scheduled to partially reopen to the public on Friday, May 27. The park has been closed since the end of April. “As the fire containment continues to increase and fire defense measures are being removed, we can safely welcome back the public,” Suddath said in a statement. All campgrounds, wilderness and backcountry areas and the Alcove House and Alcove House Trail will remain closed due to ongoing fire danger in the region.

Last call for Cerrillos Road feedback

Just a few days remain to weigh in on a redesign for Cerrillos Road. The state transportation department will take comments until May 26, at which point it will close comments and choose a final recommended design. Ten initial designs were proposed last summer, and narrowed the general options to: 10.5′ driving lanes; 5′ bike lanes; 5′ or 6′ sidewalks where feasible (4′ minimum in constrained areas); wider sidewalk buffers where right-of-way may be available; and variable 12-14′ median. New pedestrian crossings are proposed between San Felipe and 5th Street; at Railfan Road to the NMDOT property; and at a new traffic light at the Santa Fe Indian School entrance. In addition, proposals for walkers and bikers include a 10′ multi-use trail between Second Street and the Ashbaugh Park entrance to improve connectivity to the Acequia Trail, as well as a 10′ multi-use trail from the proposed Railfan crosswalk to Alta Vista. The redesign will also include drainage, landscaping with green infrastructure, improved bus stops and lighting. You can view a more visual representation of the plan’s current phase here.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported May 23:

New cases: 1,433 (includes the weekend and is approximately 39% higher than last Monday’s three-day update); 530,772 total cases

Deaths: nine; At last count, Santa Fe County had 291 total deaths; there have been 7,684 total fatalities statewide. Hospitalizations: 96; Patients on ventilators: five

Case rates and community levels: According to DOH’s most recent report on COVID-19 geographic trends, for the seven-day period of May 9 through May 15, De Baca County had the highest case rate per 100,000 population: 62.1, followed by Rio Arriba County with 38.4 and Santa Fe County with 34.3. According to the most recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “community levels” tracking system—which uses case rates along with two hospital metrics in combination to determine the state of the virus on a county level—all of New Mexico’s counties remain green, or low, except for Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and Grant counties, which are yellow, for medium.

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.

Listen up

Ready to “revel in the adventure of navigable uncertainty”? Neuroscientist Stuart Firestein, chair of Columbia University’s Department of Biological Sciences, lectures on the “Ignorance, Failure, Uncertainty and the Optimism of Science” at 7:30 pm tonight at the Lensic Performing Arts Center. The event, part of Santa Fe Institute’s 2022 Community Lecture Series, will examine science as “a fundamentally optimistic enterprise. More than a cheery disposition, it is the source of a philosophical outlook that we might call ‘optimistical’. It reliably produces fundamental and actionable knowledge about the world. We are able to take for granted, in a way even our recent ancestors never imagined, the idea of progress.” Free tickets available here. The event will also stream live, and a recording will be available after the lecture at SFI’s Youtube page.

Drink beer, help wildfire victims

Raise a pint and do some good tonight at Second Street Brewery’s Railyard and Rufina locations, which are hosting Wildfire Relief Fundraisers with proceeds benefiting the Santa Fe Community Foundation’s Community Resiliency Fund, where currently 100% of donations are going directly toward wildfire relief in San Miguel and Mora counties. The fundraiser at the breweries today runs from 4 to 9 pm with $1 from every pint benefiting the fund. Donation boxes also will be on hand for requested non-perishables and personal items. Needed items include: beef jerky, bottled water, Gatorade, individually wrapped non-perishable snacks, chapstick, eyedrops, socks, sunblock, baby wipes, Q-tips and women’s menstrual products. Second Street will be bringing those donations to The Food Depot, which also has a disaster relief fund and a list of other locations where you can bring the needed items. If you’re looking for more ways to help, SFCF has a full list of funds available here. And speaking of helping out those impacted by wildfires, the state Department of Cultural Affairs yesterday announced free admission to all its museums and historic sites to all first responders and their families, along with every resident of Colfax, Mora, San Miguel, Valencia and Lincoln counties through the end of June.

Drink from the land

Speaking of beer, Eater profiles the Albuquerque-based New Mexico’s Bow & Arrow Brewing Co, founded in 2016 by CEO Shyla Sheppard (Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara of North Dakota), and her business partner and wife, Dr. Missy Begay, (Diné), the business’ creative director. The couple “set out to simply make great beer,” the story notes, but by founding the first Native American women-owned brewer in the US, “faced down stereotypes about who helms breweries.” While the brewery started out with a traditional lineup, a year in they debuted the “wild and sour beers” for which they are now known, cultivating the yeast for their wild beers from a peach tree on their property and a nearby lavender farm. They use other local and Indigenous ingredients in their beers and hard seltzers, including blue corn, sumac, prickly pear and juniper. “We wanted to explore our connection to this special place. The land, the people. Indigenous ingredients captured our imagination,” Sheppard tells Eater. They also have been building relationships with farmers in the Four Corners Area for ingredients to use in future beers, such as squash and pumpkin, and spent the last year foraging for neomexicanus hops.

Sweater, check. Umbrella, check

Yup. That was rain last night (and severe thunderstorms in the eastern part of the state). Santa Fe has a 20% chance for more precipitation today, according to the National Weather Service, which forecasts isolated showers and thunderstorms on an otherwise mostly sunny day, with a high temperature near 61 degrees and north wind 10 to 15 mph becoming northwest 15 to 20 mph in the afternoon. Temps should start rising back into the 80s later this week.

Thanks for reading! In a world gone mad, The Word is glad things are going well for Duran Duran (although would never have thought there was this much to say about “Rio”).

Letters to the Editor

Mail letters to PO Box 4910 Santa Fe, NM 87502 or email them to editor[at] Letters (no more than 200 words) should refer to specific articles in the Reporter. Letters will be edited for space and clarity.

We also welcome you to follow SFR on social media (on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and comment there. You can also email specific staff members from our contact page.