Morning Word

Guv Asks Feds to Delay Migrant Relocation to NM Due to Wildfires

Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire grows amid red flag conditions

Gov asks feds to hold off on sending migrants to NM

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham yesterday asked the US Department of Homeland Security to delay plans to send migrants to New Mexico, citing the impact wildfires are having on the state’s government and humanitarian resources. “The existing emergency arising from these wildfires has severely taxed state resources,” the governor writes in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “I cannot allow communities in the state of New Mexico to shoulder additional burdens falling squarely within the federal government’s purview.” The letter comes as the Biden administration reportedly plans to transport migrants waiting on the southern border for immigration proceedings further into the country to relieve overcrowding at the border, according to internal documents obtained by NBC News. “While I understand the difficulty the Department faces in managing the flow of migrants at the southern border in the absence of comprehensive immigration reform,” Lujan Grisham writes, “I have serious concerns regarding the Department’s readiness to address the influx of individuals who are poised to enter New Mexico if further preparation is not undertaken.” Without such planning, she adds, “New Mexico (and other border states) will bear the brunt of adverse economic and social impacts that are likely to arise from the influx of migrants.” A spokesperson told NBC News “no decision has been made” on the plan as of yet.

Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire grows

Yesterday’s red flag conditions sparked growth in the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire, and produced a highly visible column of smoke. Mid-afternoon yesterday, fire officials said the fire perimeter on the west side had expanded to the northwest toward Hamilton Mesa, but had not crossed Hamilton Mesa Trail and was burning toward the northeast into the wilderness up the Rio Mora drainage. All aircraft were grounded due to the “strong erratic winds,” a Facebook post from fire officials read. “The public will continue to see a large column of smoke from the increase in fire activity throughout the day. However, communities within the fire area are currently not at risk and no traffic corridors have been affected by the increase in fire activity.” As of last night, the fire stood at 325,340 acres and 70% containment. The Cerro Pelado Fire in the Jemez, however, has been 100% contained at 45,605 acres. Yesterday, the Northern New Mexico Type 3 Team announced it would transition that fire back to the Jemez Ranger District today. According to a news release, the Jemez Ranger District type 4 organization will “continue rehabilitation of the fire area in coordination with the Cerro Pelado Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Team, continue with suppression repair, and will patrol the fire perimeter.” After today, the incident information phone number will no longer be active, and questions should be directed to the Jemez Ranger District at 505-829-3535 or the Santa Fe National Forest at 505-438-5300.

The Midnight Fire in Rio Arriba County began June 9 approximately eight miles northeast of El Rito and is still listed as having an unknown cause. However, in last night’s community meeting in Abiquiu, Carson National Forest Deputy District Ranger Angie Krall said it had “pretty definitively” been caused by a lightning strike. Incident Commander Jason Clawson said he estimated the fire was at about 5,000 acres; containment is still listed at 0%. “We’ve stopped a lot of the perimeter,” Clawson said, but with the red flag weather this week thus far, “we just don’t feel quite comfortable calling those areas contained. We need more time.” He said he anticipated rising containment reporting either today or tomorrow.

SOS seeks intervention in Otero County election

Following the Otero County Commission’s refusal Monday night to approve the 2022 primary election canvass, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver yesterday filed a writ with the state Supreme Court asking them to require that certification. “New Mexico’s 2022 primary election was conducted with the highest standards of election administration by dedicated county clerks and civil servants across our state,” Toulouse Oliver said in a statement. “The post-election canvassing process is a key component of how we maintain our high levels of election integrity in New Mexico and the Otero County Commission is flaunting that process by appeasing unfounded conspiracy theories and potentially nullifying the votes of every Otero County voter who participated in the primary.” During a special meeting Monday, Otero County commissioners discussed their lack of trust in Dominion Voting Machines, the Alamogordo News reports. “I do not trust these machines and I want Otero County to have a fair election for everybody,” Otero County Commission Chairwoman Vickie Marquardt said. According to the SOS, county canvassing boards must certify the results of the election under state law “unless there is proof of discrepancies in the election returns.” The Otero County Commission, the news release says, “offered no evidence to prove any problems with the vote tabulators or election returns.” Moreover, “This most recent action by the Otero County Commission is part of a disturbing trend across the nation motivated by conspiracy theories about the 2020 election that have been debunked time and time again (most notably in the failure of over 60 lawsuits filed in the wake of 2020).”

Toulouse Oliver’s office recently launched a “Rumor Versus Reality” website fact-checking election-related conspiracies, which includes reporting that debunks the claims made in the election-fraud documentary 2,000 Mules. Filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza refuted Toulouse Oliver yesterday in a YouTube video shared on Twitter by the state Republican Party. The state Democratic Party, in turn, tweeted: “The NMGOP is embracing conspiracy theorist and convicted fraudster Dinesh D’Souza and his completely debunked claims about elections. They’re more interested in belaboring Trump’s lies about losing the 2020 election than the issues New Mexicans care about.”

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported June 14:

New cases: 768; New Mexico had 6,357 cases for the seven-day period ending June 13, comparable to last week’s seven-day case count (4% higher); 548,119 total cases

Deaths: two; Santa Fe County has had 306 total deaths thus far; there have been 7,865 total fatalities statewide. Hospitalizations: 177, a 31% increase from yesterday. Patients on ventilators: 19.

Case rates: According to the most recent DOH report on geographical trends for COVID-19, for the seven-day period of June 6-12, Los Alamos County had the highest daily case rate per 100,000 population in the state: 133.3, followed by Cibola and Grant counties at 75.7 and 75.4, respectively. Santa Fe County has the fifth highest at 64.8.

Community levels: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “community levels” tracking system—which uses case rates along with two hospital metrics in combination for its framework—for the seven-day period of June 2-9, San Juan and McKinley counties both show high—or “red”—levels. There are now 17 counties, including Santa Fe County, classified with yellow or “medium” levels—up from nine the week prior. CDC recommendations for individuals and communities based on the community-level rankings can be found here. The CDC updates its map on Thursdays.

Resources: Vaccine registrationBooster registration Free at-home rapid antigen testsSelf-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

Experts from University of New Mexico’s Poison & Drug Information Center provide clear and matter-of-fact information about cannabis in the center’s first “Ask a Poison Information Specialist” live Q+A session. Questions run the gamut, and prompt explanations on everything from: the process of making dabs; the impact of cannabis on driving; what’s known from studies about the relationship between cannabis and psychosis; and what to do if one’s child consumes one’s cannabis. As to that last one: Call the poison hotline at 1-800-222-1222. No, you won’t get in trouble. “Our goal is to help the callers, help the children and help make a determination of where that child needs to be treated, pharmacist and professor Susan Smolinske, director of the center, says. “An accidental exposure is an accident; there’s no reason to get anyone in trouble for that.”

The built environment

Portland, Oregon-based artist Daniel Kaven’s recently published book, Architecture of Normal, explores " the dissonance between the overwhelming American landscape and the underwhelming architecture of its strip malls, fast food chains, motels and tract housing.” Described as an art book, architectural survey and a travelogue, the book begins in Albuquerque, where Kaven was born and raised. “My family’s been there for a long, long time, and my soul continues to live there in New Mexico,” Kaven tells Metropolis magazine in a recent interview. “But at the same time, it’s really in my mind where America began, because it’s been inhabited for thousands of years. And yet it’s also where we’re testing a lot of today’s rocket technology.” In an artist’s statement about the book, Kaven says: “Much of what I witnessed as a child was what could be gleaned from a car window as it sped past the exits along an interstate or a wide, multi-lane boulevard in my home state of New Mexico. Burger King, Shilo Inn, Walmart, McDonald’s, KB Home and 7-Eleven evoke immediate brand recognition among anyone who has looked away from the asphalt along a freeway or street in the American West in the last few decades. Not only have the logos of these companies been forever branded into the American landscape, but their architecture has been tattooed into our psyches. The facades and the financial models behind them have profoundly influenced my understanding of the world and that which an entire society accepts as its vernacular architecture for the present and foreseeable future.” (The book’s Instagram page also provides a taste of the visuals and writing).

Where the wild things are

New Mexico’s ongoing drought isn’t just bad news for wildfire and river health. Low precipitation also brings out the wildlife. In a news release earlier this week, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish alerted residents to be on the look-out for wild animals, particularly for bears, as much of their normal food supply—green grasses, forbes and flowering plants—need moisture. “The state has experienced less than average precipitation for this time of the year, which means that bears may be in search of other food sources,” Rick Winslow, a bear and cougar biologist with the department, said in a statement. “Droughts historically have led to a lot of bear conflict, not only at camping and picnic sites, but also in more populated areas.” When bears move into populated areas, they can become “habituated to humans,” and ones who are deemed a threat may be euthanized. As such, the department urges people living or visiting “bear country” to keep trash contained; remove fruit from trees from the ground; remove bird feeders; avoid leaving pet food outside overnight; and clean and store outdoor grills, among other preventative measures. Also: Don’t feed bears “to attract them for viewing.” Should you encounter a bear: “Make yourself appear large by holding out your jacket.” Hold small children to keep them from running. If attacked by a black bear, “fight back using anything at your disposal, such as rocks, sticks, binoculars or even your bare hands. Aim for the bear’s nose and eyes.” More information is available in the department’s guide to living in and visiting bear country.

Nothing new under the sun

Sunny again today, the National Weather Service says, with a high near 90 degrees and north wind 5 to 15 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon. Our chances for rain start tomorrow night, and not a moment too soon.

Thanks for reading! The Word is making her way through watching the performances from the 2022 Tony Awards (Paradise Square is her favorite so far).

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