Morning Word

Feds Withdraw Land Around Chaco From Drilling

DOH promotes gun violence awareness month

Morning Word

Feds withdraw Chaco land from drilling

US Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has announced the Biden administration is following through on a plan originally laid out in November 2021 to protect the 10-mile radius of land around Chaco Canyon from oil and gas drilling for the next 20 years. Haaland on Friday issued an order withdrawing those lands. “Efforts to protect the Chaco landscape have been ongoing for decades, as Tribal communities have raised concerns about the impacts that new development would have on areas of deep cultural connection,” Haaland said in a statement. “Today marks an important step in fulfilling President [Joe] Biden’s commitments to Indian Country, by protecting Chaco Canyon, a sacred place that holds deep meaning for the Indigenous peoples whose ancestors have called this place home since time immemorial.” In April, a coalition of Native American and environmental activists sent a letter to Haaland pushing for action to protect the area. Also yesterday: State Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard announced a moratorium on oil and gas leasing on state lands within one mile of schools or other educational institutions until further notice, and issued an executive order mandating the State Land Office staff review all existing oil and gas leases within one mile of schools to assess compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

DOH promotes gun violence awareness month

As part of Gun Violence Awareness Month, the state Department of Health will participate this weekend in a nationwide campaign  to honor all survivors of gun violence by wearing orange (#WearOrange). DOH also is partnering with New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence to distribute free gun locks. People interested in receiving a gun lock at no charge can call (323) 394-1131 or email “Injuries and deaths due to firearms take a heavy toll on those affected as well as their communities, throughout New Mexico and the nation,” New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence Co-President Miranda Viscoli said in a statement. “Securing firearms is a proven strategy that reduces gun violence in all of our communities.” According to the health department, New Mexico in 2021 had 578 firearm-related deaths and ranked third in the nation for age-adjusted firearm mortality rates (2.78 per 100,000). The state also ranked fifth highest in the US for homicides involving firearms and fourth highest for suicide fatalities involving firearms. “Gun owners can take simple steps to help prevent gun violence,” DOH Secretary Patrick Allen said in a statement. “Storing firearms unloaded and secured, and storing ammunition in a separate location can greatly reduce the chance of gun violence.”

PRC urges caution on solar installations

The state Public Regulation Commission yesterday issued an advisory to consumers undertaking solar rooftop installation. In a news release, the PRC said it has seen an “uptick” in consumer complaints and urged “due diligence” by homeowners when contracting with companies for solar installations. “It’s important for consumers to remember that these companies are not associated with any state agency or with your utility, so it’s always good to ask lots of questions and know what you’re signing up for,” Commission Chairman Pat O’Connell said in a statement. The PRC advises consumers to ensure they know their current electricity usage; how much electricity their potential solar panels are designed to generate; whether they’re purchasing the panels or leasing them; the length of the contract; the payment terms; and potential tax credits. The PRC also recommends customers “check with their current electric utility to better understand how the energy generated from their panels will impact their bill.”

Madrid cannabis company on the market

SFR’s cannabis expert Andy Lyman reports owners of one of the two cannabis retail stores in Madrid are ready to call it quits after about a year of operation. CannaBliss, the Madrid dispensary next to the Old Boarding House Mercantile on the north end of town, is on the market for $599,000. And at least one cannabis business expert says now is the time to sell before the canna-bubble inevitably bursts in New Mexico within the next two years. Co-owner Cid Isbell tells SFR he and his wife wants to move to Mexico. “So that’s the big driver, right now,” he says. “We just want a different lifestyle.” The timing may be right, Matt Kennicott, co-founder of cannabis consulting business Weeds says, noting that while sellers currently have a market advantage when it comes to turnkey cannabis opportunities, he expects the next 12 to 18 months to produce significant turnover. “At this point, there aren’t a whole lot of businesses selling yet, or even closing their doors,” Kennicott says. “But, a lot of us that are watching the trends think that that’s going to be happening pretty soon, to be perfectly honest.”

Listen up

The most recent episode of the weekly climate-change focused Resources Radio podcast continues its Climate Hits Home series with a look at Las Cruces. Host Kristin Hayes talks with City of Las Cruces Sustainability Officer Lisa LaRocque about climate change’s effect on urban environments, and the communities that experience disproportionate impact from extreme heat. Urban heat occurs, LaRocque explains, “when cities replace natural land cover with dense concentrations of pavement, concrete, and buildings that absorb and retain heat.” Older communities often represent hot spots, she notes, due to “old urban design principles, old building codes and a lack of appreciation of nature’s services.” The City of Las Cruces also partnered with NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to map the areas of the city with the most severe heat, finding in one study that “low-income neighborhoods in the center of the city consistently experienced higher temperatures than the affluent neighborhoods.”

Hit the road

Outside online declares “summer is on” with staff picks for the best adventures this season (technically summer starts June 21, so you still have time to plan). Some of those adventures are far-flung(ish), such as recreating on the Jersey shore or off-roading in Ireland. Others are closer, but not for the lazy traveler, such as an 11-mile hiking trip in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. Outside Deputy Editor and Travel Director Mary Turner says she’s eschewing unreliable air travel this season and sticking with road trips, noting that Santa Fe, where she lives, is a “good place to launch” her Southwest bucket list. One stop includes a guided tour of the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary in Ramah. The sanctuary rescues and provides permanent sanctuary to displaced, unwanted and non-releasable captive-bred wolves, wolfdogs, and other wild canid species (here’s the 2017 promotional video Game of Thrones George RR Martin produced for the sanctuary). After visiting the wolves, Turner’s itinerary includes a Navajo-led horseback tour of Canyon de Chelly in northeastern Arizona and a trip to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, on the Utah border. The Travel also sings New Mexico’s praises for road-trippers in its roundup, particularly the Albuquerque portion of Route 66. As for domestic travel in general, Stacker has just released a look at the top 25 states Americans visit the most, and New Mexico tied with Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and Oklahoma in the 21st spot, with New Mexico’s plethora of UNESCO World Heritage sites adding to its allure.


New Mexico Cocktail Week commences today, a joint undertaking from Edible New Mexico and the Liquid Muse. Saturday’s “taco wars” event is sold-out, but plenty of other imbibing opportunities await. For those who enjoy concoctions and/or concocting, Sunday includes a variety of mixology events, including a yoga brunch, mixology seminar and a chef and shaker dinner at Palace Prime. Speciality dinners and cocktail classes continue throughout the week in Albuquerque, Las Vegas and Santa Fe, with Santa Fe hosting a cocktail pairing dinner at Restaurant Martin on June 8; a sherry class and tasting at La Boca on June 10; and a dance party at Opuntia Cafe, also on June 10. If you’re more inclined to cocktail at home for whatever reason, worry not. The New Mexico Cocktail Guide includes a slew of delicious-sounding drink recipes local restaurants bars contributed, including Santa Café's Rosemary Martini; Opuntia’s 13 Going on 30; and Palace Prime’s Tokyo Iced-Tiki. Salut!

This and that

If you enjoyed yesterday’s melange of sun, clouds, rain, hail and wind, you should enjoy the weekend. Today, the National Weather Service forecasts scattered showers and thunderstorms after noon, with a 30% chance for precipitation. Otherwise, it will be partly sunny, with a high temperature near 70 degrees and northeast wind 5 to 15 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon. Saturday and Sunday look just about the same, albeit a few degrees warmer and a tad more sunny.

Thanks for reading! The Word thinks this New York Times story on the future of Artificial Intelligence pairs nicely with this Onion piece on the same topic.

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