Morning Word

State Officials Preview Reforestation Efforts in Fire-Ravaged Mora

IAIA students face loss of housing over critique of administration

Officials preview post-fire reforestation efforts

To commemorate the two-year anniversary of the devastating Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon fire, state and federal officials went to Mora yesterday to highlight reforestation efforts. The fire burned more than 340,000 acres by the time it was contained. Along with with residents from the area, officials met at New Mexico State University’s John T. Harrington Research Center there and previewed the expanded New Mexico Reforestation Center, which, once constructed, they say will be able to produce five million seedlings per year, versus its current capacity of 300,000 seedlings per year. “The people from this community know best how to repair the damage from the fire, and this expanded reforestation center demonstrates the federal government’s understanding of that,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “Growing the seedlings and getting them planted, and putting this community in the driver’s seat is how we heal and regrow our forests.” The expanded center also “will create a New Mexico-based hub for reforestation efforts not just in this state, but across the southwest,” a news release states, and include greenhouses, a seed bank and support facilities. Officials estimate the expanded center will support 474 jobs annually and generate $1.25 billion in economic impacts over a 30-year period. “We’re not waiting to get started,” Energy Minerals and Natural Resources Deputy Secretary Dylan Fuge says in a statement. “We’re already collecting seeds, stocking them, subjecting them to drought stress, and preparing to plant them in the optimal locations to ensure the success of those seedlings.” The Albuquerque Journal reports approximately $32 million of state and federal funds of the $100 million expansion project have been secured thus far.

Online absentee ballot portal opens

In advance of the forthcoming June 4 primary election, the online absentee ballot application portal is now active, the Santa Fe County Clerk’s Office announced yesterday. “Santa Fe County boasts the highest number of absentee ballot drop boxes per capita, with 75 percent of these being drive-up facilities, making the return of your absentee ballot as easy as possible,” Santa Fe County Clerk Katharine E. Clark said in a statement. “Our goal is to ensure every voter in our community can participate in the voting process conveniently and securely.” Voters can apply for absentee ballots online at, a process the clerk’s office recommends as “secure and straightforward,” and a way to avoid “the delays typically associated with postal mail.” Voters have a May 21 deadline to submit applications for absentee ballots, with the clerk’s office recommending seven to 10 days for delivery. A voting rights bill passed in 2023, which went into effect at the start of this year, created a permanent absentee ballot list, which voters can opt in to automatically receive an absentee ballot. Those who have not, however, must apply for an absentee ballot each election cycle, the clerk’s office says. Find more information on voting and local elections at

IAIA students face disciplinary action over zine

Two students at the Institute of American Indian Arts tell SFR they are facing possible suspension from campus housing in response to critiques of the administration published in the student-run Young Warrior zine. The critique, published last month, alleged in an anonymous letter that a former student advisor had been bullied into resigning by her superior. In response to the letter, the zine’s senior editor, along with another student and members of the Associated Student Government, received an email from the school’s provost that stated “several students, including members of ASG, had been involved in bullying, defamation and possibly legally actionable slander and liable [sic] against members of the IAIA staff and in violation of the IAIA Student Handbook Anti-Bullying Policy.” Subsequently, Senior Editor David John Baer McNicholas is awaiting the results of an appeal he filed over sanctions, which, if not overturned, could result in a loss of housing. IAIA Director of Communications Jason Ordaz tells SFR in a statement while the college “fully support the rights of our students, staff, and faculty to express their opinions and ideas, we also emphasize the importance of responsible communication. IAIA does not condone slander or libel that defames individuals.” McNicholas is one of several students and former staff members who spoke to SFR about concerns regarding the campus environment. A female student also alleges the school’s Title IX coordinator underplayed her attempts to file a complaint after a male student entered her room at 5 am, exposed himself, urinated on her chair and floor and then fell asleep on her roommate’s bed.

Bird flu reported at NM chicken farm

State officials yesterday reported the presence of a “highly pathogenic avian influenza” at a poultry facility in Roosevelt County in the eastern part of the state. The news, from the New Mexico Livestock Board and the US Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories, followed initial testing at the farm on April 10; all the chickens will be killed, a news release says. According to the NMLB, highly pathogenic avian influenza occurs naturally in wild birds, and primarily spreads during the fall and spring migratory seasons. While the virus is often fatal to domestic poultry, it “poses a low threat to human exposure,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency is encouraging other poultry farmers in Roosevelt County to keep an eye on their flocks for a variety of symptoms related to the disease, including a drop in egg production or misshapen eggs; lethargy; and sudden death. The US Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service confirmed at the start of the month HPAI in a New Mexico dairy herd, following presumptive positive test results here and in Idaho and Texas. Officials also reported the first human infection, in Texas, earlier this month.

Listen up

In the sixth and final episode of the second season of Santa Fe Institute’s Complexity podcast, SFI Director of Communications Abha Eli Phoboo and Professor Chris Kempes talk with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Research Scientist Heather Graham about her rock opera based on the life of Katherine Johnson, astrobiology, Earth history, paleontology, paleobiology, astronomy and, as Kempes says, all the “amazing stuff happening right now in the physics of life.”

NM for everyone

Want to feel as though you’ve left the country without that pesky passport? You’re in luck. The Travel suggests seven US locations that will approximate the sensation of various international locales, including—wait for it—Santa Fe, which apparently is an excellent substitute for—wait for it—Peru. Cusco, Peru, to be exact: Both “are steeped in rich cultural history and are known for their distinctive architecture, blending indigenous and colonial influences. Santa Fe’s adobe buildings and vivacious cultural landscapes mirror the charm and cultural heritage of Cusco, the former capital of the Inca Empire.” Both also provide quick access to ancient archaeological sites. Machu Picchu for Peru; Bandelier National Monument for us. Sold! Lonely Planet, meanwhile, includes New Mexico on its list of the 10 best states for camper-van camping, writing: “When it comes to spectacular desert vistas, New Mexico is in a class of its own. Endless trails lead through spire-like hoodoo rock formations, while a lack of trees in the north allows for excellent landscape visibility, and some of the most magnificent sunsets we’ve ever seen.” Lastly, Travel Noire lists Albuquerque as one of the top five travel destinations for Cinco de Mayo, noting that “as reflected in its name, New Mexico was briefly a part of Mexico.” (Yes, this reminded of us a repeated joke on The Simpsons). The story recommends numerous activities for a Cinco de Mayo celebration in Albuquerque, including the Albuquerque Folk Festival (which appears to be scheduled for September) and Taco Palooza, plus a visit to the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

Survey says

Three New Mexico dog parks landed on’s list of the top 120 “Hidden Gem Dog Parks,” rankings based on surveys of 3,000 dog owners across the US. None made the top 10, but Las Cruces Dog Park came in at #87, with the survey noting it “offers a welcoming environment for your dog to roam free within a secure, fenced space. For dog owners, there’s comfortable seating situated in a shaded area, perfect for cooler relaxation on warm days.” Santa Fe’s Frank Ortiz Dog Park follows at #94, trailed by Albuquerque’s North Domingo Baca Dog Park. New Mexico ranked second in a new Forbes Advisor study evaluating divorce rates as a state where couples are likely to divorce. The report says NM’s divorce rate is 20.56%, and 12.90% percent of the population is divorced. The average cost of a divorce here runs a couple 7.43% of their household income, approximately $15,000 to $20,000. Finally, says it conducted a nationwide survey of 3,000 employees to “gauge the mood of the workforce as we stand on the precipice of seismic changes in the labor market” (aka artificial intelligence) to produce an interactive map of the “most unmotivated employees in the US.” According to the survey, New Mexico bank tellers and finance customer service representatives report being the most unmotivated of the state’s workers, due to the “monotonous” nature of their work and their industry’s “fertile ground for AI’s takeover.” Call center representatives and “printing workers” also landed in the top three unmotivated category for New Mexico.

T-shirt weather

The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day, with a high temperature near 72 degrees and north wind 10 to 15 mph becoming west 15 to 20 mph in the afternoon.

Thanks for reading! As someone who has literally gotten lost walking around the block, The Word looks forward to learning more about innate versus nurtured navigational abilities.

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