Morning Word

NM Gov, Delegation, Request Emergency Federal Aid for South Fork, Salt Fires

NMED fines city $2.3 million for wastewater treatment discharge violations

Morning Word

Gov, delegation request federal emergency fire funds

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham yesterday requested a Major Disaster Declaration from President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to respond to the South Fork and Salt fires, both of which began on June 17 on Mescalero Apache land and had, by press time, damaged at least 1,400 structures and forced at least 8,000 people to evacuate the Village of Ruidoso and surrounding communities. The fires remain at zero percent containment, and have grown to approximately 16,000 and 7,000 acres, respectively. Causes for both remain unknown. “Our first responders are heroes, but they need more resources to combat this disaster and keep our people safe,” the governor said in a statement. “New Mexico has faced disaster before, but the scale of this emergency requires immediate federal intervention.” The governor traveled to Roswell yesterday alongside General Miguel Aguilar, Roswell Mayor Timothy Jennings and US Rep. Melanie Stansbury, D-NM, for a news conference, and has also declared a state of emergency in Lincoln County and on the Mescalero Apache reservation. The state’s congressional delegation underscored the governor’s request to Biden with a letter to the president noting the state’s need for immediate assistance across a swath of categories, including for housing and crisis services; the fires have already caused two fatalities, the letter notes, and 14 shelters have been set up for evacuees. “Serious drought and windy conditions continue to make fire response challenging and the fires are threatening multiple populated areas,” the delegation writes. Stansbury last night said fire conditions are expected improve in the coming days due to incoming moisture, “but we are not out of the woods yet.” She urged those who have been called to evacuate to not return until instructed. “It is unsafe to return. In addition to the fire risk, there are also flood warning risks because of the rain, so we need folks to stay away,”she said.

How to provide/find help for fire victims

While the Mescalaro Apache Tribe’s Go Fund Me for fire assistance swiftly exceeded its $10,000 goal (at more than $33,000 as of press time), it remains open until further notice. Donations will benefit the two evacuation sites being operated for tribal and non-tribal members; the Tribe is also accepting donations of food, water, clothing and other necessities at the Tribal Community Center in Mescalero. The Española Humane shelter traveled to Ruidoso earlier this week and returned with two vehicles of dogs and puppies evacuated from the Humane Society of Lincoln County, Ruidoso. The Española shelter is requesting food donations, toys and other items. The Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico and the Salvation Army in Roswell also are taking monetary donations. For the latter, donations can be made online, by check or by texting RUIDOSO to 51555. Donations of new items can be made between 8 am and 6 pm daily at the Roswell Armory, located at 1 W Earl Cummings Loop. More information on how to find or provide help can be found on the state Department of Homeland and Emergency Management’s wildfire page. People can also call 1-833-NMFIRE6 (1-833-663-4736).

NMED fines city for wastewater violations

The state environment department has issued a $2.3 million fine to the City of Santa Fe for ongoing violations of the state’s water quality laws—specifically the New Mexico Water Quality Act and Water Quality Control Commission Regulations—due to ongoing pollution of the Santa Fe River by the city’s Paseo Real Wastewater Treatment Plant. Specifically, the plant continues to discharge E coli bacteria and total nitrogen in excess of allowable quantities, which in both cases “may, with reasonable probability, injure or be detrimental to human health, animal or plant life, or property, or unreasonably interfere with the public welfare or the use of property.” Susan Lucas Kamat, the point source regulation section program manager with the New Mexico Environment Department, tells the Santa Fe New Mexican the fine follows more than a year when “water quality standards were exceeded.” The state order also requires the city submit a plan for addressing the noncompliance issues that will “list of all noncompliance related deficiencies and a schedule of actions to correct each deficiency.” Santa Fe Public Works and Utilities Department Director John Dupuis tells the paper the city was already working on repairs at the plant prior to receiving the order. “We know we’re out of compliance; that’s not anything we didn’t expect,” he says.

But enough about us…

SFR celebrates its 50th anniversary this month, which seemed like a good opportunity to ask 50 locals to ponder what Santa Fe might be like 50 years from now, in the year 2074. Their answers run the gamut, but all (mostly) provide a vivid picture of the city’s current struggles with housing, the larger concerns about what climate change might do to the local ecosystem, and the cultural tensions leaders and residents have grappled with in both the distant and recent past. While a few folks went dark and more than a few went sci-fi, María José Rodríguez Cádiz, executive director of Solace Sexual Assault Services, offers a vision we can get behind: “Our Indigenous cultures forever thrive in our unique integration of subcultures, for so long deserving overdue respect and opportunity. You are family-friendly, provide infrastructure of excellence, opportunities for our youth, respect for the environment, guaranteed protection for our diverse communities, a landscape of beauty, clean air and world-renowned culture and arts.” In other news about us, SFR’s newsroom has new faces this summer as we welcome Albuquerque native Lauren Lifke, a University of New Mexico senior who works for the campus’ newspaper The Daily Lobo as a news editor and writer, joins SFR as an editorial intern this summer through The New Mexico Local News Fellowship and Internship Program. Santa Fe Community College student Charlie McCarty, who moved to Santa Fe from Los Angeles in 2019, is interning this summer in the design and production department. And Adam Ferguson, an SFCC creative writing student who just finished an editorial internship at the paper, has transitioned into a new role as its calendar editor.

Listen Up

The forthcoming Museum of International Folk Art exhibition Between the Lines: Prison Art & Advocacy (Aug. 9-Sept. 2, 2025) epitomizes curators Patricia Sigala and Chloe Accardi’s commitment to curating with the community. In the case of this show, it began with conversations and workshops in the Metropolitan Detention Center, and premiered as a small exhibition in the museum’s Gallery of Conscience last year. Its expansion next month includes interviews with former inmates, social workers, teachers and others impacted by the 1980 riot at the state penitentiary, among other multi-disciplinary approaches to the topics of prisoners’ rights, restorative justice and resistance. On the most recent episode of the Encounter Culture podcast, host and El Palacio Editor Emily Withnall talks with Sigala and Accardi about “prison art as an assertion of humanity.”

Driving New Mexico

A new magazine focused on luxury, lifestyle and the Southwest recently debuted and will, reportedly, include New Mexico in the mix, although as of yet has no New Mexico content. Online publication The Best of the Southwest, founded by Phoenix resident Erin Thorburn, a public relations writer for Aker Inkdescribed in a press release as an “accomplished journalist and children’s book author/illustrator,” will provide “website visitors with in-depth, comprehensive content and reviews covering coveted resorts, shopping, wellness and fashion throughout Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Southern California, Texas, Utah and—occasionally—Mexico.” Speaking of luxury travel and New Mexico, car manufacturer Bentley has reportedly just released five bespoke models of its luxury Bentayga SUV through its customization department Mulliner. As explained by The Robb Report (another online luxury lifestyle magazine): “The five Bentayga Azures make up what is being called, rather cumbersomely, the Extraordinary Journeys Collection by Mulliner. The quintet features bespoke exterior and interior details informed by the atmosphere of the individual locations—New Mexico, Scandinavia, China, New Zealand, and the UK—each of which is also an inspiration for a curated travel experience offered by the automaker.” New Mexico’s “extraordinary journey,” which we referenced last year, includes four days and three nights at Bishop’s Lodge. As for the bespoke vehicle, the New Mexico model “attempts to capture the warm browns and tans of the region, specifically the Sangre de Cristo mountains. It features an Amber over Burnt Oak two-tone finish and body-color wheels, while the interior is done up in Saddle, Camel, and Coral.”

Chew on this

National Geographic magazines includes New Mexico in its list of six places to explore foraging, which the story describes as an experience that reveals “a territory’s unique climate, topography and soil. ‘It gives you a deeper understanding of a place by understanding its flavors—from wild blueberries in Maine to porcini mushrooms in the Rocky Mountains,’” Ellen Zachos, author of How to Forage for Wild Foods Without Dying, tells the magazine. Zachos leads foraging tours in the Santa Fe area, the story notes, an area “surprisingly rich with edible plants, including mustard greens and wintercress in spring, summertime chokecherries, and oyster and honey mushrooms come autumn.” After foraging, Zachos leads a class showing attendees how to incorporate their findings into food and drink. “I find most people learn better, and knowledge sticks with them longer, if they can put their hands on the food, eat it, and say, ‘I made this and it’s delicious,’” Zachos says. And, yes, a garlic mustard martini does sound delicious, actually. SFR also recently featured foraging in the 2024 Summer Guide, with forager Gina Rae La Cerva, author of Feasting Wild: In Search of the Last Untamed Food, providing dos and don’ts, and a visual guide of five easy plants to forage around these parts.

Summer begins

The most recent storm system brought hail damage; numerous flash flood warnings into this morning throughout the state; enough flooding to stop fire fighters working on the Ruidoso fires and dust storms that caused multiple crashes on I-25 near Algodones that sent nearly two dozen people to the hospital yesterday. The National Weather Service forecasts a 20% chance of precipitation today, with isolated showers and thunderstorms. Otherwise, today will be partly sunny, with a high temperature near 81 degrees and breezy; southeast wind 15 to 25 mph, with guests as high as 35 mph. Chances for rain rise to 70% this evening, with likely showers and a possible thunderstorm between midnight and 3 am, along with wind gusts as high as 40 mph. Today marks the first day of summer.

Thanks for reading! The Word’s memory is not so much bad or good as it is selective, but she still found this story in The Cut about rememberers and forgetters interesting.

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.