Conservation groups seek ban on new fracking around Chaco Canyon

More fracking threatens public health, historic treasures

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Historic ruins at Chaco Canyon, Colorado.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Oil and gas drilling in the vicinity of the treasured Chaco Culture National Historical Park poses an imminent risk to irreplaceable resources, conservation groups said as the moved to block the federal government from approving any more permits.

Continued drilling threatens public health, clean air and water, and Navajo communities in the region, the groups said as they called on a federal judge to issue an injunction on oil and gas development in the Greater Chaco region. Continue reading

Public lands: New Mexico’s Valles Caldera about to get full national park status

Public listening sessions help guide transition

A forested lava dome in the midst of the Valle Grande, the largest meadow in the Valles Caldera National Preserve.

A forested lava dome in the midst of the Valle Grande, the largest meadow in the Valles Caldera National Preserve. Photo via Wikipedia.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The National Park Service wants public feedback to help guide the transition in management of Valles Caldera National Preserve from the Valles Caldera Trust to the NPS. The last of three public meetings on the change is set for May 13 in Los Alamos (6-8:30 p.m. MDT, Betty Ehart Senior Center, 1101 Bathtub Row).

In December, Congress designated the preserve as a new unit of the National Park System. The legislation requires that the Valles Caldera Trust be terminated and the management of the area be turned over to the National Park Service. Continue reading

Rare California condor spotted in New Mexico

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California condor in flight. USFWS photo.

Population of rare birds holding steady in the wild

Staff Report

FRISCO — The wild California condor population may not be growing by leaps and bounds, but biologists say they’re encouraged by a recent 600-mile exploratory trip taken by one of the rare birds.

The juvenile make wandered from his home roost near the Grand Canyon and is now spending some time on national forest lands near Santa Fe, New Mexico. The same bird also spent some time on southern Colorado during the trek.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it’s the first recorded condor sighting in New Mexico in modern history, although scientists have found fossilized condor ones in the state. Continue reading

Critical fire weather forecast across big swath of Southwest

All of Arizona, New Mexico encompassed in weekend warning from National Weather Service

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The National Weather Service is highlighting a large part of the Southwest for critical fire weather conditions. Hot temperatures and winds are expected.

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The Whitewater-Baldy Fire burning in New Mexico in June 2012. Photo courtesy Kari Greer/USFS.

Staff Report

FRISCO — In what may signify an early start to the western wildfire season, the National Weather Service Sunday issued bulletin warning that multiple days of critical fire weather conditions are expected across the Southwest this coming week.

From the NWS website:

“A dry airmass will be in place from the Great Basin to the Plains on Sunday. Temperatures warming into the 60s and 70s with wind gusts near 35 mph and relative humidity values from 10 to 15 percent will lead to elevated to critical fire danger. These conditions will likely remain in place until mid-week. Rapid growth and spread is likely with any fires that are ignited in and around this region.”

The warning for this week is a shift away from a seasonal forecast issued last month that didn’t include any elevated early season fire danger in the region. Parts of the Southwest saw some relief from a multi-year drought this winter, but overall, the region is still dry and fire danger can be significant even during normal precipitation years.

The areas with the highest potential for dangerous fires extends from southeastern California through southern Nevada, southeastern Utah, far western Colorado and covers nearly all of Arizona and much of New Mexico.

Both New Mexico and Arizona saw their largest wildfires on record during the past several years, including the 2011 Wallow Fire in Arizona, which burned across half a million acres (about 841 square miles). In New Mexico, the 2011 Las Conchas Fire burned about 150,000 acres, following by the Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire in 2012 in Catron County, New Mexico, which scorched nearly 300,000 acres.

 

 

 

 

Conservation groups launch legal challenge to fracking in the Chaco Canyon region

Lawsuit also says feds ignored climate impacts of new oil and gas development

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Cultural and historic resources in the Chaco Canyon region are at risk from fracking. Photo via NPS.

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Conservation and community groups say new oil and gas drilling in the San Juan Basin threatens cultural resources in the greater Chaco Canyon region. Photo courtesy WildEarth Guardians.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Community and environmental activists are waging an all-out battle to keep oil and gas drilling at bay in the Chaco Canyon region of northwestern New Mexico, an area with cultural and historic values of global importance, under UNESCO’s World Heritage designation.

Fracking rigs have crept to within 20 miles of the Chaco Culture National Historic Park, and some outlier sites are at risk, according to WildEarth Guardians. Just a couple of years ago, the Bureau of Land Management proposed leases within 2 miles of Chaco Canyon. Those proposed leases were deferred, but concerns remain that they could be offered again. Continue reading

Wildlife: Southwest wolf population tops 100 for first time in modern era

Conservation biologists focusing on genetic health of packs

A Mexican gray wolf in the wilds of the Blue Range wolf recovery area. Photo courtesy of the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team.

A Mexican gray wolf in the wilds of the Blue Range wolf recovery area. Photo courtesy of the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The future for wolves in the southwestern U.S. looks a little brighter this year, as the population grew by 31 percent to reach 109 wolves living in the wilds of New Mexico and Arizona.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it’s the fourth year in a row that the population has grown by at least 10 percent. The 2014 minimum population count includes 38 wild-born pups that survived through the end of the year. Continue reading

Is it time to end barbaric wildlife killing contests?

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Should coyoyes be targeted in wildlife killing contests?

Advocacy groups seek ban in New Mexico

Staff Report

FRISCO — Emboldened by California’s recent ban on wildlife killing contests, wildlife advocates say they want lawmakers to enact similar restrictions in New Mexico, which holds more such events than any other state.

A coalition of 10 groups is calling on the governor and state legislature to ban contests that target coyotes, bobcats, foxes, prairie dogs and other animals, calling them immoral and biologically unsound. Continue reading

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