Local News

  • 2016 wildfire season expected to be less severe

    DENVER (AP) — The upcoming wildfire season across the U.S. isn't expected to be as bad as last year's infernos, when a record 15,800 square miles burned, the nation's top wildland firefighting official said Wednesday.

    But parts of the nation should expect a rough season after a warm, dry winter or because of long-term drought, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said.

    Southern California, other parts of the Southwest, Alaska and Montana are all vulnerable, he said.

    "So where we anticipate the severity of the fire season will not be at the same level as last year, we still expect to have some areas that will be really active," Tidwell said.

    Tidwell discussed the fire outlook with The Associated Press four days before the federal government issues its wildfire outlook for the summer season. He was in Denver for a conference on forest health.

    California is vulnerable because much of the state remains in a drought, despite an El Nino weather system that brought near-average snowfall to its northern mountains. Wildfires have already broken out in Alaska after a warm winter with below-average precipitation.

  • Appeal rejected in off-road vehicles case on forest use

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A federal appeals court has rejected an appeal by a motorized off-road vehicles users group that challenged a Forest Service decision reducing the routes available for use in the Santa Fe National Forest in northern New Mexico

    A trial judge had upheld the agency's action, but the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling Wednesday says the New Mexico Off-Highway Vehicle Alliance didn't have a legal basis to sue.

    The appellate court's ruling dismisses the alliance's appeal and orders the trial court to erase its own ruling and dismiss the lawsuit.

  • Los Alamos recognized as certified wildlife habitat

    Those who attended the Pajarito Environmental Education Center’s Earth Day Festival Saturday learned that this year’s festival was a little bit more special than most.
    The festival kicked off with an announcement that Los Alamos was the first county in New Mexico to become a certified wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.
    NWF representative Luisa Grant came from NWF’s Washington, D.C. headquarters to present to the community a special sign that will be prominently posted somewhere in the community.
    At the event, Grant credited PEEC volunteer Selvi Viswanathan the Los Alamos Habitat Committee and the county for its efforts to obtain the certification.
    “It took Selvi, the habitat team, but it also took more than that,” Grant said. “It took the entire community...all of you have helped the community achieve this great recognition.”
    PEEC volunteer and founding board member Michele Altherr got things started by also acknowledging that April also marked the first year of the center’s new location.
    “It just demonstrates how many things people can get done when they want to,” Altherr said, adding that they are thankful to be in a region that has much diversity.

  • LANL projects rosy job numbers

    Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Charlie McMillan assured local leaders in Santa Fe Tuesday that the lab is going to continue to be a strong community and regional partner.
    LANL is facing a period of relative uncertainty as Los Alamos National Security’s contract to manage the lab goes out to bid sometime after 2017. The National Nuclear Safety Administration put Congress on notice that LANS’ current contract will not be renewed and will be put out to bid after 2017.
    LANS LLC failed to get another renewal due to performance issues, even though the lab’s performance for 2015 was better than its performance in 2014.  
    “A very clear priority for us is assuring that the laboratory is as strong as it possibly can be through the contract transition,” McMillan said at Tuesday’s breakfast meeting. “Not just up to the transition, but through the transition. So, we’re looking to make decisions today about long-term strengths for the laboratory.”
    One of those long-term strengths will be through employee attrition, as LANL prepares to replace the next wave of employees that are set to retire.

  • Stolen PEEC trail posts found

    Pajarito Environmental Education Center’s new trail exploration program has already delivered plenty of adventure for the staff after the mysterious theft of two of its posts.
    Nature Center employees were upset to find that someone had pulled out the wooden posts that marked two of the 16 trails included in the program for Passport to the Pajarito Plateau. Hundreds of children and adults have the passports and crayons to make “rubbings” at the post and return them for prizes at the center.
    “We were really upset that people could be so mean spirited,” said PEEC Executive Director Katie Watson.
    Employees discovered the posts missing at Acid Canyon Loop and Bridges Loop trails Sunday, said Marketing Manager Sandra West.
    Staff searched the area Sunday and Monday, and figured the posts would not be far from their original locations because of their size and weight, West said.
    Tuesday morning, Watson decided to take her morning run around the Acid Canyon Loop trail area. She located the post not far from where it went missing.
    “I decided to look one last place and there it was,” Watson said.
    Whoever removed the posts apparently took time to cover their tracks.
    “Interesting thing is, with both of them, the original holes were covered up,” West said.

  • Search resumes for missing treasure hunter

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Authorities on Wednesday resumed the search for a Colorado man who disappeared more than three months ago while hunting for a $2 million cache of gold, jewels and artifacts in a rugged part of New Mexico.

    Officials at Bandelier National Monument confirmed that a search-and-rescue mission was underway in an area of the monument off-limits to the public.

    Bandelier Superintendent Jason Lott declined to provide details but said authorities are encouraging people to stay out of the area, which covers steep slopes and a mass of loose rocks.

    "It's rugged country and it takes a pretty high level of expertise to work in that area," he said. "We're actively pursuing the search and rescue and just ask that others don't try to engage in this."

    The search was triggered by the discovery of a backpack last weekend. Authorities wouldn't say whether it belonged to Randy Bilyeu of Broomfield, Colorado, who disappeared in early January after he set out to raft a portion of the Rio Grande northwest of Santa Fe.

    Bilyeu's dog and raft were found along the river, but authorities called off the search in mid-January when the trail went cold.

  • Voter registration for primary closes May 10

    Those wanting to vote in New Mexico’s primary election must register as either a Democrat or a Republican by 5 p.m. May 10.
    New Mexico has a closed primary, meaning that only those registered with one of the two major parties can vote in the primaries.
    Those not registered or who wish to change or add a party affiliation can pick up a voter registration form at the Los Alamos County Clerk’s office, the Motor Vehicles Department or either library.
    The New Mexico Secretary of State also provides online voter registration to eligible New Mexico citizens. Those with a state-issued I.D. can update their existing registration or register for the first time at sos.state.nm.us.
    The timeline for the upcoming primary is as follows:
    May 10−May 20: Absentee and early voting begins.
    May 10 is the first day absentee ballots can be mailed to the clerk’s office. Those wishing to have an absentee ballot mailed to them must complete an absentee application. Download the application at losalamosnm.us/clerk/Pages/Elections.aspx or call 662-8010. June 3 is the deadline for mailing absentee ballots.
    In person early voting is from 8 a.m.−5 p.m. Monday−Friday in council chambers at the Municipal Building.
    • May 21: Early voting expands.

  • Today in history April 26
  • Gov. Martinez welcomes election attention for New Mexico

    SANTA FE (AP) — Republican Gov. Susana Martinez says she welcomes the attention New Mexico will get when the GOP presidential candidates begin campaigning in the state.

    Still, Martinez — the chair of the national Republican Governors Association — doesn't plan on making an endorsement.

    Her office made the statement after hopefuls Ted Cruz and John Kasich defended their new alliance as the party's last, best chance to stop Donald Trump. They're coordinating strategies in three of the 15 remaining primary states.

    Kasich will step back in the May 3 Indiana contest to let Cruz bid without interference for voters who don't like Trump. Cruz will do the same for Kasich in contests in New Mexico and Oregon.

    Martinez says she hopes the candidates will address issues important to New Mexico, such as its federal laboratories and military bases.

  • On the Docket 4-24-16

    April 13
    Colin Charlsey-Groffman was fined $100 for failing to display a current, valid registration plate while parked and for failing to pay fines and/or court costs.

    Lauren D. Peak  was found guilty at the time of traffic stop of speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant was fined $50 and must also pay $65 in court costs.

    Mariel A. Combs  was fined $100 for stopping, standing, or parking in prohibited in specified places and for failing to display a current, valid, registration plate while parked.
    April 14
    Miguel F. Cabildo pled no contest at the time of traffic stop to not having a proper driver’s licence. Defendant was fined $100 and must also pay $65 in court costs.

    Corey Walkeer was found guilty in Los Alamos Municipal Court of speeding in a school zone six to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant was fined $100 and must also pay $65 in court costs.

    Dimitry Bronisz  was found guilty in Los Alamos Municipal Court of speeding 16 to 20 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant was fined $100 and must also pay $65 in court costs.