Wednesday Morning Roundup

Jul 10, 2013

Feds Propose Protections For 2 rare Snakes - Associated Press

Federal wildlife officials are proposing to add a pair of rare snakes found in the American Southwest to the list of threatened species.

The northern Mexican gartersnake and the narrow-headed gartersnake are found in Arizona and New Mexico. Their populations have declined thanks to predators such as nonnative bullfrogs as well as threats to their streamside habitat.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will accept comments on the proposal through Sept. 9.

The proposal also calls for setting aside hundreds of stream miles as critical habitat for the snakes. That would include areas in seven Arizona counties and four New Mexico counties.

Center for Biological Diversity attorney Collette Adkins Giese says the snakes have been in trouble for some time and protecting them could have benefits for other species that depend on riparian areas.

Los Alamos Lab Explores Logo Change - Associated Press

The birthplace of the nuclear bomb is considering a change to its logo to better reflect what it calls a diverse and evolving mission.

Los Alamos National Laboratory officials say the lab was established 70 years ago with the sole mission of designing and building an atomic bomb to end World War II.

Today, they say, its work in national security covers a wide range of issues - including nuclear non-proliferation, energy security, climate change modeling, countermeasures to nuclear and biological terrorist threats and space.

The lab is conducting an online survey for feedback on potential logos at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/YBHQYHX

Feds Offer Post-Fire Help To NM Ranchers, Farmers - Associated Press

The federal government is accepting applications from New Mexico farmers and ranchers who are seeking financial assistance as they recover from wildfires sparked during the last three years.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service says the funding will help address post-fire problems on private property. Applications will be accepted through July 19.

New Mexico had back-to-back record fire seasons in 2011 and 2012, and this summer has been busy with blazes burning more than 290 square miles of tinder-dry forest around the state.

The agency's state conservationist, Xavier Montoya, says New Mexico's farmers and ranchers have suffered substantial losses from fires in recent years. He says the goal is to help them restore parts of their operations and develop more long-term resilience to droughts, fires and flooding.

Flags Lowered In Honor Of Former NM Governor - Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez ordered flags flown at half-staff in New Mexico yesterday in honor of former Gov. David Cargo, who died last week at age 84.

Cargo, a Republican, served for two terms from 1967 through 1970.

Under an executive order issued by Martinez on Tuesday, flags are to fly at half-staff from sunrise Wednesday through sunset Friday.

Cargo is to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda on Thursday, and there will be a funeral Mass on Friday at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe.

Cargo was the youngest man ever to serve as governor of New Mexico, taking office at age 37.

Feds Warn Of Early End To Rio Grande Irrigation - Associated Press

Federal water managers are warning that the irrigation season for farmers in the Lower Rio Grande Valley will soon be over.

The Bureau of Reclamation says the flow between Elephant Butte and Caballo reservoirs ended Monday, meaning the shortest irrigation season in the history of the Rio Grande Project is coming to an end. No further releases are scheduled.

Officials say the water level at Elephant Butte, the state's largest reservoir, has reached a historic 40-year low. The level stands at just 3 percent of total storage capacity.

Farmers in the valley received just a fraction of their normal allotment this season.

Elephant Butte Irrigation District manager Gary Esslinger says farmers will again have to rely on pumping groundwater to irrigate their crops for the rest of the growing season.