Tuesday Morning Roundup

Jul 2, 2013

Crews Contain Blaze In Valles Caldera Preserve  - Associated Press

It has taken firefighters a month to corral a wildfire that has burned through the heart of northern New Mexico's Jemez Mountains.

Fire managers declared the Thompson Ridge Fire 100 percent contained on Monday.

The blaze burned more than 37 square miles in the Valles Caldera National Preserve after being sparked May 31 by a downed power line. At one point, it threatened historic cabins and barns at the preserve but crews were able to save the structures.

Scientists recently wrapped up assessments of the damage. Their recommendations for dealing with post-fire flooding, runoff and other effects of the blaze are expected to be spelled out in a report to be released this week.

Their analysis shows about one-quarter of the Thompson Ridge Fire burned at moderate and high severity.

Google Maps To Offer Virtual Tour Of NM Cavern - Associated Press

It's only a matter of time before a virtual tour of hundreds of points along the main corridor at Carlsbad Caverns National Park will be available.

Park officials say Carlsbad Cavern is one of the first caves in the U.S. to be part of a Google Maps Street View special collection.

Google Maps plans to launch 360-degree photos of the cave on Street View later this year.

The mapping team visited Carlsbad on June 17 as part of an effort to photograph national parks across the country.

The team lacked a GPS signal in the cave and had to contend with dim lighting. For each spot, they took four photos that will be stitched together to create a panoramic image.

Park Superintendent John Benjamin says the photos might pique interest, but there's nothing like seeing the real thing.

Police Plan DWI Crackdown Over July 4 Holiday  - Associated Press

A law enforcement blitz against drunken driving is planned during the upcoming July Fourth holiday.

Santa Fe County officials are to announce Tuesday that they are increasing enforcement efforts and will air radio advertisements against drunken driving.

Local law enforcement will conduct sobriety checkpoints throughout the weekend and there will be more patrols by officers on the lookout for drunken drivers.

According to the Traffic Safety Division in the state Department of Transportation, 119 people have died in highway accidents in New Mexico from January through May and 58 of those deaths involved alcohol.

There were 78 deaths in alcohol-involved highway crashes statewide during the first five months of 2012, and 52 fatalities during the same period in 2011.

Officials Break Ground For Solar Field  - Associated Press

Officials have broken ground on a new solar field that is being developed on state trust land near Deming.

New Mexico State Land Commissioner Ray Powell says the project by First Solar will be the largest solar plant on state trust land.

The Macho Springs solar power project will operate on a commercial lease with the State Land Office on about 500 acres of land at Macho Springs. The lease could generate as much as $40 million for state land trust beneficiaries over its 40-year term.

Construction is expected to be completed in May of 2014.

NM Land Office To Take Bids For Wind Farm - Associated Press

The State Land Office says it will start taking bids for a proposed wind energy project that would be located on more than 52 square miles of state trust land in central New Mexico.

The El Cabo project would ultimately be capable of generating 1,000 megawatts of electricity, or enough to supply up to 400,000 homes.

Bids will be accepted at a public auction in September to determine the highest bid for a long-term business lease.

Land Commissioner Ray Powell says the project would be located in Torrance County. It would be built in several phases over 10 years.

There are currently four wind projects on state land that are expected to earn more than $50 million over their lifetimes. Powell says there are also five pending applications that are projected to earn more than $215 million.