NM faces extreme fire weather today
Earth Day arrives in New Mexico with warnings of high wind and extreme fire weather today. In response, Santa Fe National Forest implements Stage 2 fire restrictions this morning, as does the National Park Service’s Pueblo Parks Group, which includes Bandelier National Monument, Fort Union National Monument, Pecos National Historical Park and Valles Caldera National Preserve. The rules include bans on camp and stove fires; smoking (with a few exceptions); driving off undesignated roads; and a slew of other activities that could lead to wildfires. The state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management yesterday issued a news alert warning of today’s conditions. “We encourage our fellow New Mexicans to take extra care and limit fire burning for the next 24 to 48 hours,” Deputy Secretary Carla Walton said in a statement. “Just one spark, especially in these dry and windy conditions can trigger a wildfire. Our goal is to limit the spread and keep every New Mexican as safe as possible. Those who are older, have breathing or heart-related health conditions, and young children should limit their time outside, especially in areas with high winds and smoke.”
The restrictions come as fire managers report growth in the Cooks Peak Fire, located on private land north of Ocate in Mora County, estimated yesterday at 21,200 acres and 0% containment, with various evacuation statuses set last night for numerous communities in both Mora and Colfax counties. There has been successful progress on the Hermits Peak Fire near Las Vegas, which was 91% contained as of yesterday at 7,573 acres. Suppression efforts continue on the Calf Canyon Fire near near Gallinas Canyon, reported yesterday at 0% containment of 123 acres (smoke from the fire was visible from Santa Fe yesterday). The Simona Fire, located near Jarales in Valencia County also was at 0% containment at 165 acres. A new fire, the Pine Park Fire, was reported yesterday in the Magdalena Ranger District at 15 to 20 acres.
Enviro groups protest energy summit
Youth United for Climate Crisis Action and the SouthWest Organizing Project are calling out the organizers of an energy summit that kicked off in Santa Fe yesterday and continues today. Organized by both the US and Albuquerque Hispano Chambers of Commerce, the conference includes representatives from numerous energy companies, including PNM, Avangrid and Chevron. gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham delivered the keynote address at the conference’s launch yesterday at La Fonda Hotel, where she touted her visions for the use of hydrogen as an energy source. YUCCA activists briefly disrupted the governor’s speech before being escorted out of the room. The groups are planning a march and protest today, ending at Drury Hotel where the environmentalists say energy reps are holding a private reception. Today’s conference speakers include US Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small, formerly a US congresswoman for New Mexico; along with sessions on partnering with Native American communities; cybersecurity; and carbon. Conference organizers appear undeterred by protesters’ “greenwashing” allegations. “It’s the first time the national Hispano chamber has partnered with a local chamber affiliate to jointly organize an industry-focused summit like this,” Albuquerque Hispano Chamber President and CEO Ernie C’deBaca told the Albuquerque Journal. “This is just the first year we’re doing it, so this is an ‘inaugural event.’ We intend to continue organizing it as an annual conference in New Mexico going forward.”
US Senators, Education Secretary, visit NM
US Senator Ben Ray Luján, D-NM, and US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona toured Santa Fe High School together yesterday and participated in a discussion with students and school counselors regarding mental health support in schools. Luján also discussed COVID-19 relief funding that increased federal support for schools to meet students’ mental health needs in the pandemic. New Mexico had one of the highest rates of caregiver loss as a result of COVID-19, according to a December 2021 report from the Covid Collaborative, with Native American children in the state 10 times more likely than white children to have lost a caregiver. “It is heartbreaking to witness the spike in mental health struggles among young people in the last few years,” Luján said in a statement. “But I want students to know how inspired I am by your strength and courage—and that it’s OK to ask for help or reach out to someone who may be struggling.” A Santa Fe Public Schools release about the visit noted that SFPS’ counseling program, operated through the Office of Student Wellness, includes school-based health services serving about 500 students, with teen health centers at SFHS and Capital High School providing counseling services and primary health care. “The discussion from today’s roundtable was rich and from the heart,” SFPS Superintendent Hilario “Larry” Chavez said in a statement. “We are encouraged that we are on the right path for uplifting students and meeting their needs.” The event marked one of Luján’s first public appearances in the state since suffering a stroke in January. The 49-year-old senator reportedly said yesterday he’s “still not 100%, but I think I’m over 90%.” Cardona also visited Jemez Pueblo with US Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-NM, touring several projects around water infrastructure and broadband and discussing the pueblo’s Walatowa Head Start Language Immersion education program.
COVID-19 by the numbers
Reported April 21:
New cases: 243; 520,828 total cases
Deaths: two; Santa Fe County has had 273 total deaths; there have been 7,436 total fatalities statewide. Hospitalizations: 46; Patients on ventilators: 10
Transmission: According to the most recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “community levels” tracking system—which uses case rates along with two hospital metrics in combination to determine the state of the virus on a county level—all 33 of New Mexico’s counties currently have “green”—aka low—levels. The CDC updates its map on Thursdays.Breakthrough cases: According to the state’s most recent vaccine report, during the four-week period of March 21 to April 18, 40% of COVID-19 cases in New Mexico were among people who had not completed a primary vaccination series; 20.8% were among those who had completed the series but had not received a booster; and 38.6% were among those who were fully vaccinated and boosted. For hospitalizations, those figures change to 55.7%,18% and 26.2%. The percentages shift to 45.5%, 22.7% and 31.8% for fatalities.
Resources: Vaccine registration; Booster registration Free at-home rapid antigen tests; Self-report a positive COVID-19 test result to the health department; COVID-19 treatment info: oral treatments Paxlovid (age 12+) and Molnupiravir (age 18+); and monoclonal antibody treatments. Toolkit for immunocompromised individuals. People seeking treatment who do not have a medical provider can call NMDOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453.
You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.
We recently beta-tested some vegan brownies and how sweet it was. As it happens, the most recent episode of Animal Protection of New Mexico’s Teach Me How to Vegan podcast is all about delectable vegan deserts (cookies and brownies and shortbreads, oh my!). And, yes, recipes are included in the prior link. If you’re more inclined to purchase rather than bake vegan sweets yourself, be sure to check out Plantita Vegan Bakery’s pop-up from 10 am to noon tomorrow at 1704 Lena Street, featuring blueberry muffins and cinnamon rolls (and many other items). If you’re more of a savory breakfast type, don’t miss Liberty Gourmand’s vegan breakfast burritos, for sale at the same time and place (we can attest you do not need to be vegan to enjoy any of these items).
down to earth
Earthships continue to garner national press (the Washington Post featured them in January ICYMI). CBS News this week documents the soaring interest in the sustainable structures, talking with New Mexico architect and Earthship originator Michael Reynolds, who says inquiries have doubled in the last few months. Rising energy costs and “a growing desire to live sustainably amid climate change” are driving the Earthship’s appeal, the story notes, with people from across the US to Taos to attend Earthship Academy in Taos and learn how to build the solar-powered houses built from up-cycled and natural materials. Inverse magazine profiles a few of the folks who moved to Taos to live off the grid (the story also describes Taos as under siege from pandemic emigres turning the town into Aspen 2.0). If building an Earthship sounds too arduous, take heart: They apparently rarely come on the market, but right now The Desert Flower, an Earthship just a quick drive from downtown Santa Fe, is for sale, and features five bedrooms, seven bathrooms, eight kiva fireplaces, an outdoor heated pool and koi pond for about $3.5 million.
The first year of the pandemic inspired The Great Decluttering, during which, stuck at home, folks cleaned out their closets and unwittingly became part of a magazine trend topic. Flash forward a few years and apparently “mental decluttering” is now all the rage. However, good old-fashioned spring cleaning never goes out of style (we personally are suckers for reading stories about deep cleaning projects we are unlikely to undertake). All this to say: The City of Santa Fe offers one of its best events this weekend: Free Trash Day, courtesy of the Santa Fe Solid Waste Management Agency. From 8 am to 4:45 pm tomorrow, Santa Fe city and county residents can drop off trash at no charge at the Buckman Road Recycling and Transfer Station (BuRRT) and Caja del Rio Landfill. New to town? Be warned: This is a popular event and will likely require waiting in a queue of cars and trucks filled with life’s detritus. You can bring large appliances; furniture; mattresses; building materials and the like. If you will need help unloading, bring the help with you. Fees will be charged for green waste, household hazardous waste, electronic waste and tires. And you may not have to wear a mask on an airplane at present, but you do have to wear one at Free Trash Day.
Batten down the hatches
As mentioned, the National Weather Service forecasts damaging wind and extreme fire danger in New Mexico today, with gusts of 60 to 70 mph and scattered areas reaching 80 mph that could “knock down large tree limbs, utility poles and other structures while threatening to topple high-profile vehicles.” Santa Fe’s specific wind forecast indicates gusts that could be as high as 55 mph, with blowing dust after 3 pm and a high temperature of 78 degrees. The temperature should drop significantly on Saturday, with a high of 58 degrees and continued windiness. Sunday, look for a high of about 60 degrees and—fingers crossed—less wind.
Thanks for reading! This weekend, The Word is going to stay out of the wind and re-read In the Freud Archives by the late great journalist Janet Malcolm, after encountering the obituary for one of its characters, Peter Swales, in yesterday’s New York Times and learning he used to live in New Mexico (he also once worked as a Rolling Stones promoter).