Wilderness: Building the Forest Fire Fuel Load

Western New Mexico Whitewater-Baldy Fire in Gila
Commentary by Jim Spence - Over the years radical environmentalists have blocked numerous efforts to clear underbrush that builds the combustible fuel load in the Gila National Forest.
In a bizarre twist, the wilderness crowd, obsessed with clean air and protecting wildlife, has taken it upon itself to make it extremely difficult for ranchers in the entire Gila National Forest and wilderness areas to renew grazing leases on land there. Sure, cattle reduce underbrush fuel loads as they eat, but what about the pristine untouched forest? We can't have any cow poop up there. No sir. Securing the “wilderness” designation of countless square miles in the Gila area many years ago has also made sure no mechanized vehicles can enter the area to do any underbrush clearing.
Now that we have managed to get the government to suspend all range and forest management science to keep it "pristine," how is this approach working out for us?
Well......um.....If you are walking around outside just about anywhere in the state of New Mexico you might have noticed we suddenly have the dirtiest air in memory. It seems that the latest wildfire in and around the Gila, which has been bolstered by unprecedented underbrush fuel load, has incinerated enough forest to make breathing the smoke outside unhealthy in many counties. Toasted wildlife is another feature of these bad forest policy assisted fires. We will spare you those pictures.
Bad forest management policy has become one of the crowning disachievements of the radical environmentalist’s long list of absurd "causes." They seek clean air, we get dirty air. They seek wildlife protection, we get toasted wildlife. They seek to bankrupt the ranchers that supply our food, well you get the picture.
There is more sobering news. These same people have been working hand in hand with Martin Heinrich, Tom Udall, Ben Ray Lujan, and Jeff Bingaman to work their public policy magic on U.S. energy supplies.
One question goes unanswered. With “friends of the earth” like these, who needs enemies?


Lobos and Aggies Head to Post Season

The UNM Lobos and NMSU Aggies are in the NCAA's postseason baseball tournament. The Aggies who took 3 out of 4 games from UNM this year head for Tucson to take on Louisville. Host team Arizona, which the Aggies swept in Tucson earlier this year, will face Missouri in the other bracket. NMSU earned an at-large invitation to the tournament after winning the regular season WAC crown.
UNM will travel to Los Angeles to play the University of San Diego on Friday. The winner of that contest will take on the winner of the UCLA vs. Creighton matchup. UNM earned an automatic spot in the 64-team field by winning the Mountain West Conference Tournament.


Doña Ana County voting centers to debut in June election

Courtesy of Niki Rhynes
Las Cruces Sun-News Doña Ana County will showcase its first-ever at-large voting centers on June 5 —a change election officials say should benefit election-day voters. Under the new model, registered voters can visit any one of 39 sites throughout the county to cast a ballot tailored to their own precinct on election day. So, someone who lives in Chaparral, for instance, could vote in Hatch, if they're in the neighborhood. "You're never in the wrong precinct," Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins said. Before, if a voter went to a polling place that didn't have his or her precinct, the person would either have to find the correct polling place and go there, or cast a provisional ballot — a type that's tallied separately from other votes in the days following the election. A down-side to some voters, however, could be that there will be fewer places countywide to vote. In past elections, there were about 80 polling sites, some of which hosted multiple precincts. Read More News New Mexico


4-H Rodeo Struggle

Courtesy of Jim Thompson
Albuquerque Journal (subscription) - A lack of major sponsorship and Expo New Mexico’s dismal financial condition mean the Bernalillo County 4-H Rodeo, for the first time in 55 years, will not be held in Tingley Coliseum. Instead, the 100 or so youngsters will compete in a one-day rodeo on Aug. 4 at the outdoor Heritage Rodeo Arena in Moriarty — about 35 miles east of the fairgrounds. “I’ve gone to a bunch of rodeos around New Mexico, and my favorite ones have been the ones in Tingley,” said 11-year-old Marisela Sandoval, a 4-H member from Bosque Farms who had been looking forward to competing there in August. “I’m disappointed they’re not going to have it there.” Marisela, who competes in barrel-racing, pole-bending, breakaway roping and goat-tying, said Tingley is a special place for budding cowboys and cowgirls. “During the State Fair, I see all the pros compete there, so it makes me feel special to be able to compete where they do,” she said. The 4-H fair will be held separately from the rodeo, from Aug. 8-11, at Expo New Mexico. Read More News New Mexico


Tapia's death appeared inevitable

Johnny Tapia
KOBSunday night I heard the news longtime New Mexico boxing champ Johnny Tapia died.  I’ve covered Johnny Tapia’s career for the past decade and a half and news of his death was sad, but to anyone who knows his life, the ending to this story was unfortunately predictable. I don’t know if there’s anyone who had a tougher upbringing than Tapia.  When he was 8 years old, his mother was kidnapped, raped, hanged, repeatedly stabbed and died a couple days later.  To help fight that nightmare, Tapia turned to boxing.  Of his 58 professional wins, the one opponent he could never take down was his addiction to drugs.  Tapia lived like a guy who thought he had nine lives and wanted to use every last one of em.  He admitted to being dead several times from his drug use. He didn’t like being alone. Years ago Tapia once called me at work from a limousine because he just wanted someone to talk to.  I never found Johnny to refuse an interview or deny a fan of an autograph or picture.  Tapia was charismatic and a crowd favorite every time he stepped in the ring. Read More News New Mexico


Attracting Films to New Mexico

NM Business Journal - Communities can sometimes feel overwhelmed by the film industry, which can be “big, inconvenient and omnipresent” for short periods of time, said Don Gray, locations coordinator for the New Mexico Film Office. However, making a community film-friendly can have long-lasting economic impacts, he added. The most important thing for community to do is identify locations film companies need. “I’m your used car salesman,” Gray quipped. “The more cars I have, the more likely I am to close the sale.” The Film Office has 60,000 photos on its database at www.nmfilm.com, but it always needs more, he said. Read full story here: News New Mexico

CD #1 Close and Dirty

KRQE - One of the candidates was living with a woman accused of trying to bilk $3.2 million from a Santa Fe hospital. Another had 11 arrest warrants issued against him in recent years for traffic tickets. A third has a history of falling behind on her property taxes. Read full story here: News New Mexico

West Albuquerque Community Mourns Tapia

Johnny Tapia
KOB - The community continues to mourn boxing champion Johnny Tapia, who was found dead Sunday night at his home in West Albuquerque. Mourners turned Tapia's gym, Team Tapia, on San Mateo near Menaul, into a shrine for Tapia and what he called "Mi Vida Loca," "My Crazy Life."
It was a crazy life made crazier with five world boxing titles and epic bouts with narcotics, booze and jails. Through it all, Tapia remained the tough little guy from Wells Park, with fists like concrete and a heart as soft as Jello instant pudding. Tapia's gym was quiet on Monday. Welterweight Hector Munoz, Johnny's protégé, has lost a trainer and a friend with a fight coming up. "He's always in my corner," Munoz said. "Two years I've been training with him, he's always going to be in my corner. I know for this fight, I'm gonna make him proud and go win this fight." Read full story here: News New Mexico

Out of Control

KOB - The Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire continues to grow in southwestern New Mexico. The fire is now estimated at burning nearly 133,000 acres, about 30,000 acres smaller than last year's record-setting Las Conchas fire near Los Alamos. It is still zero percent contained.
Some of the firefighters spoke with KOB Eyewitness News 4 and said dedication to helping others is the reason why they are battling the blaze, but are constantly reminded what they are giving up.
Jeff Dimkey is commander of a hot shot team, specially trained and equipped, nationally funded crew of about 20 men who traveled from Washington to battle the fires.
As it continues raging, a lowered American flag is the only indication that it is Memorial Day. Dimkey said the picture serves as a constant reminder of what he is missing. "I'd be playing with my two twins that are a year old and my nine-year-old son," Dimkey said. Read full story here: News New Mexico

25 Shot in Chicago Overnight, No Outrage

Al Sharpton
WGN - 25 people were shot in Chicago overnight. 19-year-old Jaleel Beasley and two other young men were hit just after 2 a.m. outside a bar in the Lawndale neighborhood. 
Jesse Jackson
Beasley died later at Mt Sinai hospital. The other two men were brought to Stroger Hospital and are in stable condition. Two other people were shot in the same area within 20 minutes of the first incident. Read full story here: News New Mexico


Marita Noon: "Winning the War"

Marita Noon
“We are winning the war!” was a phrase I heard repeatedly this week. Congressman Sensenbrenner, Vice Chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, said: “We won on these issues because we were right.”
What “war” brought together more than 60 scientists from around the world—including astronauts, meteorologists, and physicians; politicians—comprising the Congressman, a head of state, and a member of the European Parliament; and policy analysts and media for two-and-a-half days in Chicago? The battle over climate change and the belief that there needs to be real science—more “about honest debate than ideological warfare.”
Assembled by the Heartland Institute, the seventh International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC7) provided the second opportunity for Congressman Sensenbrenner to address the group. In his opening comments, Sensenbrenner said, “We’ve come a long way.”
He recounted: “When I last spoke, the House of Representatives was poised to pass the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill; the United Nations was promising the extension and expansion of the Kyoto Protocol; and President Obama was touting Spain as our model for a massive increase in renewable energy subsidies. Three years later, cap-and-tax is dead; the Kyoto Protocol is set to expire; and Spain recently announced that it eliminated new renewable energy subsidies.”
Sensenbrenner told about the behind the scenes wrangling that went on to get the Waxman-Markey bill passed. “I was on the House floor on June 29, 2009, when then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi desperately pulled Members aside to lobby, beg, and bargain for votes for the Waxman-Markey bill.” It did pass. But “the electoral consequences for the proponents of these policies was severe.” Just 16 months later, in the 2010 elections, “over two dozen of the Members she convinced to vote ‘yes’ lost their jobs.”
It wasn’t just the Members who suffered harsh political ramifications for their support of the Waxman-Markey bill—which was supposed to nullify the impact of manmade global warming through a cap-and-trade scheme. Sensenbrenner contends that support of the manmade (anthropogenic) global warming position (AGW) also cost Al Gore the presidency back in 2000. He explained: “West Virginia’s 5 electoral votes would have tipped the election for Gore, and Gore’s near-evangelical support for climate change easily cost him the 42,000 votes he would have needed to win there.” Read rest of column here: News New Mexico