Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will be visiting Las Cruces tomorrow to celebrate the designation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. President Barack Obama proclaimed the area protected during a ceremony Wednesday in Washington, D.C. Obama says he took the action thinking about being good stewards of public lands to the next generation. *****052214-Obama-1 (q: a national monument, applause) :20***** Officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the designation involving the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks area will not limit security efforts along the border. Despite that assurance, Republican Congressman Steve Pearce is displeased with the declaration. Pearce issued a statement that said in part, quote: "The President's reckless use of his executive powers also takes away assurances of border security for county residents, soil and water conservation, hunting and motorized vehicle access," Pearce continued. "I was elected to represent the people of Southern New Mexico, and President Obama ignored the people of Southern New Mexico with the stroke of a pen."
The Senate has voted to confirm Damon Martinez as New Mexico's next U.S. attorney. The Albuquerque native was confirmed Wednesday by the full Senate in a voice vote. Martinez has served as an assistant U.S. attorney since 2001 and supervised the organized crime and gang section in Albuquerque. He has also worked on national security, anti-terrorism, immigration and narcotics cases. Before joining the U.S. attorney's office, Martinez served as an assistant state attorney general. Martinez replaces Kenneth Gonzales, who left the position last year to assume a federal judgeship. (AP).
Los Alamos National Laboratory says it is closely monitoring 57 barrels of waste that were packed with a type of cat litter suspected in a radiation leak at the government's underground nuclear waste dump. The lab told state regulators Wednesday that the 55-gallon barrels on its northern New Mexico campus have been secured in special containers and moved to an isolated area with a fire-protection system. They are being monitored 24 hours a day for any change in temperature, smoking or other abnormalities. Officials have linked a February radiation release at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad to a waste container from Los Alamos that was packed with organic cat litter to absorb moisture. Officials are investigating whether a chemical reaction in the containers caused the breach.
Authorities say a missing hiker from Albuquerque has been found dead at the bottom of a ravine in the Taos Gorge. New Mexico State Police said the body of Kevin Boulton was found shortly after his vehicle was spotted near the gorge Tuesday afternoon. State police spokesman Emmanuel Gutierrez says Boulton's body was removed from the ravine Wednesday morning. The 40-year-old didn't return home from a day trip to Taos on Sunday and his family reported him missing. Gutierrez says police are investigating the death.
The state Department of Transportation says law enforcement agencies are planning to crack down on motorists who aren't wearing seat belts. The NMDOT says there will be increased enforcement efforts through the Memorial Day weekend as part of a national traffic safety campaign called "Click It or Ticket." About two-thirds of the vehicle occupants killed in traffic crashes last year in New Mexico weren't wearing seat belts.
Santa Fe Weather: Mostly cloudy, with a high near 73 with a 20-percent chance for isolated showers and thunderstorms after noon. Tonight: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 49, and a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Tomorrow: Partly sunny, with a high near 69, and a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms.