Every year, migrating birds blanket fields and hunker down for the winter along the Middle Rio Grande. Even if you’ve never visited Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge south of Socorro, you’ve likely seen photographers’ striking images: flocks of snow geese erupting from the water just as the sun peeks above the horizon or closeups of sandhill cranes with their giant wings spread in mating displays. Typically between November and February, tens of thousands of greater sandhill cranes, snow geese and Ross’s geese overwinter at the refuge. “We provide resting habitat and the food to get them through the winter so when they go up for breeding season they’re in good they’re good physical shape for the next year,” says refuge manager Kevin Cobble, adding that the refuge grows corn, seed and native crops to keep the birds from traveling outside the refuge and feeding on local crops on private land. “We try to manipulate our wetlands to simulate what the Rio Grande used to do,” he says.
On a chilly, late-November morning, commuters rumble across the bridge over the Rio Grande on Avenida César Chávez in Albuquerque. Near the river below, two students from the South Valley Academy demonstrate how to measure groundwater levels. Alberto Martinez lowers the aptly-named beeper tape into a vertical pipe in the ground and cranks the reel. When the weighted end of the cable hits water, it beeps. Lynette Diaz records the depth at which it hits groundwater—211 centimeters if you’re curious—and the two head to the next station.
Damon Martinez says he would take “seriously” allegations of racial profiling and other questionable tactics alleged about a four-month federal drug and gun sting operation last year if he were still U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico. But he won’t say how he viewed his responsibilities for the operation while in the job, which he held until March of this year. He won’t even say whether his former job would have included oversight of the increasingly controversial sting operation despite U.S. Department of Justice manuals describing some of those responsibilities. This story originally appeared at New Mexico In Depth and is reprinted with permission. “I can’t discuss the facts concerning this case,” Martinez said of the 2016 operation, conducted largely by the federal bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
New Mexico PBS recently sat down with our senior reporter Joey Peters to break down the scandal that engulfed Albuquerque Public Schools over the past month. In the segment, which aired over the weekend on New Mexico in Focus, journalist Sarah Gustavus interviewed Peters about how he found out that former APS Deputy Superintendent Jason Martinez’ previously undisclosed arrest charges of sexual assault of a child. Martinez also faces domestic violence charges. This revelation eventually led to last week’s resignation of APS Superintendent Luis Valentino, in large part because Martinez never completed a required background check. All school employees must complete background checks.
Over the weekend, New Mexico Political Report’s senior reporter Joey Peters hit the small screen to discuss several local and regional issues. Peters appeared as a panelist on New Mexico in Focus, a local public affairs program that airs weekly on New Mexico PBS. He joined host Gene Grant, Albuquerque attorney Laura Sanchez-Rivet, Albuquerque Free Press associate editor Dennis Domrzalski and Vox Optima founder Merritt Allen to talk about several burning issues in New Mexico. The program kicked off with a discussion of the controversial Santolina planned community. The Bernalillo County Commission voted to authorize the Santolina master plan last week.