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Uncovering America's methamphetamine history; PA Early Intervention programs vital for child development; measuring long-term impact of the O.J. Simpson trial on media literacy.

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President Biden's name could be left off the ballot in Alabama and Ohio, the Justice Dept. mandates background checks for gun show purchases, and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds moves to allow state police to arrest undocumented migrants.

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Housing advocates fear rural low-income folks who live in aging USDA housing could be forced out, small towns are eligible for grants to enhance civic participation, and North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues.

White Sands to Become Nation's Newest National Park

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Thursday, December 19, 2019   

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A 120-year-old idea to make New Mexico's White Sands National Monument a national park could be realized before the end of the year.

The wave-like dunes of gypsum sand cover 275 square miles of desert in southern New Mexico and attract thousands of visitors each year.

Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, says the park designation was included in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 and approved by the U.S. Senate on Wednesday.

Heinrich hopes the designation will improve the economies of towns that surround White Sands.

"When I talk to people from all around the country, oftentimes they don't know the breadth and diversity of our state, and White Sands is southern New Mexico's brand," he points out. "It is unique in the world."

Heinrich says President Donald Trump has agreed to sign the legislation.

The idea of making White Sands a national park dates back to 1898, but failed when the Interior Department objected to inclusion of a hunting preserve there. It has been designated a national monument since 1933.

In addition to a name change, the legislation clears the way for a land swap between the National Park Service and the U.S. Army, according to Rep. Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico. She says that will enhance missions at White Sands Missile Range.

"Because it gives the United States Army and White Sands Missile Range additional land necessary for our national security," she explains. "In return, the park will be expanded to include land that the United States Army and White Sands Missile Range no longer intend to use."

White Sands National Monument is 65 miles north of the White Sands Missile Range, where testing of the first atomic bomb took place in 1945.

Torres Small says the designation of White Sands as a national park also could allow more resources and staffing options for the 275-acre monument.


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