Local Businesses & Partners Join Effort to Protect State’s Water, Economic Growth

Rio Grande Water Fund will help ensure water security, create jobs, and support the state’s tourism and recreation industry

Albuquerque | January 21, 2014

New Mexico businesses and partners are joining a groundbreaking project developed by The Nature Conservancy that will help ensure water security, create jobs, and support the state’s tourism and recreation industry. 

Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation, PNM Resources, Avalon Trust, Wells Fargo, and Dekker/Perich/Sabatini have all provided support to the Rio Grande Water Fund, which engages partners in protecting forested areas upstream to ensure clean and safe water downstream. 

Forested mountains serve as nature’s water storage and filtering facilities. Frequent, high-severity wildfires and subsequent post-fire flooding increasingly threaten the Rio Grande and its tributaries, which provide water to nearly half the state’s population.  

“We know thinning our forests makes them safer and healthier but we’ve been unable to reach the scope and scale to have a real impact,” says Terry Sullivan, the Conservancy in New Mexico’s state director. “The Rio Grande Water Fund will generate sustainable funding for a 10 to 30 year program of large scale forest restoration, around 700,000 acres. The effort includes thinning overgrown forests, restoring streams and rehabilitating areas that flood after wildfires.” 

The project highlights the importance of investing in our natural capital for a brighter future. “Our success is linked to a strong economy, the social well being of the communities we serve and a healthy environment,” says Amy Miller, manager of environmental stakeholder engagement for PNM Resources. “The Nature Conservancy develops collaborative and science-based solutions that ensure a high quality of life for New Mexicans and we are proud to support their conservation initiatives.” 

The Rio Grande Water Fund also supports economic growth. A sustainable supply of trees removed from the forest could be used for products such as flooring and mulch. A revitalized timber industry will create new jobs. Additionally, clean and scenic rivers, forests and mountains entice people to visit the Land of Enchantment, helping the tourism and recreation industries. 

“This project is an innovative effort that will benefit our state’s forests as well as the nearly one million people who live, work, and recreate in central and northern New Mexico,” adds Sullivan. “This is an opportunity for us all to work together and act now. By investing in nature we can protect the state we love to call ‘home’.” 

This water fund model has been developed successfully in several other U.S. and South American cities. To learn more about the Rio Grande Water Fund, visit


The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the web at www.nature.org. To learn about the Conservancy’s global initiatives, visit www.nature.org/global. To keep up with current Conservancy news, follow @nature_press on Twitter.

Contact information

Tracey Stone
The Nature Conservancy in New Mexico


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