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New Mexico

Planting for the Planet

“This effort will help reverse the impact of over 100 years of infrastructure…”

- Robert Findling,
Land Protection and Stewardship Director, The Nature Conservancy in New Mexico

“The planet is our home and we need to take care of it,” says Holden Gerberding. “It’s important that we keep our home healthy.” 

That’s a pretty big statement for a 17-year-old, but this teen is putting his words into action. In April 2012, Holden spent four and a half hours planting trees and shrubs along the Santa Fe River at The Nature Conservancy’s Santa Fe Canyon Preserve for an Eagle Scout project. 

“I was really interested in doing this project because the area is so beautiful and it means a lot to me,” says Holden. “I’ve spent a lot of time here.” 

Restoring a River

Holden’s tree planting project supports a joint effort between The Nature Conservancy and the Santa Fe Watershed Association to reconstruct part of the river channel and return it to its natural course. The trees and shrubs will provide a better home for wildlife including beaver, bear and deer. 

“This effort will help reverse the impact of over 100 years of infrastructure connected to reservoirs built in the 1800s,” says Robert Findling, the Conservancy’s New Mexico land protection and stewardship director. 

“The old reservoirs inundated the canyon. One even became unusable after a flood filled it with sediment. This restoration project built a new channel through that sediment.” 

The Santa Fe Watershed Association secured the funding for this project through a National Fish and Wildlife Service grant. “This has been a tremendous partnership that has created solutions with lasting results,” says Felicity Broennan, Santa Fe Watershed Association’s executive director. “It’s also exciting to see young people learning about nature!” 

“Ah-ha” Moment

Holden will never forget his nature “a-ha” moment. He was 10 years old and living in Washington. “We were on a ferry. I remember seeing the Seattle skyline as we left the dock. Then, we turned a corner and all I saw was green everywhere, lots of trees and water. I love the serenity of nature.” 

He was counting on that serenity when recruiting friends to help with the project. In all, five fellow scouts donned gloves and boots to dig holes and plant trees, along with Robert and Felicity. 

This project is the culmination of years of community service for this senior at Academy at Laragoitte. He’s received countless merit badges including first aid, citizenship in community and disability awareness. 

“I felt really good when we were done,” adds Holden. “There was a real sense of accomplishment!”

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