Rocky Mountain Youth Corps workers plant trees
Arroyo Restoration Rocky Mountain Youth Corps crews plant willows as part of the Albuquerque urban conservation arroyo restoration program. © Natalie Sommer/The Nature Conservancy

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Improving Quality of Life by Bringing Nature into the City

A $200,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Wells Fargo supports The Nature Conservancy's Urban Conservation Program

Albuquerque, NM

A $200,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Wells Fargo will improve water quality, increase tree canopy and create local jobs in Albuquerque. The three-part project is an integral piece of The Nature Conservancy’s Urban Conservation Program designed to bring more nature into the city to improve quality of life.

“With the help of Wells Fargo, we’re able to support efforts such as The Nature Conservancy’s urban program,” says Carrie Clingan, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Program Director, Community Stewardship and Youth. “Adding trees to neighborhoods with poor air quality—and getting the community involved in that effort—will benefit both people and wildlife.”

Growth and development have negatively impacted the upper portion of Tijeras Arroyo—a tributary of the Rio Grande—by creating a deep channel that is disconnected from the floodplain. A rain event following a wildfire high in the Sandia Mountains could be catastrophic, sending ash and sediment through the waterway. To improve conditions, various restoration activities—such as planting native trees and building one-rock dams—will slow storm water and lessen erosion. Volunteers and Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (RMYC) will engage in 5-6 work days at two locations.

The arroyo runs through two vulnerable neighborhoods in the South Valley which have fewer trees than other neighborhoods in Albuquerque. Trees can dramatically cool temperatures and improve air quality by removing pollutants. The Nature Conservancy will plant 200 street trees, including fruit and native species, adapted to our desert climate.

“The Nature Conservancy’s Urban Program is designed to engage people and partners,” says Sarah Hurteau, urban conservation director. “People who live here will help choose the trees for their neighborhood and will support the long-term survival of these trees by caring for newly planted trees near their home.”

The grant will also provide City greenhouse and nursery facilities with a scaled-up workforce. Youth from low income and underserved communities will learn new skills and receive real-world experience with on-the-job training in the nursery environment and growing and planting native plants.

“Building a workforce in Albuquerque is a win-win,” says Wells Fargo Community Development Vice President Pat Nie. “People will get to work in their own community to support their families while the City will be able to grow more native plants that can be used in future conservation projects.”

Key partners for the two-year project include Bernalillo County, City of Albuquerque Parks and recreation, New Mexico State Forestry, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps in New Mexico, Soilutions and The Nature Conservancy. Community engagement work is expected to begin in November.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.