Hurteau Named New Climate Change Program Director at The Nature Conservancy in New Mexico
Sarah Hurteau was born to be a conservationist. It’s been a part of her life since she was a little girl camping every summer weekend in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Her parents couldn’t keep her out of the water—riding rapids in an inner tube or body surfing, catching frogs and fish, and exploring the surrounding forest. Now she’s The Nature Conservancy in New Mexico’s first-ever climate change program director.
“Climate change isn’t a distant threat, it’s happening now,” Hurteau said. “Our world is getting hotter and drier and it affects every one of us and the natural resources our society depends on.”
For five years, Hurteau served as the chapter’s urban conservation director, which primarily focused on using trees to cool temps, clean air and improve quality of life, particularly in under-resourced neighborhoods.
“This new role builds on that work and will deepen our urban, freshwater and forest initiatives for results that benefit people and nature,” said Terry Sullivan, director for TNC’s New Mexico Chapter. “Sarah has a record of success, extensive knowledge and is a strategic thinker who can get the job done.”
Our world is getting hotter and drier and it affects every one of us and the natural resources our society depends on.
Hurteau will expand a conservation program that will help advance renewable energy placement and electric vehicle use to reduce emissions that trap heat and cause health issues. The program will also develop and implement nature-based solutions, such as planting trees in wildfire-scarred land and using vegetation to secure and clean our water.
“Healthy natural areas are important for people and wildlife as well as local economies,” Hurteau said. “I’ll be working closely with city and town leaders to advance conservation science as the state transitions to a new and equitable jobs market.”
“By taking actions now, we can have a profound effect on our health, businesses and communities in the future,” she added.
Hurteau is one of eleven tree experts who released the first-ever climate-ready tree list for Albuquerque. These trees were selected for their ability to survive, even thrive, in the face of a warming climate. By the end of the year, TNC will produce more climate-ready tree lists for other cities across the state.
“Planting the right trees in the right place is one way to build resiliency,” Hurteau said. “We want to protect land and water now and make it healthy enough to withstand the punches that come our way.”
Additionally, Hureau will help translate and synthesize scientific resources to make them more accessible to local leaders while helping advance climate policy to achieve the guidelines set out by the state’s ambitious climate goals. Gov. Lujan Grisham signed Executive Order 2019-003 to achieve a 45 percent state-wide reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.
Hurteau earned a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology and a master’s degree in Environmental Science and Policy. She said she loves living in Albuquerque because it’s vibrant, diverse and has great access to so much outdoor recreation.
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 76 countries and territories—37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners—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.