2017 New Mexico Highlights

Our Top Conservation Successes This Year

Many people look to nature for inspiration and encouragement. This year, nature looked to you.

From protecting clean drinking water, to improving habitat for endangered species, to connecting people with nature, you made incredible work possible in New Mexico in 2017. From all of us at The Nature Conservancy, thank you for caring—and acting. You gave us much to celebrate this year!

BRINGING BEHEMOTHS BACK

Eighty-pound Colorado pikeminnow used to thrive in the San Juan River, but dam construction, water diversions and non-native species caused these native fish to dwindle, leaving only a few half-pints. Today they’re listed as endangered. To bring these behemoths back, The Nature Conservancy has been working with several partners to reconnect abandoned side channels in the river and restore critical nursery habitat. Young pikeminnow need shallow, slow-moving water to survive and grow.

We tested our efforts this year and the news is good. The amount of healthy nursery habitat has increased and—in all three years of the study—more juvenile fish (like the one above) were observed in the restored channels than in the river’s main stem. We've learned that creating new nursery habitat may be the key to once again having a self-sustaining population of Colorado pikeminnow in the San Juan River. Thank you!

BUILDING HEALTHY CITIES

Sarah Hurteau, the Conservancy’s Albuquerque urban conservation director, works daily to help create a more prosperous and environmentally sound metro area. This year, two collaborative projects with the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (RMYC) were important steps in reaching that goal. Recruiting mainly from economically challenged neighborhoods, the RMYC provides much-needed paid opportunities while teaching responsibility for self, community and the environment.

One RYMC crew of eight spent two weeks with Hurteau and flood control authority staff identifying native plants and removing invasive trees from a five-acre, sandy-bottomed arroyo in northeast Albuquerque to improve the quality of water available for other uses. A second crew kept busy with the City of Albuquerque, surveying and pruning trees in parks. Both crews had fun, too, enjoying interpretive bird walks and other activities. All of these activities will be significantly expanded in 2018, so stay tuned!

RESTORING FORESTS FOR CLEAN AIR, WATER & JOBS

Wow, what a year it’s been for the Rio Grande Water Fund! Launched just three years ago, this innovative collaboration has already restored 70,000 acres in northern New Mexico via thinning, controlled burns and managed fire—all to protect our forested water sources from catastrophic fire, to create jobs, and to secure clean ample water for wildlife and 1 million people.

Thanks to you and our 60 partner organizations, we’ve seriously hit our stride and are educating more youth than ever about the importance of forests (and adults, too!), while restoring more land, training more fire workers, and helping to boost the economy as local contracts are awarded and wood is supplied for market.

Get more details in a slideshow of 2017 Rio Grande Water Fund successes>

TACKLING CLIMATE & ENERGY

Challenges facing New Mexico and our planet today require comprehensive solutions that both address current issues and lay the foundation to effectively and efficiently address future demands. One of the Conservancy’s top conservation priorities is to develop solutions that reduce carbon emissions and protect our natural resources. This new set of realities inspired us to hire our first-ever external affairs director in New Mexico: Amy Miller.

With a wealth of experience in government relations, environmental program leadership and energy industry experience—along with a strong communications background—Miller will be a driving force of positive conservation change in our state. “It’s important to help shape energy climate policy now, so we can tackle growing challenges,” she says. “I’m honored to lead these efforts.”

PROTECTING WATER & WILDLIFE

Imagine weighing just two grams—less than a dime—in the face of racing floodwaters with nowhere to go. This has been a daily struggle for Chiricahua leopard frogs in the Mimbres River.

To help the now-endangered frog and the Chihuahua chub (both found only in the Mimbres River), the Conservancy’s Mimbres River Preserve was closed last summer so crews directed by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish could reshape the river’s banks, remove sediment and excavate pools. The restored natural meanders create slow-moving water needed by the chub need to thrive and reproduce, while the new pools improve living conditions for the frogs. Thanks to you, both species have the opportunity to survive for future generations of New Mexicans to appreciate!

MARCHING FOR SCIENCE

Science guides all our conservation work and always has. That’s why the Conservancy was a sponsoring partner of this year’s March for Science both in Washington, D.C. and Santa Fe, and participated in satellite marches in Albuquerque and dozens of other cities around the country. It was inspiring to see how much New Mexicans and other people value natural resources!

The Science March was not defined by any one politician or party. It allowed people to voice support of science-based solutions. Thanks to you, we can continue advancing our ability to serve communities now and long after today’s politicians have left office.

UNITED BY A RIVER

We planned to limit this slideshow to the critical conservation projects you made possible here in New Mexico this year, but we just couldn’t leave this one out. In an important victory for people and nature, the Conservancy and its partners helped negotiate Minute 323, an international agreement that establishes how the United States and Mexico share water in the Colorado River.

More than 40 million people rely on the Colorado River. Fed by tributaries including New Mexico’s Gila and San Juan rivers, the iconic waterway is a lifeline for wildlife in the arid West. Proactive collaboration like the Minute 323 agreement can ensure that all who depend on the river receive the water they need to thrive—today and tomorrow.

The Nature Conservancy has been working in New Mexico for nearly 40 years and—thanks to you—we’re just getting started. Download our 2017 Annual Report to learn more.

We need your support to continue working for nature and people in New Mexico.

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