Rio Grande River near Pilar, NM

Rio Grande River near Pilar, NM

taken from the Trust for Public Land

Protecting Water for New Mexico

Water is a top concern for all New Mexicans. TPL projects protect municipal water supplies, rural acequia (irrigation) systems, and mountain streams. Innovative water-harvesting systems are also a part of all of TPL’s Parks for People projects.

Protection of the federally-recognized Wild and Scenic corridor of the Rio Grande, from Pilar to the Colorado border, is a top priority for TPL. To date, TPL New Mexico has protected 2,628 acres at the Taos Valley Overlook and 7,924 acres of Ute Mountain, located east of the Rio Grande near the Colorado border. These lands have been added to the Orilla Verde and Wild Rivers National Recreation Areas. The management plan, once complete, will allow public access for hiking, boating, fishing, birdwatching, and, where appropriate, camping and mountain biking. TPL is working on a second phase of the Ute Mountain project that will add 6,400 acres to the corridor and protect the rest of Ute Mountain.

Protecting Working Forests

TPL was instrumental in bringing Forest Legacy, a funding program of the US Forest Service, to New Mexico, with one of its primary goals being the protection of our watersheds. With the program in place, TPL is working to ensure that New Mexico receives its fair share of this federal funding to protect some of the state’s largest privately-owned, intact forests and watersheds. The program allows private landowners to continue to use their land while permanently restricting development through the purchase of conservation easements. These easements require strict environmental management of the land.

In collaboration with public agencies and citizen groups, TPL is working to protect and restore the Santa Fe River corridor between the villages of Aqua Fria and La Cienega. As part of the famed Camino Real that stretched from Mexico City to Santa Fe, this historic area has seen a dramatic increase in population in recent years and a decrease in land available for public use. TPL New Mexico and its partners are working to preserve neighborhood character and increase recreational opportunities by acquiring land for open space, pocket parks and, where appropriate, public trails.