New Mexico Climate and Conservation Fund

New Mexico’s land and water form the foundation of our communities, and yet without investing in both, we risk our future and that of our children.

Our ancient acequias, water systems and watersheds face grave uncertainty under volatile climate scenarios;

New Mexico’s land base faces drought, soil erosion and lost productivity, while our forests grow increasingly vulnerable to catastrophic wildfire;

New Mexico loses an average of 50,000 acres of undeveloped land per year, threatening the future of our agricultural way of life, and resulting in increased habitat fragmentation for our states’ wildlife;

Two of New Mexico’s most important economic sectors, agriculture ($10 billion) and outdoor recreation/eco-tourism ($1 billion) are threatened by these impacts;

Our rural economies struggle to sustain vibrant communities, yet programs in similar states resulted in 15-24 local jobs created for every $1 million spent;

New Mexico could be capitalizing on millions of dollars of available Federal funding simply through the availability of state matching funds.


We seek to sustain and enhance New Mexico’s agricultural and natural heritage through stewardship, conservation and restoration of our forests, grasslands and watersheds; to provide for wildlife populations and habitats; and to ensure the continuation of agricultural production on working farms and ranches.


New Mexico needs to invest in its land and water resources in order to ensure the integrity and sustainability of our water supply, wildlife, agriculture, and wide-open spaces – all of which comprise our incredible and unique natural and cultural heritage recognized nationally and worldwide.


Even in the face of the COVID-19-driven economic recession and tough budget times ahead for New Mexico, establishing a trust fund and making a modest allocation to its endowment in the next legislative session is prudent. We estimate that millions of dollars could be leveraged by state investment at a 6:1 match ratio. Now is not the time for New Mexico to be leaving federal dollars on the table.

Help us prepare our campaign for next session. Share your NM Land and Water Story

Tell a personal story that illustrates why you support investment in New Mexico's land and water resources. In particular, we are excited to share stories of restoration success that demonstrate the potential of New Mexico's resources, when given just a bit more TLC.

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Contact your representatives

Let your state representatives know how important investing in New Mexico's agricultural and natural resources is to you. Tell a personal story of how your land is suffering or has been transformed. Share the promise of New Mexico's landscapes. Together we can conserve and enhance New Mexico’s natural resources for future generations!

Thank you to our broad coalition of supporters!

This list of supporting organizations continues to grow:

Adelante Consulting, Inc., Advocacy Matters LLC, Agri Nature Center Los Ranchos, Albuquerque Wildlife Federation, Alianza Agri-Cultura de Taos, American Forest Foundation, Amigos Bravos, Audubon New Mexico, Ballard Farm and Ranch, Berlier Farm and Ranch, Brinistool Ranch, Chama Peak Land Alliance, Chavez Ranch, Cimarron Mercantile LLC, Cimarron Watershed Alliance, Inc., Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, Cooperative Catalyst of New Mexico, Crawford Farms, CS Cattle Co., Defenders of Wildlife, Del Medio Forestry, LLC, Ducks Unlimited, Element Adept, Garduno Farm/Hondo Rancho, Global Water Policy Project, Grow The Hemp Shed, Guadalupe Feed Store, High Plains Grasslands Alliance, Holistic Management International, Hood Farm and Ranch, Hughes Hunting Services, Indian Nations Conservation Alliance, Keystone Restoration Ecology, Little River Flower Farm, Localogy, Mer-Girl Farms, LLC, Molino de la Isla Organics, LLC, Mule Deer Foundation, National Young Farmers Coalition, New Mexico Acequia Assocation, New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts, New Mexico Certified Tree Farm #2, New Mexico Land Conservancy, New Mexico Wild, New Mexico Wildlife Federation, Not Forgotten Outreach, Inc., Old Gem Farm, Quivira Coalition, Rio Chiquito Research & Consulting, Rio Grande Agricultural Land Trust, Rio Grande Restoration, Rio Grande Return, River Source Inc., Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Santa Fe Conservation Trust, Save Our Bosque Task Force, Simms Ranch, Brazos Limited Partnership, Taos Land Trust, Taos Valley Acequia Association, The Wildlife Conservation Society-Rocky Mountain Program, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Tierra Bueno Gardens, Tooley's Trees and Keyline Design, Trout Stalker Ranch, Trout Unlimited, Twin Willows Ranch, Upper Pecos Watershed Association, Valle Vidal Grazing Association, Virsylvia Farm, Western Ecology, LLC, Western Landowners Alliance, Wild Turkey Sportsmen's Association, Wildlife Conservation Society.

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New Mexicans Agree

Pressing need for investment in natural resources

In this open letter to New Mexico’s political leadership, WLA and our partners on the New Mexico Agricultural and Natural Resources Trust Fund Steering Committee present the results of our year-long series of listening sessions and stakeholder interviews in 2020 to shape the New Mexico Agricultural and Natural Resources Trust Fund.

There was broad agreement on the need for a permanent, statewide funding source for agricultural and natural resources projects in the state, and on the priorities for that funding and the ways the fund should be governed. Read the document to learn more. 


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Policy News from New Mexico

New Mexico agencies: defining conservation key to 30×30

Defining what it means to conserve land and assessing existing conservation projects will be key to meeting New Mexico’s climate goals, state agency leaders said this week.

Sarah Cottrell Propst, secretary of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, said the initiative builds on existing healthy soil projects, conservation easements and habitat restoration work.

“We want to preserve a role for natural working lands,” Cottrell Propst said.

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Appeals Court Dismisses “Product of the U.S.A.” Labeling Lawsuit

A federal appeals court has affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by cattle ranchers over the alleged mislabeling of beef as a “Product of the U.S.A.” The original lawsuit named Tyson Foods, Cargill Meat Solutions, JBS USA and National Beef Packing Co., with plaintiffs claiming the companies mislead consumers by labeling beef as “Product of the U.S.A.” when the cattle may have been born and raised in another country.

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Tiny New Mexico river fish deemed ‘endangered’ by feds despite State’s opposition

A rare river fish in northern New Mexico received the highest federal protections as an endangered species Monday, following legal actions from environmentalists and backlash from state agencies. 

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NM Supreme Court throws out stream certification rule

The New Mexico Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed that a Game Commission rule that allows landowners to restrict access to water that flowed through private property is unconstitutional. The ruling opens can of worms for landowners and anglers, and puts stream restoration projects on private lands at risk. “As a result of development, recreation and intensive agriculture, we continue to lose wildlife habitat and wildlife species at an alarming rate,” WLA said in a statement. “Yet people continue to demand more and more access to places where wildlife have traditionally sought refuge, including on private land.”

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NM cattle shooting hearing vacated

A hearing regarding the U.S. Forest Service’s (USFS) decision to shoot estray cattle in the New Mexico Gila National Forest was vacated Feb. 17 in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico. The hearing was set for Feb. 22 and was brought on by the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) and other industry groups with a lawsuit against the Feds.

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USFS sued for shooting estray cattle in NM

The New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA), along with the New Mexico Federal Lands Council and two cattle companies, filed suit Feb. 9 in federal district court for New Mexico against the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) for shooting estray cattle in the Gila National Forest.

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Marijuana Bill Spurs Water Rights Debate in Arid New Mexico

Hispanic farmers and rural residents in New Mexico are concerned legislation that would allow small cannabis producers to boost their plant counts lacks a provision to ensure the producers have valid water rights.

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Conservation funding essential for state’s well-being

Opinion: It is absolutely critical to New Mexico’s future that significant conservation funding cross the finish line this legislative session. Intensive use has impacted the land’s capacity to support the watersheds upon which our economies depend. The state lacks capacity at almost every level, from resource management agencies to partners such as acequias, soil and water conservation districts, and restoration contractors. Along with increased funding for restoration projects, agency capacity must be expanded quickly, and our commitment to such objectives must be steadfast and long term.

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Story Short: USFWS to shoot estray cattle

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) notified the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) it would shoot estray cattle in the Gila National Forest via helicopter flyover Feb. 8-10.

Despite efforts by Rail Lazy H to remove the estray cattle, only 20 head were removed, and the remaining moved to rugged terrain. NMCGA said it “adamantly opposes the mass shooting of estray cattle in contradiction to New Mexico’s livestock code” and has concerns USFWS will not be able to discern branded and unbranded livestock.

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WLA’s statement on removal of Jeremy Vesbach from NM Game & Fish Commission

Santa Fe, NM – Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham properly understands that agriculture, recreation and conservation are all important to New Mexico and that the rights and interests of diverse stakeholders need to be respected and balanced. The governor’s actions Tuesday reaffirm that the commission’s job is to maintain the delicate balance of state interests that many stakeholders, the legislature, the game commission and the Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) have worked hard to achieve.

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Another Game Commission member gone amid stream access fight

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has dismissed another member of a state panel that oversees wildlife conservation and hunting and fishing regulations as a dispute percolates over public access to streams and rivers that flow through private property.

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New Mexico Lawmakers Pressed to Make Water a Priority

With a high-stakes case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court and more forecasts calling for hot and dry weather, New Mexico’s top water official says lawmakers can’t afford not to adequately fund the state agencies that oversee water resources.

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New Mexico governor signs order to preserve 30 percent of public lands

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order that calls for 30 percent of New Mexico’s public lands to be protected by 2030, putting the state in line with a larger federal conservation effort.

The order directs a half-dozen state agencies to coalesce behind the “30 by 30” plan by establishing programs that conserve, protect and enhance public lands for a variety of uses. An additional 20 percent will be designated as climate stabilization areas.

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Heinrich, Blunt introduce legislation to fund wildlife conservation

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which U.S. Senator Heinrich of New Mexico is introducing along with Republican U.S. Senator Blunt of Missouri, would provide $1.3 billion annually in funding to states and $97.5 million to tribes to implement projects identified in the wildlife action plans that intend to keep species off of the endangered species list and recover those that are already on the list.

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New Mexico lawmakers warned about shrinking water supplies

Some of New Mexico’s top climate and water experts warned state lawmakers Tuesday that the effects of the drought on water supplies have been worsened by climate change, specifically an ongoing, long-term warming trend.

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Comment period for Landowner Certification of Non-Navigable Water Extended

At the New Mexico State Game Commission meeting held Friday, June 18, 2021 at the New Mexico State Capitol, a ruling on five applications for landowner certification of non-navigable water was tabled until the August 12, 2021 Commission meeting, allowing additional time, until July 29th, for public input.

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Another side of the controversy over stream access

In a recent editorial, The New Mexican declared rivers and streams belong to the public, but this simplistic declaration masks a crucially important story that is not being told (“Rivers, streams belong to public — period,” Our View, June 13). If we care about New Mexico’s land, water, people and wildlife, it’s time to take a much harder, more honest look at the issue and what is at stake. WLA’s Lesli Allison writes “it’s time to move past the rhetoric and to a much more critical examination of the “public access at all costs” movement.”

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Dispute over wolf cross-fostering in Catron County, New Mexico

A plan to place captive-bred mexican wolves in a den with wild wolves in New Mexico is receiving push-back due to potential for livestock conflicts with neighboring landowners. Wolves killed 151 livestock in New Mexico in 2020, with more likely going unreported, according to state biologists.

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Groups call for reintroduction of jaguars in US Southwest

Environmental groups and scientists with two universities want U.S. wildlife managers to consider reintroducing jaguars to the American Southwest. In a recently published paper, they say habitat destruction, highways and existing segments of the border wall mean that natural reestablishment of the large cats north of the U.S.-Mexico boundary would be unlikely over the next century without human intervention.

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New Mexico issues 10-year plan for boosting forest health

Restoring forests, using fire as a management tool and getting more buy-in from private landowners are among the strategies outlined in New Mexico’s latest forest action plan.

“This collaboration is essential in moving forward with a solid foundation to address both human-caused and natural threats to our lands in a continually changing climate,” New Mexico Forester Laura McCarthy said in a statement.

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New Mexico tribes sue US over federal clean water rule

Two Indigenous communities in New Mexico are suing the U.S. EPA over a revised federal rule that narrowed the types of waterways that qualify for federal protection under the half-century-old Clean Water Act, saying the federal government is violating its trust responsibility to Native American tribes.

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Megadrought: New Mexico farms face uncertain future

Historic heavy usage of Rio Grande water has left New Mexico in a particularly difficult position ahead of the impending drought. Right now, a New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission hydrogeologist says, the state is unable to store any more water from the river due to restrictions under the Rio Grande Compact, and owes a debt of 100,000 acre feet downstream to Texas. This piece questions whether farming can continue in much of the state in the future.

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Conservationists renew push to save New Mexico lesser prairie chicken. Feds to decide by May

Federal protections for the lesser prairie chicken could be enacted this spring as a federal judge in 2019 called on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to decide by the end of May. The lesser prairie chicken is a species of grouse native to southeast New Mexico and parts of West Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado.

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Stateline Range grazing project challenged

Despite President Joe Biden signing an executive order to “consider suspending, revising, or rescinding the agency actions” made during the Trump administration, environmentalists continue their efforts to halt projects. Western Watersheds Project and Wilderness Watch recently filed a suit in the U.S. District Court for Arizona seeking to halt the renewal of grazing permits in the Apache-Sitgreaves and Gila National Forests in Arizona and New Mexico.

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Proposed overhaul of New Mexico wildlife agency stalls

Legislation that would have overhauled New Mexico’s wildlife management agency stalled in a Senate committee yesterday after a lengthy debate in which opponents warned that proposed changes to the distribution of hunting tags would devastate guides and outfitters and cost rural communities jobs and revenue.

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With wildfire risk up, New Mexico supports controlled burns

In a bid to reduce wildfire risk, the House has advanced a bill making it easier for residents to burn brush and wood debris on their property. The bill, passed unanimously Thursday, removes severe liability provisions written into territorial law 20 years before New Mexico became a state.

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With historic picks, Biden puts environmental justice front and center

President-elect Joe Biden chose Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) to serve as the first Native American Cabinet secretary and head the Interior Department, a historic pick that marks a turning point for the U.S. government’s relationship with the nation’s Indigenous peoples.

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NRCS announces January 8 EQIP deadline for New Mexico ag producers

The USDA NRCS announced today that a sign up for fiscal year 2021 Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is underway. All New Mexico agricultural producers who would like to be considered for financial assistance under general EQIP or special conservation initiatives need to apply by January 8, 2021.

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Court weighs tribes’ aboriginal water claims for Jemez River

A decadeslong battle over a northern New Mexico river has taken another turn, as a panel of federal appellate judges has reversed a lower court ruling by determining that the aboriginal rights of Indigenous communities were not extinguished by Spain when it took control centuries ago of what is now the American Southwest.

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USFWS proposes listing New Mexico thistle

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed protecting as threatened the Wright’s marsh thistle. Along with the litigation-pressured Endangered Species Act listing, the federal agency proposed designating as critical habitat 159 acres in Chaves, Eddy, Guadalupe, Otero and Socorro counties in New Mexico.

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A cuckoo keeps its protections, but debate continues

The Fish and Wildlife Service declared today the western population of yellow-billed cuckoo still warrants federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. In a noteworthy defeat for mining and ranching organizations, the federal agency rejected a petition to strip away the bird’s status as a threatened species.

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6 western states blast Utah plan to tap Colorado River water

Six states in the U.S. West that rely on the Colorado River to sustain cities and farms rebuked a plan to build an underground pipeline that would transport billions of gallons of water through the desert to southwest Utah.

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Colorado, Texas give New Mexico permission to use stored water

Low runoff, top-of-the-thermometer temperatures and little rainfall have translated into a dismal summer on the Rio Grande, with large river stretches south of Albuquerque already dry. But water managers are finally breathing a sigh of relief. The state of New Mexico has received permission from neighboring states to access up to 38,000 acre-feet of water, or more than 12 billion gallons, that is currently stored under the Rio Grande Compact agreement.

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New Mexico to consider river protections as mining plan looms

More than 200 miles of the Pecos River, its tributaries and other parts of the upper reaches of the northern New Mexico watershed would be protected from future degradation under a petition being considered by state regulators. A coalition of farmers, ranchers, environmentalists and local officials filed the petition last month, seeking an “Outstanding National Resource Waters” designation for the river, nearby streams and surrounding wetlands. The Water Quality Control Commission agreed Tuesday to consider the request and set a public hearing for November.

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NM Supreme Court asked to weigh in on stream access dispute that no one can agree on

Kendra Chamberlain at New Mexico Political Report unpacks the controversy over New Mexico’s stream access law, and the pending lawsuit between pro-access groups and the state. She writes, “Groups on both sides of the dispute all have different ideas about what’s at issue, and what’s at stake, but all parties are quick to point out the dispute is incredibly complicated. And while there’s no shortage of opinions on the topic, stakeholders on both sides of the fence seem to agree on one thing: it was a 2014 opinion issued by then-Attorney General Gary King that started the whole thing.” 

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Feds, tribes raise concerns about cuckoo habitat proposal

The Fish and Wildlife Service has rekindled an Endangered Species Act debate with its proposal for a large, multistate critical habitat for the western yellow-billed cuckoo. The Army Corps of Engineers cautions that the proposal could complicate operations of a key California dam. Tribes have worries of their own. Some bird lovers, meanwhile, want more than the proposed 493,665 acres spanning seven Western states.

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New Mexico senators weigh in on stream access

New Mexico’s two U.S. senators are wading more deeply into a stream access debate that’s been simmering for years. U.S. Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, both Democrats, this week urged the state Game Commission to repeal a 2017 rule that allows private landowners to restrict public access to water flowing across their land in certain circumstances. Supporters of the rule, such as the Western Landowners Alliance, say it protects sensitive streambeds and enables habitat restoration work on private property.

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Plan calls for diverting, storing water from Gila River

Water from two rivers that span parts of New Mexico and Arizona would be diverted and stored under a project proposed by the New Mexico Central Arizona Project Entity. The BLM and the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission are gathering public comments on an environmental review of the proposal. The fight over the Gila River has prompted protests and legal fights over the years. Environmentalists have suggested the effort to divert water would result in a $1 billion boondoggle, but supporters argue that the project is vital to supplying communities and irrigation districts in southwestern New Mexico with a new source of water as drought persists.

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USDA Wildlife Services to use $1.3 M to implement, evaluate nonlethal predation management tools

The USDA Wildlife Services (WS) program has identified 12 states where it will implement nonlethal strategies to reduce or prevent depredation on livestock by wildlife. The fiscal year 2020 budget allocated $1.38 million for nonlethal predator damage management and research to the program that is part of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) agency.

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Trump admin reopens Mexican wolf study

The Fish and Wildlife Service today reopened a debate over the best way to protect the Mexican wolf. Facing legal pressure, the agency announced plans to revise the “nonessential experimental population” designation and management of the wolves living in Arizona and New Mexico. The plans require drafting an environmental impact statement supplement.

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Court rejects critical habitat for jaguar

A federal appeals court yesterday rejected the Fish and Wildlife Service’s designation of critical habitat for the endangered jaguar. Reversing a trial judge’s 2017 opinion that had been hailed by environmentalists, a unanimous three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded the federal agency was “arbitrary and capricious” in its decisionmaking.

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Western yellow-billed cuckoo clocks in renewed habitat debate

The Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing a noticeably shrunken but still sprawling critical habitat for the threatened western yellow-billed cuckoo. In a long-awaited revision today, the federal agency proposed designating approximately 493,665 acres across seven Western states as critical habitat. The move would extend ESA protections to parts of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Texas and Utah.

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Groups want cows corralled to protect endangered jumping mouse habitat

In a lawsuit filed Thursday, environmental groups have accused the U.S. Forest Service of failing to keep livestock and wild horses out of streams and other wetlands on forest land in southeastern Arizona, resulting in damage to habitat required by the New Mexico jumping mouse, an endangered species found only in the Southwest.

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New Mexico Wildlife Corridors Act: public meetings and comment

The New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) in partnership with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) has begun developing the Wildlife Corridors Action Plan (Plan) in accordance with New Mexico Senate Bill 228, the Wildlife Corridors Act (Act). Public meetings will be held state wide and public comments will be accepted through April 18, 2020.

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Opinion: Conservation and restoration of our precious land

The future of New Mexico over the next 100 years will depend on actions taken today to ensure our natural resources continue to provide our most essential needs. The New Mexico Land Conservancy, the New Mexico Chapter of Trout Unlimited, the New Mexico Land Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife and Audubon New Mexico urge New Mexicans to speak up during the current legislative session in favor of the New Mexico Agricultural and Natural Resources Trust Fund Act.

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New Mexico needs realistic, sustainable water plan

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) has long talked about the importance of water to the arid state, even campaigning on the idea of creating a 50-year plan to guide management of the finite resource. Her administration is now asking lawmakers for more money and manpower to start what some experts say will be a multiyear endeavor.

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Editorial: Using oil surplus to help restore habitat worth the investment

A bill that would dedicate a portion of the state’s record oil and gas revenues to a permanent fund for habitat restoration and sustainable agriculture projects deserves serious consideration from lawmakers, and it’s good to see support for it from a broad coalition of agricultural and environmental groups.

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New Mexico bill would divert oil and gas money to restoration

Skyrocketing oil and natural gas production in southeastern New Mexico continues to produce record-setting state revenue. A broad coalition of agricultural and environmental groups believe some of that money should help restore the state’s land and water.

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Petition seeks federal protections for Rio Grande fish

Environmentalists are asking federal wildlife managers to use the Endangered Species Act to protect a fish found only in the Rio Grande in Texas and the Pecos River in New Mexico. WildEarth Guardians filed the petition with the Fish and Wildlife Service yesterday, saying it is part of a campaign focused on vulnerable species found in rivers and streams across the West.

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New in-stream flow rights in New Mexico

Surface water rights in the state of New Mexico are typically granted to individuals for diverting water from streams and rivers to irrigate crops and support food production. Now, the state has granted its first water rights permit to keep water in a river.

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