New Mexico Regional Development Initiatives

Healthy Forests = Resilient Water Supplies

Adelante is both a signatory and a financial supporter of the Rio Grande Water Fund, a collaborative program that’s working to restore 600,000 acres of forested and riparian lands in northern New Mexico over the next 20 years, making them more resilient to wildfire and protecting the water supply for wildlife and more than a million people. The Fund is boosting the regional economy by creating jobs, and generating a wood supply for New Mexico’s forest products industries.

Pilot Water Transactions Program in the Middle Rio Grande

Agriculture is a an economic cornerstone of the Middle Rio Grande (MRG), and it is threatened by farmland losses that occur when farmers find that it makes more economic sense to sell their water rights rather than continuing to farm.  The current framework of water rights law doesn’t permit them to lease their water rights (in full or in part) to others. Transactions programs that include temporary leasing options provide farmers with alternatives to the permanent sale of water rights, in addition to maintaining the value of their farmland for generations to come and paving the way toward freeing up flexible water rights for new and future business.

In 2016, Audubon New Mexico initiated a program to acquire — through lease, purchase, or donation – water from senior water rights holders and MRG Pueblos (including Pueblo de Cochiti, Kewa, San Felipe and Santa Ana) for instream flows to test proof-of-concept for a MRG water rights transactions program. The goal of this program is to pave the way for policy changes that will permanently allow water transactions in the MRG. Such changes will allow agricultural communities to benefit financially from providing more water to the river to supplement natural flows and keep the riparian ecosystem healthy – while growing the local economy.

Technological Innovation Grows Opportunity in the Local Fiber and Fashion Industry

The Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center (EVFAC) provides training and infrastructure – from spinning wheels and weaving looms to a storefront – to enable northern New Mexicans (primarily women) for whom traditional jobs are out of reach to participate in the local economy as artisans and entrepreneurs.

In a 5-year partnership with EVFAC, Adelante funded the design, fabrication, testing, and installation of a commercial-scale felting machine at the Center. This machine – affectionately called “Thumper” — enables northern New Mexico’s growing community of fiber artists and fashion designers to create wool felt efficiently and cost-effectively. This capability greatly expanded the marketplace for value-added fiber products created by EVFAC’s membership.

Virginia Smith began developing the Bar Lazy S Ranch in 2002 through a series of small farm enterprises on this land located in the San Clemente Land Grant near Los Lunas. These enterprises have included trail rides, grassfed beef, and fiber sheep. The focus has now turned to rangeland restoration to develop a productive resource base for the ranch. For more information about New Mexico initiatives, please contact Virginia.


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