Rio Grande Water Fund Expands Efforts in Taos
New funding will help secure water, enhance communities
After launching last summer, the Rio Grande Water Fund has been working with partners to increase the scope and scale of thinning overgrown forests from Taos to Albuquerque, securing water for 1 million people. The LOR Foundation has now made its first investment in the state of New Mexico by donating a $1 million dollar grant to the Conservancy-led Rio Grande Water Fund for on-the-ground activities in the water fund area and around Taos
Forested mountains serve as nature’s water storage and filtering facilities. Frequent, high-severity wildfires and subsequent post-fire flooding increasingly threaten water that serves nearly half of the state’s population. The restoration work – cutting trees, restoring streams and rehabilitating burned and flooded areas – will protect communities, enhance wildlife habitat and improve quality of life.
The LOR Foundation is a grant making organization committed to enhancing livability in the Intermountain West. The main criteria for this fund is protecting land and water while supporting economic and recreation opportunities in small communities.
“We are excited to collaborate with The Nature Conservancy,” says Hal Hutchinson, LOR Foundation’s executive director. “The Rio Grande Water Fund will benefit the rural communities of northern New Mexico by protecting the water resource in the forests that surround them. By building partnerships in the area, we can help to preserve the character of these communities and help them thrive.”
“Thinning our forests make them safer and healthier, but the current pace of thinning each year is not enough to make a significant difference,” says Laura McCarthy, the Conservancy in New Mexico’s conservation director “By leveraging public and private funds, the Rio Grande Water Fund goal is to restore more than 600,000 acres in 20 years, which is ten times the current rate.”
The LOR Foundation funding will be used to develop a landscape-scale forest restoration plan around Taos. It will also support on-the-ground projects such as cutting trees and prescribed fires.
“This is a great example of how a gift can create action on the ground and inspire others to do the same. We are grateful for the LOR Foundation’s investment in this important conservation initiative,” says Terry Sullivan, state director of the New Mexico Chapter of the Conservancy.
Momentum for the Rio Grande Water Fund is building with more than 40 diverse partners now collaborating on the project. The Nature Conservancy has also received funding from other investors interested in the Water Fund, most recently the McCune Charitable Foundation, PNM Resources, New Mexico Watershed and Dam Owners Coalition, Los Alamos National Bank, General Mills and Kellys Brew Pub of Albuquerque.
For a complete list of supporters and to learn more about the Rio Grande Water Fund, visit nature.org/riogrande .
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org
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