Conservation

Message from Jon Hayes, Audubon New Mexico's Executive Director

People are the heart of conservation solutions in New Mexico.

Dear Audubon New Mexico Members,

People are the heart of conservation solutions in New Mexico; it’s your passion for protecting wildlife and wild places that keeps us motivated. For that reason, I have been hitting the road to meet with our chapters, partners and supporters—from Clayton to Deming. If I haven’t been to your town yet, it’s probably on my calendar.

In February, I was invited to Silver City to attend a meeting of the Southwestern New Mexico Audubon Society (SWNMAS). In the many conversations I had with SWNMAS members before and after the meeting, I was struck by the level of sophistication and tenacity with which they approach the challenge of protecting the wild Gila River. It became clear to me that if I was going to keep up with these folks, I’d have to step up my game.

The following morning a group of us set out to explore the Gila Bird Area. There had been reports of a very punctual Red-breasted Sapsucker that tended to show up on a particular tree along a particular trail, at 10am. Given that most of my birding has been limited to eastern birds, this was going to be a lifer for me while also a rarity for the area.

Upon reaching our destination, we found a fellow birder already there who informed us that he had been in that spot since 6am in pursuit of the same quarry, but thus far, it was a no-show. At that very moment, a flash of red and black dove down from the hillside above us, choosing a perfectly sunlit branch on which to perch, providing an ideal view of his brilliant plumage. Now, there are plenty of red birds out there, many of them a brighter red than the Red-breasted Sapsucker, but I had never seen a bird with such a deep and rich red before, like a drop of blood or a glass of Merlot.

Having achieved our goal, we headed back down the trail to the parking lot. As we walked, I admired the clean cool water rushing by, the mighty cottonwoods towering overhead and the craftsmanship of a local beaver. Along the way we spotted a Gila Woodpecker and a Bridled Titmouse, both “lifers” for me as well. That made three in less than an hour, a birding hat trick. An experience I was not likely to have again any time soon, but I’m hopeful that with our upcoming birdathon I will further add to my “lifer” list.

The Gila River watershed is an awe-inspiring landscape with vibrant and compelling bird life. to protect such great places we need great people. I’m glad to know that we have that in the members of SWNMAS who have been working for decades to prevent the foolish diversion of water from that river for the short-term economic gain of a few.

In May, Audubon New Mexico (ANM) in partnership with Western Resource Advocates, will be releasing our Water Alternative for the City of Deming. In this technical white paper, we detail strategies for how the people of Deming can source water sustainably without inflicting the irreversible damage that would result from the diversion project. The report is one example of ANM’s commitment to using innovative strategies in combination with best available science to provide solutions to intractable conservation challenges.   

Our work to conserve life-giving water for the people, wildlife and wild places of New Mexico does not end there. ANM is the leader in implementing water transactions to preserve nature’s share of the state’s fresh water. We provide volunteer opportunities to restore bosque plant communities, and our education programming delivers experiential nature-based learning to students from kindergarten to high school. We believe that where birds thrive, people prosper. We are constantly encouraged by how many of you agree with us.

Thank you for being a part of the Audubon New Mexico team.

Jon Hayes

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