Press Release

Audubon New Mexico Further Commits to Strengthen Freshwater Conservation Priorities in New Mexico by Hiring Paul Tashjian as New Freshwater Associate Director

Tashjian adds to our growing freshwater conservation expertise and brings local water resource experience to our efforts to preserve the state’s treasured natural river ecosystems for both people and birds.

SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO (Thursday, March 1, 2018) –The organization today announced the appointment of Paul Tashjian as Associate Director of Freshwater Conservation. Mr. Tashjian will further bolster Audubon New Mexico’s innovative freshwater conservation program to address the many challenges the state is facing regarding significant declining river flows, and the impact it has on birds, wildlife and New Mexicans.

Tashjian, a long-time resident of New Mexico, will lead Audubon New Mexico’s multi-faceted Freshwater Conservation Program along with Beth Bardwell, Director of Conservation effective March 5, 2018. He will direct efforts to develop and implement policy, market-based, restoration and strategic engagement strategies to protect and restore natural ecosystems for communities, birds and other wildlife on New Mexico’s major rivers and tributaries, with a focus on the Rio Grande and Colorado River Basins.

"I'm very excited to be working with Audubon New Mexico on water and wildlife conservation issues,” said Paul Tashjian. “I love our State’s rivers and wetlands and have spent much of my time stomping around these magical places. These imperiled water courses demand our attention, and through collaborative and creative efforts we can ensure their long-term beauty and viability.”

Audubon New Mexico, a leader in the state on innovative environmental water transactions, developed a state-wide Freshwater Conservation Program in 2009 to improve and increase streamflow for the benefit of rivers, securing a greater share of water for birds, other wildlife, and the communities that depend on them. Dedicating water to the state’s beleaguered rivers is one goal of the program, which also includes habitat restoration, community education, and advocating to protect the Gila River.

Tashjian comes to Audubon New Mexico with more than 26 years of hydrology experience from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwestern Region. His expertise includes water management and water protection for wildlife, river restoration, water law, and wetland workshop coordination. Tashjian was the founder and coordinator of the Bosque Hydrology Group, an inter-agency, inter-university think tank that focused on the physical restoration of the Middle Rio Grande. His recent work includes quantifying and protecting National Wildlife Refuge water rights, conducting studies and workshops to improve wetland management, and coordinating river restoration projects associated with Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.

“Advancing balanced water management policy solutions to achieve a reliable water supply for birds and people on the Rio Grande has challenged us for decades,” said Beth Bardwell, Director of Conservation. “Paul has considerable expertise on the Rio Grande Basin from the headwaters to the Gulf, from water rights to river health, from water operations to river flows, and can bring his considerable scientific and on-the-ground knowledge to forge conservation solutions to water management challenges on the Rio Grande.” 

Western rivers, like the Rio Grande and Colorado River, are critical to western communities, economies, and wildlife. Western rivers provide water for millions of people and wildlife, and sustains our nation’s food supply. The Rio Grande and Gila River in New Mexico are some of the most important places for birds in the southwest, and the most imperiled. In New Mexico, rivers fuel a multi-billion outdoor recreation economy.

In the wake of an especially dry winter season, local communities are struggling with how to increase and protect freshwater flows. In a recent study, sixty-three percent of New Mexicans reported being concerned with inadequate water supplies, low levels of water in rivers, and pollution of rivers, lakes, and streams. As climate change fuels the intensity of these extreme weather patterns, it is critical that Audubon New Mexico is prepared to take steps to both mitigate the cause and protect the places that are important to birds and people.

Audubon is committed to being at the forefront of delivering innovative freshwater conservation solutions in our state. “We are excited to have Paul’s passion and expertise in freshwater to help secure the long-term health of our state’s rivers,” said Jon Hayes, Audubon New Mexico’s Executive Director. “Paul brings a high-level of scientific research and technical experience in water resources and a proven ability to pull people together to protect our rivers. He is going to make a big difference not just for our efforts to protect habitat for water dependent birds, like the Sandhill Crane and the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, but for long-term water security for New Mexico communities.”

Tashjian earned a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology with a minor in geology from Colorado College, and a Master’s of Science in Geology from Temple University. He also has completed numerous advanced educational courses and professional trainings associated with water law, environmental law, geomorphology, climatology, geochemistry, and hydrology. Paul is a member of the board for the New Mexico Water Dialogue and the President of the Albuquerque Bosque Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

To learn more about Audubon New Mexico’s water conservation efforts, please click here.

About Audubon

The National Audubon Society saves birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at and @audubonsociety.

Audubon New Mexico: As the state office of the National Audubon Society, Audubon New Mexico’s mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity.

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