If you are like me, you mark the changing seasons by who shows up at your backyard feeder or favorite birding hotspot. Gone are the warblers, vireos and flycatchers of the New Mexico summer. In their place, the cranes, rosy-finches and wintering sparrows have arrived to keep us reaching for our binoculars. With the changing birds we welcome the cold weather, plenty of snow (fingers crossed) and holiday festivities to our New Mexico homes.
During this season we find ourselves looking back at the year that was, and forward to what lies ahead. At Audubon New Mexico, an exciting 2018 will give way to a momentous 2019.
The past year has been one of transition as well as great accomplishment for Audubon New Mexico staff and supporters. Some of the faces have changed within our state staff, but we continue to be blessed with gifted and passionate team members who carry out the important work of conserving the wildlife and wild places of New Mexico, work we are able to do because we have you, our network of supporters, who keep us energized, engaged and informed. Without your involvement none of the work we do would be possible, so here are just a few of your accomplishments:
Together in 2018 we fought to defend the ecological integrity of the Gila River from the devastating diversion project by proposing conservation solutions to address water scarcity in Southwest New Mexico and by showing up at rallies, speaking out at hearings and showing our resolve to decision-makers at the federal and state level. This issue hasn’t been put to rest yet, but our efforts have begun to show results as Governor-elect Lujan Grisham pledged to do all she can to oppose the diversion.
On the Rio Grande, you helped us release over 350 million gallons of water at the time of year when vital surface water was at its lowest. This water supports essential habitat for some of our most iconic and at-risk bird species while also ensuring that downstream users will be supplied the water they depend on. We punctuated these releases with a restoration event at Valle De Oro National Wildlife Refuge where over 60 community members came together to restore bird habitat in the floodplain.
You helped instill a conservation ethic in over 4,000 young New Mexicans by taking nature-based science exploration into the classroom and by planting native plants on school campuses throughout Santa Fe. An additional 250 kids experienced nature first-hand at our summer camp at the Randall Davey Audubon Center & Sanctuary.
And speaking of the Randall Davey Audubon Center & Sanctuary, as I write this, our construction crew has poured the concrete slab and begun framing the David Jay Henderson Pavilion—a $1.5 million expansion that will enable us to grow our engagement efforts by leaps and bounds. The funding for this project came entirely from private donors who recognize the potential that such a facility offers and want to honor a man who did so much for conservation in New Mexico.
Needless to say, 2018 has been a big year. So how do we top it in 2019? I can’t tell you all our surprises, you’ll just have to wait and see, but here are a few things that you can look forward to being a part of in the New Year: Our Rio Grande work is going to take a significant step forward (stay tuned for a major announcement in early 2019), we are going to cut the ribbon on the David Jay Henderson pavilion, and we will be growing our capacity considerably to better address the most pressing conservation issues facing birds in New Mexico through habitat restoration, advanced science, and innovative partnerships on working lands.
As you enjoy the holidays with your friends and families and prepare to ring in the New Year, we hope you take a minute to celebrate the conservation achievements you’ve been a part of in 2018 and those yet to come in 2019.
Be safe, stay warm, and have a wonderful holiday season. On behalf of the birds and the staff at Audubon New Mexico, thank you, thank you, thank you for all you do for conservation.