As I look back on 2019 I am amazed at the incredible achievements our staff, volunteers, and supporters accomplished for birds and people in just one year. We moved the needle in real and impactful ways and it was thanks to each and every one of you who believe birds and the places they need are worth saving.
As a way of saying thank you, we’ve picked the 5 things we’re most proud of this year and we’d like to share them with you, our Audubon New Mexico family, without whom none of this work would be possible.
We secured a historic water lease – Just before the Thanksgiving holiday we learned that we would be receiving a long-awaited permit to lease 40 acre feet of water on the Rio Chama. This is the first time any private entity in the state has been granted a permit for in-stream flow as a beneficial use of river water. This precedent setting policy innovation will provide a new strategy for water managers to ensure that the Rio Grande and other rivers in New Mexico continue to function in a changing climate, providing habitat for some of our most at risk species like Southwestern Willow Flycatcher and Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo.
We held the grand opening of the David Jay Henderson Pavilion – We were honored to have Senator Tom Udall join us to celebrate our former director’s legacy with the opening of this new building in his honor. This multi-purpose event facility will enable us to double our summer camp offerings and other on-site education opportunities while also providing a space for community members to gather and hold events. In fact Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has already made use of the facility for the signing of a shared stewardship agreement with the US Forest Service.
We released Audubon’s Survival by Degrees report – Our newest report on the impact of climate change on North American birds shows that 389 species of birds (including Clark’s Nutcracker, Mountain Bluebird, and Sandhill Crane) are vulnerable to extinction by the end of the century if we keep releasing carbon into the atmosphere at our current rates. But this sobering report also provides hope as the number of vulnerable species could be reduced by over 75% if we take steps to stop carbon emissions now. This was front page news in the Santa Fe New Mexican and it provided us the opportunity to brief our congressional delegation on the impacts of climate change and what we can do to address this crisis.
We reached over 5,500 future conservationists – Our education staff does incredible things every day, working tirelessly to educate the future stewards of our planet about the wonders of the natural world and our responsibility to protect it. This year alone, they have had 4,800 direct points of contact with students, brought over 2,000 students (largely from Title 1 schools) to the Randall Davey Audubon Center & Sanctuary to experience nature firsthand, and trained 50 teachers from Valencia, Bernalillo, Santa Fe, and Rio Arriba counties in how to deliver hands-on, outdoor science learning. We consider this an investment in the future of the planet and the places we love.
We opened our Rio Grande office to accommodate our growing team – This year we welcomed a number of new staff to our crew of incredible conservationists who are helping us turn your support into conservation outcomes on-the-ground and at the Capital. In order to have the greatest impact possible; Audubon New Mexico has, for the first time ever, opened an office in Albuquerque to strengthen our connection to that community and the river that runs through it.
With such a momentous year behind us, it’s hard to believe we can top it in 2020, but rest assured that the team of environmental leaders we’ve assembled at Audubon New Mexico are up to the task. This is an exciting time to work in conservation in New Mexico as we have the opportunity to make big changes to the way we manage our resources and landscapes.
Working together, we can prevent the worst effects of climate change, we can protect the quality of our air, soils and water, and we can ensure that our rivers are resilient in the face of an uncertain future. We can and will do these things because that is how we guarantee New Mexico remains a place where birds and people prosper and thrive for generations to come.
Thank you for your continued support and Happy Holidays!!