Watershed Conservation Program kicks off Zoom Forum Series on September 9

The Master Watershed Conservationist (MWC) program will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 9, with the first of eight forums, The Future of Our Watershed in the Hatch and Mesilla Valleys.

See the event on Zoom at (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85286064996). Or, visit daswcd.org/master-watershed-conservation-program for the Zoom link and to subscribe to the forum.

The event is open to anyone interested.

The forum will feature a panel of local ecology and resource specialists who will engage in discussions with the public on visions for the future and stewardship needs of watersheds in the watershed region. The southernmost Rio Grande in New Mexico.

The event will also provide an introduction to the program, which aims to empower citizens to promote stewardship of local watersheds.

Through the series of forums, which will be held over the next nine months, the program will also engage volunteers in decision-making and implementation of conservation projects in the southern Rio Grande watershed in New Mexico.

Connie Maxwell, of the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (WRRI) based at New Mexico State University, will provide an overview of watershed issues for the region and lead the panel, which will also include Gary, Director of the Elephant Butte Irrigation District (EBID). Esslinger; New Mexico Department of Agriculture Sec. Jeff Witte; Gill Sorg, municipal councilor of Las Cruces; Kevin Bixby, member of the Doña Ana County Soil and Water Conservation District (DASWCD) Oversight Board, who is also director of the Southwest Environmental Center in Las Cruces; John Gwynne, director of the Doña Ana County Flood Commission; local breeder Steve Wilmeth; and Don McClure, deputy district director of the Las Cruces office of the Federal Bureau of Land Management.

The program comes at an important time for the Hatch and Mesilla Valley region, as the health of watersheds is currently a critical issue for the resilience of our communities and ecosystems. As drought and high temperatures cause aridity to increase and threaten vegetation and rangeland health in the highlands, monsoon rains causing devastating flooding are eroding soils in the valleys and overwhelming the infrastructure of the highlands. ‘flood. Reduced availability of surface water increases use and dependence

underground waters. As groundwater levels decrease, surface flows also decrease as they infiltrate less full aquifers, reducing the health of streams, at the same time salinity is concentrated in them. groundwater, thus irrigating with it leads to reduced agricultural productivity.

This forum is being organized in partnership with the Hatch and Mesilla Valley Watershed Plan – a project of the South Central New Mexico Stormwater Management Coalition with planning efforts led by WRRI – to inform the watershed plan with visions, ideas, data and issues discussed during this evening. .

Eleven community organizations came together under the leadership of DASWCD to organize the Master

Watershed Conservation Volunteer Program including Caballo Soil and Water Conservation District, City of Las Cruces, Doña Ana County Flood Commission, EBID, Natural Resource Conservation Service, New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service, WRRI, Paso del Norte Watershed Council, Rio Grande Consulting in theater and spring rains.

The goal of the program is to promote stewardship of the Rio Grande watershed in southern New Mexico by equipping citizens with the knowledge and skills to make informed decisions in watershed planning and management, and by engaging and empowering volunteers to play leadership roles, organize educational efforts and implement conservation projects that address one or more critical conservation issues.

The MWC program is open to anyone in high school and up. The MWC program is particularly aimed at recruiting individuals interested in engaging in volunteering to do conservation work in the Rio Grande Valley. At present, in support of local health guidelines, the forums will be held via Zoom. Registrants will be updated regularly when conditions allow future forums to be in person. Early pre-registration for the MWC program ends on September 9, 2021.

For more information visit daswcd.org/masterwatershed-conservation-program.


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