The Nature Conservancy New Mexico (TNC NM) established the visionary Rio Grande Water Fund (RGWF) in 2014 as a public-private partnership to address overgrown forested watersheds in Northern New Mexico and resulting water scarcity downstream. The RGWF invests in projects that accelerate landscape-scale forest restoration through thinning, controlled burns, stream restoration, post-fire watershed restoration, restoration planning, education and outreach, and monitoring. Prior to RGWF’s inception, 3,000 forested acres were restored each year; since the RGWF launch in 2014, over 251,000 acres have been restored, including 33,000 in 2019. TNC NM has engaged over 80 partners, leveraging $5 million in private funding into $48 million of on-the-ground projects that integrate community values with the various management directions of federal, state, local and tribal governments. 

The Nature Conservancy North America adopted Living With Fire as a global organizational priority in 2018 to encourage ecological, socio-economic and technical fire management to meet the goal of sustainable ecosystems and livelihoods in fire-prone environments. The RGWF was selected as a Living With Fire Exemplary Project, and is being replicated to transform fire management across the country. TNC NM will share RGWF science, restoration and conservation success stories to address federal- and state-level fire and land management policies helping to transform reactive fire management systems to proactive systems that favor resiliency and adaptation.

140,000 acres treated with thinning, controlled burns and managed natural fires
330,000 acres in the planning pipeline
$5 million in private funding invested
$48 million in public funding leverage