WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $60,000 to the Friends of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge Project and the Taos Valley Acequia Association.
The grants will provide resources for these organizations to conduct research, provide education and training, and develop community-driven solutions to local health and environmental issues in minority, low-income, Tribal, and rural communities.
“Valle de Oro is special to me because it introduces young people, often young people with limited access to nature, to their first outdoor experiences. And the Taos Valley Acequia Association supports New Mexico’s traditional communities, conscientious and vigilant stewards of our land and water that are central to New Mexico’s culture, agriculture industry, and way of life,” said Udall, Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, which funds the Environmental Protection Agency. “The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance of investing in our outdoor spaces and protecting our natural resources. I am proud to have fought for full funding for the federal programs that make these resources available, and one of my top priorities in Washington is to continue this essential funding that protects nature and the environment for all New Mexicans to use and enjoy.”
“Connecting our youth to the outdoors in nearby green spaces, like Valle de Oro, can inspire an appreciation of our lands and parks. It also passes down traditional knowledge of good water stewardship and can help keep our waters clean and acequia culture thriving,” said Heinrich. “That is why I am proud to support this funding and will keep fighting for projects like this that promote youth engagement and create pathways for environmental justice in underserved communities across New Mexico.”
“As a boy growing up in Nambé, I learned that protecting the environment allows our communities to thrive and carry on valued traditions. Every New Mexican should have the opportunity to experience our state’s remarkable landscapes and learn how to preserve our natural resources for generations to come. These awards from the EPA will help provide those educational opportunities for our youth and members of our state’s traditional communities, and I’ll continue fighting to bring additional investments to support conservation efforts in our rural and underserved communities,” said Luján.
“Hiking, camping, and sacred sites are part of who we are as New Mexicans, but some of our most valuable outdoor organizations are underfunded,” said Congresswoman Haaland, Vice Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee. “The Friends of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge makes sure families and kids have outdoor opportunities right in the middle of Albuquerque, and the Taos Valley Acequia Association treasures our precious water and carries on important conservation traditions. These two federal grants will make sure they can continue their work, so New Mexicans can enjoy our beautiful land for years to come.”
“While we continue to work through challenges from the current public health pandemic, the importance of our outdoors cannot be understated. This grant will support work to expand access to the outdoors in addition to protecting precious water resources that are essential to industries across the state. It’s critical we continue to make smart investments that protect New Mexico’s natural resources as we recover, heal, and rebuild,” said Torres Small.
Friends of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge Project will use the grant funds to grow a grassroots environmental justice program at Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge. The environmental justice program aims to reach underserved communities and improve the environmental and public health of the Mountain View Neighborhood, South Valley and its residents.
The Taos Valley Acequia Association will use the grant funds to develop an educational campaign that will work towards the prevention, reduction and elimination of acequia pollution, thereby enhancing water quality for acequia communities and for the Rio Fernando watershed. The project will also serve to engage and empower youth in acequia culture.
A breakdown of grants is below:
Friends of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge Project, $30,000
Taos Valley Acequia Association, $30,000