May 2021 Sustainability Newsletter

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May 2021 Newsletter

Celebrating Mother Earth


Avo holding the earth
Earth Day 2021 San Ysidro

Happy Mother Earth: Restoring and Rewilding River Beds!

The Sustainability Office is delighted to announce that the Santa Fe County Earth Day planting events in April, a partnered effort with Open Space, Trails and Parks, the Santa Fe Watershed Association, and numerous community volunteers, has been a huge success!  April 15th was the cold but happy kick off of some very busy weekends in a month long celebration of Earth Day. With the help of many hands on the ground planting and the incredible Open Space crews, the first two community planting events, in Board of County Commissioners District 1, Henry Roybal, and District 2, Anna Hansen, rang in the season. Over 250 golden currants, false indigo, peachleaf willows, Goodding's black willows, cottonwoods, thousands of wildflower seeds, and many more native species, found a new home in their preferred riparian habitat, along the Tesuque River at the Pojoaque Recreation Complex (District 1), and along the Santa Fe River at the San Ysidro Crossing and Romero Park Trailheads (District 2). 

The plants and trees will do the hard work of much needed erosion control, providing shade, wildlife habitat, and pollinator habitat for the area. Both events brought almost 100 volunteers and numerous public officials including United States Senator Ben Ray Luján, United States Representative Teresa Leger Fernandez, and New Mexico State Representative Tara Lujan, all of whom got busy with shovels and dirt to plant trees and seeds alongside community members. 

It was evident that the community was eager to be outside and give love back to the rivers and the land. The next three events are timely for continuing to honor Mother Earth, and will be held at three County facilities: the Hondo Fire Station in District 4 on May 1, the Edgewood Senior Center in District 3 on May 8, and finally, the Max Coll Community Center in District 5 on May 15. Check out the videos on the Santa Fe County Facebook Event page and the Santa Fe Watershed Association's CommuniTree tribute. Also be sure to check out the Native Plant List Guide for New Mexico to learn about the best plants for your own yard. More to come to report out on the final three Earth Day planting locations in the June issue!

Race to Zero

Santa Fe County Joins Race to Zero

Santa Fe County announced its commitment to the "Race to Zero" initiative during the April 27 Board of County Commissioners meeting. According to ICLEI USA, "Race To Zero is a global campaign (established Fall 2020) to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions, and investors for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth." As a first step to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, Santa Fe County has pledged to reduce emissions from County buildings by 60% by 2025 through renewable energy and energy efficiency upgrades, and to achieve that same goal in buildings across the community by 2030. Currently, buildings and facilities account for nearly half of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with Santa Fe County operations. Much of the emissions are due to heating and cooling and inefficient building envelopes. Performance of a building can be greatly improved through weatherization as well as updating lights to LED's and replacing old mechanical equipment with higher efficiency rated HVAC systems or electric pumps. There is much to tackle in the next nine years and bravo to the County for joining the race! Find out more about ways that you can improve your own building's performance, whether it is residential or commercial, by checking out the Sustainability Office's energy efficiency page and join the County in the Race to Zero!   

Rio Grande

What Can I Do? Help Conserve Water

The generous rains last week helped assuage the anxiety many of us have been feeling about Santa Fe County's ongoing "exceptional drought" status. With the volume of water in major reservoirs across the West expected to reach record lows, there's reason to be worried. However, everyone can play a role in conserving water at home. Here are three easy things you can do this month to help conserve water:

1. Check your toilet for leaks. Toilets are the main source of water use in a home, accounting for nearly 30% of an average home's indoor water consumption. A leaky toilet can waste hundreds of gallons of water per day, and many toilets can stealthily leak without any obvious signs of trouble. You can easily check for leaks by placing a few drops of dye or food coloring in the holding tank. If color appears in the bowl one hour later, your toilet is leaking. Beginning next month, Santa Fe County's Public Works Complex will have free toilet leak detection dye tablets available at the front desk. So be sure to pick some up next time you're at Public Works. 

2. On that note, if you still don't have a low-flow toilet, get one now! Low-flow toilets these days use 1.28 gallons per flush or less while still providing excellent performance. Check for the EPA's WaterSense label when purchasing a new toilet to make you're getting a water-saving model.

3. Plant drought-resistant trees and plants. Many beautiful trees and plants thrive without irrigation. See what types of plants with low water requirements are suitable for your area by consulting the Office of the State Engineer's New Mexico Plant List. Add a layer of mulch or compost around plants to help retain moisture. Bonus: water those new plants with water you collect from your tub if it takes a long time for hot water to reach the shower.

Happy conserving, and find more water saving tips here!

Our May Picks

(Click on orange title and text below for associated links and information.)

Earth Day

Earth Day: Santa Fe County Celebrates for 5 Saturdays in a Row

Would you like to help Santa Fe County plant native trees and pollinator-friendly plants in celebration of Earth Day? May planting events will be held at the Hondo Fire Station on May 1, Edgewood Senior Center on May 8, and Max Coll Community Center on May 15. Sign up to volunteer here!

Passive solar

SUN & MUD: History and Advice from Three NM Pioneering Passive Solar Architects

Monday, May 24, 7:00-8:30 pm

Learn about the history of passive solar design in New Mexico, and how you can adopt these techniques to work with the sun and minimize energy consumption. Register here.

Straw bale

Backyard Composting Program Application Deadline Extended to May 17

There's still time to apply! If you use one of the County's transfer stations, you are eligible to receive a free straw bale compost system to help Santa Fe County reduce the amount of organic material that enters the County's waste stream. Apply here.

SFEMG plant sale

Online Plant Sale

Are you ready for spring? Support the Santa Fe Extension Master Gardeners program in their annual fundraising event, which has moved online! Pre-order your plants online at until May 5. Then pick them up curbside at the Santa Fe County Fairgrounds on May 8 or May 9.

Bike month

Santa Fe Bike Month

May is Bike Month! Visit for a list of events and to learn how to get involved. Activities include Bike to School Day and Bike to Work Day. You can also sign up to volunteer to fix a kid's bike here.


City of Santa Fe Stormwater Survey

How much do you know about stormwater? What is it and where does it go? If you are resident of the City of Santa Fe, help the city create more relevant stormwater education and outreach materials by taking this survey designed to gauge your knowledge on stormwater.

Sustainability Comments or Questions?

We are your local advisors on all things sustainability in Santa Fe County. Call us about anything from water conservation, cleaner transportation, solar and renewable energy, composting, recycling, etc. Or let us know what you would like to learn more about in our newsletter. 


Jacqueline Beam, 505.992.9832

Adeline Murthy, 505.992.9862