June 2021 Sustainability Newsletter

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June 2021 Newsletter

Building Resiliency, Together!


Avo holding the earth
Earth Day planting

Growing Resiliency, One Plant at a Time

As spring unfolded and the world began opening after a global pandemic, it sure felt like May was busier than usual this year! To add to the flurry, the Sustainability Office and partnering departments continued to hold Earth Day Planting events; kicking off May 1 at the Hondo Fire Station (District 4), a later celebration was held at the Edgewood Senior Center on May 8 (District 3), and finally "a wrap" of the month long planting production, was completed at the Max Coll Community Center on May 15 (District 5). In the three locations, nearly 100 drought tolerant and native plants were put in the ground, along with thousands of wildflower seeds, and several species of fruit trees. Approximately 60 volunteers showed up to add more life, shade, pollinators, and edible gardens to these facilities, planting alongside County Commissioners from each district. 

Now comes the hard work of making sure these new plants get the care they need, so they can thrive for years to come. Several dedicated fire fighters and community members are stewarding the new plants by watering them twice a week, but they need your help! If you live near any of the three community facilities, and would like to contribute to the beautification and ecological enhancement of your community, get in touch with us at sustainability@santafecountynm.gov to get involved.

Other organizations across the County also held planting events this spring. Santa Fe High School students, in collaboration with Southwest Urban Hydrology, RainCatcher Inc., and the Santa Fe Watershed Association created 20 pocket rain gardens in the Santa Fe High School parking lot to improve shade cover, enhance bird and pollinator habitat, and capture as well as filter storm water. These pocket rain gardens will divert 330,000 gallons of storm water on average per year, slowing the flow and providing for more infiltration into the ground instead of further scouring of the Arroyo Chamiso. In addition, the Santa Fe Watershed Association, as part of their CommuniTree program, planted 100 cottonwoods and 1000 willows in a riparian area downstream from Frenchy's Field in partnership with Tom Noble and Rio Grande Return.

Although it may seem counter-intuitive to plant trees during a drought, when the right tree is planted in the right place and at the right time, trees can provide numerous benefits to the land such as mitigating the urban heat island effect, increasing microclimate humidity, sequestering carbon, and helping to hold water in the soil by protecting soil structure and enhancing the biodiversity of microorganisms below ground. Green spaces are also one of the most important factors contributing to wellbeing; when communities don't have access to parks and green spaces, their residents suffer from higher stress levels and diminished wellbeing. The City of Santa Fe's TreeSmart Santa Fe program, which launched this spring, uses these principles to promote a healthy tree canopy in Santa Fe through an equity lens and the CommuniTree program is focused on planting the right tree in the right place throughout the County to protect the watershed areas.

All of these seemingly small acts of planting trees and shrubs add up to make a big difference in improving the quality of everyone's life, fostering community connections, and strengthening climate resilience in the face of drought and rising temperatures. There is still time to plant the right plants in the right places and to be a part of the actions which also contribute to the county-wide and global initiative program: Join the fun and the solutions for the ever important 30x30 goals to conserve 30% of all land and water by 2030!

Climate Action Plan

Board of County Commissioners Approves Development of Integrated Climate Action Plan

Santa Fe County Commissioners reaffirmed their commitment to climate resiliency at the May 11 Board of County Commissioners Meeting by voting unanimously to approve and publish a recent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory of County operations and develop a County-wide integrated climate action plan. Sustainability staff, in collaboration with Adelante Consulting, presented the results of the GHG emissions inventory during the public meeting. Keep an eye out for the results which will be published soon on the Sustainability Office's website.

More and more municipalities across the world are developing and implementing integrated climate action plans, which incorporate focuses of both climate mitigation and adaptation. The next step for Santa Fe County is to develop a community-wide GHG emissions inventory. This will set the foundation for a County-wide GHG emissions reduction plan, which satisfies the mitigation component of an integrated climate action plan. Part of this process includes a climate vulnerability assessment and a natural resources inventory to identify areas in which the County will need to adapt in order to enhance resiliency as temperatures rise and water becomes more scarce. Sustainability staff will be working closely with the global sustainability network, ICLEI, to implement these next steps. Stay tuned for developments and opportunities for public engagement in the months to come!

Santa Fe wildfire

What Can I Do? Increase Wildfire Resilience

Though rainfall was a bit higher than average this past month, fire officials are urging New Mexicans not to let their guards down when it comes to fire prevention and preparedness. Vegetation can dry up quickly and start a blaze in any ecosystem, not just forests. According to State Forestry Division spokesperson Wendy Mason, of the 181 fires that have burned in New Mexico since January, burning some 5,370 acres, 90% were started by humans. Though fires are important for the health of New Mexico's fire-adapted forest ecosystems, help keep wildfires wild by following these practices: 

1. Recreate responsibly. Make sure your campfires are completely out, and practice Leave no Trace principles. Keep a shovel and extra water handy in your vehicle to put out campfires. In some areas you can't have a campfire—check for fire restrictions before recreating on public land by going to nmfireinfo.com/fire-restrictions.

2. Avoid engaging in activities that produce sparks on hot and windy days, like welding and cutting or grinding metal, or driving an unmaintained vehicle on unpaved roads.

3. For the many Santa Fe County residents who live in the wildland urban interface (WUI), protect your home by using landscaping to create a "defensible space". Read this comprehensive guide to learn how to make a defensible space and find additional tips here.

Learn more about Santa Fe County's Community Wildfire Protection Plan, and how to get involved, here!

Our June Picks

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

SFCo Sustainability

The Sustainability Office is Hiring!

Visit the Santa Fe County Job Opportunities page and look for the “Sustainability Specialist” job posting. Applications are due June 7.

veggie garden

Virtual Garden Classes

Fridays at 10 am

June 11 and 25

Interested in starting a garden at home? Learn garden basics, composting, water saving ideas, and more in this online garden series led by expert staff from NMSU Bernalillo County Extension office. Register here.

Next Gen Water Summit

Next Generation Water Summit

Wed-Friday: June 2-4

The 2021 Next Generation Water Summit will be held from June 2-4. This year's theme is “Drought, Growth, and Social Inequity” and each day is devoted to one aspect of that theme. Registration is free for city and county residents! Simply enter your zip code in the "Promo Code" field. Register here and be sure to check out our booth!

350 Santa Fe

350 Santa Fe Monthly Meeting

June 12 from 10-11:45 am

Join 350 Santa Fe for their monthly public meeting!

 The invited speaker is Dr. Jane Lehr, a professor at UNM, who will review the projects and programs of the Center for Engineered Resilience and Ecological Sustainability. Email 350santafe.info@gmail.com for the Zoom link.

water drop

Water Conservation Webinar Series

Throughout month of June

NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service is hosting a six-part webinar series called "Water Conservation: Home, Yard, Farm & Ranch." Register here to learn about the water cycle, soil health, groundwater, water-wise gardening, and much more. 


Santa Fe Public Schools is also Hiring!

Santa Fe Public Schools, which serves the City of Santa Fe and parts of Santa Fe County, is hiring a Sustainability Program Specialist. Application open until filled. View the job posting here.

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