June 2022 Sustainability Newsletter

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June 2022 Newsletter


Welcoming Summer!


Avo holding the earth

Santa Fe County Wraps up Earth Day Events

Earth Day Events

County staff and community members came together over five weekends in April and May to plant more than 250 plants to expand access to green space and provide habitat for pollinators. The final three events were hosted in May at the Boys and Girls Club in Valle Vista, the Edgewood Senior Center, and the Camino de Jacobo public housing development.

For District 5's event, the Housing Authority and Open Space teams worked tirelessly to transform an empty lot next to the Boys and Girls Club. Crews cleared the area of trash, repaired a damaged picnic table, put a fresh coat of paint on the wall surrounding the park, and laid down a new trail to welcome visitors into the space. On May 7th, community members of all ages converged on the site with shovels in hand to plant native and drought tolerant flowers, trees, and shrubs. A student marimba band from the Academy for Technology and the Classics provided an upbeat soundtrack for the day. Liaison, Olivia Romo, arrived at the event with cold lemonade for the group. Commissioner Hughes was busy welcoming participants, helping to plant a Gambel oak, and packing up supplies at the end of the event. This once empty lot now features a lovely picnic area surrounded by hummingbird mint, false indigo, juniper, Gambel oak, golden currant, and more. Click here for a video from this fabulous event!

Staff focused on the Edgewood Senior Center in District 3 the following week. The County Roads and Open Space teams cleared and reshaped a blocked culvert at the entrance to the Center. Open Space staff repaired a broken irrigation system to help water existing trees. On May 14, staff and community members rolled up their sleeves and planted native golden currant, indigo bushes, little bluestem grasses, and a grape vine by the newly repaired irrigation line. They also created a stone riverbed in the culvert. Liaison, Brittany Montoya, and her family planted a lovely indigo bush near the picnic area. Commissioner Garcia arrived with donuts for the group and worked hard throughout the day planting and helping to install a much needed Green Stormwater Infrastructure riverbed. Click here to view the video from this wonderful day!

The final Earth Day event was held for District 2 at the Camino de Jacobo public housing development. The Housing Authority, Open Space, and Sustainability teams met before the event to prepare the site. The crew installed a lagunita or mulch “sponge” to collect rainwater for nearby fruit trees. On May 21, County staff welcomed a group of community members, including a team from the Boys and Girls Club, who were eager to get their hands dirty. The group created a pollinator oasis featuring hummingbird mint, firewheel, Rocky Mountain penstemon, western sand cherry, and golden currant. Liaison, Sara Smith, stayed busy planting and unloading compost to nourish the new landscape. Commissioner Hansen and a group of students skillfully planted a lovely apple tree near the lagunita. Click here for a video from this beautiful morning!

A huge thank you to the Open Space team, Housing Authority staff, Seeds of Wisdom, Santa Fe Watershed Association, County Constituent Services Liaisons, and community members for making the Earth Day events a success!


Looking to Nature to Cool our Communities

Temperatures are expected to rise in Santa Fe County and across the southwest as our climate changes. Communities are turning to nature to provide relief from the heat.

Nature-based solutions offer a pathway to enhance social equity while mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change. Well-designed projects to protect natural areas, restore landscapes, and welcome nature back into our communities can help reduce carbon dioxide emissions that lead to climate change, improve air and water quality, increase biodiversity, boost community well-being, and cool our neighborhoods.

Temperatures can vary widely within a single city. A 2021 heat mapping project in Albuquerque revealed temperature differences of up to nearly 17°F in different parts of the city. Land use affects local temperatures. Imagine walking in a park surrounded by shade trees versus crossing an asphalt parking lot on a hot and sunny day; the temperature in the park is likely to feel much more pleasant!

Trees and other vegetation provide shade and release moisture into the air through evapotranspiration, cooling the surrounding environment. Moreover, vegetation cover can help to retain soil moisture and increase water infiltration. In contrast, asphalt, landscaping gravel, and other hardscapes absorb heat, creating a localized “heat island.” These heat islands have been found to disproportionately affect communities of color.

Communities are exploring creative solutions to beat the heat. The City of Phoenix has implemented shade standards and installed reflective cool pavement. Phoenix is also working with nature to address rising temperatures by increasing tree canopy cover. Additionally, the City of Boulder recently launched its "Cool Boulder" campaign to implement natural climate solutions. The campaign includes a community science heat mapping initiative, projects to improve soil health, and tree planting programs. Santa Fe County is currently participating in a program organized by the Nature-based Climate Solutions (NCS) group to plan for the implementation of nature-based climate solutions in the County. The Sustainability team will be working with staff at NCS and graduate students at the University of Colorado Boulder to apply the Managing Urban Landscapes for Climate Action guide to create a holistic nature-based solutions strategy.

Below are just a few actions you can take to stay cool this summer:


What Can I do?

Help Reduce Fire Risk and

Fire Impacted Communities

As the southwest faces aridification and drought complicated by climate change, New Mexico currently reflects the heartbreaking impacts of a warming planet in its fire battles across the state. Sadly, the Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon fire ranks as the largest in modern state history. Communities are experiencing tragic losses and devastation and while the grief is overwhelming, there are a number of ways everyone can help to reduce fire risk in neighborhoods, our precious surrounding forests, and help those who have been impacted directly.  

This year’s dry and windy conditions put the state at increased fire risk. On May 10th, the Board of County Commissioners approved a resolution banning the sale and use of fireworks in unincorporated areas and wildlands within the County. Santa Fe County also passed an ordinance in April to restrict other activities that exacerbate the risk of fires, including smoking within County parks and wildlands, campfires, and open burning. A similar ban on fireworks and fire restrictions were also enacted by the City of Santa Fe. The Santa Fe National Forest and certain County open spaces are currently closed due to the fire.

Here are a few ways you can help reduce fire risk and support affected communities:

  • Prevent fires: A single spark can quickly turn into an out of control blaze. Always follow local fire restrictions, including current prohibitions on campfires, open burning, and fireworks. Keep vehicles away from dry grass and make sure vehicles and trailers are in working order. Hot exhaust pipes can ignite dry vegetation, while dragging chains and worn brakes can create sparks that lead to a fire.
  • Create defensible space: Create defensible space for firefighters to protect your home by pruning vegetation and removing brush piles. Green waste can be disposed of at County convenience centers or at the Buckman Road Recycling and Transfer Station.
  • Make a plan: Create a disaster plan that includes meeting locations and evacuation plans for your family, pets, and livestock. Review the Santa Fe Ready, Set, Go Guide for planning tips.
  • Sign up for Santa Fe Alert: Sign up for Alert Santa Fe! to receive emergency alerts and notifications.
  • Help those in need: Check out groups like the Santa Fe Community Foundation, Food Depot, YouthWorks emergency meals program, the All Together NM fund, and other local organizations for ways to help those affected by wildfires. Make sure to review the organization’s current needs before donating supplies.

Our June Picks

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


RCAC Well Assessment

The Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) is offering free well assessments to private well owners within a 60-mile radius of Espanola, New Mexico.


El Rancho de Las Golondrinas Spring and Fiber Festival

Saturday June 4

Sunday June 5

Celebrate New Mexico’s historic fiber arts and learn about our state’s rich cultural heritage at the 17th annual Santa Fe Spring and Fiber Festival!


Santa Fe Pollinator Habitat Kit Program

May 1- June 30

Create a pollinator oasis! The Xerces Society is offering pollinator habitat kits, each with 33 climate-smart native plants. Kits are available to residents and organizations in Santa Fe city limits and directly adjacent urban areas. Visit the Xerces website to submit an interest form.


childrens museum

Move for the Museum Festival

June 4-18

Support the Santa Fe Children’s Museum by participating in the Move for the Museum challenge! The challenge will conclude with a community event at the Museum on June 18th.


Santa Fe Solid Waste Management Agency Free Tire and Green Waste Days

Saturday June 4

Sunday June 5

Wrap up your spring cleaning! Residents may drop off up to 8 passenger tires and unbagged green waste for free at the Buckman Road Recycling and Transfer Station on June 4th and June 5th.


STEM Santa Fe Summer 2022 STEM Circle Series

June 20- July 15

Check out these STEM sessions for students rising into grades 7-9! Each weeklong session has a different theme, including aviation and aerospace, gaming for education, and building a laser harp.

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, jybeam@santafecountynm.gov

Nav Khalsa, nkhalsa@santafecountynm.gov

Adeline Murthy, amurthy@santafecountynm.gov

Caitlin Weber, cweber@santafecountynm.gov