One of the District's most important roles is supporting local farmers and ranchers. Many households in Northwest New Mexico earn their living off the land. This relationship makes conservation essential to the continued livelihood of our producers and the health of our natural resources.


Besides farms and pastureland, New Mexico features large swaths of rangeland as well. Responsible stewardship is essential for the long-term health of New Mexico's grasslands and for their continued support of livestock.

Interestingly, while much of the land here is farmed, the average farm size in our county is about half the average farm size in New Mexico. In other words, there are a lot of small farms in San Juan County! It is important to support these small and mid-size farms: “Everyone who has done careful research on farm size, residency of agricultural landowners and social conditions in the rural community finds the same relationship: as farm size and absentee ownership increase, social conditions in the community deteriorate,” wrote UC-Davis sociologist Dean MacCannell. For this reason and many others, San Juan SWCD is committed to our local producers.

Below are a few of the avenues through which San Juan SWCD engages in farm and range conservation.

Collaboration with NRCS

San Juan SWCD works closely with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to promote conservation of farms, pastures, and rangelands. Through NRCS' Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), we incentivize farmers to employ practices on their land that conserve water, prevent soil erosion, and protect waterways from runoff and pollution. These measures in turn benefit producers by improving their soil and saving water. San Juan SWCD also works with NRCS to develop local conservation priorities for EQIP funding, such as focusing on properties along the Animas River. Finally, we collaborate to implement conservation measures on rangelands including installing livestock ponds.

Workshops

Information-sharing and education is essential to conservation. San Juan SWCD facilitates workshops to connect local producers with information and with each other. In the last year, we have hosted a soil health workshop with NRCS, as well as one focused on acequia/ditch infrastructure improvements (sources of financial and technical assistance, financial reporting requirements, etc.) with NRCS and the Interstate Streams Commission (ISC). Follow our News and Facebook pages for upcoming workshops and informational sessions.

Range Conservation

Rangelands make up a significant portion of New Mexico's land base, including in the San Juan SWCD. While open areas in the Southwest evolved under grazing pressure from bison, cattle are managed in larger numbers and are more stationary than bison were. In Northwest New Mexico, this has led to overgrazing, streambank erosion, and increased sediment load in waterways. San Juan SWCD works with NMACD, the US Forest Service, and cattle owners to move watering sources away from rivers, restore native grasslands, and reduce erosion and runoff from rangelands into waterways.