BernCo Commission supports local, inclusive conservation action

Bernalillo County, NM (KKOB) — Tuesday, the Bernalillo County Commission passed a resolution that not only supports protecting 30% of lands and waters by 2030, but also endorses a new vision for conservation in New Mexico, one that is inclusive, respects Indigenous knowledge, acknowledges past environmental racism and works towards equitable access and benefits to nature for those who have been disproportionately exposed to toxic environments.

Prior to the vote, commissioners expressed the need for local governments everywhere to lead on conservation initiatives and set the vision for doing so in a way that is inclusive and addresses both the climate crisis and systemic racism that has led to inequitable environmental policies and outcomes.

As a majority people of color state with strong Indigenous leadership, I know that New Mexico is and will continue to be a leader in conservation efforts,” says Vice Chair, Bernalillo County Commission, Adriann Barboa. “Though often not recognized as such, New Mexicans have led these efforts for generations because we know the health of our communities, planet, and place are inextricably linked.”

President Biden and New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed executive orders which commit the nation and the state of New Mexico respectively to the goal of conserving at least 30% of lands and waters by 2030. However, today’s resolution goes a step further. It is a blueprint for how that work should touch down in New Mexico in order to prevent the same, past inequitable practices that have led to Black, Indigenous and people of color disproportionately experiencing the greatest negative effects of climate change and racist environmental policies.

It’s not just about land and water protection. It matters how that goal is achieved,” says Oriana Sandoval, CEO, Center for Civic Policy. “People and nature need to flourish together for our survival. This resolution hopefully begins to lay the foundation from which New Mexicans can build and execute on conservation initiatives that create a healthier and more sustainable future for all people.”

A New Mexico vision for conservation is the result of an 18-month process that involved listening-sessions with hundreds of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and BIPOC youth engaged in education, policy and Indigenous field conservation. The process was facilitated by Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps, Center for Civic Policy, NACA Inspired Schools Network and The Wilderness Society. For more information, please visit wilderness.org/nm-vision.

The resolution was approved on a 4 to 0 vote with Commissioner Quezada excused.