Rio Grande Water Fund

Forests across the West have become dangerously overgrown after more than a century of aggressive fire suppression.

Combined with a warming climate, areas of the Southwest face the daunting threat of catastrophic wildfire. In 2014, The Nature Conservancy led the creation of the Rio Grande Water Fund — a collaborative approach to treating hundreds of thousands of acres of forest across the Rio Grande Basin to protect water supplies and communities from devastating fire, all while giving a shot in the arm to the local forestry industry.

The Rio Grande Water Fund is governed by a collaborative charter and an executive committee. Currently, 69 signatories– a diverse mix of private and public organizations– have signed on to the charter.

The creation of the Water Fund has dramatically sped up thinning efforts in northern New Mexico and empowered local communities to take the lead on where and how work happens. For these folks, healthy forests are critical to the local economy and way of life. As it matures, the Fund is finding reliable funding sources to pay for a swift pace of forest work over the next two decades.


Additional Videos - Released November 2018

  • Rio Grande Water Fund: Reducing the Threat of Forest Fires

    Overcrowded forests are vulnerable to devastating firestorms. That's why The Nature Conservancy's Rio Grande Water Fund is increasing the scope of forest restoration and reducing the risk of catastrophic fires through forest thinning.

  • Rio Grande Water Fund: Helping Nature Thrive

    To ensure deer and wildlife thrive, The Nature Conservancy's Rio Grande Water Fund works to improve the health of New Mexico's forests - their home.

  • Rio Grande Water Fund: Supporting Local Economies

    TNC's Rio Grande Water Fund protects forests and water for one million people in New Mexico and boosts local economies by creating jobs, supporting tourism, and generating wood for timber companies.

  • Rio Grande Water Fund: Safeguarding Recreation Now and into the Future

    Video about the Rio Grande Water Fund's collaborative effort working to protect our forests and rivers to make sure you have access to recreational opportunities like fishing, boating, hiking, biking and camping.

  • Rio Grande Water Fund: Securing Our Water

    Water is a precious resource, but the Rio Grande and its tributaries are threatened by dry, overcrowded forests that are vulnerable to devastating fires. To protect our water now and into the future, The Nature Conservancy-led Rio Grande Water Fund is collaborating with more than 70 partners to improve the health of our forested water sources.


Learn More

  • What is the vision of the Rio Grande Water Fund?

    Water is life and livelihood. Nowhere is that a truer statement than in New Mexico. Each year, large and severe wildfires, and the post-fire flooding, increasingly put our water sources at risk. State and federal agencies spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year responding to these fires. Communities affected by severe wildfire face loss of revenue to local businesses, loss of outdoor cultural opportunities. Without action, New Mexico’s future water security and nature-based culture are at significant risk.

    The Rio Grande Water Fund invests in the restoration of forested lands upstream so we can secure pure fresh water. Our goal is to generate sustainable funding over the next 20 years to proactively increase the pace and scale of forest restoration, including the most high-risk areas in the Rio Grande watershed. This innovative project offers a solution that can bring clean water and outdoor opportunities to New Mexicans for generations to come.

  • What are the goals of the Rio Grande Water Fund?

    The goal of the water fund is to protect storage, delivery and quality of Rio Grande water through landscape-scale forest restoration treatments in tributary forested watersheds, including the headwaters of the San Juan Chama Project.