The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) recently announced a substantial $141.3 million grant allocation through the America the Beautiful Challenge (ATBC). This funding, announced on November 14, is part of a large-scale effort that spans 46 states, three U.S. Territories, and 21 Tribal and Native Nations, aiming to bolster conservation projects nationwide. The ATBC is a collaborative effort involving various federal departments and Native American groups. It is designed to conserve and restore wildlife habitats and improve community resilience and access to nature.
New Mexico’s Significant Role.
In New Mexico, the Interstate Stream Commission received a $4 million grant for a partnership project with the Jicarilla Apache Nation and The Nature Conservancy. This grant focuses on the San Juan water lease agreement, which aims to support threatened and endangered fish while enhancing water security in the state.
A Collaborative Achievement.
The New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, Jicarilla Apache Nation, and The Nature Conservancy expressed their enthusiasm about the grant. They emphasized the significance of the San Juan River water sharing program in addressing the ongoing drought in the Colorado River Basin and its role in pioneering solutions that benefit multiple stakeholders. This project showcases how Tribal Nations and state governments can collaboratively develop innovative solutions for water management and conservation, setting an example for similar initiatives across the Western United States and beyond.
Indigenous Leadership in Conservation.
The ATBC has a strong focus on supporting Indigenous communities. About 40% of the 2023 grants will back projects led by Indigenous communities, a significant investment in Tribal-led initiatives. Native Americans in Philanthropy CEO Erik Stegman highlighted the critical role of Indigenous knowledge and leadership in addressing climate and biodiversity challenges.
Wider Impact and Future Prospects.
The ATBC grants, supported by various federal and private sources, demonstrate a commitment to addressing pressing environmental issues while fostering partnerships across different sectors. The New Mexico project, alongside other national initiatives, underscores the importance of collaborative, landscape-scale efforts in conservation and environmental stewardship.
The San Juan River near Navajo Dam, New Mexico. This spot is between the community of Navajo Dam and the dam itself and is a popular fishing area. August 2015, Phil Slattery. Image licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license via Wikimedia Commons.