Summary of Mission Programs: Land | Trails | Dark Skies
Over the past nineteen years, SFCT has protected over 36,000 acres in Northern New Mexico – Rio Arriba, San Miguel, Santa Fe, and Taos Counties – working with landowners to create voluntary land protection agreements using a Conservation Easement. Conservation Easements are legal documents that permanently protect private land, ensuring it remains pristine and beautiful in perpetuity. We work with landowners and their families to preserve the natural environment for posterity and future generations.
In addition, SFCT is one of the lead organizations for the Galisteo Watershed Conservation Initiative (GWCI). The GWCI outlines a Green Infrastructure plan for the Galisteo Basin Watershed that we hope will be actively used and updated by land use and transportation planners, resource specialists, conservation organizations, communities, educators, researchers, and individuals who live within or are concerned about the future of the Galisteo Watershed and the greater Santa Fe area.
We’re also partnering with the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market, the Permaculture Credit Union, and other non–profits in the Small Agricultural Land Conservation Initiative (SALCI) to ensure our work reaches across socioeconomic and cultural groups. Together, we’re making conservation affordable for small–scale farmers, the people who provide the locally grown, organic foods vital to our region’s food security.
Starting in 2001, SFCT partnered with the local community, Santa Fe County Open Space and Trails Program and the Santa Fe Community Foundation to protect 86 acres of natural lands, now called the Arroyo Hondo Open Space (AHOS). Public trails were opened in 2010 and were expanded in 2012. SFCT ensures that these lands remain protected and open to the public.
SFCT recently completed our first draft of a Strategic Conservation Plan using a geographical information system (GIS) model. This mapping system allows us to use scientific data, such as wildlife habitat and water resources, to analyze important conservation attributes of the lands in Mora, Rio Arriba, San Miguel, Santa Fe and Taos Counties. The strategic conservation plan will aid us in identifying landscapes critical to the preservation of the culture and character of northern New Mexico. We continue to fine tune the plan with land use and transportation planners, resource specialists, conservation organizations, communities, educators, researchers, and individuals who live within northern New Mexico so that we can ensure that we are working with the most critical lands.
SFCT Trails program, a partnership with the Trails Alliance of Santa Fe, supports the development of a well-planned and well-maintained regional public trail network. Working together with trail stakeholders–agencies, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, policy-makers, neighborhoods, landowners and user groups we coordinate trail development plans, organize volunteer trail work, prioritize trail linkages, and meet public and community needs for trail information and access.
The Trails Alliance of Santa Fe facilitates the training, management, and coordination of volunteers to care for and improve city, county, and national trail systems. They also provide community resources including trail information, maps, and state-of-the-art trail repair training courses.
SFCT has had a hand in just about all the trails in Santa Fe throughout our history including:
• The Dale Ball & Santa Fe Foothills Trails
• The Santa Fe Rail Trail
• The Spur Trail
• The La Tierra Trails
• The Arroyo de Los Chamisos Trail system
• The La Piedra Trail
• The Galisteo Basin Preserve Trails with partners Commonweal Conservancy
In 1999, New Mexico enacted the Night Sky Protection Act; its purpose is to regulate outdoor night lighting fixtures to preserve and enhance the state’s dark sky while promoting safety, conserving energy and preserving the environment for astronomy. One of the first of its kind in the U.S., the Night Sky Protection Act makes dark skies a priority in New Mexico for the health of its people, wildlife, and economy.
In 2008, SFCT created our Dark Skies program, to educate the community about the importance of the connection between land and sky conservation and the Six Easy Steps to Bring Back the Stars. Hundreds of people have participated in our educational Star Party events, done in collaboration with the Capital City Astronomy Club, Santa Fe Garden Club, Santa Fe Southern Railway, Salazar Elementary, and Commonweal Conservancy. We continue to celebrate land conservation in New Mexico and the importance of dark skies for future generations.