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What We Do

Why does HPWA Exist?

The mission of the Hermit’s Peak Watershed Alliance is to foster land stewardship to ensure the long-term vitality of the human and natural communities of the Hermit’s Peak region, specifically the Gallinas, Sapello and Tecolote watersheds.

People are a part of the earth – our bodies, minds, souls, cultures, and livelihoods are intertwined.  For centuries the earth’s bounty was in excess of what humans required.  We focused on how natural resources could be harnessed to fuel our own growth.  But now the tables have turned; we have used natural resources to the point that our use is devastating the planet and its atmosphere, jeopardizing our own livelihoods.

Water – the most basic element of our existence provides a clear and direct connection between people, plants, animals and the land in the form of our watersheds.  The players of the land in our watersheds (collectively the people, plants, animals, water, air, and earth) must work together for the mutual benefit of all in order to be sustainable as a land community.  Restoration of the natural ability of our watersheds to sustain themselves and in turn sustain us is imperative to reverse the trends of degradation.

HPWA exists to encourage an active understanding of our interdependence with our watersheds and to help us all become better stewards of them; to move from a time where we have taken watersheds for granted, to a time when we all participate in their care and consequent bounty.  HPWA exists to find the tools of stewardship and make them accessible to local land managers and land users (all of us). We strive to do this in a way that enlivens our historical and cultural connection to the land while helping it to evolve using new understanding and techniques, all in a deeply rooted locally appropriate manner.

HPWA works to interject a Watershed Perspective in our way of thinking.  It’s a perspective that is holistic, looking at all watershed parts together rather dealing with them independently. Acknowledging such interconnectedness means action often takes longer, as the many parts have to be considered, but when ground work does happen, it is in an efficient, economical, and sustainable way. We believe in bringing the Watershed Perspective to community, regional, and statewide discussions so it can be incorporated into institutional theory and action.

What Need Do We Fill?

The rural and urban communities within the Gallinas, Sapello, and Tecolote Watersheds are dependent on various natural resources derived from our watersheds; timber for our homes, soil for farming, grass for livestock, fish and wildlife for hunting and fishing, natural places for recreation but the most importantly is water that is essential to support all these resources.  Past and present use and abuse of lands in our watersheds has resulted in degraded conditions which reduce the quality and quantity of water our watersheds can contribute and have also led to compromised conditions in the ecosystems (e.g. forests, meadows, riparian areas, wetlands, and urban areas) that supply that water.  The need exists to specifically identify these degraded conditions, restore health to degraded areas, and put into place mechanisms that maintain the long-term health of our watersheds.

There are many players involved in the care of our watersheds; local, state and federal government agencies, landowners, and land users, yet their efforts are not well synchronized.  Although HPWA has no regulatory authority, we strive to coordinate and engage watershed stewardship from the ground up in a local grassroots effort.

Furthermore, there is a pervasive lack of knowledge among the general community, landowners, land managers, and government entities’ regarding what constitutes a healthy watershed and what needs to be done to restore and keep it healthy.  HPWA works to deepen our local understanding of the ecological services provided by our watersheds and how, as a community we can become better watershed stewards.

For these reasons, HPWA has addressed the need to:

  •  Improve our community’s understanding of where our water comes from, what factors affect our water supply, what constitutes a healthy watershed, and how to restore and maintain watershed health.
  • Illuminate the degraded conditions of our watersheds that negatively affect water quality, water quantity, watershed health and productivity. 
  • Facilitate a coordinated approach to watershed restoration and maintenance.
  •  Foster a watershed perspective; a collaborative, mutually beneficial approach to stewarding and interacting with our watershed.

How Do We Fill that Need?

HPWA strives to address these needs by doing the following:

  • Identify the specific conditions and areas of degradation in our watersheds through investigation and monitoring.
  • Determine scientifically credible, practical, and effective means of restoring and maintaining healthy conditions.
  • Become personally familiar with landowners and managers in our watersheds to enable implementing restoration and management projects.
  • Acquire funding and expertise to implement restoration and management projects.
  • Offer and support watershed education for landowners, young people, the general community and government agencies that fosters a deeper watershed understanding.
  •  Participate in collaborative watershed management efforts and encourage entities that affect land in our watersheds to do so with a healthy watershed perspective.

What Community Do We Serve?

The geographic area served by HPWA includes the Sapello, Gallinas, and Tecolote Watersheds.  The Gallinas Watershed was initially identified as the focus area because of the dependence of the City of Las Vegas on that water source.  However since surrounding areas (e.g. Mora ) have similar conditions and no existing watershed related efforts, we offer support to those communities when practical and until active watershed groups emerge in those areas.

As land managers in that geographic are most directly affect the condition of the land, they are the focus of our work.  Private landowners often need technical and financial assistance to restore degraded land conditions or maintain healthy conditions.  This is assistance we strive to offer.  Existing government programs are complex, difficult to obtain, philosophically discordant with landowners and can be daunting to pursue.  For those reasons, we help find funds and knowledge for private landowners.  We hope to do this in a manner that honors the cultural, traditional, and evolving way of life in our local communities.

Land management agencies (e.g. US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, City of Las Vegas, NM State lands) also influence the condition of our watersheds, however, they often have existing programs, policies, and mandates that dictate their actions.  For this reason, they are not the focus of our work, but we offer our participation in their efforts when possible.

Realizing that other groups also play vital roles in affecting the condition of our watershed and can either offer support or hinder its care, we extend our education work to the following groups as resources are available:

  • Young people (school aged)
  • The General community
  • Government agency decision makers (e.g. City, County, State, Federal)