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National Fish& Wildlife
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What Does Wildlife Friendly Fence Mean?

I am standing in a pasture at 6:30 AM on a gorgeous cool, moist, July morning on the Taos Plateau with a small group of friends that are gearing up to work on fences for the day. The clear blue sky tells us it will get warm today but the moisture in the air and wispy clouds to the north bodes well for afternoon thunderstorms.

Today the Taos Soil and Water Conservation District (TSWCD), Mule Deer Foundation (MDF), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts (NMACD) greet volunteers from across the state who have come together to help re-construct fence to make big game migrations a little easier and save local ranchers some time in fence repair.

NMACD tells the group about the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the wonderful grant funds received to enhance big game migration and critical winter use areas between San Antonio Mountain and the Taos Plateau. BLM shares how important the public lands are to ranchers, wildlife and recreationists. MDF talks about the regional importance of this area for mule deer, elk and pronghorn, emphasizing this is one of only 5 high elevation pronghorn herds in the Nation. TSWCD shares how important landowners are to the local economy and overall health of our forests, watersheds, streams and wildlife.

“So, what is a Wildlife Friendly Fence” asks a ready volunteer. The quick answer was “It is a 4-strand fence with a smooth wire on the bottom and 3 barbed wires above, but we will work through the how to’s when we get over to the fence”.

BLM explained how to re-construct the fence and divvied out wire, bolt cutters, fencing pliers, fence stretchers, buckets for clips and fence stays and measuring sticks to the volunteers. After completing the first 300 ft. of fence everyone got into a rhythm and naturally took on jobs they were comfortable with and helped wherever needed.

“Why do you put a smooth wire on the bottom of the fence 16” above the ground” asked another volunteer. That makes it easier for pronghorn antelope to move between pastures and across the landscape since they don’t jump fences like elk and mule deer but instead go under them.

“Why don’t pronghorn jump fences like mule deer and elk” is asked next? “We don’t really know other than they are genetically built that way”.


Pronghorn Antelope

We make great headway during the day and take a break for lunch. As folks are walking back to the vehicles some of them had the opportunity to flush a ground nesting bird which they heard about earlier in the morning briefing and why this is one of the reasons not to drive vehicles off road.

While the lunch crowd was talking and sharing stories the question arose as to why there is a particular spacing of the 4 strands. A couple folks respond that the spacing is the best mix of keeping livestock in a pasture while allowing mule deer and elk to jump the fence easily and lessen the risk of tangling their hind hooves between the top two wires. This is particularly true for yearlings. Someone also says “don’t forget about the passage of pronghorn antelope under the smooth wire”.

After lunch we get back to it and watch the clouds gather for the afternoon. By 3:00 PM a dark cloud took aim and hit us with cold rain and temperature drops of 25 degrees sending us back to our host camp to snack and dry out. By 4:00 PM all is clear and the rain left us with an amazing earthy sweet aroma that cannot be described well in words. We were enticed to finish up our last leg of fence for the day and tie in with a ¼ mile fence panel.

We celebrated the completion of our first sections of fence reconstruction, making big game migrations a little easier, keeping the ranchers fences intact, the amazing rainfall and beauty of the New Mexico’s landscape and the opportunity to meet new people that can share with others what “Wildlife Friendly Fences” are.

Hope to see all of you and others for our next reconstruction!!!



September 2021 Update

The 2016 Acequia RCPP has been completed and final report completed required of NMACD.  The amount expended was 99.9% of the $3 million provided.  We provided financial and technical assistance to 21 acequias.  Partners provided $14.6 million in leverage.


We have expended $491,843.42 out of $2.9 million on the 2018 Acequia RCPP.  Two projects have been completed to date:  Heredia Ditch at Mimbres (second phase) and La Joya at Soccoro.  Two projects are in construction at Canjilon.  Numerous projects are planned for fall construction.


Ancient Traditions Keep Desert Waters Flowing. New Mexico's acequias—communal irrigation canals—still function as a tool to preserve and share scarce desert water. The acequias of New Mexico are communal irrigation canals, a way to share water for agriculture in a dry land.

New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts (NMACD) in cooperation with Interstate Stream Commission (ISC), New Mexico Acequia Association (NMAA), Taos Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), Tierra Y Montes SWCD, East Rio Arriba SWCD, Upper Chama SWCD, Socorro SWCD, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service have been and continue to provide acequias throughout the State an opportunity for financial and technical assistance.  The partners with NMACD as the lead have made available the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) through an application process. RCPP was authorized through the Farm Bill to promote coordination between NRCS and partners to deliver conservation assistance to agricultural producers and landowners.

In 2015, NMACD was the only organization nationally piloting a unique approach in delivering conservation assistance to producers and landowners. NMACD rather than NRCS will be provided funds to deliver technical and financial assistance to acequias. An application and ranking process has been developed that resembles NRCS processes but will be managed by NMACD.

NMACD has successfully obtained funding through RCPP in 2016 and 2017 to continue providing Technical and Financial assistance throughout the State. The funding for 2015 has been expended but funds remain in the 2016 Program and the 2018 Program.

If you are interested in How To Apply, please click on the file at the bottom of this page.

2015 Acequia RCPP Program

2016 Acequia RCPP Program


Alternative Funding Arrangements

PARTNERS MADE IT HAPPEN! New Mexico Acequia Revitalization on Historic Irrigated Lands (NMAR) - First in the nation to utilize “Alternative Funding Arrangement” with NRCS. Provided by USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program, NMACD and nine partner organizations are working to significantly improve irrigation efficiency in the nearly 400-year-old systems.



Farm Bill Program

Technical Service Providers and DCBP Employees, NMACD Annual Conference, Las Cruces

(Left to right) Chester Roan (terminated position), Gallup; Herman Ortiz (now NRCS employee), and Morgan Smith (now NRCS Employees); Bobbie Tolton, Lovington; Nadine Lucero, Guadalupe; Ashley Baumgartner, Taos; Beatrice Groven, Hernandez; Isabelle Francisco, San Juan; Autumn Waconda (now NRCS employee), Lava; and Troy Hood.  For a current list of Farm Bill and District Capacity Employees, see the NMACD Directory, p. 63-64.

September 2021

The New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts (NMACD) manages a Technical Service Provider Program (TSP) in New Mexico to provide services authorized under the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Farm Bill Programs. NMACD administers this Program in cooperation with the following entities: USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA), New Mexico Soil and Water Conservation Commission, and Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD’s) in New Mexico.  Funding is provided by the NRCS and the State of New Mexico.

The TSP Program was begun in July 2003 by NMACD and consists of three components:

1. An employee program under which NMACD employs technical service providers (Farm Bill Program Employees) who provide program and technical assistance to help NRCS and SWCD’s carry out the Farm Bill Programs. NMACD employs an average of 16-20 employees in New Mexico who are assigned to local NRCS field offices in cooperation with SWCDs.

2. The District Capacity Building Program functions under agreements between NMACD and participating SWCD’s.  Under this program, the participating SWCD employs and supervises a Farm Bill Program Employee who works part time for the SWCD and part time for the local NRCS Field Office. NMACD reimburses the SWCD for the time for which the employee works for NRCS. There are currently seven SWCDs participating in this program, employing five employees.

3. The use of "on-demand" specialists who are self-employed individuals who provide special technical assistance on an as-needed basis. These specialists provide assistance to meet peak workload needs such as field status reviews and determinations, assistance with brush control applications, and other technical assistance needs. Over twenty former NRCS conservationists, nine professional archaeologists, and a number of other professional conservationists work under agreements with NMACD to provide this assistance.

For information concerning the NMACD’s Farm Bill Technical Service Provider Program, contact:

Troy Hood, NMACD TSP Administrative Coordinator

1102 Villa Rd. SE, Rio Rancho, NM 87124

(505)280-8102 (c);

Canadian River




The Canadian River Riparian Restoration Project (CRRRP) is a collaboration of eight Soil and Water Conservation Districts in northeastern New Mexico. The CRRRP's goal is to restore the Watershed of the Canadian River, both on the main stem and on its tributaries, to a healthy productive state that will provide native habitat for a variety of wildlife and improve water for communities, agriculture and recreation throughout the course of the watershed. This project is a multi-phase, multi-year, multi-partnered watershed-scale effort using a headwaters down approach on over 2000 miles of river corridor.

CRRRP restoration efforts include:

  • Treatment of nonnative invasive species

  • Mastication of standing dead invasives

  • Hand treatment

  • Riparian fencing where necessary

  • Maintenance of areas previously treated, and

  • Removal of additional invasive species.

The funding of this project comes through a variety of local, state and federal grants. Its success is due to the many partners it has been able to involve.

The Canadian River Riparian Restoration Project is managed by Jack Chatfield, P.O. Box 226, Mosquero, NM 87733, Email:, Phone: 575-673-2320.

Please click on the file to the left for just a few of our excellent results.

Regional Conservation



News Release from NRCS, New Mexico Natural Resources Conservation Service

100 Sun Avenue N.E., Suite 602 

Albuquerque, NM 87109

(505) 761-4400

Media Contact: 

Alicia Rodriguez(505) 761-4421

New Rule Improves Partner Flexibility in Regional Conservation Partnership Program


WASHINGTON, Jan. 13, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the final rule

for its Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The rule updates USDA’s partner-driven program as directed by the 2018 Farm Bill and integrates feedback from agricultural producers and others.

“The Regional Conservation Partnership Program is a powerful program that enables us to co-invest with partners on win-win solutions that benefit agriculture and natural resources,” said Kevin Norton, acting Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). “The final rule contains some minor adjustments made in response to public comments, and we now look forward to continuing our work with partners to use this unique and innovative program to extend the reach of conservation.”

RCPP promotes coordination of NRCS and partner conservation activities that aid farmers, ranchers, and private landowners in addressing on-farm, watershed, and regional natural resource concerns.

NRCS received comments from more than 65 organizations and individuals on the RCPP interim rule, which was published February 13, 2020. To integrate that feedback, the final rule adopts the interim rule with minor changes made to RCPP that:

  • Make explicit special considerations for historically underserved (HU) producer and landowner enrollment, including requiring partnership agreements to denote any authorizations for higher payment rates, advance payment options, or other methods for encouraging HU participation.

  • Identify ranking criteria for proposals that include developing an innovative conservation approach or technology that specifically targets the unique needs and limitations of historically underserved (HU) producers.

  • Adjust the rule language to incorporate source water protection as a priority resource concern.

  • Remove the list of infrastructure types that would be considered for Alternative Funding Arrangements to avoid confusion.

  • Increase the emphasis on conservation benefits and objectives partners seek to achieve for the ranking of proposals.

The 2018 Farm Bill made RCPP a stand-alone program with its own dedicated funding and simplified rules for partners and producers. Additionally, the 2018 Farm Bill reduced the number of funding pools and emphasized partner reporting of conservation outcomes.

The updated program also expands flexibility for alternative funding arrangements with partners and the availability of watershed program authorities to projects outside Critical Conservation Areas.

About RCPP

Eligible partners include conservation districts, producer associations, water districts, state or local governments, American Indian tribes, institutions of higher education, and nongovernmental organizations. RCPP applications are accepted from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories. When funding is available, NRCS releases an announcement for program funding that includes proposal requirements.

NRCS reviews partnership proposals according to the priorities and evaluation criteria included in the announcement and ultimately makes project selections. Upon selection of a partnership proposal, NRCS and the partner enter into a partnership agreement through which assistance to producers in the project area is provided. Partnership agreements may be for a period of up to five years.

RCPP helps producers protect working agricultural lands to ensure resilience to climate change by increasing the sustainable use of soil, water, wildlife, and related natural resources, contributing to USDA’s Agriculture Innovation Agenda of reducing the environmental footprint of U.S. agriculture in half by 2050. Last year, Secretary Perdue announced the department-wide initiative to align resources, programs, and research to position American agriculture to better meet future global demands.

View the final rule on the Federal Register

. For more information on how to sign up for RCPP in your state, visit your state website from or contact your local NRCS field office .

All USDA Service Centers are open for business, including those that restrict in-person visits or require appointments. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with NRCS, Farm Service Agency, or any other Service Center agency should call ahead and schedule an appointment. Service Centers that are open for appointments will pre-screen visitors based on health concerns or recent travel, and visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines. Visitors are also required to wear a face covering during their appointment. Our program delivery staff will continue to work with our producers by phone, email, and using online tools.


More information can be found at .

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.


The Building Resiliency in the San Juan-Rio Chama Region project, managed by East Rio Arriba Soil and Water Conservation District and twenty partners, complements recent diversion structures with additional forest health and watershed treatments to increase the resiliency of the landscape to withstand stressors such as drought, wildfire and climate change in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico.

Completed by the Bureau of Reclamation in 1976, the San Juan-Rio Chama Diversion is a series of diversion structures and tunnels that together carry runoff 26 miles across the Continental Divide from the Colorado River watershed to the Rio Chama, in the Rio Grande watershed. This diversion, along with the Rio Chama, provides approximately one third of New Mexico’s water supply for irrigators, agriculture, industry, communities and fish and wildlife.

Between 2017 and 2021, partners in the San Juan–Rio Chama region of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico will complete 1,000 – 1,500 acres of watershed resiliency treatments per year utilizing $6.4 million of Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Stewardship Program and the Agricultural Easement Program.

East Rio Arriba SWCD Board.jpg

East Rio Arriba SWCD Board

East Rio Arriba SWCD Staff.jpg

East Rio Arriba SWCD Staff

This project was granted $3.2 million. The East Rio Arriba SWCD is the only local conservation district proposal in the entire US to be authorized the use of an “Alternative Funding Arrangement.” They have had a Partner-leveraged contribution of $13.4 million. The East Rio Arriba SWCD also applied to and received from the Water Trust Board a $1 million grant. The application parallels the RCPP, and the contract was signed in May 2019.

NM Restoration Initiative



Updated September 2021

NMACD entered into a new Restore agreement with BLM in 2020, and approximately $850,000 in projects were completed during this first year.

The NMACD Restoration Initiative is in its 18th year. The purpose of the initiative is to address invasive species on range and woodland on private, state, and federals lands in New Mexico. NMACD has been coordinating funding from the NRCS-EQIP program and the BLM-Restore New Mexico programs to provide funds to ranchers for addressing invasive brush species. Over 170 Coordinated Resource Management Plans (CRMP) have been developed and funded. In addition, there have been 62 watershed/landscape scale treatments carried out by 13 Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

A new agreement with the US Forest Service is the start of coordinated efforts with the Forest Service and ranchers with forest permits. The agreement calls for NMACD to work with the Forest Supervisors and District Rangers to develop coordinated plans with ranchers. Ranchers can then use the CRMPs to make application for EQIP funds with the NRCS.

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) was introduced in the 2014 Farm Bill. The 2018 Farm Bill made RCPP a standalone program. NMACD was approved for $4 million in 2015 for NRCS to fund ranchers for conservation work on their ranches that include Federal Lands. NMACD also applied for RCPP funding in 2017 and currently there is $5 million available for NRCS to fund ranchers for conservation work on their ranches that include Federal Lands.

NMACD continues to work with the BLM statewide to implement projects under their Restore New Mexico Program. Currently NMACD is working under a financial assistance agreement with BLM, which was awarded to NMACD in 2015. To date approximately $12 million has passed through this agreement for conservation practices on Federal, State and Private property.

The goal in all of this work is to improve the range and forest lands in New Mexico. This is being accomplished through reducing brush invasion and implementing supporting practices such as fencing, water development, and erosion control.

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