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Soil is a living and life-giving substance, without which we would perish. As world population and food production demands rise, keeping our soil healthy and productive is of paramount importance. So much so that we believe improving the health of our Nation’s soil is one of the most important conservation endeavors of our time.

A growing number of America’s farmers are using soil health management systems to improve the health and function of their soil. 

“NMACD and its partners are working together to promote and establish soil health principles on New Mexico’s landscapes.  Please take time visit the following websites to find out more about soil health in New Mexico.”

Steve Kadas, NMACD Soil Health Specialist

Black Soil

New Mexico Department of Agriculture Healthy Soil Program


NMDA created its Healthy Soil Program after the Healthy Soil Act was signed into law in 2019. The purpose of the program is “to promote and support farming and ranching systems and other forms of land management that increase soil organic matter, aggregate stability, microbiology, and water retention to improve the health, yield and profitability of the soils of the state.”


Grants to improve soil health are the centerpiece of NMDA’s Healthy Soil Program. NMDA created its Healthy Soil Program after the Healthy Soil Act was signed into law in 2019. NMDA awards grants to implement on-the-ground projects that involve one or more of the five soil health principles, stated as follows in the legislative Act that created the program:

  1. keeping soil covered

  2. minimizing soil disturbance on cropland and minimizing external inputs

  3. maximizing biodiversity

  4. maintaining a living root

  5. integrating animals into land management, including grazing animals, birds, beneficial insects or keystone species, such as earthworms


To be notified of future grant application cycles and other important Healthy Soil Program updates, please subscribe to the email newsletter.


Find out more by visiting the NM Health Soil Program Website at


USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service


Soil health is defined as the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans. Healthy soil gives us clean air and water, bountiful crops and forests, productive grazing lands, diverse wildlife, and beautiful landscapes. Soil does all this by performing five essential functions:


  • Providing soil structure, physical stability, and support

  • Sustaining plant and animal life

  • Regulating water

  • Filtering and buffering potential pollutants, and

  • Cycling nutrients


To learn more about NRCS, many soil health resources, and guides visit:

Principls of Soil Health
Soil & Health Institute Logo


The Soil Health Institute is a research organization that advances the science of soil health and provides recommendations for scaling adoption of regenerative soil health systems. We work with many partners to conduct and translate soil health science into action that benefits farmers, the environment, and society.  

Learn more about their initiatives, resources, activities, by visiting


Watershed Dams
New Mexico Landscape
New Mexico Forest & Watershed Logo

Watershed Districts

Watershed Districts are formed for the purpose of conservation of water, or of water usage, including water-based recreation, flood prevention, flood control, erosion prevention and control of erosion, and floodwater and sediment damages. The land area in a watershed district must be contiguous and must lie within a well-defined watershed area or sub-watershed areas; and may embrace lands lying in one or more soil and water conservation districts, or lands lying partly within and partly outside a soil and water conservation district. There are now eight active watershed districts in New Mexico since Dona Ana SWCD has recently formed the La Union Watershed District.

Emergency Action Plans (EAPs)

Owners and operators of high hazard dams have a responsibility to develop emergency action plans (EAP)and to keep them current. These plans are developed to reduce the risk to loss of life and property if the dam fails. Many dam owners may not know where to start in developing EAPs or what to include in them.

In 2004, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) launched a joint effort to develop a sample EAP for earthen high hazard dams. A multi-agency work group was formed. This work group gathered good examples of EAPs from various state and federal agencies, solicited “lessons learned” from persons who had experienced activations of their EAPs, and developed a draft sample EAP that was routed for comment to many groups and organizations.

Based upon the information gathered and comments received, NRCS revised agency policy relating to content and format of EAPs and prepared a final sample EAP. An electronic fillable form, template, instructions, and helpful hints to prepare site specific EAPs were also developed.

The documents that were produced are available on the links listed below:

EAP Factsheet August 2016

Detailed instructions for completing the EAP fillable form

Sample EAP developed using fillable form

EAP Fillable form

For more information, contact the NRCS State Conservation Engineer.


New Mexico Department of Agriculture received West Regional Award of Merit for exemplary contributions to dam safety in New Mexico.

The New Mexico Office of the State Engineer Dam Safety Bureau nominated NMDA for the ASDSO West Regional Award. This was for completing the Soil and Water Conservation District-Owned Dams Inundation Mapping and Emergency Action Planning Project. The project is a product of NMDA’s Agricultural Programs and Resources Division.

The Dam Inundation Mapping and Emergency Action Planning Project came into fruition in 2014. This was after the New Mexico Legislature provided $1 million to NMDA. This money provided much needed Inundation Maps and Emergency Action Plans to Soil and Water Conservation and Watershed Districts. NMDA also received funding through the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management’s Hazardous Mitigation Grant Program. This assisted in the completion of five inundation maps and two regional workshops.


Water Trust Board

The 2001 Legislature enacted the Water Project Finance Act which created the Water Project Fund in the New Mexico Finance Authority (NMFA) and charged the NMFA with administration of the Fund and the Water Trust Board (WTB).

The WTB is a diverse 16 member board that recommends to the Legislature projects to be funded through the Water Project Fund. Per New Mexico Statute Annotated (N.M.S.A.) 72-4A-5, Board; duties, the WTB responsibilities are:

“A. Adopt rules governing terms and conditions of grants or loans recommended by the board for appropriation by the legislature from the water project fund, giving priority to projects that have been identified as being urgent to meet the needs of a regional water planning area that has a completed regional water plan that has been accepted by the interstate stream commission; that have matching contributions from federal or local funding sources available; and that have obtained all requisite state and federal permits and authorizations necessary to initiate the project.”


Soil and Water Conservation Districts: Please consider applying for a Water Trust Board Grant if your district is interested in doing Watershed Restoration, Endangered Species Habitat Restoration or Flood Protection Dam Rehab. The districts have been ranking very high with their proposals, and several million dollars have been funded through districts in the last few years. Brent Van Dyke and Debbie Hughes now serve on the Water Trust Board. Contact them to help your district.

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