SANTA FE — Through a Keep New Mexico True campaign about protecting New Mexico’s waterways that aligned with World Cleanup Day this past Fall, New Mexico communities collectively removed over 8,000 pounds of trash from New Mexico’s waterways.

Through the New Mexico Tourism Department’s (NMTD) Clean & Beautiful Grant Program, the agency worked with local communities to organize and promote a series of waterway cleanup events on World Cleanup Day, which took place on Sept. 18, 2021. Additional cleanup events took place throughout October 2021. Nearly 300 volunteers turned out to help clean an estimated 21 miles of New Mexico waterways at a total of 10 cleanup events.

“We witnessed a considerable surge in the use of public lands across the state as people looked to get outdoors over the past couple of years. Unfortunately, our outdoor spaces also saw an uptick in litter,” Tourism Secretary Jen Paul Schroer said. “The collaboration among communities to rally together for these cleanup events demonstrates our shared commitment to protecting New Mexico’s public lands for residents and visitors alike.”

Cleanup events for this campaign occurred at the following locations:

  • Albuquerque – Rio Grande
  • Bloomfield – San Juan River
  • Cliff (near Silver City) – Gila River
  • Doña Ana County (near Las Cruces) – Rio Grande
  • Farmington – Animas River
  • Las Vegas – Gallinas River
  • Roswell – Spring River
  • Ruidoso – Rio Ruidoso
  • Santa Fe – Santa Fe River
  • Truth or Consequences – Rio Grande

According to the Keep America Beautiful 2020 National Litter Study there are an estimated 25.9 billion pieces of litter along waterways in the United States. Personal protection equipment such as face masks are already accumulating along rivers and streams. There are 108,000 miles of river flowing through New Mexico and four rivers in New Mexico have been designated Wild and Scenic.

More information about the waterways campaign and the New Mexico Clean & Beautiful Grant Program is available on