This news release was originally published by Western Sky Community Care on November 1, 2022.
Las Vegas, N.M. – Western Sky Community Care is partnering with the New Mexico Acequia Association to help restore water to the regions devastated by the Calf Canyon Hermit’s Peak fire of April, 2022. Mora and San Miguel Counties are home to agricultural traditions that have sustained families for centuries. Farming and ranching are the livelihoods of many and continue to be the backbone of the region’s agricultural economy. In addition to the fires and subsequent floods destroying the landscape, they have also caused tremendous damage to the area’s irrigation systems. Acequias, or small irrigation canals, are the lifeforce in these counties, delivering precious water for crops and livestock consumption. Those acequias located in the burn scar are filled with debris, sediment, rocks, and ash as a result of extreme flooding.
The NMAA’s Acequia Recovery Project will provide direct support to local acequia associations for recovery and restoration of these irrigation canals. Western Sky Community Care is donating $100,000 to be distributed as mini-grants to residents for contractors, equipment rentals, diesel fuel for machinery, work crews and related expenses to clean out the acequias and restore lifelines to the region.
"The support acequias will receive from this donation will have a positive ripple effect for our healing and recovery from the fires and floods that ravaged our communities," said Paula Garcia, Executive Director of the New Mexico Acequia Association. "With the generous help from Western Sky Community Care, we will get equipment, work crews, tools, and fuel to do the work of getting water flowing again to our fields and animals. Our way of life will endure beyond this disaster."
Acequias are small centuries-old waterways, or gravity-powered canals, which carry mountain snowmelt, rain and river water to the fields, orchards, and gardens throughout northern New Mexico. These community-based irrigation systems are integral to the landscape and cultural heritage, and have provided water to the area since Spanish and Mexican colonization. Acequias are so vital to these villages that when a settlement was being formed, the acequia was usually built first, second only sometimes to the church. There are currently about 700 acequias in New Mexico, with each acequia serving three to 300 families who own land along the ditch. Flooding in the burned areas clogged the acequias with mud and debris, completely disrupting water flow. Without water – the lifeblood of farming and ranching – numerous livelihoods could be decimated.
“Western Sky is not just a company, but we are New Mexico community members as well. It’s important that we stand beside our neighbors and help reestablish income and lifestyles by whatever means required,” said Western Sky President and CEO Jean Wilms.
Western Sky Community Care understands the importance of these arteries to thousands of northern New Mexico residents. Without working irrigation infrastructures, farming regions are virtually eradicated. Restoring flowing acequias is essential to the survival of entire New Mexico communities. Through our partnership with the New Mexico Acequia Association, we can help save what the fires and floods have ravaged. Western Sky Community Care is committed to doing our part.