These are such disturbing times, made even worse lately by the news that there is a huge die-off of birds happening throughout New Mexico and portions of Colorado. Scientists aren’t sure at this point what’s causing it, except to say that the birds they have examined seem to lack enough body fat to sustain them. The Audubon Society reports that over the past 50 years, the US has lost one out of four birds, which translates into 3 billion fewer birds since 1970!
So much of 2020 seems to be a wake-up call from nature that the biodiversity of nature is out of whack. Animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms all have an important role to play in keeping the planet inhabitable. The two biggest threats to the biodiversity that sustains us are the loss of habitat or its fragmentation, not to mention pollution, climate change and human impacts. If we can’t get a handle on this, scientists estimate that half of all species on Earth will be wiped out within the next century. That’s why conservation is so helpful in bolstering biodiversity and protecting endangered species and their habitats.
The Santa Fe Conservation Trust for the past several years has been looking at how we can make a greater difference in this disturbing trend. We’ve been around for 27 years, and now protect 97 properties covering almost 42,000 acres in northern New Mexico. Going forward, we are working on connecting our patchwork of conservation easements into larger, landscape-scale conservation areas so that plants and animals of all types have the space they need to move to find resources and complete their life cycles. Connected, protected landscapes will make plants and animals more resilient to climate change, giving them space to relocate as necessary. Without that ability, they will die out.
You saw Senator Tom Udall in our virtual event on August 27 talk about his 30 By 30 conservation goal that he’d like the nation to meet by 2030. Currently 12% of the country has protected lands, but the goal is to get to 30% by 2030. National and State parks and forests, national conservation areas, wildlife refuges, and tribal management areas all contribute to that 12%, but it will also take land trusts like ours to contribute to this effort. So, I wanted to thank all of you who participated in our virtual Community Conservation Celebration on August 27 with your enthusiastic support. We were able to bring in close to $100,000 for our conservation and trails work, and for our community programs! Now, more than ever, our work is so important, and we couldn’t do it without you!
PS: You can read more about how our local conservation work links to a nationwide effort in our 2018 annual report article, How SFCT’s Strategic Conservation Plan Supports a Larger Vision and Benefits Your Life.
Virtual Event—One for the Record Books
We held our very first virtual event on August 27, and even though there have been none like it before, it was historic to us to be able to pull it off so successfully! Thank you to you all for buying your access passes to see it, and for the generous donations you made to support our conservation and trails work, as well as our community programs. We had no idea what to expect, but we brought in close to $100,000! We are humbled by your response and so grateful to all of you!
Here are the lucky winners of our
Early Bird Access Pass Buyers Raffle:
1) Horseback riding for two at Ghost Ranch: Carla Mattix
2) Select bottles of wine from La Casa Sena Wine Shop: Gayla Bechtol
3) Gift Certificate for Fire & Hops Gastropub: Melinne Owen
4) Two Tickets to the Banff Mountain Film Festival: Mario Malvino
And the winner of our $500+ Paddle Raise Raffle
Hilda Coriz pot: Jill Markstein
Congratulations to our winners! And thank you to our wonderful sponsors for helping us make this virtual outing a success:
Riders on La Tierra Flow Trail
Trails Program Updates
Earlier this year many of you literally came to our rescue to help us offset the loss of our trails maintenance contract with the City of Santa Fe. The City was forced to cancel it due to the pandemic’s impact on its budget. So we thank you again for your generous support.
What have we been doing this summer and early fall thanks to your help? The trails volunteers have been busy working on the Dale Ball Trails primarily, but also on the Sun Mountain Trail:
We also put up new wayfinding signage on various GUSTO projects, including the Dog Park Connector to La Tierra Trails, the Cerro Gordo Trailhead Connector and Sarah Williams Trail in Dale Ball Trails, the Spur Trail Connector on the campus of Santa Fe Community College, and the Arbolitos Trail and several more trails in the Las Estrellas Subdivision. Lots to explore and much easier now with the new signage! Check them out here:
And if you’d like to know more about SFCT’s trails legacy, you can read all about it in our latest newsletter. In this issue we celebrate nature and the trails that have provided solace to so many of you as we hunker down to stay safe during the pandemic.
From the Banff Mountain Film Festival
Patagonia Films presents Treeline: A Story Written in Rings, available in full for the first time. Follow a group of skiers, snowboarders, scientists and healers to the birch forests of Japan, the red cedars of British Columbia and the bristlecones of Nevada, as they explore an ancient story written in rings.
TREELINE: THE SECRET LIFE OF TREES
Thanks to our Banff sponsors!
AARP says that 6 in 10 Americans don’t have a will or an estate plan, yet the coronavirus is also making people realize that anything can happen at any time. If you are working to fill this gap in your life, consider this: Does your connection to the land sustain, enrich and inspire you? Are you concerned about access to nature for your children and grandchildren? Including SFCT in your will is easy to do and will ensure that the land, trails and skies of northern New Mexico will be protected for future generations. More info is in this planned giving guide.
New Charitable Giving Tax Deduction
One very positive outgrowth of the current situation is that the long quest for a “universal” charitable contribution deduction has finally been fulfilled. Historically, a charitable contribution tax deduction has been available only to taxpayers who were willing to itemize their taxes. The CARES Act, however, changes that. Moving forward, even those of you who opt for the standard deduction in lieu of itemizing will be able to claim a charitable contribution deduction, up to $300. More information can be found here.
Also emerging as a result of the CARES Act for some of you is the $1,200 stimulus payment. If you find that you can spare some portion of that, please consider contributing it to SFCT, and its continued pursuit of future, enriching conservation transactions.
You too can play a role in leaving a legacy!