Protect Nature

Join us in the important work of protecting and supporting our natural world. Explore below to learn how you can help and take action in Santa Fe County. Everyone can take part!

2024 City Nature Challenge Results

In April, the global, community science competition known as City Nature Challenge took place with nearly 700 participating cities. Started in 2016 for the first-ever Citizen Science Day, Los Angeles and San Francisco engaged in a friendly completion which resulted in the documentation of over 20,000 individual observations of fauna and flora. This year over 2.4 million observations were made by almost 84,000 people. A remarkable success!

The event runs annually over four days during the last week in April. This year marks the first inclusion of the Santa Fe Area into the competition. Represented by Santa Fe, Rio Arriba, and Los Alamos Counties, our community ranked 295 of 690 participating cities in total number of observations. The efforts of 92 observers and 96 identifiers are responsible for showcasing the amazing biodiversity of the Santa Fe Area to a global audience.

Click here to visit the City Nature Challenge 2024: Santa Fe Area iNaturalist project page used for the competition.

Have you never used iNaturalist? Click here to learn more about getting started!

Check out the Biodiversity of Santa Fe County iNaturalist project page!

Announcement: World Environment Day

June 5th is World Environment Day, a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) led event initiated in 1973. The event is a global platform for inspiring positive change and celebrates environmental action and the power of governments, businesses, and individuals to create a more sustainable world. In the face of a changing climate, reflecting on the challenges and successes of communities across the globe will provide insights into how to adapt effectively to a changing local environment.

This year’s World Environment Day campaign focuses on land restoration, desertification, and drought resilience under the slogan “Our land. Our future. We are #GenerationRestoration". Land restoration is a key pillar of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), a rallying call for the protection and revival of ecosystems worldwide, which is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

We cannot turn back time, but we can grow forests, revive water sources, and bring back soils. We are the generation that can make peace with land.

Check out our June Picks to see how you can get involved in cultivating local environmental health!

Why care about nature and land?

From the soil beneath our feet and the air we breathe, to the buzz of bees and the rush of mountains streams, land and nature are imperative to our survival and well-being.

Drought, heavy monsoons, and extreme heat and cold characterize the climate of the arid Southwest. The very same soils that endure these extremes provide us with an abundance of food and natural resources each year when given the opportunity to do so. We depend on the health of the land for our own health and resiliency. You can make a difference, no matter how big or small, in caring for the land we call home.

Explore nature & land in Santa Fe County

There are many ways to explore nature in Santa Fe County—even in your own backyard. Santa Fe County manages several open spaces and parks through the Open Space, Trails and Parks Program. Take a look at the interactive trail map—you might discover a new trail in your own neighborhood.

Here are our favorite activities to explore nature in the neighborhood or backyard:

Before hitting the trail, please explore responsibly. Be sure to follow trail etiquette, and don’t forget—pack it in, pack it out! Even items that seem harmless, like banana peels, can take more than a year to decompose in our high desert landscape. Check out this infographic to learn about the decomposition rates of other types of waste that are commonly found along trails, like plastic bags, dog poop, aluminum cans, and plastic water bottles.

Caring for plants & wildlife

Not everyone has a garden, but we can all play a role in caring for the plants and trees of Santa Fe County. Trees clean the air, cool the land, clean our drinking water, reduce stress, and they can even save money by conserving energy and increasing property values. Here are our favorite links to learn more about trees and native plants:

It’s especially important to plant trees and plants that are appropriate for our high desert climate, such as what biologists call “native plants”. Native plants are plants that evolved in our landscape. They are well-adapted to our climate, require less water and maintenance, and provide natural habitats to local wildlife. You can also plant a pollinator-friendly garden, which will attract bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators. If you grow food, this will give the added bonus of boosting the productivity of your crops. If you don’t have a garden, there are many community initiatives you can join.

In the community

  • Participate in an Earth Day event - Each spring, Santa Fe County hosts Earth Day events to plant native and pollinator-friendly trees, shrubs, and wildflowers in community areas across the County. Visit the story map of Earth Day 2021 to learn more!
  • Join one of Santa Fe’s many community gardens – Are you a member of a community garden outside of the City of Santa Fe? Let us know so we can compile a comprehensive list for Santa Fe County.
  • Trust for Public Lands’ Urban Heat Island Severity Map– See where planting trees in your community can have the biggest impact by reducing urban heat islands in Santa Fe County.
  • NM Acequia Association– Join the network of stewards who service New Mexico’s acequias. The NM Acequia Association offers free online workshops about acequia techniques, policy, and culture. Sign up for their newsletter or follow their Facebook page to stay up-to-date with upcoming events and educational programs. Everyone can be involved! Membership is encouraged but not required.
  • Santa Fe Watershed Association– Be a steward of the Santa Fe River watershed! Participate in the annual summer cleanup of the Santa Fe River & arroyos, join the Adopt-the-River or Adopt-an-Arroyo program, or sign up for a guided hike of the upper watershed, which is normally closed to the public.

Ideas for your garden or home

bird condo


Jacqueline Beam
Sustainability Manager
(505) 992-9832