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$100,000 Donation for Fire Relief

Date: 11/03/22

Northern New Mexico

Western Sky Partners with the New Mexico Acequia Association to Support Community Members Impacted by Wildfires


Western Sky Community Care collaborates with NMAA to restore water flow to burn areas


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, including farming and ranching. Recent fires and subsequent floods destroyed the landscape and caused tremendous damage to the area’s irrigation systems, or acequias. 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. There are currently about 700 acequias in New Mexico, with each one serving three to 300 landowners along the ditch. Flooding in the burned areas clogged the acequias with mud and debris, completely disrupting water flow. Without water, numerous livelihoods could be decimated.

“Our rural Northern New Mexico communities are incredibly strong and resilient, but the impacts of the recent wildfires and the subsequent flooding have been devastating,” said Representative Roger Montoya (D-Velarde).  “This generous support from Western Sky to restore our acequias is an important step that will help the people of fireand floodimpacted communities recover and continue to protect the waterways, the land, and the way of life that make this region so unique.”

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." 

“Western Sky is not just a health plan; we are part of the New Mexico community. We want to support our neighbors for the long-term after the wildfire to help reestablish income and lifestyles to help them live better, healthier lives,” said Western Sky President and CEO Jean Wilms. “We understand 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.”

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About New Mexico Acequia Association

The mission of the New Mexico Acequia Association is to protect water and our acequias, grow healthy food for our families and communities, and to honor our cultural heritage.