Protections sought for Upper Pecos watershed in northern New Mexico

Ralph Vigil’s farm in Pecos, New Mexico depends on the Pecos River as it has for 13 years, the same river that runs across almost the entire eastern side of the state, crossing its southern border with Texas in the southeast corner. 

What happens in the headwaters of the Pecos where Vigil grows vegetables like lettuce and tomatoes has a direct impact, he said, on the rest of the river – even hundreds of miles south cities like Roswell or Carlsbad. 

“Our watersheds are extremely important to a lot of our traditional communities in New Mexico. The health of that watershed is vital,” Vigil said. “If we don’t have healthy watersheds, we don’t have healthy communities beneath them.”

Ralph Vigil works on his farm in Pecos, New Mexico.

The northern portion of the Pecos River could gain state protections as conservationists sought to prevent development in an area they argued was biologically diverse and crucial to New Mexico’s environment.

The Upper Pecos Watershed covers about 400 square miles of the Pecos River and its tributaries, centered in San Miguel County in northern New Mexico. The southern portion of the river runs through Carlsbad and the Permian Basin area into West Texas.