7 people pose with shovels at the building groundbreaking

Construction in progress for new SWCD office

A decade long dream at San Juan SWCD is coming true – we are finally getting our own office building!  We kicked off 2021 with a ground breaking ceremony, followed by the excitement of construction officially getting underway. But what is even more exciting is the services and assistance we will be able to provide the local community, as we all work together to protect and preserve our healthy soils and water throughout the district.

Staff and board members have worked hard for years to pave the way for this project. This effort started with our late District Manager and board member, Emma Lee Deyo, who negotiated with the Farmington BLM for nearly five years to secure the donation of a piece of land for our future home. It took another three years after that to secure capital outlay funding in 2019, thanks to the support of our NM state legislators. That left two years of planning and design with the team at Formative Architecture to bring us to the exciting milestone we find ourselves at today.

Our new office will be located at 301 McWilliams Rd, just north of Koogler Middle School in the northern part of Aztec, and we hope you will stop in and say hello when we open this fall. At the moment, our staff is still working remotely due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions at the USDA office, but we are looking forward to when we can see all our cooperators in person again. In the meantime you can always reach us at 505-234-6040

ABOVE: San Juan SWCD board members, staff, and recently retired State Representative Paul Bandy officially break ground on the new building site January 6, 2021. From left to right: Board member Leo Pacheco, Paul Bandy, District Manager Melissa May, Board Chair John Arrington, Board Vice Chair DeAnne McKee, Board Treasurer Ralph Fenton, and Watershed Coordinator Alyssa Richmond. Photo taken by Assistant District Manager Andy Bleckinger.

A construction site with wet concrete poured into a trench with rebar sticking out

Winters Construction and their team of subcontractors pouring the foundation Feb 3, 2021. We are proud to be using a construction team that is all local to San Juan County – keeping jobs and tax dollars in our community!

2020 NM Outstanding District of the Year

The San Juan SWCD is thrilled to announce that the New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts chose our District for the 2020 Outstanding District of the Year award for the state of New Mexico.

From transferring our whole office to telework in March, to finalizing our building design and going to bid to construct it, to juggling nearly 20 grants and keeping them on schedule while working from home – it certainly was a challenging year, which makes this recognition feel even sweeter!

All the work we do is possible because of our many partners, so we would like to take the time to recognize all the organizations and community members that have helped us be so successful in our mission. Here is just a short list of how the community has joined us in accomplishing our stewardship goals over the past year:

District Manager Melissa May holding the Outstanding District award sign

  • We partnered with over 25 property owners on invasive species removal and restoration projects, including several City of Farmington properties and Navajo tribal permittees. This included 400+ acres of Russian olive and salt cedar removal, 516 acres of resprouts treated, 3422 cottonwood poles and 6550 willows planted, and 604 acres reseeded with native grasses.
  • During the pandemic we had to move our education programs virtually, yet we still had fantastic attendance at our virtual Backyard Conservation Workshop, and our 20 (and counting) YouTube videos have received over 650 views by our community.
  • Our local elected representatives supported our efforts to construct an office building, where we will be more accessible to our local community and be able to provide additional support and services.
  • The San Juan Watershed Group continued its restoration planning and partnership building through creative use of Zoom, and successfully completed several water quality restoration projects for bank stabilization, manure management, and erosion control on the Animas River.
  • The Bureau of Land Management Farmington Field Office funded multiple projects towards better management of our public lands, including treating 708 acres of noxious weeds spread out over thousands of acres of roads, 121 acres of pinon-juniper thinning and re-seeding to improve wildlife habitat on Caracas Mesa, and hiring three summer range management interns and the San Juan Basin Roads Committee coordinator.
  • Supported the Northwest NM Buy Fresh Buy Local chapter in putting on the Local Food Summit and printing our area’s first ever Local Food Guide.
  • Check out our Annual Report for a full list of this past year’s accomplishments, and our Annual Work Plan for what we hope to accomplish next.

We would like to send a huge thank you to all our partners that make our conservation work possible – we could not do it without you! 

Produce growing at New Beginnings Community Garden

Backyard Conservation Workshops return for another season!

San Juan SWCD is excited to announce that we have a full schedule of Backyard Conservation Workshops available this Spring and Summer. Whether your yard or garden is measured in acres, feet, or flower pots, these workshops teach conservation based skills and practices that will help you meet your production goals while protecting natural resources. Registration is open now through San Juan College’s Community Learning Center, which can be accessed online at, or by phone at 505-566-3214. Through an NRCS grant, each workshop also includes free materials to help you implement conservation practices in your own backyard, so be sure to register before they fill up! If you have any questions, visit our website at, or call us at 505-234-6040 x2.

Schedule of Backyard Conservation Workshops:

D1. Water-Smart Landscaping and Rainwater Harvesting (TBD): 1/30
D2. Organic Gardening and Permaculture (TBD): 2/27
D3. Advanced Tree Planting and Care (free trees/shrubs): 3/27
D4. Soil Health: Composting, Mulching, and Cover Cropping (free soil test): 4/24
D5. Managing Invasive Weeds and Cover Cropping (free seeds): 5/22
D6. Managing Wildlife, Attracting Pollinators, and Beekeeping (TBD): 6/26
B1. Seed Harvesting and Storage (free seeds): 7/31

Ag Notes Newsletter – Summer 2020

The 2020 Summer publication of Ag Notes Newsletter, put out by the San Juan County Extension Office, is here! Check out all the exciting things happening near you these next few months, and be sure so sign up for classes and events before registrations are full. Just click on the image below or the link here.

Movin’ On Up!

Big changes are ahead for San Juan SWCD! For the past year, we have been working with Formative Architecture to design the future headquarters of our District. The above rendering gives you an idea of what it will look like. We are currently seeking proposals from contractors in order to move on to the construction phase. Visit our Get Involved page for details on how to access the full RFP. A mandatory pre-proposal meeting will be held 11:00am September 24th at 200 S. Ash St. Aztec, NM.

Oh yeah, did we mention the USDA Service Center is ALSO relocating? While we build our future home, we will be joining the three USDA agencies – Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Farm Service Agency (FSA), and Rural Development (RD) as they move across Aztec to the “Red Barn” building next to the Senior Center and across from the Aztec Library at 200 S. Ash. This move will be taking place in mid-October, so please be patient as we prepare for this move. COVID-19 restrictions on occupancy and customer access to our office are still in place as of September, so email or phone is still the best way to reach us as our staff work primarily from home.

New home of the USDA Service Center

SWCD Board Elections – 11/5

Did you know that this is the first time you can vote for San Juan SWCD board of supervisors on the general election ballot? Our board has 7 positions, five of which are elected by residents of the District, and two which are nominated by the board and appointed by the NM Soil & Water Conservation Commission. Three positions are up for election in 2019. Current supervisor and Vice Chair DeAnne McKee is running unopposed for her seat in Position 1. Cash Carruth is currently on the board in an appointed position, and is running unopposed for supervisor Position 2.

Emma Lee Deyo, who worked as the San Juan SWCD District Manager from 2008-2016, has served in the other appointed supervisor position on the board since June 2018, and is now running for elected Position 5. Catherine Thomas Kemp is a newcomer to the SWCD world, and is also running for Position 5.

You can read more about the candidates in this article from the Farmington Daily Times:

Don’t forget to cast your vote by 7:00pm on November 5th! 

NOTICE: During the COVID-19 outbreak, our staff is working remotely. To contact us, email or call our new office phone number (505-234-6040) which will connect you directly to us. We apologize for any inconvenience, and appreciate your understanding.