THE MRGCD CONSERVATION ADVISORY COMMITTEE WAS ESTABLISHED TO GUIDE AND SUPPORT THE MRGCD’S CONSERVATION PROGRAM. IT IS MADE UP OF MRGCD BOARD MEMBERS, MRGCD STAFF, AND VARIOUS MRGCD CONSTITUENTS AND OTHER, WHO REPRESENT A BROAD CROSS SECTION OF THOSE INTERESTED IN THE SUCCESS AND HEALTH OF THE MRG VALLEY. ALL MEMBERS HAVE SPECIALTIES, EXPERIENCE, OR QUALIFICATIONS THAT ARE ESSENTIAL TO THE PROGRAM.
Conservation Advisory Committee Members
Chief Engineer / CEO – Mr. Hamman possesses more than 33 years of engineering and water resources management experience with extensive knowledge of New Mexico water resource development projects and issues.
Prior to the MRGCD Mr. Hamman was the Area Manager for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, a federal water management agency with 13 projects from the San Luis Valley in Colorado to Fort Quitman in Texas. As Area Manager, he lead a staff of 190 in six field offices that perform operations and maintenance of well fields, diversion dams, large dams and reservoirs such as Elephant Butte, river channel maintenance on the Rio Grande and Pecos basins, water modeling and accounting for project water, and implementation of endangered species programs. In addition, Mr. Hamman worked as a Regional Water Planner for the NM Interstate stream Commission, Water Utility Director for the City of Santa Fe, and Water Administrator for the Jicarilla Apache Nation. Mr. Hamman was raised in Taos and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of New Mexico.
Director Joaquin Baca
Director Baca is a professional hydrologist, with education in technical hydrology and law. He’s a father, an outdoors enthusiast, a former high school science teacher and US Army veteran. A graduate from Belen High School, he spent time with his family enjoying the acequias and Rio Grande near his home where learned to appreciate the value of water, especially in our desert environment. While in the military, his experience in environmental disaster zones led him to a career in conservation. Today, he’s a water professional. He’s served on County, City and non-profit Boards promoting education and environmental stewardship. His priorities are his family and passing along his love of science, our culture, environment and education to his young sons.
Valerie Moore is a former MRGCD Board Member and resides in Lemitar, NM. She has been farming in the Rio Grande Valley for 40 years
Mr Ish has been with the District since Fall of 2019. He is a Water Resources Specialist and serves as Coordinator and primary point of contact for the District’s Conservation Program. A graduate from the University of New Mexico, he received a BLA in Fresh Water Conservation and Management, as well as a minor in Sustainability Studies. Casey most recently completed his master’s degree at the University of New Mexico’s School of Law where he received his MSL in Natural Resource and Water Law.
Ms. Coughlin joined MRGCD in 2021 as the new Agronomist/Agroecologist after an eleven-year career with the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service in Oregon and New Mexico.
As a professional soil scientist, conservation planner, snow surveyor, and civil rights program manager, Ms. Coughlin brings years of experience building partnerships among rural and urban communities across the West to solve complex agricultural and environmental challenges. Born and raised ranching and rodeoing in Nevada, Ms. Coughlin received her Bachelor of Science degree in Crop and Soil Science with a Soil Resource Management focus from Oregon State University.
Ms Najmi has been the District’s Planner for over 20 years responsible for resource management, policy development, planning and project management as well as community outreach. The District is the largest landowner of riparian forest “bosque” and habitat in the Middle Rio Grande and Yasmeen is the District’s primary point person for bosque management and restoration activities. She also represents the District in the MRG Endangered Species Collaborative Program. She has a master’s degree from the University of New Mexico in Community and Regional Planning with an emphasis in Natural Resources.
Surjit S. Rajpal
Mr Rajpal owns and operates a farm in the South Valley. He is the retired Chief Risk Officer of one of North America’s largest banks. Mr Rajpal relocated from Chicago with his wife (Mary) and son (Taig) to set up Sunset Seva Farm, an organic farm on the site of the defunct Sunset drive-in theatre and adjoining farms. The Rajpal family is deeply committed to sustainable farming practices, protection of the environment and wildlife habitat.
Nancy Cunningham Rodriquez
Ms Rodriguez retired from the Office of the State Engineer in 2014, finishing her 22-year career in District I as a Water Resource Supervisor. Most of her work was in the Estancia Basin, Jemez Basin and the Middle Rio Grande Basin. She holds a BS in Geology from the University of Washington in Seattle.
Chris Sichler is a farmer in San Antonio, NM.
Mr Maesta is an irrigator who currently serves as the President for the South Valley Regional Association of Acequias (SVRAA), Mayodomo for the Don Gabino Andrade Community Acequia, Commissioner of the Pajarito Acequia Association, and member of the Concilio of the New Mexico Acequia Association.
Dr Lamadrid is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Spanish from the University of New Mexico, who taught folklore and cultural history. He now edits the Querencias Series of UNM Press. Querencia is a popular term in the Spanish-speaking world used to express love of place and people. This series promotes a transnational, humanistic, and creative vision of the U.S.‐Mexico borderlands, based on all aspects of expressive culture, both material and intangible. He is an acequia activist and Commissioner from the Alamos de los Gallegos Acequia in Albuquerque’s north valley. He is on a team preparing documentation for a UNESCO nomination of the acequia tradition in New Mexico and Colorado for world intangible cultural heritage designation. He was also a member of the curatorial team of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival “El Río” program on bio-regionalism and traditional culture in the Río Grande/Bravo basin
Mr Hartwell is the Director at Summit Conservation Strategies, a small consulting firm focused on effective conservation program design and implementation. He has over eighteen years of experience in environmental policy and water resources management. He has recent experience with policy development, design, and implementation of collaborative voluntary water conservation programs in New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and and other western states. He has worked on the applied economics of conservation incentive programs focused on both water and energy efficiency.
Prior to founding Summit Conservation, Mr Hartwell was a partner and managing director of Ecosystem Economics and worked for four years managing energy efficiency programs at the Federal Bonneville Power Administration. He brings training in policy analysis, finance, and economics to his work. He has a BA from Williams College, summa cum laude, and an MPA from New York University. Ray lives in Bend, Oregon with his wife and two sons.
Audubon, New Mexico
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
The Utton Center