Our hearts are heavy as we watch wildfires destroy sacred land and centuries-old traditional farming villages and threaten Tribal communities. We stand with our neighbors, colleagues and partners—all who, like us, call New Mexico home.
Seven wildfires are burning in New Mexico, fueled by excessive winds and severe drought, the fires have burned more than 223,000 acres in 30 days. The federal government has declared this a major disaster. To date, it is estimated that more than 15,500 families have been displaced, with no immediate plans of returning. For children, schools are now officially closed for the remainder of the year, straining what is an already fragile situation for most families.
A fire northwest of Albuquerque has charred more than 40,000 acres and threatens sacred Indigenous land. This fire is affecting our Indigenous partners in the Pueblos of Cochiti, Jemez and Zia.
The largest fire, northeast of Santa Fe, is now burning 168,008 acres, devastating centuries-old farming communities – the only inter-generational lifeline for many Northern New Mexico families. These families are resilient, in large part due to their connections with each other and with their heritage, but they are also among the most socio-economically vulnerable families in the country. Much of the damaged land will be left unfarmable for many growing seasons, impacting families’ livelihoods, cultural traditions dating back hundreds of years and food systems in these communities and throughout the state.
These fires are distressing many in New Mexico, including the children, families and partners in communities we’ve invested in for nearly 80 years. Our priority is the safety of our staff and grantees, as well as their families and communities, many of whom are providing on-the-ground emergency relief.
Like many Indigenous and rural communities in the world, New Mexico’s children and families are experiencing the effects of climate change on their health, economic security and ways of life passed down through generations. These wildfires are stark reminders of the immediate and long-term environmental and social impacts too often suffered by communities of color.
Yet, amid such uncertainty, we continue to witness the community-centered dedication of our families and partners in New Mexico. We also see it in first responders, as well as the many people leading and coordinating efforts to provide immediate food, clothing, emergency shelter, housing and educational opportunities for our displaced neighbors and families.
Our partners in New Mexico are responding
We are grateful for the quick action taken by WKKF grantees, communities, small nonprofits, local businesses, state agencies, higher-education institutions and faith-based organizations, who are coordinating immediate assistance to stabilize children and families. Below is an initial list of our grantee organizations doing important response work and collecting donations. We recognize that countless others are helping and we will continue to update as we learn more from our partners.