56th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - second session, 2024


Jeff Steinborn









     WHEREAS, New Mexico is rich in natural resources and wildlife and features outstanding natural areas; and

     WHEREAS, New Mexico is filled with persons who take great pride in the beauty of the state and all that the state's environment has to offer; and

     WHEREAS, wild friends, an award-winning civics education program at the university of New Mexico school of law, has become involved in helping to advance citizen science initiatives for the New Mexico state government; and

     WHEREAS, the mission of wild friends is to provide a statewide, experiential education program that integrates civics and wildlife law to help students in grades four through twelve understand the democratic process, develop good citizenship skills and contribute to wildlife conservation by involving the students in public policy projects of their choosing; and

     WHEREAS, several state agencies have identified the need for assistance with research and data collection due to a lack of personnel and have expressed enthusiasm about using citizen scientists to meet these needs and better engage the public; and

     WHEREAS, citizen science, in which members of the public volunteer to help conduct scientific research, could help fill the gap between state agency needs for personnel and available personnel. As one student said, "Citizen science is an important way to support professional researchers and also educate community members about problems that affect us."; and

     WHEREAS, citizen science can contribute to New Mexico's economic development, environmental health and community engagement. As one student said, "Citizen science projects could provide more outdoor recreation opportunities in New Mexico.". Other students said that citizen science projects could "encourage citizens to go out in nature", "promote active participation in the community" and "raise our happiness"; and

     WHEREAS, citizen science projects can engage youth, connect youth with their communities and expand educational opportunities. As one student said, "Citizen science gives me the opportunity to be involved in science in a simple and productive way.". Other students said that citizen science can "create future opportunities when we grow up", "inspire young people toward a career that focuses on New Mexico lands and its inhabitants" and "encourage youth to be involved in STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] and conservation efforts" by "bringing out [a] love for nature"; and

     WHEREAS, citizen science projects have been particularly beneficial in monitoring bird populations, water quality and plant species proliferation and will continue to be helpful in the future; and

     WHEREAS, New Mexico is home to more than five hundred fifty species of birds, and the need to protect them is great, yet many species are in decline. As one wild friends student said, "Birds form a distinctive part of New Mexico's unique heritage.". Another student said, "Birds are amazing animals with unique behaviors, and citizen science allows me to learn more about them."; and

     WHEREAS, a citizen science pilot project about birds could help state agencies identify what the challenges and opportunities are for future projects while providing much-needed data on bird populations and engaging the public. As one student said, "It would help New Mexican citizens become invested and aware about our diverse bird populations and concern for their future.", while another student said that the pilot project could "help state agencies conduct studies of bird populations by providing valuable data on a large scale that may not otherwise be gathered"; and

     WHEREAS, several state agencies and other organizations have expressed interest in convening a working group to implement a bird pilot project and discuss how to best move citizen science forward in New Mexico because, as one student said, "Learning about and caring for the environment is not a one-person job, and state agencies can't do it by themselves.";

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO that the state parks division of the energy, minerals and natural resources department, the department of environment, the state land office, the department of game and fish and other interested state departments and agencies be requested to participate in a working group convened and managed by the wild friends program to develop and recommend actions to establish and expand the use of citizen science using the best available science and data collection practices, including a pilot project for the use of the wild friends program and for use as a template for state government agencies; and

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the working group be requested to submit a report to the appropriate interim legislative committee by October 31, 2024 that details the working group's recommendations, including infrastructure, funding needs and strategies to advance the use of citizen science; and

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this memorial be transmitted to the state parks division of the energy, minerals and natural resources department, the department of environment, the state land office, the department of game and fish, natural heritage New Mexico and the wild friends program at the university of New Mexico school of law.

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