The Rio Grande in Colorado’s San Luis Valley

Headwater Streams in the Rio Grande and Gila River Watersheds to Benefit from Nearly $600,000 in Restoration Grants

Public-private partnership awards grants to conserve headwaters species and their habitats in two Southwestern watersheds

The Rio Grande in Colorado’s San Luis Valley

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 16, 2021) – The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced more than $584,000 in grants to restore, protect and enhance aquatic and riparian species of conservation concern and their habitats in the headwaters of the Rio Grande and Gila River watersheds. The five grants will generate more than $980,000 in matching contributions for a total conservation impact of $1.56 million.

The grants were awarded through the Southwest Rivers Program, a partnership between NFWF and the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Trinchera Blanca Foundation, an affiliate of The Moore Charitable Foundation, founded by Louis Bacon.

“Headwater streams in the Southwest are critical to not only support native fish and wildlife, but also to storing water that can support downstream communities and farms during dry spells,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “These projects will restore streams and meadows that provide essential habitat for native fish like Gila trout and Rio Grande chub and also address watershed impacts from forest fire and drought.”

The projects supported by the five grants announced today will address two key strategies for species and habitat restoration in headwaters streams of the Rio Grande and Gila River: 1) increasing water availability for species and their habitats; and 2) riparian and instream habitat restoration and enhancement. Grant recipients include:

  • Santa Clara Pueblo, to restore vital Rio Grande cutthroat trout habitat in Santa Clara Creek in New Mexico, an area severely impacted by the 2011 Las Conchas Fire.
  • Colorado Parks and Wildlife, to enhance habitat and exclude nonnative fish to benefit Rio Grande sucker and Rio Grande chub in historically occupied habitat at McIntire Spring in Colorado.
  • Rio Grande Return, to stabilize and enhance the aquatic and riparian habitats native to Polvadera Creek in New Mexico.
  • USDA Forest Service - Gila National Forest, to restore stream morphology and function in Willow Creek in New Mexico to benefit Gila trout.
  • The Nature Conservancy, to construct a permanent, fish-friendly diversion structure that will replace an existing push-up diversion at the upper end of the Cliff-Gila Valley in New Mexico.

“We are proud to support the critical headwater stream restoration efforts underway in the Rio Grande and Gila River Watersheds in conjunction with NFWF,” said Louis Bacon, chairman of The Moore Charitable Foundation and its local affiliate, Trinchera Blanca Foundation. “Thanks to this important conservation partnership, these grants will fund important projects to stabilize and enhance native species and habitats.”

The Southwest Rivers Program was launched in 2018 to fund projects that improve stream corridors, riparian systems and associated habitats from headwaters to mainstem rivers in the Southwest. Through the Southwest Rivers Headwaters funding opportunity, the program funds projects that produce measurable outcomes for species of conservation concern in the riparian corridors of the headwaters region of the Rio Grande. In 2020, the funding opportunity included a pilot focal area of increasing interest in the Gila River Watershed.

More about the 2020 grants made through the Headwaters focal area of the Southwest Rivers Program is available here.    

About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Chartered by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. Working with federal, corporate and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 5,000 organizations and generated a total conservation impact of $6.1 billion. Learn more at

About The Trinchera Blanca Foundation
The Trinchera Blanca Foundation, the Colorado affiliate of The Moore Charitable Foundation, founded by Louis Bacon in 1992, supports organizations committed to protecting land, water and wildlife habitat in Colorado’s San Luis Valley. The Trinchera Blanca Foundation also supports community programs dedicated to improving quality of life in the surrounding region. Learn more at

About the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is to work with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

About the USDA Forest Service 
The mission of the Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency also has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.


Rob Blumenthal, 202-857-0166,