Santa Fe, NM
— February 19, 2019
The New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources (a research division of New Mexico Tech) presented the 2019 Earth Science Achievement Award for Public Service and Public Policy to Steve Harris, Executive Director of Rio Grande Restoration and an avid conservationist at noon, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, in the rotunda of the state capitol building. The award presentation coincided with Earth Science/New Mexico Tech Day at the Roundhouse.
In his work at Rio Grande Restoration (RGR), Harris (pictured at right) fills many roles: technical expert, motivated journalist, skilled educator, and passionate river advocate. He works tirelessly to change our perspectives and influence priorities and policies for the responsible use and protection of the state’s water resources, and he underscores the profound importance of healthy riparian ecosystems.
Created in 2003, the Earth Science Achievement Awards honor two recipients, one for “outstanding contributions advancing the role of earth science in areas of public service and public policy” and the other for “outstanding contributions advancing the role of earth science in areas of applied science and education.”
These awards honor outstanding public servants who have championed earth science issues in New Mexico. Harris, our first awardee for 2019, has served for the last 24 years as founder and Director of RGR, a non-profit, river advocacy organization whose goal is to see the Rio Grande restored as a great river with a healthy ecosystem. He has driven countless miles to attend hundreds of meetings around the state, and he has had a major impact on water resource issues in the Rio Grande watershed. RGR has emerged as one of the most effective river advocacy entities in the state, and subsists mostly on small donations from foundations and individual donors.
Harris realizes the necessity of bridging the gap between science and policy, and he participates in many activities designed to educate politicians, government officials, community representatives, and others. He consistently supports the gathering of modern hydrologic and ecologic data for science-based decision-making. Steve understands that existing state agencies specialize in collecting good data, and he advocates for state and federal funding for such efforts. He is a skilled journalist, and has the rare ability to synthesize diverse data sets, select the essential points, and organize a compelling narrative. Steve was also among the first to successfully establish a partnership between farmers and environmentalists along the middle Rio Grande valley.
The New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources is a non-regulatory research and service division of New Mexico Tech in Socorro. For 92 years, the bureau has served as the geological survey for the state of New Mexico. Nominations for next year’s awards are welcome from the general public and may be submitted directly to the director of the Bureau of Geology.