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Sorg serving on Soil & Water Conservation District Board


Gill Sorg got a longer title but and a little bit lighter workload when he gave up his seat on the Las Cruces City Council and was elected to the Doña Ana Soil and Water Conservation District (DASWCD) Board of Supervisors in 2021.

The district, as with others like it around the state, was created “to conserve and develop” the natural resources within its boundaries, provide for flood control, preserve wildlife, protect the tax base and promote the health and safety of district residents. DASWCD was created June 17, 1966 as the La Union Soil and Water Conservation District, according to daswcd.org. Its original boundaries were changed to include the City of Las Cruces in 2010 and the district’s name was changed.

One of DASWCD’s most important functions is “protecting our water,” Sorg said,” a very difficult thing to do when you’ve only got so much water.”

Noxious weed control is another important role for soil and water conservation districts, along with preserving healthy soils and acting as the reviewing agency for Doña Ana County’s land use regulations.

One of Sorg’s “pet projects,” he said, is finding ways to control flash flooding in arroyos that feed into the Rio Grande. The goal is to “slow the water down” to reduce flood damage to homes, farmland and other property and keep valuable sediment from being washed into the river. A good way to do that is encouraging the growth of vegetation in arroyos, which slows rushing storm water and also provides habitat for wildlife, Sorg said.

“We want to act like beavers,” he said, using dams of various sizes – sometimes just a simple row of rocks, Sorg said – to slow the water.

“There’s a lot of wins here,” he said.

DASWCD partners include the New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA), New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Bureau of Land Management and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“We’re all working together,” Sorg said. “We’re all on the same page.”

New Mexico soil and water conservation districts are governmental subdivisions of the state and receive state funding.

With bi-partisan support in both houses, the New Mexico Legislature passed Senate Bill 9 earlier this year, creating a number of “legacy permanent funds,” including the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund, which will provide revenue to NMDA to “carry out programs and projects pursuant to the Noxious Weed Management Act, the healthy Soil Act and the Soil and Water Conservation District Act,” according to the final version of the bill, which Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law in March.

The DASWCD board meets at 9 a.m. the second Thursday of the month at the USDA Services Center, 760 Stern Drive in Las Cruces, according to the DASWCD website. Sorg and the six other supervisors get along well and almost always vote unanimously on the issues that come before them, he said.

Sorg was a contractor representing Pioneer Seed Company assisting growers to produce alfalfa seed before being elected to the city council in 2009. He was re-elected in 2013 and 2017, giving up the seat after 12 years and winning a seat on the DASWCD board.

Sorg continues to serve on other boards as well, including the Mesilla Valley Audubon Society, the BLM’s Southern New Mexico Resource Advisory Council, the Outdoor New Mexico Board, the Conservation Board of New Mexico and the Paso del Norte Watershed Council. He also is part of the local NieghborWoods that encourages planting trees.

“We’re doing as much as we can,” Sorg said, but he is still concerned about what may be looming.

“I fear the future,” he said, including climate change and an inadequate water supply. “We can do a lot more conservation.”

Visit daswcd.org.