Kimberly de Castro
Private Landowner
San Jose, New Mexico

Kimberly de Castro, a small business owner, has taken a 50-acre severely abused property and begun slowly but surely healing it. When she bought her property, the land had deep incisions, the downcutting evidence of overuse by domestic livestock, and two wetlands that were degraded by past mismanagement. Enhancement of the wetlands were Kimberly’s top priority because of their value for a diverse number of animals, ranging from migrating waterfowl to resident deer. Participating in the Partners for Wildlife program, Kimberly began to restore the wetlands. Because she understood the effects of land use activities in other parts of the watershed on her wetlands, she also focused her efforts on the larger landscape. She planted more than 5,000 trees and shrubs, drilled grass seed throughout the property, placed tons of straw bales with grass seed in her eroded “hot spots,” and devised and placed more than five miles of drip irrigation system to ensure success for her plantings.

Further evidence of Kimberly’s concern is her outreach to neighbors. She has convinced neighbors owning approximately 5,000 acres that they should improve the conservation value of their lands. Perhaps more important, Kimberly is devoted to educating youngsters about the importance of treating land with resect. She actively promotes her wetlands as outdoor laboratories for children from the local school district. Kimberly’s devotion to her land and education of children about the great outdoors is without equal in New Mexico.

— Charles L. Mullins, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service