Amigos Bravos is a statewide conservation and environmental justice advocacy organization, the mission of which is to protect and restore the waters of New Mexico. The organization’s capacity has been built over a 26-year history. Headquartered in Taos, Amigos Bravos has a strong presence in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, a staff of six, over 2,000 members, and a cadre of over 50 dedicated volunteers.
The mission and practice of Amigos Bravos is to ensure that environmental protection is linked to social-justice principles. The organization is recognized for being an inclusive, multicultural, culturally competent advocacy organization and for its success in building strategic alliances with a broad and diverse range of allies. Amigos Bravos staff are experts in water-quality protection and the implementation of the Clean Water Act. They hold polluters accountable by bringing strong science to regulatory decision-making. They provide technical assistance to groups and individuals wishing to protect waters in their communities. Moreover, regulators, industry and the media often seek their advice regarding water-quality concerns and related human health impacts. Amigos Bravos has won numerous awards and is recognized nationally for its capacity to affect change through community organizing, legislative and regulatory initiatives, media and public education and outreach, building coalitions and networks and taking legal action, when necessary.
Amigos Bravos’ work has resulted in significant improvement of New Mexico’s rivers, streams and wetlands. Major victories include the Superfund cleanup of the Red River from impacts of the Chevron/Molycorp mine; permanent congressional protection for the Valle Vidal from oil and gas development; forcing cleanup of the stormwater runoff from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) into the Río Grande; and the reintroduction of river otters to New Mexico’s rivers.
Main priorities for Amigos Bravos in 2014 are ensuring timely cleanup of waste at LANL and at the Chevron mine in Questa; participation in New Mexico’s Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards; promoting local stormwater-control policies that use low-impact development and green infrastructure solutions; defending water-protection policy at the state Legislature; implementing the Río Pueblo de Taos Watershed Restoration Plan (with the goal of reducing temperature and sediment loading in the river); and addressing illegal trash dumping through the “Beautiful Midden” project, which is a model for other art-based, environmental restoration projects.