THE BORDER GUARDIAN
GABE VASQUEZ first learned a love for the outdoors from his grandfather— hunting in Mexico’s Sierra Madre and fishing on the Rio Grande. After immigrating to the United States at age 10, Vasquez watched the magnificent Grande, the lifeblood of so many border communities, diverted and divided as the river became a front in battles over immigration policy.
Now a city councilor in Las Cruces, NM, Vasquez founded the Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project in 2017 to ensure that those same communities maintain access to public lands, and play a central role in their conservation, rather than remaining excluded.
He guides decision-makers to experience this marginalized region that encompasses some of North America’s most biodiverse landscape of grasslands, deserts and forests—home not to drug runners and migrants but to mountain lions and mule deer.
He’s also fostering the next policy influencers, expanding opportunities that “make you love a place” by taking local Hispanic youths rafting and hunting, or hiking Organ Mountain Desert Peaks National Monument, which he played a key role in establishing in 2014. “It’s incumbent upon us to make sure that more of our young people can have those experiences.”