New Mexico Outdoor Economics Conference in Silver City on October 3 & 4
Conference to Include Outdoor Recreation Leaders and Top Government Officials


Jeff Steinborn, New Mexico Wild

Silver City, New Mexico – On October 3 & 4, Silver City will host the 2nd annual New Mexico
Outdoor Economics Conference. The Conference will feature leaders from across New Mexico
and the nation to highlight successful strategies for creating jobs and tourism connected to
outdoor recreation. New Mexico has just created an “Outdoor Recreation Division” in the
Economic Development Department to help communities create economic opportunities
connected to the state’s growing $9.9 billion outdoor recreation industry.

This year’s Conference speakers include a wide range of leading marketing and outdoor
recreation specialists including Dave Stanton, creator of the successful New Mexico True
advertising campaign, eco and wildlife tourism companies, trail experts from the Rio Grande,
Appalachian, Arizona, and Continental Divide Trails and top government officials including
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, Senator Martin Heinrich, Congresswoman Xochitl Torres
Small, Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard, the New Mexico Secretary of
Tourism Jen Schroer, and the new Director of the New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Office.

The Outdoor Economics Conference will include panel discussions about successful community
and company programs that promote outdoor recreation opportunities, eco and wildlife
tourism, state promotional resources, benefits of trails, sustainable tourism, federal
partnerships with land management agencies, and equal access to the outdoors.

Citizens and leaders interested in developing businesses and governmental policies connected
to the outdoor recreation industry are encouraged to attend. To attend, register online at The registration fee is $40.

The New Mexico Outdoor Economics Conference will be held at the Grant County Conference
Center, 3031 Highway 180 East in Silver City.

The Conference includes an evening reception at the San Vicente Creek River Walk Park and a
choice of one of eleven complimentary outdoor tours in the region including river rafting,
mountain bike riding, hikes along the Gila River and Continental Divide Trail, and plane tours
over the Gila Wilderness.

Featured Sessions and Speakers
The conference will include the following featured sessions and speakers. (Visit to view the conference program and speaker bios.)

  • New Mexico State Government Outdoor Recreation Resources
  • Outdoor Marketing Tool Kit
  • Eco & Wildlife Tourism
  • Benefits and Opportunities of Promoting Trails
  • Sustainable Outdoor Tourism
  • Outdoor Recreation Small Business Successes
  • Equitable Opportunity and Access to the Outdoors
  • Federal Land Management Agency Partnerships

Conference speakers include:

  • Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham
  • Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small
  • New Mexico Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard
  • Lieutenant Governor Howie Morales
  • Secretary of the New Mexico Tourism Department, Jen Schroer
  • Secretary of Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department, Sarah Cottrell Propst
  • Director of the New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Division
  • Director of New Mexico State Parks , Christy Tafoya
  • Director of Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Department, Dave Simon
  • Cycle Forward, Amy Camp
  • CEO of Visit Bend, Kevney Dugan
  • Creator of New Mexico True, Dave Stanton
  • Outdoor Industry Association, David Weinstein
  • New Mexico Wild, Jeff Steinborn, Garrett VeneKlasen, and Grecia Nuñez
  • Director of the New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Division
  • New Mexico Representative of Defenders of Wildlife, Michael Dax
  • Ted Turner Expeditions, David Barfield
  • Fly Fishing Guide & Member of San Felipe Pueblo, Norman Maktima
  • Jackson Hole EcoTour Adventures, Taylor Phillips
  • Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, Dana Watts
  • Governor of the Pueblo of Acoma, Brian Vallo
  • National Park Service, Robert “Bob” Ratcliffe
  • Forest Service, Toby Bloom & Francisco Valenzuela
  • Bureau of Land Management, Angela West
  • Far Flung Adventures, Steve Harris
  • Gila Hike and Bike, Martyn Pearson
  • Southwest Expeditions, David Crider
  • Latino Outdoors, José G. González
  • Taos Pueblo Division of Natural Resources, Cameron Martinez
  • River Source & Member of Cochiti Pueblo, Carlos Herrera
  • Continental Divide Trail Association, Teresa Martinez
  • Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Julie Judkins
  • Arizona Trail Association, Matt Nelson


September 23, 2019  / Las Cruces Sun-News

Axie Navas named New Mexico’s first director of outdoor recreation

LAS CRUCES – Axie Navas, a veteran journalist and outdoor enthusiast who has managed digital media and marketing for Outside magazine, is New Mexico’s first director of the Office of Outdoor Recreation.

Navas assumed the position with the New Mexico Economic Development Department on Monday, Sept. 23 and will work in close partnership with Peter Mitchell, an EDD employee with a long history in business development.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the law on April 2 that made New Mexico the 15th state to create an Office of Outdoor Recreation. The bill passed the Senate 38-0 and the House 52-14.

“To the outdoor enthusiasts who don’t yet know about our rivers, our rapids, our mountains, our trails, our ski slopes — you will soon,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a written statement.

“Outdoor recreation is a key piece of our economic expansion efforts. We are building on what we have and creating job opportunities in a field where this state can, should, and will lead regionally and indeed nationally. This new office will take us to the next level.”

Who is Axie Navas?

Navas is a New Mexico resident and has worked as the digital editorial director for Outside magazine, where she managed a team of 25 writers, editors, and website developers. She also led Outside’s online gear channel and worked as a reporter in South Lake Tahoe and at La Prensa in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Navas has degrees in journalism and Spanish from Northwestern University and lives in Santa Fe with her husband, John Clary Davies, executive editor at New Mexico Magazine. Navas grew up skiing, hiking and biking in the Rockies. She said her first priority will be to reach out to stakeholders around the state.

“We’re going to be scrappy, at the start, and collaborate with the other governmental departments to break through silos and bring changemakers together to the table,” Navas told the Sun-News. “We’ll also be collaborating with (non-governmental organizations) and individuals that are already doing so much great work, both at the regional and national level.”

Working with stakeholders around the state, Navas said she hopes to quickly develop a concrete vision plan and an idea of what success looks like.

What is the Office of Outdoor Recreation?

“The outdoor industry in the state is a $9.9 billion industry, according to the Outdoor Industry Association,” Steinborn said. “And it’s one of those things, like green chile, that New Mexico is blessed to have. We have so many incredible outdoor spaces in all corners of the state. It just makes sense that we would focus on growing the outdoor industry.”

According to SB 462, the legislation which created the division, the aim of the Outdoor Recreation division is to:

  • Increase outdoor recreation-based economic development, tourism and ecotourism in the state.
  • Recruit out-of-state-based outdoor recreation businesses to locate in New Mexico.
  • Promote stewardship and preservation of New Mexico’s unique environment and cultural assets.
  • Promote education about the use of outdoor recreation assets to enhance public health.

Rep. Nathan Small, D-Las Cruces, was a sponsor of SB 462. He believes the creation of the Office of Outdoor Recreation builds on many of the successes already seen across southern New Mexico.

“It taps into things that we’re already seeing — increased visitation, people wanting to live here, students wanting to stay here, in large part, because of our outdoor economic opportunities,” Small told the Sun-News. “And it tells everyone that they have a voice in state government, an advocate there who is going to fight for new economic opportunity for them in ways that help our entire community.”

Who is EDD representative Peter Mitchell?

Navas will be aided by Santa Fe native Peter Mitchell, an economic development regional representative whose duties include outdoor recreation.

Mitchell has worked in economic development since 1994 in Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Texas, and worked to shepherd the new outdoor recreation legislation through the 2019 Legislature. He has been the point of contact for the office since it was created on July 1. Mitchell, an avid outdoorsman, enjoys skiing, hiking, camping and fly-fishing.

“This new initiative puts New Mexico at the forefront of outdoor recreation initiatives in the United States,” he said. “We have started gathering ideas from around the state and are eager to expand outdoor recreation and help communities.”

Vasquez: Outdoor recreation a ‘sustainable way to use our natural resources’

Las Cruces City Councilor Gabe Vasquez is excited about what the new division could mean for Las Cruces.

“I think the new Office of Outdoor Recreation will bring new economic opportunities,” Vasquez said. “You’ll have an office that’s dedicated to expanding local economies around outdoor recreation. Rather than the extractive industries, outdoor recreation represents a sustainable way to use our natural resources here in New Mexico.

“We have this new national monument (Organ Mountain-Desert Peaks), we have White Sands National Monument, we have the Gila National Forest and the Lincoln National Forest. We have all of these terrific assets that we are not leveraging for economic opportunities.”

Las Cruces City Councilor Gabe Vasquez discusses why it’s important for troubled youth to get outdoors. April Reese and Anthony Jackson, Searchlight New Mexico

Navas will report to state Secretary of Economic Development Alicia Keyes, who believes Navas’ marketing and publishing work and Mitchell’s background in business development will serve the new division well.

“We’re sure excited to get our outdoor initiatives up and running and we’ve identified a great team who can start to build the outdoor economy in the state, create jobs, and identify more opportunities,” Keyes said.

Damien Willis is a Lead Reporter for the Las Cruces Sun-News. He can be reached at 575-541-5443, or @DamienWillis on Twitter.

Source: Las Cruces Sun-News


April 2, 2019  / The Santa Fe New Mexican

Governor signs bill creating Outdoor Recreation Division to promote New Mexico activities

New Mexico, a state that has long promoted its natural wonders, will soon have a new office of outdoor recreation, though it will open with a much smaller budget than anticipated — just $200,000, a big drop from the $1.5 million lawmakers initially requested.

On Tuesday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed Senate Bill 462, authorizing the creation of the Outdoor Recreation Division within the state’s Economic Development Department, effective July 1.

The new office will focus on supporting businesses related to outdoor recreation, marketing the state’s camping, hiking, fishing and hunting offerings, among other activities, and improving roads and trails tied to outdoor experiences.

In addition to the $200,000 to employ a director and office manager, the bill also provides $100,000 to the Youth Conservation Corps to pay for infrastructure and trail projects. Another $100,000 was allocated from a separate bill for a grant program so low-income children can participate in outdoor programs.

The initiative was backed by several organizations and advocates for hunting, fishing and camping.

“Fantastic idea,” said Kerrie Cox Romero, executive director of the New Mexico Council of Outfitters and Guides, which represents about 260 licensed hunting, fishing and camping outfitters in the state. The new agency, she said, will help “put more resources into helping small-business owners who are already established and finding ways to break down barriers to entry currently in existence on some public lands.”

Valerie Weiss, who with her husband Lee runs Fishtail Ranch Outfitters in Chama, agreed. “It recognizes the tremendous contribution that our outdoor recreation industry plays as part of our tourism efforts,” she said. “I think this law will help boost tourism and give those outdoors businesses a voice in how we can better promote these industries.”

“This is all about educating the world about all of the gems we have here in the state of New Mexico,” Lujan Grisham said during a news conference to commemorate the event at Hyde Memorial State Park near Santa Fe.

Sen. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, one of the sponsors of the bill, said he wasn’t disappointed in the reduced funding because the division can draw on staff members and resources from the Economic Development Department and the New Mexico Tourism Department.

He and the governor said additional funding could be allocated in the future.

The governor and some state lawmakers see the action as a way to help diversify the state’s economy by attracting tourists, state residents and people who don’t normally take part in outdoor activities to visit New Mexico’s state parks, rivers, forests and deserts.

The Outdoor Industry Association, a trade organization, says that in New Mexico the sector supports 99,000 jobs, creates nearly $10 billion in consumer spending every year and contributes $623 million in state and local tax revenue.

The state Department of Game and Fish reports there are 160,000 anglers who fish in New Mexico, spending $268 million, and 87,600 hunters, who spend $345 million, on their activities annually.

Other states, such as Colorado, Utah and Montana, have already created offices of outdoor recreation. Lujan Grisham said Colorado benefits from some $70 billion in consumer spending tied to the industry.

“Colorado, get out of our way, because we’re coming for you,” she said.

Source: The Santa Fe New Mexican



2019 Outdoor Economics Conference Details Announced

Silver City to Host State’s Premier Outdoor Conference on October 3 & 4, 2019


Jeff Steinborn, New Mexico Wild

Ken Ladner, Mayor of Silver City

Silver City, New Mexico – Organizers for the New Mexico Outdoor Economics Conference have announced that the 2019 Conference will take place in Silver City on October 3rd and 4th. The first annual Outdoor Economics Conference took place in Las Cruces and was attended by representatives of twenty eight communities across New Mexico and featured speakers from eight western states. The Conference has become a pivotal event to help communities, small businesses, and citizens develop strategies for growing the state’s $9.9 billion outdoor recreation economy.

The Conference also plays a key role educating policy makers about successful initiatives to expand outdoor tourism and economic development. The 2018 Conference helped develop support for the establishment of a state Office of Outdoor Recreation.

The 2019 Outdoor Economics Conference will feature panel discussions related to community and private sector strategies for promoting nearby public lands to create jobs and tourism. Located near the historic Gila Wilderness and Continental Divide Trail, Conference topics will also highlight tourism opportunities connected to trails and river recreation. The Conference will also offer guided trips to the Gila Wilderness and Gila River, and a reception on the historic Silver City Mainstreet.

To attend the New Mexico Outdoor Conference people can register online at The registration fee is $40.

The 2019 New Mexico Outdoor Economics Conference will be held at the Grant County Veterans Memorial Business & Conference Center at 3031 Highway 180 East in Silver City, New Mexico.

Sponsors of the 2019 New Mexico Outdoor Economics Conference include the Town of Silver City, Grant County, Western New Mexico University, New Mexico Wild, Silver City Mainstreet Project, and the Silver City Grant County Chamber of Commerce.


Create Office of Outdoor Recreation

New Mexico Outdoor Economics Conference
Welcomes More than 150 Participants to Las Cruces
Speakers from Seven States and Across New Mexico Convene to
Discuss Innovative Strategies to Grow the State’s Outdoor Recreation Economy

CONTACT:           Nathan Small, New Mexico Wild
(484) 639-4534 |

Carrie Hamblen, Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce
(575) 323-1575 |

LAS CRUCES, NM – Business leaders, directors from respective Western states’ outdoor recreation offices, and elected officials, including two U.S. Senators, are amongst the speakers at the first-ever New Mexico Outdoor Economics Conference, today and tomorrow in Las Cruces. The goal of the conference is to advance economic development strategies and opportunities to grow New Mexico jobs connected to protected public lands and outdoor recreation.

Conference attendance is expected to exceed 150 participants representing at least seven states. At least a dozen cities, counties, and tribes from across New Mexico are sending representatives to contribute to the discussion and bring back new ideas for their communities.

On Thursday, panelists are examining outdoor recreation and public lands marketing successes; business opportunities connected to the outdoor recreation industry; the experiences of State Offices of Outdoor Recreation; and how protected public lands benefit local businesses.

On Friday, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich will deliver the keynote address on the inextricable link between conservation and growing the Western economy. The Senator will also unveil his legislation to establish White Sands National Monument as a National Park and Ray Rasker of Headwaters Economics will present the results of a new study examining the economic benefits that could result from re-designating White Sands. Also on Friday, panelists will discuss growing outdoor industry manufacturing jobs and what is needed for Dona Ana County to take part.

“Outdoor recreation in New Mexico, much of it around protected public lands, is a big driver of the state’s economy. But there is work to be done to ensure that New Mexico continues to be competitive with neighboring states and attracts outdoor industry companies,” said Cailin O’Brien-Feeney, State and Local Policy Manager for the Outdoor Industry Association. “The potential in New Mexico, which already boasts 99,000 outdoor recreation-related jobs, is unquestionable.”

The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, which surrounds Las Cruces, has enjoyed a huge increase in visitors since being designated a national monument in May 2014. By September 2016, visitation to the Monument had increased by 152 percent. Many local businesses have been successful in translating increased visitation to the monument to increased business profits.

“I’m thrilled that Las Cruces is hosting this conference,” said Ken Miyagishima, Mayor of Las Cruces, who is also a speaker at the conference. “Our city has found that promoting our protected public lands as a community asset also benefits our local economy. We are excited to share our story, learn from others, and continue taking steps forward.”

One key point of the conference is the role of state offices of outdoor recreation, which are being created in states across the West, typically housed within state economic development departments. Currently, New Mexico lacks such an office but several New Mexico state legislators would like to change that.

“It [creating the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation] was a game changer for Utah. It further reinforced the importance of the outdoor industry, public lands, tourism, and the significant economic impact they all have on our state,” said Tom Adams, Director of the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation, the first office of its kind to open in the U.S. “Like New Mexico, Utah is known for its remarkable natural beauty. New Mexico also has an opportunity to share that natural beauty, draw businesses and tourists, and encourage a healthy, active lifestyle.”

According to an Outdoor industry Association 2017 report, the outdoor recreation economy in Colorado and Utah generated $28.0 billion and $12.3 billion, respectively, in consumer spending. For the same period, the outdoor recreation economy in New Mexico generated $9.9 billion.

For more information on the New Mexico Outdoor Economics Conference, including background on the speakers and the schedule, please visit If you’re not able to attend, most of the Conference will be broadcast via Facebook Live at


Create Office of Outdoor Recreation

What do Colorado, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, North Carolina, Oregon and Montana have in common? They all enjoy beautiful public lands and have created a state “Office of Outdoor Recreation.” Unfortunately, New Mexico is one of the few Western states without a state Office of Outdoor Recreation despite the fact that our outdoor recreation industry generates $9.9 billion in consumer spending annually and supports 99,000 jobs, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.


Outdoor Economics conference to highlight opportunities

In New Mexico, our livelihoods are rooted in our open spaces. Our public lands are where locals and visitors alike go to fill their freezers with elk or wild turkey, camp under the stars, bike on a challenging single track, or cast a fly in a trout stream. These recreation activities that are beloved traditions for so many of us in New Mexico are also major drivers for our local economies.

Last year, the Outdoor Industry Association reported that the outdoor recreation economy directly contributes $9.9 billion in consumer spending annually and employs 99,000 people in New Mexico. We have so much room to grow this industry in our state, and can do so by learning from success stories in our own and other Western communities. That’s why I am so excited to attend and welcome the New Mexico Outdoor Economics Conference to Las Cruces on Thursday and Friday, May 3 and 4.


Looking to benefit more from public lands

A report Thursday by the National Park Service found that more than 2 million people visited national park units in New Mexico last year, spending $116 million in the state. That produced 1,720 jobs and an overall impact to the state’s economy of $141.6 million.

And, those numbers are only for the seven sites managed by the National Parks Service: Carlsbad Caverns National Park; Aztec Ruins, Bandelier, Capulin Volcano, El Malpais, El Morro, Fort Union, Gila Cliff Dwellings, Petroglyph, Salinas Pueblo Missions and White Sands national monuments; Chaco Culture, Pecos and Manhattan Project national historical parks and Valles Caldera National Preserve. It doesn’t include the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument and other public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Clearly, outdoor tourism is big business in New Mexico.


Sharing the economic successes of protected public lands

Since the designation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in May 2014, our incredible city has led the way in demonstrating the connection between local businesses, economic development, and protecting public lands.

In addition to sharing our successes with our legislators in our nation’s capital, the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce has been honored with speaking to chambers of commerce in California and Maine, sharing our stories at conferences in Las Vegas, Wyoming, and Washington D.C., and talking with numerous communities throughout the west on creative ways to highlight national monuments.


Advocates tout impact of NM’s outdoor economy

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In New Mexico, the outdoors is big business. Outdoor recreation accounts for $9.9 billion in consumer spending, $2.8 billion in wages and salaries, $623 million in state and local tax revenue and 99,000 direct jobs, according to a 2017 report from the Outdoor Industry Association. Those numbers reflect spending and employment associated with a broad range of activities, everything from wildlife viewing to skateboarding to “running 3+ miles.”

Then there’s impact associated with specific locations. Across Doña Ana and El Paso counties, the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument supports about $10 million in economic activity, $570,000 in state and local tax revenue and 100 jobs on an annual basis, according to a study commissioned by the Partnership for Responsible Business and the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce.


New Mexico Outdoor Economics Conference Coming to Las Cruces

LAS CRUCES – The business of public lands will be at the forefront of an economics convention being held in southern New Mexico. The New Mexico Outdoor Economics Conference, May 3 and 4 in Las Cruces, will include panel discussions about community programs around the country that promote nearby public lands and will include directors of outdoor recreation offices from multiple Western states as well as leaders in the outdoor recreation industry.