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Fernald Hired as Natural Resources Specialist in Alcalde

LAS CRUCES - Alexander "Sam" Fernald, new natural resources specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service in Alcalde, brings experience with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and as a Fulbright Scholar in Chile to his work in northern New Mexico.


Fernald will provide research and outreach, primarily in watershed management, as well as rangeland ecology, wildlife and forestry as part of NMSU's Rural Agricultural Improvement and Public Affairs Project. Working with the Small Farm Task Force, Fernald said he will address problems such as water quantity and water quality issues related to agricultural practices.

Fernald, a member of Extension's new Water Task Force, said he would like to work with landowners and resource managers in the sub-basin of the Rio Grande to establish a scientific database on land use effects on water quality.

"I think good stewards of the land will be happy to be involved," he said.

Fernald said he is concerned about data from other states being used to make decisions on water issues, and he hopes locally conducted research can contribute to a more informed debate. He hopes research can overcome reliance on inappropriate formulas that drive regulatory decisions.

Most recently, Fernald spent three years as a National Research Council postdoctoral associate with the Environmental Protection Agency in Oregon. He earned a bachelor's degree from Stanford, a master's degree in environmental management from Duke and a doctorate from Colorado State in watershed science in 1997.

Fluent in Spanish, Fernald studied in Chile as a Fulbright Scholar, conducted honors undergraduate research in Argentina and worked in Costa Rica, Peru, and Nicaragua. He was a technical coordinator with the Pan American Health Organization from 1993 to 1995.

Fernald's research as a graduate student and postdoctoral associate addressed grazing effects on water quality and the effect of surface water-groundwater exchange on water attributes.