In observance of Earth Day, an agreement was signed on Monday, April 23 between the New Mexico State Land Office and the University of New Mexico Biology Department to share critical information about the species of plants and animals on state trust land.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed will share information on a regular basis gleaned by faculty, staff, and university students who will be able to perform research on state trust land.

The MOU was signed in Albuquerque at UNM's Greenhouse between State Land Commissioner Ray Powell, and UNM representatives Julia Fulghum, vice president for Research and Economic Development, Richard Cripps, Biology Department Chairperson and Joseph Cook, director, Museum of Southwestern Biology.

"I am very excited about re-establishing the partnership between the New Mexico State Land Office and the outstanding University of New Mexico," said New Mexico State Land Commissioner Ray Powell. "Working with the talented faculty, staff, and students, to better understand and manage our State Trust Lands will help ensure that our lands remain healthy and productive for future generations."

UNM Vice President for Research and Economic Development Julia Fulghum adds, "The MOU continues a unique opportunity for UNM to make research advances in biology and ecology. I am pleased with this collaborative effort with the State Land Office and thank Ray Powell for his leadership and continued support."

As dictated by the MOU, UNM's Museum of Southwestern Biology will continue a close collaboration with the State Land Office.

Joseph Cook, director of the Museum of Southwestern Biology said, "The museum's mission is to build extensive archives of biodiversity of the American Southwest. The specimens and research facilitated by this MOU will make a significant contribution to our understanding of how New Mexico's incomparable fauna and flora is responding to changing environmental conditions on our planet.

"By establishing baseline environmental conditions, natural history collections provide one of our best perspectives on issues such as sustainability, invasive species, food security, climate change, and emerging pathogens."

"This is a wonderful occasion for the students and faculty of the Department of Biology to study, and contribute to our understanding of some of New Mexico's most unique habitats," said UNM Biology Chair Richard Cripps.

The State Land Office will incorporate the information collected into databases for the Asset Inventory Program.

The MOU becomes effective upon signing.

Media contacts: State Land Office, Karin Stangl (505) 827-5739; email: or UNM, Steve Carr (505) 277-1821; email: