New Mexico became the 13th state to establish an Office of Outdoor Recreation in April, and on Monday, the first director started work.
Veteran journalist Axie Navas will lead the state's efforts to create a booming outdoor recreation economy, along with the first-of-its-kind Outdoor Equity Grant Program.
Navas is no stranger to including diverse voices in the outdoor space. Most recently, she worked as the digital editorial director for Outside, where she managed a team of 25 writers, editors, and website developers.
“I’m intensely passionate about the outdoors –protecting our wild places and getting more people of all ages, backgrounds, and beliefs outside,” she said in a news release. “I want to collaborate with other state agencies to promote economic development and general wellness, but also advocate for the principles of conservation and respect for tribal lands.”
Navas also studied Spanish and is an avid skier, hiker, and biker. She lives in Santa Fe with her husband, John Clary Davies, executive editor at New Mexico Magazine.
Her position falls under the New Mexico Economic Development Department and she will work in close partnership with Peter Mitchell, an EDD regional representative with a long history in business development.
The office received bipartisan support when it was first approved. The bill—signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on April 2—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," Lujan Grisham said. "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."
Of the 15 state offices today, only New Mexico has the Outdoor Equity Grant Program. It will aim funds toward low-income youth and partner with private companies for a ripple effect some believe could reshape the state over coming generations.