Danielle Prokop

Danielle Prokop

Danielle Prokop covers the environment and local government in Southern New Mexico for Source NM. Her coverage has delved into climate crisis on the Rio Grande, water litigation and health impacts from pollution. She is based in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Estela Padilla recalls memories of the river from her youth in her home in El Paso, Texas.

‘It’s like a crime scene’ what’s happened to the Rio Grande in far west Texas

By: - February 22, 2023

SOCORRO, TEXAS — Estela Padilla dreams of the Rio Grande, the river of her youth. In her home shaded by pine and pecan, Padilla, 77, said her heart is broken by the vast changes in what was once a mosaic of wild spaces. “My grandchildren cannot relate to my memory of the river because they […]

Salted earth at the tail of the Rio Grande’s snowmelt

By: - February 20, 2023

EL PASO, Texas — The Rio Grande is strictly managed, apportioned and allocated beneath Elephant Butte Dam as it makes its way to Texas. Only when the dam is open does the water travel through El Paso, ferried in concrete-lined straight channels to Mexico’s reservoirs or to irrigation ditches downstream. The flows travel, sometimes spreading […]

Danzantes, from left to right: Leeane Chavez dances with her father Ted Chavez, 6-year-old Deja Tapia and Iaasac Nieto for the Saint Anthony Fiesta in June 2022.

A procession as the globe warms

By: - February 17, 2023

CARNUEL, N.M. — The sun beats down on the high mountain church in a rural farming community folded into the crevices of the Sandia Mountains. Smoke rises from grills in the stands outside, as 2005-era Usher and Sean Paul dribble out from a PA system. Only a few people linger inside the cool sanctuary of […]

NM groups applauds Biden appointment of Xochitl Torres Small to Agriculture Dept. deputy position

By: - February 16, 2023

New Mexico agriculture, conservation and water groups cheered President Joe Biden’s nomination of Xochitl Torres Small to a top cabinet position as deputy secretary in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Jeff Witte, the Secretary for the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, said Torres Small’s prior work in Congress and water law expertise brings a “new […]

Mallory Boro and Keegan Epping comb through the fine net for any silvery minnows left in the drying ponds of the Rio Grande at San Acacia. Fish litter the riverbed, inhabiting increasingly smaller ponds where the river breaks.

Rescuing silvery minnows like ‘slapping a Band-Aid on a severed limb’

By: - February 15, 2023

SOCORRO COUNTY, N.M. — Four people walk the streambed, combing the pools in Socorro County’s San Acacia Reach. Two wade thigh-deep in the bank crook, a seine net strung between them, and tug it through the water. Another calls out temperatures and measures the pool. The fourth jots it down in a notebook. At the […]

Phoebe Suina, a hydrologist and board member of the Interstate Stream Commission, stands in front of the federally built reservoir on Cochiti Pueblo.

‘Not an object to be bartered,’ the Rio Grande is lifeblood for the land

By: - February 13, 2023

SILE, N.M. — The river is something Phoebe Suina carries with her always. “I look at my hand, and you have all of these veins. They’re all blue, just like a river,” Suina (Cochiti Pueblo) said. “As blood flows through us, so do the rivers and streams across the land from the mountains.” The river […]

Rio Grande water stored in Elephant Butte and Caballo resevoirs is released downstream to southern New Mexico and Texas on June 1, 2022.

NM officials request $125M over five years to cut groundwater pumping below Elephant Butte

By: - February 10, 2023

It’ll be months before a judge makes a decision on a deal that could end the fight over Rio Grande water between New Mexico and Texas before the U.S. Supreme Court, but the state still needs to spend millions of dollars to cut groundwater pumping in Southern New Mexico.  State officials and the lead attorney […]

The oxbow, a horseshoe curve of the river which has transformed over time into a marsh, as seen from the San Antonio Bluffs on Albuquerque's Westside.

Watching the oxbow dry

By: - February 10, 2023

The Rio Grande is a silver thread ribboning its way through New Mexico, enhanced by a brocade of greenery. It roars to life through the tall pines, curves through the canyons carved by its steadfast course. The river vertically bisects the entire state and touches 14 sovereign pueblos, sluicing into canals and creeping across fields. […]

Alfalfa blooms in the fields next to the shell of the San Isidro Catholic Church, which burned in 1975.

The patron saint of farming

By: - February 8, 2023

LAS MESITAS, Colo. — The husk of a church rises up, seemingly scraping the low, heavy clouds. The hollowed-out sanctuary is open to the whipping wind and a smattering of raindrops.  Gutted by fire in 1975, the bones of the mission-style San Isidro Catholic Church remain, purple cowslip and grasses sprouting in the aisles. Empty […]

The cracked riverbed lays exposed in El Paso, Texas, on May 23, 2022.

Rio Grande settlement proposal is in federal judge’s hand

By: - February 7, 2023

A proposed deal that Texas and New Mexico say will bring an end to the states’ years-long, multi-million dollar dispute over Rio Grande water had its day in court Monday, facing objections from two irrigation districts and the federal government.  And now, everyone waits.  The next step lies in the hands of a federal judge. […]

JD Schmidt's sheep graze in the San Luis Valley on June 23, 2022.

A new mentality of collaboration in a river district

By: - February 6, 2023

MANASSA, Colo. — Nathan Coombs, who manages the Conejos River District, used to hold beliefs that more water for conservation meant less for farmers.  “I was raised on a production ag farm,” he said. “Water was for crops. That was the only use in my perspective.” The farmer from Manassa, Colorado, said his mind was changed […]

Kyler Brown drives a calf on June 21, 2022 as part of a drive that went through downtown Del Norte, Colorado.

Moral questions on a standard San Luis Valley farm

By: - February 3, 2023

MONTE VISTA, Colo. — A self-described Midwest import from Missouri, 39-year old Kyler Brown is a cowboy, farmer and philosopher. These days, he feels driven by questions of life and death.  “Do people feel like they have morality in their occupation? I think people have moral moments, but probably most people don’t question the morality of […]