Galisteo Basin Preserve

Listen to the sounds of the Galisteo Basin Preserve recorded by David Dunn

Available Properties
Photo Gallery
The Village
News + Press

Is the Galisteo Basin Preserve the same thing as the Galisteo Basin? What about the Village of Galisteo?

Actually, they are all different and all related.

The Galisteo Basin is a geographic region in north-central New Mexico defined by the Galisteo Creek watershed and several mountain ranges: the Sangre de Cristo to the north, the Ortiz to the west, and the Sandia and Manzano mountains to the south. Because of its size—approximately 470,000 acres—and position amid several mountain systems, the Rio Grande Valley, and the Great Plains, the Galisteo Basin has long been a critical migration corridor for wildlife and an important travel route for prehistoric and historic traders and explorers. Read more about the natural history and ecology of the Galisteo Basin in the Natural Features section.

The Galisteo Basin Preserve occupies 13,522 acres within this significant geographic region. A land-conservation and community-development initiative of Commonweal Conservanc (a Santa Fe-based nonprofit organization), the Galisteo Basin Preserve is dedicated to preserving its major viewshed, wildlife habitat, cultural history, and natural resource values, while also promoting a new model of resource-efficient and stewardship-based community building. Located roughly 15 miles south of the city of Santa Fe, the Preserve includes large-scale protected open space, public recreation trails, private conservation properties, and a proposed village development known as Trenza.

The tiny village of Galisteo is a “traditional village” in the parlance of New Mexico cultural geography. Home to fewer than 180 residents, the village of Galisteo was established in 1816. It is located about 19 miles south of Santa Fe and 5 miles south of the Galisteo Basin Preserve’s entrance. Prior to Spanish settlement, the area was inhabited by Pueblo people for thousands of years. Read more about the cultural history of this area in the Cultural History section.

How big is the Galisteo Basin Preserve? How much of the Preserve will be protected open space?

The Galisteo Basin Preserve includes 13,522 acres.

Commonweal Conservancy's goal for the Galisteo Basin Preserve is to protect and restore open space on a landscape scale, which means that more than 96 percent of the Preserve's 13,522 acres is planned as protected open space, and less than 4 percent will be impacted by development (e.g., buildings, roads). Conservation lands open to the public—accessible via a planned 50-mile trail network—are projected to account for about 60 percent of the Preserve. Privately held properties governed by environmental protection standards make up the remaining 36 percent of the Preserve’s land area.

In combination with about 9,800 acres of adjoining federal, state, and Santa Fe County public lands, the Galisteo Basin Preserve helps to create a regional open space area of more than 22,000 acres.

How will the Galisteo Basin Preserve be publicly accessible? How much of it will be open to the public? Can I explore there now?

We are excited for you to come explore—and keep exploring—the Galisteo Basin Preserve! Our hope is to continue to build a community of people who care deeply about the health of this land.

The majority (about 60 percent) of the Galisteo Basin Preserve is planned as public open space, which will be accessible via 50 miles of proposed hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trails. Carefully sited trail corridors within the Preserve will connect it with nearby federal, state, and Santa Fe County lands and with regional trail networks—facilitating trail connections that link the city of Santa Fe, the Community College District, and Eldorado with the communities in the central part of the county.

Since 2006, Commonweal Conservancy has developed nearly 6 miles of public hiking and mountain biking trails at the Galisteo Basin Preserve. We have also mapped more than 8 miles of ranch-road and arroyo trails to accommodate equestrians as well as hikers and bikers. Please visit our Trails page to download the current version of the Galisteo Basin Preserve Trails Map. You can help Commonweal Conservancy care for the public trails and open space within the Galisteo Basin Preserve by joining the Friends of the Preserve community stewardship program.

Is there enough water for Trenza, the proposed village at the Galisteo Basin Preserve? Where will Trenza's water come from?

There is more than enough water to serve the needs of the Trenza village community for the next 100 years and beyond, according to the extensive geologic mapping and well testing we have completed. In order to formalize the project's right to draw water from the local aquifer, Commonweal Conservancy is working through a process of transferring approximately 31 ac/ft of water rights to the village well field. At this stage, Santa Fe County’s review process is focused on the initial phase of development, and it has confirmed that a 100-year water supply is available for the Phase I development plan (149 homes). 

Trenza's water strategy anticipates two sources of water for the community. Municipal-grade water wells will draw water from a deep aquifer below the Preserve—a different and noncontiguous aquifer from those serving the village of Galisteo or the Eldorado subdivision. Additionally, Trenza will be supplied with water from a regional/Santa Fe County water system that is planned for future development. The two water sources will allow Trenza to draw water from local and regional sources—a strategy that will ensure a stable and continuous water supply for generations to come.

The projected domestic water demand for each household in the Village is 0.17 ac/ft per year (55,395 gallons); significantly less than the domestic water budget for Santa Fe and Eldorado. This modest level of demand—in combination with community-scale water conservation measures, water catchment, and water-reuse technologies—will ensure that the water-efficiency standards of the community are fully realized.

Read more about the proposed village plan in the Trenza section of the website, where you can download the narrative portion of the Phase I Preliminary Plat.

Can I buy a house in Trenza yet?

Not quite yet—but we’re glad you asked! 

Commonweal Conservancy is still navigating the Santa Fe County approval and pre-construction process for Trenza's first-phase neighborhoods. Late in 2012 may be the soonest that Trenza home sites will be marketed for sale; on this schedule the first home construction in Trenza would begin in late fall/early winter of 2013.

The folks on our email list will be among the first to know when Trenza home sites become available. Please join this group by clicking here—we send periodic emails with updates about the Galisteo Basin Preserve, Trenza, currently available properties, news, events, and special programs.

There are currently available properties within the Galisteo Basin Preserve, each of which offers a unique opportunity to build a innovative green home surrounded by thousands of acres of open space. To learn more about what’s on the market now, visit our Available Properties pages or contact us directly at 505.982.0071, ext. 102. Or you can send an email inquiry to

What all has happened with the Galisteo Basin Preserve so far?

Quite a lot, actually!  Here are some highlights:

  • Land Acquired
    • 9,135 acres (Commonweal Conservancy is engaged in a phased land-acquisition contract for the remaining acres of the Preserve)
  • Land Permanently Conserved
    • 1,089 acres = Conservation easements held by Commonweal Conservancy
    • 1,250 acres = Conservation easements held by Santa Fe Conservation Trust
    • 468 acres = Property sold to Santa Fe County Open Space Program
    • 393 acres = private open space awaiting near-term conservation easements
  • Land Restoration + Habitat Improvements
    • Wetlands and arroyo restoration within the Arroyo de los Angeles, the Galisteo Spring, and other areas (Earth Works Institute)
    • Drainage stabilization projects
    • 86-tree orchard planted in Southern Crescent
    • Prairie dog relocation plan
  • Trails Developed
    • 3 miles of private trails
    • 6 miles of public trails
    • 8 miles of public trails mapped (unengineered arroyo + ranch road trails)
    • 6 miles pledged to the Santa Fe County Open Space + Trails Program
  • Properties Sold
    • 468 acres to Santa Fe County for public open space
    • 4 West Basin parcels, all off-the-grid, to private buyers
    • 20 New Moon Overlook parcels to private buyers
    • 10 Southern Crescent parcels to private buyers
    • 1 East Preserve parcel to private buyers
    • 3 independent parcels to private buyers who have agreed to overlay their land with conservation easements
  • Village Progress
    • June, 2007—Santa Fe Board of County Commissioners approves the master plan for the village at the Galisteo Basin Preserve
    • June 2009—Santa Fe County Development Review Committee approves preliminary plat for Phase I of the village
    • February 2010—The village is named Trenza, and the Santa Fe Board of County Commissioners approves Trenza's Phase I preliminary plat
  • Village Accolades + Related Honors
    • The Urban Land Institute showcases the Galisteo Basin Preserve in its forthcoming book on new standards of conservation development (expected 2010 publication date)
    • Paper on “Integrative Conservation” solicited from Commonweal by the National Park Service (2009)
    • Inclusion in National Building Museum “Green Community” exhibition (2008/2009)
    • Washington Association of Landscape Architects award (2008)
    • Numerous mentions in local, regional, and national press outlets.  Read more on our News + Press page.
  • Community Participation
    • More than 200 hours of community dialogue and collaborative planning with representatives and citizen committees in Galisteo, Lamy, and Santa Fe about development and open-space priorities and concerns
    • A path-setting agreement with the traditional village of Galisteo that sets out the protocols and standards for testing and monitoring the effect of Galisteo Basin Preserve water development on the Galisteo Creek.
    • Active participation in the Santa Fe County growth management process and the Sustainable Development Plan/Land Use Code rewrite

How can I get involved with the Galisteo Basin Preserve? (And how can I get one of those cool, oval GBP stickers?)

Thank you for asking! There are several ways you can get involved with the Galisteo Basin Preserve:

  • Stay abreast of all the goings on at the Galisteo Basin Preserve: sign up for our periodic (not too many) e-newsletters and announcements about the Galisteo Basin Preserve, the progress of Trenza, real estate opportunities, news, and events. Get on the list through the Contact page on this website or by emailing Commonweal here: [Email Us]
  • Become a fan of the Galisteo Basin Preserve on Facebook: click here or on the blue "f" at the top of any website page.
  • Join the Friends of the Preserve community stewardship program to help take care of the Galisteo Basin Preserve’s public trails and open spaces.
  • Create a home in the Galisteo Basin Preserve. Check out the currently available properties in the Preserve on our Available Properties page or call us at 505.982.0071, ext. 102, to schedule a tour.

GBP stands for, of course, the Galisteo Basin Preserve, and the cool, oval GBP stickers are part of the Friends of the Preserve community stewardship program. The Galisteo Basin Preserve public trails and open space are a nonprofit-owned community resource, and we need help in order to care for them and keep them open to public. Each membership level in the Friends of the Preserve program is associated with a thank-you gift: a GBP sticker, a Commonweal Conservancy/Galisteo Basin Preserve cap, a reusable stainless steel Galisteo Basin Preserve water bottle, a signed photograph of the night sky, or a celebration tree in the Preserve Orchard. Click here to become a Friend of the Preserve.

©2004-2018, Commonweal Conservancy; all rights reserved | 505.982.0071 | 369 Montezuma Ave #495, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
Vision | Properties | The Village | Trails | Photo Gallery | News/Press | About | Location | FAQ | Contact | Home | Terms