Who is the Natural Resources Trustee?

State Natural Resource Trustees are appointed by the governor of each state. In addition to state trustees, the President of the United States and Native American tribes appoint federal and tribal trustees. New Mexico frequently shares trust responsibilities for natural resources with other Trustees.


Susana Martinez

Susana Martinez was sworn in as Governor of New Mexico on January 1, 2011, and became both the first woman to hold the position in New Mexico and the first Hispanic woman in U.S. history to serve as a state’s Governor. Prior to becoming Governor, Martinez served for 14 years as the District Attorney for the 3rd Judicial District in Doña Ana County, New Mexico.

 Butch Tongate

Butch Tongate was appointed to the position of Natural Resources Trustee by Governor Susana Martinez on September 12, 2016.  He also serves as the Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) where he previously served as Deputy Secretary for five years.  In his 23 years at the NMED, Mr. Tongate served in various leadership positions including Occupational Safety and Solid Waste management. Mr. Tongate received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from the U.S. Naval Academy and a Master of Science degree in Systems Management from the University of Southern California.

Executive Director
Trais Kliphuis


Trais Kliphuis, is the Executive Director for the New Mexico Office of Natural Resources Trustee. Trais has more than 18 years of experience in management and implementation of environmental programs. As Executive Director, she is responsible for development and implementation of the State’s Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Program. Trais represents New Mexico on the States Natural Resource Damage Alliance and on the State and Tribal Government Working Group. As a member of these groups, she works with state, federal and tribal natural resource damage practitioners on common concerns regarding regulations, policies, and guidance related to natural resource damage assessment and restoration.