Appendix A

Built Environment Case Studies

 

Location: Southwestern Province,

Jemez Ranger District,

Santa Fe National Forest

Project Type: Developed recreation

facility construction

Year Completed: 1992

Budget: Contractor’s estimate—

$604,417.00

Actual costs (with change

orders)—$640,771.00

 

1. LOWER JEMEZ RECREATION COMPLEX

Project Team: The core design team consisted

of the Santa Fe National Forest landscape

architect, the facilities engineer, and civil engineer

technicians. The landscape architect directed

and coordinated the project. Other specialists

who provided input and technical assistance

during project planning and design included the

district recreation staff, forest hydrologist,

forest and district archaeologists, and the

district fisheries/wildlife biologist.

 

As with other recreation projects on the Santa

Fe National Forest, the core design team was

also responsible for contract administration.

This provided continuity between design and

construction phases and ensured that any field

changes were made in keeping with the original

design intent.

 

Project Description: The Lower Jemez Recreation

Complex consists of a picnic area, a campground,

an information/rest area, and five small parking

areas for fishing access. These sites are

distributed along the Lower Jemez River from

the mouth of San Diego Canyon to just south

of the town of Jemez Springs, New Mexico. The

Forest Service acquired the land from private

landowners in the early 1980’s through Land

and Water Conservation funds.

 

Mountains and rivers are natural attractors,

and this area is no exception. It is the backyard

playground to a population base of well over

600,000. The Lower Jemez Complex is key to

providing many recreation opportunities along

heavily traveled New Mexico State Highway 4 and

serves as a gateway to the Jemez Mountains.

 

Large-Scale Planning: Long before Lower Jemez

came into public ownership, access to the river

and related activities were tolerated by the

private owners, which established a pattern of

heavy use. The area features a beautiful and

sensitive riparian zone, endangered species,

and numerous heritage resources. All of these

elements were being severely impacted by

unmanaged and uncontrolled use.

 

An area-wide recreation opportunity study

conducted during project initiation and planning

highlighted the need for additional camping and

picnicking facilities on the Jemez District.

Providing additional facilities along the Lower

Jemez Corridor, while managing use and

controlling vehicular traffic, would address

recreation demands as well as extend the season

of use. Because the elevation of the corridor is

considerably lower than the rest of the Jemez

Mountains, recreation developments in the area

would allow for early spring and late fall use.

 

 

 

 

Project Scale Planning/Implementation: One of

the challenges facing the design team was how

to make eight separate recreation sites spread

out over a 6-mile corridor cohere as a single

unit. A strong architectural or design theme was

needed to connect all sites while allowing each

site’s unique characteristics to shine. The most

dominant constructed features in the area are

the homes made of stucco and slump block with

corrugated metal roofs. Rough, craggy textures

and horizontal and vertical layers of red, brown,

and beige define the surrounding dramatic mesas.

The inherent beauty and massiveness of the

natural environment overpower most human

intrusions. Because of this, the recreation

developments needed to complement the natural

features rather than compete for attention.

 

The landscape architects took the lead in

developing the design theme and worked primarily

with the engineers to ensure the theme translated

to the ground with the structures, road alignment,

and facility layout. The toilet and water treatment

buildings are constructed of split-face block

topped off with chocolate brown metal roofs.

These elements echo the natural color and rich

texture of the vernacular architecture and

landscape. The picnic area and campground carry

this theme further with the block wall/tubular

steel shade structures. Split-face block is also

used in the low walls surrounding the bulletin

boards, trash containers, benches, and fishing

pads at each site. Facilities were located to take

advantage of natural openings and minimize

removal of the scarce riparian vegetation.

 

Another design element repeated at each site

was the fencing material. A smooth wire fence

runs along most of the corridor between sites to

restrict indiscriminate vehicular traffic. However,

to give a sense of arrival and act as a backdrop

to each site’s entrance sign, a more welcoming

post-and-rail fence defines either side of the

entrance drive to the sites.

 

Universal design—making the facilities, programs,

and river accessible to all visitors—was an

important design objective from the earliest

planning phases and has been achieved

throughout the complex. All picnic and camp

units, for example, are equipped with accessible

site furnishings, and are easily accessible to

parking, toilet buildings, and drinking water. Most

of the trails have gently rolling grades and are

hardened. Retained, hardened fishing pads have

been provided along trails at the river’s edge.

 

To ensure that anglers using the fishing pads

would find their time well spent, log structures

(V-dams) were installed adjacent to and

immediately downstream of the pads to create

pools and enhance the fisheries habitat. In

addition, a small rest node, including a bench,

niche for strollers or wheelchairs, and space for

interpretive signing, was located within sight

distance of each fishing pad for nonanglers

accompanying their fishing partners.

 

The design and location of facilities is also

sensitive to concerns of the Pueblo Indians of

Jemez. An additional parking area, a second

picnic ground, and trail to a petroglyph, included

in the original proposal, were ultimately deleted

after negotiations with the tribe regarding

potential impacts to sacred areas.

 

Use/Evaluation: Maintenance and repair are

important considerations, especially whenever

developments are provided along a river. The

design team recognized early on that building

facilities in the annual floodplain could be

problematic and require heavy maintenance.

To minimize this to the extent possible, asphalt

was used to surface trails, picnic and camp

units, and the fishing pads.

 

A post-occupancy review after the first season

of use and the first major flooding revealed that

much of the trails and some of the fishing pads

had washed out. The forest and district

recreation staffs and maintenance crews met

on site to assess the extent of the damage

and determine the best course of action.

Corrective measures taken included placing

boulders downstream of the fishing pads for

protection from the scouring action of flooding

waters and placing substantial amounts of

riprap along trail fill slopes. For the most part,

these measures appear to be working, although

monitoring and addressing the effects of

flooding and the occasional vandalism and

graffiti is a continuous process.

 

This recreation development has been very well

received and supported by visitors to the area

as well as local residents who appreciate an

increased Forest Service presence. It has also

received regional recognition for its design and

implementation. Lower Jemez Complex represents

one of the best multiple-resource projects on the

Santa Fe National Forest. Although recreation

was the driver behind this project, many other

staffs were actively involved during the planning

and design phases. Close coordination among

the different resources resulted in a project

that continues to meet the needs of the growing

number of recreationists while minimizing

impacts to the natural environment.

 

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