Extensive regulation of the Middle Rio Grande's natural flow regime, together with the effects of introduced tree species, landscape fragmentation, and increasing wildfires, are obstacles for any level of restoration of its native riparian forest (bosque). However, carefully monitored partial restoration is possible and greatly needed to prevent the bosque's serious decline. Monitoring can reveal temporal and spatial changes in the bosque's ecological dynamics. The Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program, which currently uses volunteers to synchronously record changes in biological populations and ecological processes at four sites in the middle valley, shows how this can be done. Partial restoration depends on well timed releases following heavy spring runoff. When these exceed bankfull stage, overbank flooding will (1) establish new cottonwood-willow stands at suitable locations and (2) enhance ecological maintenance of mature stands. Partial restoration can potentially involve alternative, non mutually exclusive manipulations of the river's hydrology within a given reach. A different approach, currently exemplified by the Albuquerque Overbank Project, involves lowering a bank so that natural flooding can establish new native vegetation. These conceptual and empirical efforts can build a foundation for bosque managers to assess where modified native bosque can persist, and can be the beginning of a comprehensive program to manage the riparian forest on a sustainable basis.