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Respect the River/Rio — Forest Programs

Santa Fe National Forest

An SCA intern talking with campers during the contact ranger program

An SCA intern talking with campers during the contact ranger program.

Introduction/Overview

After seven years, Respect the Rio has rapidly become a successful education and watershed restoration program. Not only has the program reached thousands of people, but it has also provided a common goal for disciplines such as wildlife/fisheries, recreation, hydrology, and range on the Jemez and Cuba Ranger Districts of Santa Fe National Forest. A Respect the Rio program on the Pecos/Las Vegas Ranger District is just beginning.

The success of the Respect the River program in the Pacific Northwest spurred the Santa Fe National Forest to create Respect the Rio to address water quality issues in heavily used areas and to meet the needs of the Hispanic population of the southwest.

Respect the Rio concentrates on overall watershed health by pairing new management ideas with watershed restoration. Watershed restoration efforts include, but are not limited to, willow planting, installation of improved road drainage systems, road decommissioning, fence reconstruction and installation, upland water development, modification of dispersed recreation sites, trail improvement and relocation, fish habitat improvement, stream bank stabilization, wetland re-creation, off-road vehicle closures, and an updated annual operating instructions for grazing.

Problems

The Jemez Watershed was designated as an impaired watershed through regulations established by the Clean Water Act. The Jemez Watershed has the following impairments within Respect the Rio's project area: More information on water quality definitions

  • Clear Creek has exceeded standards for turbidity;.
  • Jemez River has exceeded standards for turbidity, metals (chronic aluminum), and sedimentation/stream bottom deposits;
  • Rio Cebolla has exceeded standards for temperature, and sedimentation/stream bottom deposits;
  • Rio de las Vacas has exceeded standards for temperature and Total Organic Carbon loads;
  • Rio Guadalupe has exceeded standards for turbidity, metals (chronic aluminum), and sedimentation/stream bottom deposits;
  • Rito Peñas Negras has exceeded standards for temperature, and sedimentation/stream bottom deposits.

Santa Fe National Forest manages most of the Jemez Watershed and must respond to these water quality impairments. Two grants from the New Mexico Environmental Department-Surface Water Quality Bureau and Environmental Protection Agency were procured for this watershed to begin addressing impairments. Since all but chronic aluminum impairments can be linked to dispersed recreational use along this watershed, Respect the Rio began laying the ground work for watershed restoration and education. .

Solutions

To combat the problems mentioned above, Respect the Rio combines restoration projects with education. The restoration projects repair or improve damages to the riparian areas. The education component explains to the general public what we are doing (restoring) and why.

A park vehicle in front of a fence exclosure and a walk-in campsite

A park vehicle in front of a fence exclosure and a walk-in campsite

Volunteers sit on one of the bridges they built along the East Fork Trail

Volunteers sit on one of the bridges they built along the East Fork Trail

Volunteers work on the trail to Spence Hot Springs

Volunteers work on the trail to Spence Hot Springs

New Mexico Trout volunteers construct a cattle fence along the upper Rio Cebolla

New Mexico Trout volunteers construct a cattle fence along the upper Rio Cebolla

Two employees planting willow slips along the upper Rio Cebolla

Two employees planting willow slips along the upper Rio Cebolla

An excavator adding boulders, wood, and root wads to improve the stream bank and fish habitat

An excavator adding boulders, wood, and root wads to improve the stream bank and fish habitat

 

 

 

U.S. Forest Service
Last modified: April 12, 2012
http://www.fs.fed.us

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