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Banner Wildlands Restoration Accomplishments

WildEarth Guardians Restoration Program has 20 years of experience restoring watershed health, improving water quality and wildlife habitat.  Over this time, WildEarth Guardians has managed more than 40 projects across New Mexico, which focused on ecological restoration.  Previous and ongoing federal and state-funded projects and ongoing projects include 8 New Mexico Environment Department/EPA 319 water quality improvement projects, 6 New Mexico State Riparian Ecosystem Restoration Initiative (RERI) projects, 2 USDA Collaborative Forest Restoration Program (CFRP) projects, 5 USFWS Partners projects, 2 North American Wetlands Conservation Act projects, a New Mexico State River Stewards project, and 3 prior YCC projects. WildEarth Guardians has managed more than 15 foundation, private, and corporate funded projects. WildEarth Guardians has provided direct management and fiscal oversight for all these projects.  Project partners include New Mexico Environment Department, New Mexico State Lands Department, Santa Fe National Forest, Bureau of Land Management, Valles Caldera National Preserve, Santa Fe County, City of Santa Fe, North American Wetlands Conservation Act, National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, National Forest Foundation, and American Forests.

Restoration projects area map

2016 Accomplishments:

2016 has been a great year for the Guardians’ Restoration Program helping to improve watershed health and wildlife habitat across New Mexico this year. Projects include:

  • Removed invasive plants and planted native riparian vegetation along the Rio Grande and Galisteo Creek
  • .Planted 50,000 willow, aspen, and narrowleaf cottonwoods along Rio de las Vacas on Santa Fe National Forest and Jaramillo Creek in the Valles Caldera National Preserve.
  • Completed planting and protection of 2.65 mile section of the Rio de las Vacas.
  • Partnered with the Youth Conservation Corps, and built erosion control structures on slopes burned in the 2011 Las Conchas and 2013 Thompson Ridge fires.
  • Planted 1,000’s of ponderosa and mixed conifer trees in high-intensity burn areas of Valles Caldera National Preserve.
  • Partnered with Santa Clara Pueblo, and built erosion controls along Santa Clara Creek. 
  • In total, more than 100,000 trees were planted in New Mexico.
  • More than 75 volunteers participated in restoration projects across New Mexico.
  • Partners include The New Mexico Environment Department, New Mexico Youth Conservation Corps, Santa Fe National Forest, Valles Caldera National Preserve, Bureau of Land Management, Santa Clara Pueblo, Rio Grande Return, National Forest Foundation, and the Santa Fe Watershed Association.

bluewater-creek-road-crossing-april-2009

Bluewater Creek road crossing, April 2009
before restoration

bluewater-creek-road-crossing-Sept-2016

Bluewater Creek road crossing, Sept 2016
after restoration

Jaramillo-creek-april-2015

Jaramillo Creek, April 2015
before restoration

Jaramillo-creek-september-2016

Jaramillo Creek, September 2016
after restoration

Rio-de-las-vacas-looking-upstream-april-2015

Rio De Las Vacas, April 2015
before restoration

Rio-de-las-vacas-looking-upstream-sept-2016

Rio De Las Vacas, September 2016
after restoration

2015 Accomplishments:

Volunteers planting willow and cottonwood along the Rio de las Vacas and the results after one growing season.

Rio de las Vacas April 2015 pc Jim Matison

Rio de las Vacas, April 2015
before restoration

Rio de las Vacas September 2015 pc Jim Matison

Rio de las Vacas, September 2015
after restoration

camp site on Rio de las Vacas April 2014  pc Jim Matison

Rio de las Vacas, April 2015

camp site on Rio de las Vacas Sept 2015 pc Jim Matison

Rio de las Vacas, September 2015

Photo above left is a camp site where vehicles could drive right up to the Rio de las Vacas. The Santa Fe National Forest wanted it closed. Fencing was constructed to block access to the camp site and willows and cottonwoods were planted in April 2015.

Bluewater Creek March 2009  pc Jim Matison

Bluewater Creek, March 2009

Bluewater Creek September 2015 #2 pc Jim Matison

Bluewater Creek, September 2015

Bluewater Creek March 2009 #2  pc Jim Matison

Bluewater Creek, March 2009

Bluewater Creek September 2015 pc Jim Matison

Bluewater Creek, September 2015

Rio Puerco March 2009 pc Jim Matison

Rio Puerco, March 2009

Rio Puerco September 2015 pc Jim Matison

Rio Puerco, September 2015

La Jencia taken on September 2015 pc Jim Matison

La Jencia, September 2015

Trees were planted on the banks of La Jencia in 2006 (click here to see the before picture). Pictures were taken in 2012 and in 2015 showing that the restoration is thriving.

San Antonio Creek in VCNP before  June 2011 pc Jim Matison

San Antonio Creek in VCNP, June 2011

San Antonio Creek in VCNP after September 2015 pc Jim Matiso

San Antonio Creek, September 2015

2014 Accomplishments:

Redondo Creek before slide 20 top

Redondo Creek, Fall 2012
before restoration

Redondo Creek after slide 20 bottom

Redondo Creek flowing in
its historic channel, September 2014

  • Planted approximately than 100,000 native trees and native forage species including: 102,000 Bebbs, strapleaf, and coyote willow, 900 aspen, 400 cottonwood, 700 bog birch, 700 thinleaf alder, 200 chokecherry
  • Plantings covered 3.49 miles of stream
  • Protected more than 3 miles of stream and 55 acres of riparian habitat from livestock use
  • Restored 30 acres of prairie grassland
  • Constructed 50 prairie dog burrows
  • Created 8 acres of wetland habitat

Aerial view valle caldera slide 19

Aerial Photo of Redondo Meadow August 2011
In the fall of 2013,  WildEarth Guardians in partnership with NAWCA and the Valles Caldera National Preserve reconnected Redondo Creek to its historic channel, which had been altered to dewater a wetland

Aerial view valle caldera slide 22

Aerial Photo of Redondo Meadow June 2014
Wetland acreage increased by more than 8 acres in 2014

2013 Accomplishments:

Santa Fe River April 2012

Santa Fe River, April 2012

Santa Fe River October 2013

Santa Fe River, October 2013

 

2013 has been an exciting year for restoration at WildEarth Guardians with our Restoration Staff and Volunteers planting more than 100,000 native plantings in New Mexico. Species include thinleaf alder, narrowleaf cottonwood, aspen, coyote willow, Fremont cottonwood, bluestem willow, Bebbs willow, strapleaf willow, pacific willow, American plum, chokecherry, golden currant, red osier  dogwood, serviceberry, and New Mexico Olive.

We also re-vegetated and/or protected more than four miles of stream and rivers to include the Rio Grande, Rito Penas Negras, San Antonio Creek, and Rito de los Indios.

2013 also included the management of our first ever Youth Conservation Corps Crew in the Valles Caldera National Preserve. With their support we removed more than four miles of livestock pasture fencing to improve wildlife migration. We also converted more than six miles of livestock barbed wire pasture fencing into barbless wire wildlife friendly fencing (to date); reconnected Redondo Creek to historic Redondo wetland meadow, which has been disconnected for more than 70 years; and we successfully started land prep for prairie dog relocation in the Galisteo Basin Preserve (scheduled relocation in 2014).

Rio Puerco June 2015

Rio Puerco, June 2005

Rio Puerco September 2013

Rio Puerco, September 2013

2012 Accomplishments:

In 2012, WildEarth Guardians Restoration Staff and Volunteers planted more than 170,000 native plantings in New Mexico at the following sites:

  •  Santa Fe River:

In partnership with the City of Santa Fe, WildEarth Guardians and volunteers planted more than 90,000 willow, 1,000 cottonwoods, and 100 New Mexico Olive and skunkbush sumac along a 1.3 mile stretch of the Santa Fe River within the City of Santa Fe. This portion of the river had recently undergone modification to redevelop its’ floodplain. These planting efforts re-established native riparian vegetation to the ecosystem, stabilized streambanks, and have provided green corridor along this portion of the Santa Fe River, which had been missing for decades. Partners and funding included the City of Santa Fe,  New Mexico Environment Department, State of New Mexico RERI Program, and American Forests.

  •  Rio Ojo Caliente:

WildEarth Guardians and volunteers planted over 10,000 willow, 500 cottonwood, and 100 riparian forages shrubs, including New Mexico olive, skunkbush sumac, chokecherry, and false indigo. The projects focused on restoration of river and riparian habitat and wetland pond adjacent to the Rio Ojo Caliente. Partners and funding included State of New Mexico Riparian Ecosystem Restoration Initiative (RERI), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Partners Programs, New Mexico Community Foundation. New Mexico Environment Department and the Bureau of Land Management.

  • Redondo Creek:

In 2012, WildEarth Guardians and volunteers planted more than 15,000 willow, 400 thinleaf alder, 300 narrowleaf cottonwood, 100 aspen, and 200 riparian forage species including chokecherry, serviceberry, golden currant, skunkbush sumac, woods rose, American plum, and red osier dogwood along a two mile stretch of Redondo Creek within the Valles Caldera National Preserve and Santa Fe National Forest. Seven new riparian exclosures were constructed to protect riparian vegetation from ungulate damage. Funding and partners include New Mexico Environment Department, The State of New Mexico RERI program, Santa Fe National Forest, the Valles Caldera National Preserve, and the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service.

  • Rito de los Indios:

Riparian exclosures damaged by the 2011 Los Conchas fire were rebuilt this year in preparation for watershed and riparian planting work in 2013, which will be conducted by WildEarth Guardians, volunteers, and YCC Corp members. The Rito de los Indios is a tributary of San Antonio Creek located within the Valles National Preserve. Partners and funding include State of New Mexico RERI program, New Mexico Environment Department, American Forests, the New Mexico Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resource YCC Program, and the Valles Caldera National Preserve.

  • San Antonio Creek:

WildEarth Guardians' staff and volunteers planted more than 20,000 willow, 300 cottonwood, 500 aspens, 400 thinleaf alder, and 400 riparian forage shrubs along a .7 mile stretch of San Antonio Creek within the Valles Caldera National Preserve. Additionally, a riparian exclosure was constructed along San Antonio Creek on the Santa Fe National Forest in preparation for native riparian plantings in 2013. Partners and funding include the New Mexico Environment Department, State of New Mexico RERI program, American Forests, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Santa Fe National Forest, and the Valles Caldera National Preserve.

  • Rito Penas Negras:

In 2012, WildEarth Guardians and volunteers planted more than 30,000 willow, 600 aspen, 400 thinleaf alder, 300 cottonwood, and 400 native riparian forage species along the Rito Penas Negras located on the Santa Fe National Forest. Riparian forage species included wax currant, chokecherry, American plum, serviceberry, skunkbush sumac, golden currant, and woods rose. Seven additional riparian exclosures were constructed to protect plantings, which now totals more than two miles. Partners and funding includes the New Mexico Environment Department, State of New Mexico RERI program, American Forests, National Forest Foundation, and the Santa Fe National Forest.

  • Valles Caldera National Preserve:

During the past year, WildEarth Guardians and volunteers removed from than 2.5 miles of barbwire and sheep fencing within the Valles Grande portion of the Valles Caldera National Preserve. Thanks to the volunteers who helped WildEarth Guardians restore these important habitats.

La Jencia before 2006

La Jencia 2006 (Before)

La Jencia after 2012

La Jencia 2012 (After)

2011 Accomplishments:

  •  Rio Ojo Caliente:

In 2011 WildEarth Guardians planted over 25,000 willow, 1,500 cottonwood, and 400 riparian forages shrubs, including New Mexico olive, skunkbush sumac, chokecherry, and false indigo. Projects covered close to a mile of river and riparian habitat located on Bureau of Land Management and Private lands. Partners and funding included the State of New Mexico Riparian Ecosystem Restoration Initiative (RERI), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Partners Programs, American Forests Global ReLeaf Initiative, New Mexico Environment Department and the Bureau of Land Management.

  • Redondo Creek:

WildEarth Guardians planted more than 16,000 willow, 600 narrowleaf cottonwood, 200 aspen, and 600 riparian forage species including chokecherry, serviceberry, golden currant, skunkbush sumac, woods rose, American plum, and red osier dogwood — all planted along a mile stretch of Redondo Creek within the Valles Caldera National Preserve. More than a dozen elk exclosure were constructed to protect riparian vegetation from ungulate damage. Funding and partners included the New Mexico Environment Department, the State of New Mexico (RERI) program, Santa Fe National Forest and the Valles Caldera National Preserve.

Additionally, in 2011, work began on restoring an important wetland in Redondo Meadow located in the Valles Caldera National Preserve. This wetland suffered significant water loss in the early 1900’s when Redondo Creek was diverted away from the wetland. In 2012, with support from the Valles Caldera National Preserve, Redondo Creek will be directed back into its historic channel and help recharge the wetland. Funding for this project is being provided by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services North American Wetland Conservation Act.

  • Rito de los Indios:

WildEarth Guardians planted 6,000 willow, 500 aspen, 50 narrowleaf cottonwood, and 500 riparian shrubs including wax currant, serviceberry, woods rose, and snowberry. The planting project involved approximately ½ mile of the Rito de los Indios within the Valles Caldera National Preserve. Numerous elk exclosures were built to protect riparian plantings from native and domestic ungulates.

In late June 2011, New Mexico's largest documented wildfire, the Los Conchas fire, swept through the Santa Fe National Forest, Santa Clara Pueblo, and Valles Caldera National Preserve, and the watershed of the Rito de los Indios. Remarkably, most of the riparian plantings survived the initial impacts of the wildfire. Subsequent flooding dramatically impacted Rito de los Indios and its floodplain, but the majority of vegetation has survived these events. Partners and funding include the State of New Mexico (RERI) program, the New Mexico Environment Department, the Santa Clara Pueblo, and the Valles Caldera National Preserve.

  • San Antonio Creek:

WildEarth Guardians constructed elk exclosures on one mile of San Antonio Creek in preparation for future plantings. Several thousand willow were planted on San Antonio Creek with the help of more than a dozen volunteers to provide forage for a beaver who took up residence along the portion of San Antonio Creek.

  • Rito Penas Negras:

WildEarth Guardians began a multi-year riparian restoration project on the Rito Penas Negras located on the Santa Fe National Forest. In 2011, more than 25,000 willow, 600 narrowleaf cottonwoods, 400 aspen, and 400 riparian forage species including wax currant, chokecherry, American plum, serviceberry, skunkbush sumac, golden currant, and woods rose, were planted over a 1.3 mile section of stream. Partners and funding included the New Mexico Environment Department, State of New Mexico (RERI) program, and the Santa Fe National Forest.

  • Valles Caldera National Preserve:

In 2011, WildEarth Guardians and volunteers removed approximately 2 miles of barbwire and sheep fencing within the Valles Grande portion of the Valles Caldera National Preserve. This work will continue in 2012.

Bluewater Creek April 2010 1

Bluewater Creek, April 2010

Bluewater Creek September 2013

Bluewater Creek, September 2013

2010 Accomplishments:

  • WildEarth Guardians planted over 120,000 cottonwoods, willows, and other native riparian forage shrubs along three miles of stream (Bluewater Creek, La Jencia Creek, Rio Puerco, Santa Fe River, and Rio Ojo Caliente) in New Mexico.
  • We removed 3 miles of barbed wire and sheep fencing within the Valles Caldera National Preserve to improve wildlife migration corridors.
  • Completed an additional 8 miles of road closure and road decommissions within the Santa Fe National Forest for a total of 40 miles from 2008 to 2010 to improve watershed health and wildlife habitat and reduce fragmentation.
  • Created burrows for more than 200 relocated Gunnison's prairie dogs in Santa Fe county in cooperation with a local ranch, PDAWG Task Force, and wildlife biologist Paula Martin.
  • Completed significant portions of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) works to restore 6.6 miles of the Santa Fe River on BLM and Forest Service lands within Santa Fe River Canyon

    Before and After Photos Credit: Jim Matison