RIVER REACH REFORESTATION PROJECT
At its November, 2021 meeting, the Board of Directors of the River Reach Foundation voted to purchase twenty five native trees with a 2-3 inch caliper (diameter) to be planted in the field west of the Riverside Nature Center to assist with the reforestation of the area. The City of Farmington has submitted a grant application to fund additional trees and an irrigation system, and the Friends of the Nature Center are also looking at ways to assist. The opportunity for citizens to sponsor additional trees will be developed closer to project implementation. The Farmington Fire Department acquired a grant through the San Juan Soil Conservation District via the New Mexico Water Trust Board for invasive species removal, specifically Russian olive and saltcedar. A single Russian olive consumes 80-120 gallons of groundwater per day. The removal has three purposes: wildfire protection, ecosystem restoration, and water quality improvement.
Areas east of the Riverside Nature Center, across the river at Cottonwood landing, and around the All Veteran’s Memorial were mitigated, but it wasn’t as noticeable. However, the area west of the Nature Center was a thickly wooded area almost exclusively Russian olive, and their removal was a visual shock.
The multi-year project will include repeated application of EPA approved herbicides to the Russian olive stumps and continual physical removal of regrowth. In year 3 there will be replanting of native grasses and groundcover. The project calls for 500 cottonwood pole plantings, but the River Reach Foundation saw a need for larger trees to be added sooner. We are hoping that the Farmington Parks Department will be able to implement this planting as an Arbor Day project in late April 2022.
RIVERFEST VOLUNTEER LOCAL
This year Riverfest 2022 will be using a new tool to recruit volunteers called VolunteerLocal. VolunteerLocal is a web application which will allow volunteers to complete a simple volunteer application, and select the area and shifts they would like to volunteer for. Once the volunteer completes the application they can log back in using their email address and review, change or cancel their volunteer shift.
The VolunteerLocal application:
- Allows the administrator to build custom application forms to collect volunteer information.
- Quickly and easily recruits volunteers online using VolunteerLocal’s self-scheduling interface.
- Allows the administrator to send emails and SMS (text messages) to volunteers anytime.
- Can personalize messages and easily send message to specific recipients.
Like most things in life, volunteering is more fun with friends. Volunteers can share our signup page through their social media accounts.
We are excited to try out this new application and anticipate that we will use it for other volunteer events in the future. Look for a link to volunteer on the RiverFest 2022 website coming soon.
THE LATEST SCOOP ON WATERSHED HEALTH IN THE LOWER ANIMAS VALLEY:
THE 2021 UPDATED LOWER ANIMAS WATERSHED BASED PLAN
Alyssa Richmond, San Juan Watershed Group Coordinator
When you stroll down the many popular river trails along the beautiful Animas River at Animas & Berg Parks in Farmington on a hot summers day, what thoughts flow through your mind? Many of us are in awe of the lifeline that the river provides for our community, marvel at the wildlife and habitat that its web of waterways support, and immediately want to take a dip in the river, all at the same time! As the saying goes, water is life. Going further, our rivers reflect the health of our community back to us. In 2001, the community took note of that reflection when algae blooms choked the river and spurred the San Juan Watershed Group to ask – what does the water quality of our river tell us about our impacts to the Animas Watershed, and what can we do to improve it?
The Lower Animas River was first added to the State of New Mexico’s impaired waters list in 2002. Since then, state monitoring has frequently found levels of nutrients, E. coli bacteria, turbidity, and temperature in the Animas to be higher than acceptable levels. After many years of extensive water quality studies, land use analysis, coordination with federal, state, and local agencies and community members, and implementing pilot restoration projects, the San Juan Watershed Group published the EPA approved Lower Animas Watershed Based Plan (LAWBP) in 2016. As a living workplan, the LAWBP serves as a wholistic road map for stakeholders to collaborate on a menu of on-the-ground projects, future studies, and community outreach strategies to improve the quality of the water flowing across the landscape before joining the Animas River.
With the plan in hand, the San Juan Watershed Group and partners spearheaded the completion of over 20 of the projects described throughout its pages over the past 5 years. These projects include soil health plans with private landowners, Russian Olive and Salt Cedar restoration throughout the river corridor, cattle management and pasture improvement plans with ranchers, erosion control and bank stabilization projects in riparian and upland areas, and irrigation infrastructure improvements, just to name a few. Keeping this progress and lessons learned in mind, the San Juan Watershed Group revisited the LAWBP to document these endeavors and are pleased to announce that the 2021 Updated LAWBP is available for reference and inspiration to all.
While we are proud of the progress that has been made in the Lower Animas Watershed over the past five years, there is much more work to do to achieve lasting water quality and watershed health improvements. If you would like to discuss what you can do to join this initiative, receive technical assistance, or include your ideas in the LAWBP, please contact the San Juan Watershed Group Coordinator, Alyssa Richmond, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 505-234-6040 x3. We look forward to hearing from you and are eager to see what the next 5 years bring!