Restoring Key Meadow for New Mexico Watershed
Encompassing more than 1.5 million acres of forested mountains in Northern New Mexico, the Carson National Forest is an important resource for Forest visitors and the wildlife that call it home. The Carson National Forest is particularly unique because, even though it resides in a desert state, it contains high mountain peaks, alpine meadows and unique montane forests.
Much of the Carson National Forest receives ample snow, feeding important water sources downstream. Placer Creek, a sub-watershed of the Rio Grande River and a recharge zone for Santa Fe, New Mexico’s water supply, is an important tributary than originates in high mountain meadows.
Historic mining and grazing activities threatened the health of Placer Creek, causing it to be listed as a 303(d)-listed water quality impaired stream. Much of the stream was eroding into gullies, adding excessive sediment to the stream and altering the stream’s natural course. Additionally, separation of the gullied stream reaches was dewatering the high mountain meadows, which are highly biodiverse areas.
To address this, the NFF leveraged funding from the Coca-Cola Company to a high mountain meadow that Placer Creek flows through. Working with a local contractor, we repaired several gullies that had formed in the meadow, restored the channel grad to enhance natural wetland habitat and installed rock and log step-down structures to slow water and spread it into the meadow. By doing this, we helped replenish the groundwater table and enhanced stream functions, improving the City of Santa Fe, New Mexico’s water supply and restoring a biodiverse meadow. With this meadow restored, we helped replenish approximately 49 million liters of water per year.