Las Huertas drains the northwestern Sandia Mountains with what once was perennial flow. Today, the major environmental impacts are pollution from exurban septic tanks and ephemeralized flow diluted by diversion from over-allocated acequias (drainage ditches).
This project, located between Placitas and Tecolote, had already encompassed several years of trial and error hydrogeomorphology restoration and our replanting served to expedite revegetation and create a seed-source for further natural restoration.
Overview map showing streambed changes within the floodplane. Originally, the stream flowed along the blue meander, probably with smaller meanders superimposed on it, as determined by predicted measures of sinuosity. CF Rosgen Stream Classifications. Then, a hundred-year flood (caused by excessive volume and resulting in an overall increase in the average particle size), linearized (straightened meanders) Las Huertas into the newer, red channel. Purple denotes overlap of the old and new channels; note the small overlap and large differences, especially in total length.
Restoration work commenced several years ago when Bill Zeedyk and Steve Carson (Zeedyk Ecological Consulting LLC) diverted the stream from the red segments with large earthen dams (tan). They embellished the resulting channel (blue, again) with in-stream meanders and pools (brown structures).
To further stabilize the new channel and to speed up natural recolonization rates we planted approximately 300 trees on several banks over a 200 meter stretch of the river. This was a tight space to work in, and this map shows that by being dense and detailed. Please click the map for a larger view.
To add to our difficulties, the aforementioned cobble size made drilling difficult. I asked Peter about his secret for getting the auger through the cobbles, avoiding boulders and finding water. He clasped his hands in prayer and said “Good Earth, we're trying to do right by you, may we please put a cottonwood here?” He was the best among us this week, drilling more holes and lifting more rock, working harder than anybody, although he's lived beyond the half century mark when he never thought he'd make it out of his teens (or twenties). He and the rest of our gang – rock climbers and outward bound instructors – drive every day up and down the Rio Grande, the heart (carotid artery?) of New Mexico, a short stretch of the Camino Real whose terminus, Santa Fe, is also our own..
Las Huertas Jobsite Pages:
Before and After Photos