Project will improve water quality and riparian habitat

With funding from the NM Environment Department River Stewardship Program, Gila Resources Information Project (GRIP) has partnered with the Town of Silver City, Stream Dynamics, Gila WoodNet, and Lone Mountain Natives to address water quality impairments and threats to riparian habitat in San Vicente Creek. On-the-ground work begins the week of January 23 for approximately three weeks depending upon weather.

By redesigning sewer line access routes and constructing grade control structures, the project will improve water quality of San Vicente Creek by assisting the Town in conducting its routine sewer line maintenance to prevent future sewage leaks. Nutrient loads will be reduced by constructing water harvesting earthworks and check dams in a side tributary that is experiencing severe erosion.  Stream restoration work will improve stream geometry and floodplain access by induced stream meandering and grade control structures.

In order to reduce riparian fire risk, the project will remove slash and non-native trees, such as Siberian elm, tamarisk, and Tree of Heaven, to protect legacy cottonwoods and other native trees. Grasses, wildflowers, and native trees and shrubs will be planted to restore the San Vicente Creek riparian corridor and stabilize stream banks.

The project area includes Town of Silver City property, private property owned by three cooperating private property owners, and easements held by the Town which encompass 25 acres of riparian corridor and 1.09 stream miles from the Highway 90 Bridge to Mobile Drive. GRIP is managing the project and Steam Dynamics and Gila WoodNet are conducting work on the ground, with plant material supplied by Lone Mountain Natives, and volunteer participation coordinated by the Silver City Watershed Keepers.

To date, pre-project stream, fuel load and botanical surveys have been completed. Stream Dynamics has planted 654 willow whips to stabilize stream banks in the riparian corridor.

Non-native tree removal and construction of grade controls and bank stabilization features will occur in January and February 2023.  This portion of the project will be completed prior to the beginning of the migratory bird breeding season that starts March 1.

If you’d like to get involved, volunteer days will be scheduled in the spring to plant additional willows, cottonwoods and native plants. Contact the Silver City Watershed Keepers at 575.538.8078 or silvercitywatershedkeepers@gmail.com 

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