Department of Natural Resources
Bosque Restoration Division
Since 1998, the Pueblo of Santa Ana has worked to restore the riparian and riverine ecosystems along the Rio Grande within the reservation. The Rio Grande holds great economic, environmental, cultural, and aesthetic significance, not only for the native communities who have lived here for millennia, but for all New Mexicans. Sixty years of flood control and channelization projects on the Middle Rio Grande have significantly changed the character of the Rio Grande flood plain on the Pueblo, which have negatively impacted the riparian and aquatic communities. The Pueblo has implemented an ecosystem-based restoration program, designed to reverse these trends and restore a healthy, functioning Rio Grande ecosystem. Restoration activities are implemented to restore the river channel, active floodplain and the historic floodplain.
Today, people throughout the Middle Rio Grande Valley look to the Pueblo of Santa Ana for guidance on how to restore and manage their lands.
Program Highlights include:
- Creating over 100-acres of riparian wetland habitat;
- Restoring the 6-river miles of the Rio Grande traversing through the Pueblo;
- Restoring 1300-acres of cottonwood bosque by clearing saltcedar and Russian olive thickets; and
- Restoring native wildlife habitat throughout the Santa Ana Rio Grande Bosque.
The Restoration Program provides these benefits to the Pueblo and the entire Middle Rio Grande Valley:
- Preserves the bosque for cultural and recreational uses by tribal members and guests.
- Reduces the risk of wildfire and protects the Pueblo’s residential communities and economic interests.
- Preserves water resources by protecting further declines in the groundwater table.
- Enhances economic development (Hyatt-Tamya) and provides employment for tribal members.
- Provides habitat for the endangered Rio Grande Silvery Minnow and the Southwest Willow Flycatcher.
- Openings created in the bosque enhance wildlife habitat for all species utilizing the Rio Grande corridor.
Although the Pueblo of Santa Ana has committed a significant amount of tribal resources towards this project, the work could not be completed without the financial and technical support provide by our partners. The Pueblo’s partners include:
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,
- Bureau of Indian Affairs,
- Bureau of Reclamation,
- Fish & Wildlife Service,
- Ducks Unlimited (North American Waterfowl Conservation Act)
- National Fish & Wildlife Foundation
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort
Restoring a mosaic of community types and community structural elements within the historic floodplain is the primary restoration goal. Invasive, non-native species, such as saltcedar, Russian olive, and Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila) are removed. Restoration plantings includes planting cottonwood poles, establishing grassland, and planting understory and riparian shrubs.
Restoration goals in the active floodplain include creating a floodplain that is seasonally flooded and enhancing the physical and biological habitat. Restoration activities include: 1) widening the river by lowering the overbank to create seasonally flooded swales and backwater wetlands; 2) moving sediment through the system to allow for a diversity of habitat to form (pools, backwater eddies, sand bars, islands, and braided channels); 3) removing invasive species such as the Russian olive and saltcedar; and 4) planting dense coyote willow (Salix exigua) stands along the river’s edge and cottonwood trees in the riparian areas.
River restoration goals include restoring the structure of the river channel. This is accomplished by constructing gradient restoration facilities (GRF) to stop channel incision and reduce the channel slope; widening the river channel; and restoring sediment flow through the system.
DNR Bosque Restoration Team