Skip to Content

Home > Methods

Methods

Through a variety of restoration and outreach projects, the RPMC demonstrates and promotes "Best Management Practices" (BMPs) appropriate for the Rio Puerco watershed. BMPs are practices meant to improve water quality, increase water quantity and agricultural yield, and reduce overall impairment of the watershed. We advocate the use of innovative but practical techniques, coupled with comprehensive education and outreach, to achieve these goals.

Learn more about RPMC's innovative restoration techniques by reading our publications.

For more information about specific projects, please see Projects.

Erosion Control and Water Harvesting
Erosion Control and Water Harvesting
The RPMC uses a variety of low-tech methods to stabilize eroding streamlets and small gullies. These low-tech structures use readily available materials, such as rocks, logs, and slash materials, to both prevent further erosion and harvest water. The simple structures spread out surface flows, encourage the precipitation of suspended sediment, and increase the area that is wetted by runoff. Restoring wet soil conditions to areas that were previously dry due to quick surface runoff encourages vegetation, which in turn captures additional fine sediment particles.
Better grazing management addresses some of the root causes of impairment and water quality degradation. Grazing in the dormant season and/or increasing the rest period for grazed land increases the ground cover, particularly cool season grasses. This translates to less bare ground, decreased sheet erosion, and less sediment transport.
Headcut Treatments
Headcut Treatments
Headcuts can be treated in a variety of ways, depending on the nature of the stream channel. The RPMC has used rock bowls and jute bag structures in intermittent channels. Log and fabric structures can be used to stop headcuts in perennial streams. In general, these treatments help the soil retain moisture that can then support plant growth. In the long run, vegetation will arrest active headcutting.
Induced Meandering
Induced Meandering
Induced meandering is an in-channel restoration technique used to add stream channel sinuosity while creating or restoring a floodplain. A winding stream moves more slowly and has less erosive power than a straight channel of water. Meanders, or bends, in a stream channel provide better opportunities for vegetation to become established, which in turn promotes long-term bank and channel stability.
Monitoring
Monitoring
Monitoring is a critical element in evaluating the effectiveness of restoration activities. Elements of the monitoring plan include photo-documentation, stream surveys, water quality monitoring, and riparian and upland monitoring.
Outreach and Education
Outreach and Education
The RPMC provides watershed education through youth projects, working with schools, and public presentations and demonstrations. Workshops and demonstrations may include concepts on grazing management, monitoring techniques, roads management, and erosion control. The "Land Health Kiosk," for example, is a teaching tool we frequently use at public events, such as festivals and water fairs, to introduce people to the key elements of land health. The RPMC also reaches residents of the watershed through public "listening sessions," the local newspaper, and the distribution of comprehensive field guides geared towards helping people apply riparian restoration and erosion control methods on their own lands.
Road Restoration
Road Restoration
Rural dirt roads are a major source of sediment in the watershed. Poorly designed, located, or maintained dirt roads can intercept, divert, concentrate, and accelerate surface runoff leading to accelerated soil erosion, gully formation, and channel downcutting. This runoff of fine-grained sediments increases turbidity and stream bottom deposits, directly impacting water quality.

Features such as rolling dips, waterbars, outsloped sections, grade breaks, cross drains can be built to more effectively move water off the road. Similarly, realigning, relocating, or rebuilding problem road segments can improve drainage. Abandoned and redundant roads may also need to be properly closed and reclaimed.
Soil Bioengineering
Soil bioengineering is a restoration technique based on the idea that healthy vegetation can serve as the best, and most flexible, armoring available for stream stabilization. This technique reinforces conventional bank stabilization engineering designs with plants and plant materials (trunks, root wads, etc.). Ultimately, the organic components will provide the natural, long-term bank stability needed to keep a stream channel healthy.
Vegetation Management
Vegetation Management
A healthy, native vegetative community is an important factor in watershed health. Grasslands and riparian vegetation provide a pathway for precipitation to infiltrate and can prevent soil erosion and the development of gullies. Removing undesirable noxious and invasive plant species in riparian areas, such as tamarisk (salt cedar) and Russian Olive, and planting native willow and cottonwood can help establish a more balanced riparian community. Similarly, selective thinning or removal of undesirable monotypic stands of sagebrush, cholla cactus, and piñon-juniper can allow the re-establishment of healthy grasslands. Seeding areas and fencing out grazing animals may help restore these desirable conditions.