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Current Projects

At the RPMC meeting on December 8th, 2005, the Committee approved funding for nine projects. The Committee received $200,000 through the Department of Interior Appropriations Act, to be used for restoration projects in the Rio Puerco Watershed. With Hurricane Katrina, Congress may reduce all appropriated funds through rescission, which is why the amount available may be closer to $188,500. The RPMC received ten proposals and plans to fund seven of the projects. In addition, the RPMC will continue to fund its monitoring effort and provide funds for a project nearing completion. Projects recommended for funding met the evaluation criteria.

The Navajo Nation Water Management Branch will oversee the building of demonstration and interpretive sites. The purpose of this project is to educate Navajo landowners about restoration techniques that they could use on their land. The sites will be at Ojo Encino, Torreon, and Baca Chapters and will be located where previous restoration projects have occurred. RPMC funds approved: $25,184.

Tree New Mexico, a non-profit that has worked with the RPMC for a number of years, will create an "Erosion Board Game." The board game will compliment the RPMC's Land Health Kiosk, which demonstrates how quickly erosion occurs on bare soil. Tree New Mexico will work with students at a number of schools to develop and use the game. RPMC funds approved: $10,000.

Chris Lucero, along with his neighbors Don Moore and James Casaus, will work along the Rio Puerco just north of Cuba. The landowners propose to reduce erosion in arroyos leading into the Rio Puerco using several techniques and to install post vanes in the river to prevent tall banks along the river from collapsing. RPMC funds approved: $15,465.

The Forest Guardians plan to continue their riparian restoration work upstream from the RPMC-funded 2005 project site. They will plant cottonwoods and willows in elk-proof exclosures, while removing Russian olive and salt cedar. Native vegetation will help stabilize the river banks and will provide valuable wildlife habitat. RPMC funds approved: $20,000.

Working with the RPMC and the NRCS, Leo Sandoval will repair berms on his land that spread water and retain sediment. RPMC funds approved: $10,000.

The Tohajiilee Chapter of the Navajo Nation will train youth and landowners in low-tech restoration techniques at two sites. Young people will be hired during the summer to do this work. The RPMC has funded similar projects in the past at eight other Chapters. RPMC funds approved: $19,560.

Watson Castillo will repair two earth dams within the Starlake Community Allotment at Ojo Encino. Additional assistance on grazing management will also be provided. RPMC funds approved: $8,000.

Monitoring restoration projects is an important part of learning about the effects of different restoration approaches. The RPMC set aside $35,000 to fund continued monitoring of past projects and to support monitoring of new projects (described above). Project proponents, past and present, receive training in designing their monitoring, collecting data, and analyzing their results.

The RMPC approved $15,000 to complete the Triple Culvert project along Highway 550, a project primarily funded through the EPA's 319 program. This project is at the confluence of the San Pablo and Rio Puerco. The bridge structure was being undercut by erosion.

The Committee also approved setting aside $30,000. Funds could be used for two existing projects awaiting design. In both cases, design and implementation has been delayed due to circumstances beyond the control of the project applicants. If significant progress is made, the reserve funds could be used to expand the existing projects.

The Committee was impressed overall by the number and quality of project proposals submitted. Committee members look forward to working with existing and new partners to restore the Rio Puerco watershed.