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Arroyo Restoration

The Montoya Arroyo Restoration project addresses an arroyo that was headcutting, in part because it had been used as a trash dump for decades by prior landowners. The accumulated trash and debris prevented vegetation from growing, allowing active erosion to occur. The landowner approached the RPMC for assistance and a partnership was formed. The landowner agreed to do most of the field work and RPMC offered to provide technical and financial assistance.

Work started in April 2005 when the landowner cleared the overlying brush and woody debris, primarily by burning. A commercial debris-removal company then removed approximately 70 cubic yards of household and ranch debris, such as cans, scrap wire, vehicle parts, small appliances, etc., and hauled it to a county landfill. The few hazardous items found, such as two refrigerators and several automotive batteries were separated and disposed of via approved channels.

A small bulldozer was then used to smoothen the sides of the arroyo to encourage revegetation and to create a small berm to deflect runoff during heavy rain. The area was seeded with native grasses and an exclosure fence was built to keep livestock off the site, especially while vegetation becomes established. The landowner installed T-post and field-fence structures to stabilize the short steep portion of the reshaped arroyo.

The site will be monitored to see how well plants become re-established and whether the berm and reshaping of the arroyo have slowed erosion.
Numerous arroyos and river banks in the Rio Puerco watershed were historic dump sites, and some people are still actively, though illegally, dumping in these areas. The RPMC supported cleaning up the Montoya Arroyo because it presented an opportunity to learn about the logistics and costs associated with trash cleanups, as well as the potential benefits.