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Task 2: Upland and tributary treatment efforts utilizing low-tech methods

The RPMC is implementing low-technology "water harvesting" and erosion prevention structures that have been developed in the southwest. These structures can be installed quickly using readily available materials such as rocks, logs, and slash materials. They can be effectively applied in upland areas above degraded stream reaches and erosion target areas (identified in Task 1), where gullies can be more easily treated while they are still small to stop further downcutting and headcutting. Examples of these low-tech structures include: log headcut structures, rock bowls, wicker weirs, rock/fabric "burritos" and one-rock dams, each suited to a particular situation.

For example, one-rock dams, so named because they are only one rock tall, are best used in rocky channels of ephemeral arroyos to raise channel bed elevation and control or modify slope gradient. One-rock dams 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. Various approaches are described in a booklet titled, Erosion Control and Water Harvesting Techniques (EWI, QC, B. Zeedyk, 2003) and is available through the RPMC.

The RPMC implements treatments through community projects and contract work crews. During the summers of 2004 and 2005, the Watershed Initiative partnered with the Navajo Nation Summer Youth Program, and in 2005 and 2006 partnered with the Cuba High School Youth Conservation Corps (YCC). The target audience includes the local tribal youth as well as other landowners, and residents of rural communities.

The goal for this task is to construct thousands of structures in the project's sub-watersheds. The structures will decrease erosion and improve vegetation, contributing to soil stability and decreased sediment transport.