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Our Stories

Members of the RPMC community share their personal reasons for getting involved in Rio Puerco watershed restoration.

Michael Benson
Michael Benson
Navajo Nation Department of Water Resources, Water Management Branch
7-8 years with RPMC

I am part of RPMC because my people at the Chapters want to participate in taking care of the land and making it more productive. My favorite RPMC success story comes from a Cuba Elementary fourth grader, who was learning about erosion from the RPMC outreach coordinator. When the student was asked how he knew to use rocks on an eroding hillside, he said he had gotten the idea from his brother, who had worked on the Torreon Summer Youth Crew with RPMC. I believe this anecdote shows that RPMC is working: concepts are spreading. My long-term vision for the group includes reauthorization by Congress and a sense of community in the Rio Puerco basin. I see RPMC as a great opportunity for people of many different cultural backgrounds to work together.

Leo L. Charley
Torreon/Star Lake Navajo Chapter
Over 9 years with RPMC

I enjoy working on various community projects around my homeland that I call Dine Land within Four Sacred Mountains. Rio Puerco watershed is within this area. I learn a lot from Mother Nature teaching to take care of whatever lies around and the resources it gives, from clean air to precious water. Save the water, that's the name of the game.

Michael W. Coleman
Michael W. Coleman
Geoscientist with the Watershed Protection Section - Surface Water Quality Bureau of the New Mexico Environment Department.
Charter Member of RPMC/Executive Committee Member.
Clean Water Act Project Officer for Watershed Restoration Grants to the RPMC from NMED and EPA Region 6, Dallas.

Participation in the RPMC provides the opportunity to work with residents and interested parties in a part of New Mexico that I have always cherished. The erosion control and water quality aspects of this group's work definitely assists the mission of my Bureau, to stabilize one of the most heavily impacted regions of the state (if not the world!).

Steve Fischer
Steve Fischer
Bureau of Land Management, Rio Puerco Field Office
Watershed Team Lead

It's important to me to be a part of this work of restoring land to a healthy condition. As a society, we seem to have lost touch with our interdependence with the natural world which sustains our lives and our spiritual wellbeing. Although nature goes through cycles of degradation and aggradation, it's important that our use does not aggravate erosional processes and that we work with natural processes that create healing. I am convinced that the only successful strategy is to enlist landusers and community residents to help us restore the watershed. Although we take our living from the land, we must make sure that we give back for the benefit of all life.

Barbara Johnson
Barbara Johnson
Rio Puerco Alliance

I joined RPMC shortly after its inception. Over the years, I have enjoyed meeting and learning from many great people in RPMC. One of the things I value most about this large group is its unique diversity. I have broadened my own perspective by hearing so many different points of view on each problem. After working on very focused projects with the group, I appreciate hearing about the results and realizing what a wide impact RPMC has in the Rio Puerco watershed. My work with the
RPMC led me to join with other RPMC members to start the Rio Puerco Alliance to expand restoration work in the Rio Puerco watershed.
Elizabeth Johnson
In 1992, I was the Chairman for the first Rio Puerco committee under the Economic Development Program in Cuba under the Forest Service. We did a great deal of range improvement with Tibuthiron and worked with the acequias in the Cuba and La Jara areas. We worked with minimal amounts of money. When the committee was added to the BLM with the Bingaman monies, the Rio Puerco Management Committee became a vital force. It has been interesting and has done a lot of work in the past 15 years.

Jennifer Johnson
Jennifer Johnson
I volunteered to represent the NM Audubon Society on the RPMC in order to speak for birds and other wildlife when discussing and implementing watershed projects.

Pat Kutzner
I'm on the RPMC because I love the landscape in this watershed around Cuba and in the Navajo communities, and because all expressions of Mother Earth suffer when that landscape is suffering. We can heal it, so we must.

Brad Lamb

The Rio Puerco Watershed Committee, represented by a diverse cross-section of interests, has been a spring board for working on, and solving, water quality problems in the watershed. During the course of nearly 10 years' worth of efforts, the representatives of the committee, for the most part, have shown resiliency to maintain the objective of the Committee's being, in the face of insufficient funding support early in the process. This diversity and resiliency is the heart of what will make the Rio Puerco Watershed once again a thriving waterbody supportive of the diverse land users in the watershed - thriving with respect to the natural and ecological function and water quality benefit.

Don Moore
Don Moore
I live near Cuba, New Mexico, and I have been associated with RPMC for about six months. I became involved because I share the interest of this organization in improving the quality of the environment along the Rio Puerco.

Currently, RPMC is helping me and several of my neighbors restore a mile-long section of the river where it flows through our properties just north of the village of Cuba. RPMC is providing both financial and technical support for our efforts.

Ultimately, the work we do should improve the quality of the river and the environment around it and also provide a demonstration area for other individual land owners and for agencies interested in doing similar environmental restoration on their own lands.

Suzanne Probart, ED
Suzanne Probart, ED
Tree New Mexico

The health and productivity of the land is the key factor in making it profitable and possible for people to remain on the land.