Over the past few years extraordinary efforts have been made to enhance the health of our forests, reduce wildfire risk and protect the source waters throughout New Mexico. The Nature Conservancy of …
Over the past few years extraordinary efforts have been made to enhance the health of our forests, reduce wildfire risk and protect the source waters throughout New Mexico. The Nature Conservancy of New Mexico has been a leader in these efforts by creating the Río Grande Water Fund, a collaboration of over 80 signatories to improve the health of over 600,000 acres of land in Northern New Mexico.
Taos Ski Valley is one of the signatories and a participant in this important work.
Locally, the Taos Valley Water Coalition was formed back in 2015 as part of the Río Grande Water Fund effort to protect, improve and restore the water quality, quantity and ecological function of the forest and streams in the Río Grande watershed within Taos County.
These efforts have directly benefited both local and downstream water users. TVWC has been instrumental in receiving funding to do planning on federal land and the State Road 150 corridor, putting chainsaws on the ground, coordinating prescribed burns and effectively executing an overall Landscape Restoration Strategy.
Several projects exemplify the amazing efforts taking place within our region, including the following:
• The El Salto Land Association helps protect the watershed that comes into Arroyo Seco and Arroyo Hondo by treating dozen of acres at the base of the mountain. This work has been done by private contractors and the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps.
• The Forest Service and Taos Pueblo are working cross-jurisdictionally to do restoration work at Taos Canyon, treating both sides of the fence. They are solving problems for one another and the community at large as that watershed feeds into the pueblo and the town.
• The Forest Mayordomo Restoration project is thinning 300 acres on Forest Service land between the communities of Valdez and San Cristóbal. Local woodcutters, known as leñeros, were recruited in fall 2018, and allotted approximately 1 acre of land each to harvest material for personal use or sale. An estimated 100 leñeros will take part in this endeavor over the course of the three-year project.
• And here in Taos Ski Valley we have collaborated with several groups including the Forest Service, Forest Stewards Guild, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and The Nature Conservancy to treat over 90 acres, including lands surrounding the Phoenix Springs infiltration gallery, through controlled pile burns on over 50 of those acres.
These are just a few examples of the collaborative work that is underway to protect our watershed. While there is certainly a lot of work left, it's encouraging to see a variety of groups come together for a common cause that benefits our community and sets an example for the rest of the country.
David Norden is CEO of Taos Ski Valley Inc.
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