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Cebolla Wetlands Restoration

Cebolla Canyon is primarily within and protected by a congressionally designated Wilderness Area (Cebolla Wilderness) within the congressionally designated El Malpais National Conservation Area (EMNCA) near Grants, New Mexico. The project area has multiple designations including Wilderness Area, and National Conservation area. However, all of the project area is Bureau of Land Management Public Lands.  Within the project area, Cebolla Spring and Cebollita Spring emerge from the ground and provide habitat and/or water to a variety of wildlife species.

A number of restoration initiatives have been undertaken by the Rio Puerco Alliance, partners such as Keystone Restoration Ecology, Zeedyk Ecological Consulting, the Bureau of Land Management, and more. Learn about our findings and work in progress! Click each link below to access project proposals, final reports, and more.

Emily Wolf, a University of New Mexico Master's of Water Resources candidate, will be monitoring the outcomes of Cebolla Canyon restoration. The goal of this restoration is to document the ecological gains made through utilizing these restoration techniques by thoroughly monitoring the geomorphology and vegetation changes, establishing those techniques as cost-effective and low-tech strategies for wetland restoration in similar climates. Seven years after initial treatment, there is a unique opportunity to assess the success of a wetlands restoration project after considerable time has passed, making it possible to test the predictions of Keystone Restoration Ecology of the vegetation changes in the state-transition model, to monitor further changes in the already demonstrably improved geomorphology, and to compile suggestions for further work. Ultimately, Emily and her supervisor Steve Vrooman (Keystone Restoration Ecology) hope to compile the techniques utilized over the course of this restoration for inclusion in the Best Management Practices recommended by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  It will demonstrate and monitor innovative techniques to return land altered for agricultural use to its natural condition.  This could provide the basis for other projects using similar techniques to return many acres of land hydrological modified for agricultural use to their original condition in New Mexico, which would have enormous benefits to the watersheds.  These projects could provide habitat for diverse plant and animal species which are currently finding fewer hospitable locations; it would increase the amount of recharge into aquifers; it would stop erosion and improve water quality in area streams.  Ultimately, these techniques would be sustainable, because they would return the land to its natural condition and would require no further modifications.

Read about Emily's research here!  Below is a link to her successful GoFundMe campaign to begin monitoring restoration efforts:

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