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Title: Environmental Assessment for the Middle Rio Grande Bosque Restoration Project
Authors: United States. Army. Corps of Engineers. Albuquerque District
Keywords: Rio Grande (Colo.-Mexico and Tex.)
Stream restoration
Restoration ecology
Environmental management
Environmental protection
Publisher: United States. Army. Corps of Engineers. Albuquerque District.
Abstract: The hydrologic cycle in the Middle Rio Grande, which is delineated as extending south from Cochiti Lake to Elephant Butte Lake, is critical to the function of the bosque cottonwood riparian communities and wetlands. It follows a pattern of high flows during spring snowmelt runoff, and low flows during the fall and winter months. Additional high flows, of short duration, result from late summer thunderstorms. High flows that reach across the floodplain, facilitate nutrient cycling, seed dispersal and seed establishment. This inundation, combined with high water table recharged wetlands, provides for seasonal growth and nurturing of existing plant communities. Much of this inundation has been reduced, however, because of the disconnection between the river and floodplain stemming from installation of flood control devices. River channelization, combined with installation of dams, levees and jetty jacks, have in effect ‘perched’ the bosque above the river, so that natural overbank flooding no longer occurs. This has also resulted in the systemic loss of high-flow and side channels. ‘Reconnection of function’ can be achieved, however, through development of such restoration features as high flow channels, backwater channels and other features that connect the bosque and the main channel. These features are described below in greater detail. Based on the hydrologic and ecological problems discussed above, key project purposes and needs of the Proposed Action were developed as follow: 1. Improve habitat quality and increase the amount of native bosque plant communities (i.e. cottonwood, willow, New Mexico olive and other native species), while creating greater stand diversity in terms of stand age, size and composition within the bosque (a mosaic). 2. Promote bosque habitat heterogeneity by recreating pockets of new cottonwood, willow and other native species throughout the Proposed Action Area, where root zones reach the shallow water table. 3. Implement measures to reestablish fluvial processes in the bosque, including removal of non-functional jetty jacks, bank terracing, and high-flow/side channel creation to promote overbank flooding. 4. Create new wetland habitat, while extending and enhancing high quality aquatic habitat in existing wetlands. 5. Reduce the fire hazard in the bosque through the reduction of fuel loads, to include exotic species identified as hazardous. 6. Recreate hydraulic connections between the bosque and the river consistent with operational constraints. 7. Protect, extend and enhance areas of potential habitat for listed species within the existing bosque. 8. Develop and implement a long-term operations and maintenance plan, which incorporates long-term monitoring of proposed restoration features. 9. Coordinate and integrate project implementation and monitoring with other, ongoing restoration and research efforts in the bosque. 10. Create opportunities for educational or interpretive features, while integrating recreational features that are compatible with ecosystem integrity. 11. Continue to engage the public in the restoration of the bosque ecosystem by garnering input and involvement.
Description: Environmental Assessment
Rights: Approved for Public Release; Distribution is Unlimited
Appears in Collections:Environmental Documents

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