AUTHORIZATION: Section 1135 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 (as amended): modifications of Corps structures or operation of the structure to improve the quality of the environment to benefit fish and wildlife, aquatic or riparian restoration.
TYPE OF PROJECT: Ecosystem restoration with complementary recreation.
PROJECT PHASE: Design and construction.
NON-FEDERAL SPONSOR: City of Las Cruces, NM.
BACKGROUND: The Las Cruces Dam was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1975 to reduce flood damages from flows originating in the Las Cruces and Alameda Arroyos. Historically, the Las Cruces and Alameda Arroyos meandered across the area, providing invaluable riparian areas in the Chihuahuan Desert landscape. The Chihuahuan Desert is recognized as one of the most biologically diverse ecoregions in the world. The dam adversely impacted the historic biotic community as it terminated the arroyos’ historic flow paths, eliminating wetland and riparian habitat.
The project is located within the Las Cruces Dam flood pool, in the City of Las Cruces, Dona Ana County, NM. The Las Cruces Dam is situated directly east of Interstate 25 on the east side of the city.
DESCRIPTION: The project consists of the construction of a ¾ acre permanent wetland and ¾ acre seasonal wet meadow with wetland vegetation, utilizing reclaimed water provided by the City of Las Cruces in a location upstream of the dam. The wetlands will provide extremely valuable habitat and improve water quality by acting as a natural filter. Additionally, migratory birds will have an additional invaluable resting area along the Central Flyway, as many of the historic wetland resting areas have been diminished.
The project also includes the planting and establishment of 3.6 acres of playa habitat, 72 acres of arroyo riparian habitat and 6.3 acres of cottonwood and other tree and shrub habitat.
STATUS: Project construction is anticipated to begin fall of 2012.