Michael Uitvlugt, Reid Riley, and Sarrah Kubinec, all from the district’s Regulatory Division, New Mexico/Texas Branch, attended a Water Connectivity Workshop, July 18-19, 2023, in Espanola, New Mexico.
They joined more than 40 representatives from federal, state, and tribal agencies including the US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Bureau of Reclamation, US Forest Service, US Bureau of Land Management, NM Department of Game and Fish, NM Environment Department, NM Department of Transportation, Santa Clara Pueblo Forestry Department, Nambe Pueblo Natural Resources Department, Santa Fe County Environment Department and representatives from several NGO’s and environmental consulting firms.
The workshop was hosted by Santa Clara Pueblo in Espanola, N.M., and was sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trust, American Rivers, and Defenders of Wildlife.
The purpose of the workshop was to examine and discuss the benefits of removing low head dams and other stream channel crossings with an emphasis on improving channel connectivity and aquatic resource health.
This workshop was a chance for our Corps Regulatory staff to provide outreach to groups who are considering projects that may have impacts to aquatic resources in the Albuquerque District and South Pacific Division.The workshop consisted of presentations and discussions about making positive changes to impaired waterways and a half-day tour of Santa Clara Pueblo to view many of their water infrastructure projects.
Workshop topics included enhanced ecological outcomes such as improved fish passage and riparian health, the positive environmental justice impacts of barrier removal, and the regulatory environment.
Michael Uitvlugt spoke to the workshop attendees about the role of the Corps in authorizing permits under section 404 of the Clean Water Act.
The tour was an informative look at a Southwest landscape that has experienced fires, floods, and other damaging disturbances, in which several methods have been used to recover and improve the area.
The focus of the workshop integrated well with the Pueblo tour and resulted in several conversations about engineering with nature and planning for resiliency, as well as presenting the Corps’ role as the regulator of the discharge of dredged and fill material into waters of the US.