US Army Corps of Engineers
Albuquerque District

Corps Checks Progress of Ecosystem Restoration

Public Affairs
Published July 1, 2012
Sunflowers are native to New Mexico and are springing up in swales all over the Rio Grande’s Bosque.

Sunflowers are native to New Mexico and are springing up in swales all over the Rio Grande’s Bosque.

The Corps has been actively involved in restoring the ecosystem of the Middle Rio Grande since 2007, when the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District initiated projects incorporating ecosystem revitalization along Route 66.

Since then, the Corps, Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, City of Albuquerque Open Space Division, Bureau of Reclamation and Sandia Pueblo have collaborated on the restoration.

Corps employees were able to observe restoration progress at several of the sites June 15.

They observed growth of native species plants amongst swales, which are small manmade depressions that encourage dense vegetation growth from a closer proximity to groundwater. Native plants such as Coyote Willows and Sunflowers were planted in the swales to add diversity to the floodplain and help prevent infringement by Russian Olive Tree and Siberian Elm.

"It was very encouraging to see the potential for improved health of wildlife and vegetation along the terraces and swales of our Bosque," said Project Manager Alicia Austin Johnson.

In total, the Middle Rio Grande Restoration project will restore 916 acres of native Bosque (riparian cottonwood forest) along a 26-mile stretch between Isleta Pueblo and the northern border of Sandia Pueblo. Besides the primary sponsors, the project has many collaborators, like state and city governments and neighbors.

The $25 million project partially fulfills the Corps’ requirements in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2003 Biological Opinion to create and restore habitat within this reach of the river for the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow and Southwestern Willow Flycatcher. In addition, restoration benefits neo-tropical song-birds and other species that migrate along the corridor.