ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – More than 200 volunteers participated in events at four District project sites in observance of National Public Lands Day, Sept. 26, 2015.
“Abiquiu Lake's 14th National Public Land's Day event had a great turnout with 54 volunteers lending a hand performing successful landscaping, shoreline/river cleanup, and graffiti removal projects,” said John Mueller, Abiquiu Dam Project Office manager.
“This event is not only a positive way to involve the public to help clean up or public lands after a busy summer recreation season. We are also able to celebrate our volunteers as proactive stewards of their public lands. This year Abiquiu Lake partnered with the Northern Youth Project, a local non-profit youth organization, which provided a free lunch from the Kabob Caravan of Santa Fe. The staff at Abiquiu Lake thanks our partners and the volunteers that make this important event possible every year!” said Mueller.
At Cochiti, there were two different NPLD events. The first event took place Sept. 5., when 57 students and 11 advisors from the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) at West Mesa High School, Albuquerque, New Mexico, worked on building a hiking trail. Altogether they built approximately 2,600 feet of trail designed to connect the Cochiti Visitors Center with the Cochiti swim beach. The project used existing two-track roads and converted them to a useable trail without unnecessarily degrading surrounding natural resources.
The second event took place Sept. 24. Forty-five volunteers from the Cottonwood Gulch Academy came out and enhanced segments of the trail built by the JROTC students earlier in September. They also created a “boma.” A boma is a natural brush enclosure. This area is designed to encourage the growth of a variety of plants and provide sheltered habitat for birds, small mammals, and reptiles indigenous to the Cochiti Project. A camera platform installed on site will allow park rangers to work interactively with park visitors, share photographs, and track changes in the area as plant progression begins to shape the area over time.
The 22 volunteers at Santa Rosa Lake on Sept. 26, included eighth graders and parents from Santa Rosa Middle School. Participants helped out with trail and lake clean up. Afterward they received a certificate and a backpack. The backpacks were courtesy of New Mexico Game & Fish’s Aquatic Invasive Species coordinator James Dominguez.
John Martin Reservoir:
Among the 20 volunteers that came to John Martin Reservoir Sat. Sept. 26, were several Boy Scouts from local troops. The volunteers divided to conquer the work needing to be done at the reservoir. The first group worked on endangered species habitat. The second group worked on beach cleanup.
The reservoir is a nesting area for piping plovers and interior least terns in the spring. The volunteers worked to get potential nesting areas more to the birds’ liking. On the north side of the reservoir there is an area known as Plover Island. When there are high levels of water this area becomes an island and the perfect safe haven for the endangered species. The piping plovers and interior least terns that nest here like rocky, gravelly substrate in which to build their ground nests. They also like areas that are free from vegetation so they can see predators approaching.
The second group worked on beach cleanup on the side of the reservoir. The high water levels this summer inundated the beach area, bringing a huge amount of trash. When the water went down due to irrigation season, the beach area was left with a large amount of debris. Volunteers recovered two pickup beds of trash.