- New Funding Helps Rehabilitate Watersheds from Unprecedented Drought, Fire, and Floods
RIO RANCHO – Today, Gov. Susana Martinez announced $3.5 million in additional funding for watershed restoration on public lands throughout New Mexico.
These funds help restore and rehabilitate vulnerable watersheds throughout the state, improving water quality and quantity.
“This additional funding will help us build on our progress in restoring and rehabilitating our most vulnerable watersheds,” Martinez said. “New Mexicans know all too well the powerful one-two punch of wildfires and floods. By continuing our work, we can leave a more stable, secure, and safe water supply for future generations.”
The 2015 capital outlay bill, recently signed into law by Martinez, provides the funding to continue the progress made with last year’s Watershed Restoration Initiative. Last year, Martinez secured $6.2 million into law as part of the 2014 capital infrastructure legislation – which included $89 million for water infrastructure throughout the state. The funding will treat approximately 7,700 acres of high-priority watershed areas on public lands, as identified in the New Mexico Forest Action Plan. Additional projects will be added through the funding announced today.
The $6.2 million Watershed Restoration Initiative targeted 15 critical projects statewide, including:
- Two Goats Watershed Restoration Project (Otero County) $1,236,950
- Gallinas Municipal Watershed (San Miguel County) $885,000
- Dos Rios Restoration Project (San Juan County) $645,150
- Mescalero Apache Tribe Watershed Restoration Project (Otero County) $600,000
- Mescalero Apache Tribe Watershed Restoration Project Phase II (Otero County) $220,000
- Coyote Creek/Blake Lake (Colfax County) $500,000
- Canjilon/Cebolla Watershed Improvement (Rio Arriba County) $465,520
- Black Deer/Six Shooter Watershed Restoration Project (Catron County) $607,363
- Bluewater (Cibola County) $303,210
- Socorro Bosque Ribbon Project (Socorro County) $30,000
- San Pedro Project (Santa Fe County) $50,000
- Sandia Ranger District, Sulphur Sub-Unit B (Bernalillo County) $229,153
- Elk Springs Project in the Rio Puerco watershed (Sandoval County) $210,987
- Sandia Ranger District, Sulphur Sub-Unit A (Bernalillo County) $117,514
- Sandia Ranger District, Hondo North (Bernalillo County) $99,153
Six watershed projects are underway, and seven more are being planned throughout the state. Half of these projects will be completed by the end of 2015, with the remainder to be completed in 2016. One of the Mescalero Apache Tribe watershed restoration project phases in Otero County and the Socorro Bosque Ribbon Project in Socorro County are already completed.
“The interagency collaboration and local support on these projects is outstanding,” said New Mexico Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department Cabinet Secretary David Martin. “We are working with federal and local partners to better protect our precious water resources.”
State Forester Tony Delfin cited an example of one of these many collaborative efforts as the Six Shooter Watershed Restoration Project, a 667-acre watershed restoration project southeast of Reserve, New Mexico.
“The partnership we have with the Gila National Forest and Catron County has been an integral part of getting the Six Shooter Watershed Restoration Project started,” Delfin said. “We will protect this vital watershed that supports and sustains the nearby communities. The project will also reestablish open meadows and restore areas damaged by the 2012 Whitewater Baldy Fire.”
At today’s news conference, held at the Willow Creek Bosque in Rio Rancho, Governor Martinez also announced that the New Mexico Returning Heroes program will continue to help protect New Mexico’s communities. Operated by the New Mexico State Forestry, the program trains New Mexico veterans for wildland firefighting and watershed restoration. During the program’s pilot phase in 2013, these fire crews were assigned to more than a dozen wildfires in New Mexico, and were dispatched to other fires across the western U.S. Governor Martinez made the program permanent in 2014.
For more information on watershed restoration, go to the Forest and Watershed Health Program at www.nmforestry.com.