Jemez River. File photo
JEMEZ SPRINGS – Vandals at work along the Jemez River have chopped the tops off newly planted cottonwoods on the riverbank and damaged recently installed fish habitat structures in the water.
The restoration and improvement of aquatic habitats is part of the larger Santa Fe National Forest’s Southwest Jemez Mountains Forest Restoration project to create and sustain healthy ecosystems in the Jemez Mountains.
“The work we are doing along the Jemez River is not only beneficial to the river and the species that live in it. It’s also an economic boon to the community. The Jemez area is a year-round destination for recreational fishing,” Jemez District Ranger Brian Riley said. “It’s really difficult to understand what motivates someone to vandalize improvements in the river or harm newly planted trees.”
The Santa Fe National Forest is using SWJM funding along with money from the state’s Habitat Stamp Program and non-profit organizations interested in the preservation of native trout species to enhance the habitat at four public use sites along the Jemez River. The habitat structures in the river create a welcome environment for trout, and streamside plantings help stop erosion and provide shade to keep the water temperature from getting too warm.
In addition to cutting the trees, vandals are stacking boulders in the pools that encourage the trout to linger. The rocks slow the water down and fill the pools with sediment, making them less hospitable to the trout.
Relay any information on the Jemez River vandalism to the Jemez Ranger District office at 575.829.3535.