Upper Gallinas Watershed
Watershed Based Plan
With Clean Water Act (section 319) funding, the NM Environment Department has supported HPWA to develop Watershed Based Plans to improve water quality and then later to implement those plans. In 2012 our first Watershed Based Plan for the restoration and improvement of conditions in the upper Gallinas Watershed was adopted. This plan strives to improve water quality in the upper Gallinas River from the Las Vegas Diversion (to the city water supply) in Montezuma up to the headwaters, a 75 square mile area. The water quality problem (aka impairment) being addressed is high water temperature; water in the Gallinas River is too warm to adequately support productive trout populations.
This plan presented background information and recommended Management and Restoration Measures that would help to cool river water and improve the overall condition of the upper Gallinas Watershed. This plan illuminates the relationship between land, stream, and wetland health to the quality and quantity of water available to support watershed functions and provide a reliable water supply for people. The plan identified watershed conditions that need to be improved such as:
1) Enhance stream shade by planting and supporting riparian trees and shrubs.
2) Narrow and deepen the river channels to reduce solar exposure and provide cold water fish refugia.
3) Improve floodplain connectivity to store more water in underground reservoirs.
4) Enhance riverine wetlands to help recharge stream flows.
This first version of a watershed plan focused on private lands. Later in 2018 an addendum to this plan added publicly owned lands in the National Forest of the upper Gallinas Watershed.
With this plan as a guide, HPWA has continued to do numerous projects on-the-ground to improve our life-giving watershed with funding from the NM Environment Department and other sources.
On-the Ground Improvement Projects for the Upper Gallinas River – Phase I
To remedy the temperature impairment in the upper Gallinas River, the first phase of implementing the Watershed Based Plan occurred between 2013 and 2014. The following work was accomplished
+ Riparian Sensitive Grazing Plans were developed to help guide livestock management along 1.6 miles of river in order to improve riparian shade. To help landowners start work on those plans, one mile of riparian fencing was constructed.
+ Assisted a landowner in riparian vegetation management along 1/10th mile of river.
+ Planted riparian trees and shrubs along 1.8 miles of river.
+ Restored stream channel conditions in 1.75 miles of river to improve instream
diversity, narrow and deepen the channel and improve floodplain connectivity.
+ Improved six stream road crossings to narrow and stabilize the channel.
+ Performed one upland erosion control project to reduce stream sedimentation.
+ Educated landowners about Conservation Easements as a tool to protect watershed functions.
+ Held 12 educational events as part of a Land Stewardship Series and numerous other educational efforts to improve understanding of watershed health.
On-the Ground Improvement Projects for the Upper Gallinas River – Phase II
The second phase of implementing the Watershed Based Plan occurred between 2016 and 2018. The following was accomplished during that project.
+ Two Riparian Sensitive Grazing Plans covering 0.5 mile of river and 64.5 acres were developed.
+ A large stock pond was reconstructed to enhance its wetland values.
+ A Flow Device was installed to help manage and coexist with beaver.
+ A low water crossing across the Gallinas River was improved to stabilize and narrow the channel.
+ Riparian plantings were done along 1 mile of river.
+ Three instream channel restoration projects covering 0.8 mile of river were done.
+ One project to decommission ½ mile of steep, eroding road and reconstruct a
properly functioning ¾ mile of road with good drainage was built to replace it.
+ Assisted in developing the updated NM Regional Water Plan.
+ Participated in developing an update to the San Miguel County Comprehensive Land Use Plan.
+ Developed a National Forest Land Addendum to the Upper Gallinas Watershed Based Plan.
+ Developed NEPA to enable trail improvements and instream repair of man- made log dams along Beaver Creek in the Pecos Wilderness.
+ Held regular 13 educational events as part of a Land Stewardship Series and numerous other educational efforts.
On-the Ground Improvement Projects for the Upper Gallinas River – Phase III
The third phase of implementing the Watershed Based Plan began in 2019 and will continue through 2021. The following projects have been completed or are underway.
+ Instream restoration work in Porvenir Creek at El Porvenir Christian Camp to improve fish habitat conditions.
+ Trail repair work along trail #247 that follows Beaver Creek to reduce stream sedimentation and narrow the channel.
+ Instream repairs of man-made log dams along Beaver Creek to narrow the channel.
+ Trail re-route design of a 1.4 mile section of trail #247 that follows Beaver Creek to reduce stream sedimentation and trail impacts.
+ Another yet to be named instream restoration project in the Gallinas River.
+ Performed a 10 year assessment of progress toward meeting objectives of the
Watershed Based Plan.
+ Develop a NEPA for needed trail repairs and man-made log dam repairs along the upper reaches of Gallinas Creek.
+ Create a Story Map of the Upper Gallinas Watershed to educate the public.
+ Create a driving tour of the Upper Gallinas Watershed.
+ Hold educational events as part of our Land Stewardship Series.
+ Began developing a series of videos of relevant watershed topics (e.g. stream
temperature, riparian habitat, importance of beaver)
River Stewardship – Gallinas Village
With Capital Outlay funding through the NM Environment Department’s River Stewardship Program, we completed a floodplain and instream restoration project on City of Las Vegas property in Gallinas Village between 2017- 2019. This project consisted of complete instream restoration of a 0.5 mile reach of the Gallinas River. Restoration added 13 new pools with boulder falls, six new locations with overhanging banks and/or root wads and/or large woody debris, four constructed riffles, and the channel width and depth ratio was restored to approximate that typical for this type of river. Beaver and trout quickly moved into the reach, enjoying the new habitat opportunities. The Gallinas River was also reconnected to its floodplain at the most upstream section enabling floodwaters to spread out across the floodplain during a severe flood and providing downstream flood protection.