Mora Watershed

Lower Mora River Watershed

A Watershed Based Plan to guide water quality improvements in the lower Mora River and its tributaries was completed in 2016.

This plan covers the Mora River Watershed starting near Buena Vista and extending downstream to Cherry Valley (aka Shoemaker). Water quality impairments in the Mora River are the result of degraded land conditions across this large, 477 square mile, landscape. The water quality concerns are caused by excessive nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) largely generated by erosion from upland areas, streambanks, and stream channels, excessive sedimentation, degraded riparian vegetation, lack of connection of the river from its floodplain, and a loss of riverine wetlands. Water quality concerns related to excessive E. coli have been recently added.

To remedy these issues, it was recommended to work closely with ranchers and farmers to facilitate restoration of degraded conditions and improve land management practices. Important projects to focus on include arrest arroyo erosion, improve upland plant cover, improve road drainage onto adjacent areas, enhance riparian vegetation, reconnect the river to its floodplain, and restore riverine wetlands.

On the Ground Improvement Projects for the Lower Mora River Watershed – Phase 1A

Work to remedy water quality problems and overall watershed health issues began by working closely with four large landowners. See attach the final report. Projects completed during this phase included:

+ Developed restoration plans for three ranches and one farm. The farm plan was specifically a Regenerative Agriculture Plan.
+ Installed 3.9 miles of fencing.
+ Completed 17.5 miles of new road drainage work on two properties and did road drainage maintenance on 22 miles. Developed a plan to decommission a road at one ranch.
+ Assisted 2 landowners with managing beaver by caging 324 cottonwoods likely to be harvested by beaver. One ranch reintroduced beaver to their property during grant period.
+ Treated an 8 acre weed dominated pasture with Keyline Plow and reseeding with native and regenerative plants
+ Planted native seed in 40 acres on one ranch.
+ Conducted Pinon-Juniper thinning on 200 acres.
+ Constructed 15 erosion control structures on 18 acres at the King Ranch.
+ Planted diverse riparian vegetation in 10.5 acres at a farm.

On the Ground Improvement Projects for the Lower Mora River Watershed – Phase 1B

This second phase of implementing the lower Mora River Watershed based plan began in late 2020 and will continue until 2023. Projects planned for this phase are:

+ Instream and riparian restoration along 0.5 mile of the Mora River on the Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge.
+ Instream, riparian in riverine wetland restoration at the confluence of the Mora River and Tipton Creek.
+ Assist a farmer in implementing their Regenerative Agricultural Plan focus on restoring upland vegetation cover and riparian vegetation.
+ Livestock management improvements (fencing, water development) on Dog Creek.
+ Minimum of 2 miles of road drainage improvements and road decommissioning on one ranch.
+ Cottonwood planting and caging along the lower reaches of Wolf Creek.
+ Hold at least 5 educational events as part of the Land Stewardship Series.
+ Produce a number of educational videos as part of a growing video library.

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