The No Title Story: My 2019 Summer Internship

Hey y’all! I’m Natasha Sanchez from Santo Domingo Pueblo. I am a recent graduate from the Santa Fe Indian School, now headed to New Mexico State University this fall to study Environmental Science or something related in the S.T.E.M field. 

November of 2018 is when I became acquainted with River Source. My high school hosted a river restoration meeting that related to my Senior Honor Project, Riparian Zones. Since then, I was aware of this summer internship and was really excited to apply. During my time at Santa Fe Indian School with Mark Ericson’s class Community Based Education (CBE), I was able to work with River Source on field trips to monitor water quality in the Santa Fe River. One specific field trip helped me with my Senior Honor Project Action Plan, during March of 2019 – on that trip, we studied riparian restoration through revegetation and erosion control. I was so glad I was able to partner up with River Source to help make my action plan possible. Male students from Santo Domingo Middle School came to the Santa Fe River (Hasuuk Chenah) in Cochiti Pueblo to transplant native plants and fruit trees to the area. We planted over 44 native species. It was a great day! The feedback from the students was incredible. One student said they had fun learning about riparian zones and helping to restore the river. 

Working with this internship, I have gained so much experience and education I thought I’d never obtain. I have a lot of exciting memories to mention but, my favorite memory was with a fawn deer (pictured left!). In mid-July 2019 River Source and Southwest Urban Hydrology held a stormwater harvesting training to bring landscape architects, engineers, and restoration ecologists together to learn how to plan stormwater harvesting projects in Santa Fe, and visit various green infrastructure sites around town. One attendee brought a rescued fawn deer. (IT WAS SO CUTE!) I have never been around a live deer. The fawn made cute noises! It was also so amazing to see the fawn walk around and about! 

Questa field day: We completed a field work day at the June Bug campsite in Questa. Rich and I did a riverine campsite assessment, which consists of evaluating a campsite and its qualities, asking questions like: what is expected? how far is a campsite located from the river? is there erosion? How bad? And how would you rate it: silver, bronze, or gold? (Scoring ranged from zero, being bad, to 3, excellent) 

After inspecting the campsite we made our way down to Carlos. We moved rock and dirt from one site to another, creating one rock dams on the river to slow down water, help floodplain connectivity, and increase streambank retention of water. We took a drone flight of the congested area of the river to show what caused the clogging; causing the river to flow the way it flowed. That took up the morning. A couple who camped near by invited us to have sandwiches with them. We ate and talked. I mostly listened to them. 

We then made our way down to Fawn Lakes. Rich and I evaluated the campsite while Carlos set up the longitudinal measuring tape. Rich did a geomorphological survey with a laser levels find out where they could do work and restore the river. Carlos and I moved the measuring tape downstream. I watched as the survey was done. After awhile I then started to pay attention to the river. I was so close to catching a fish. I then thought it would be a good idea to get the benthic macroinvertebrate net to try and catch a fish. I went back into the water, and the fish were hard to see and catch, so I sadly didn’t catch any. 

We continued to survey the river. I helped write down site numbers and what the measurement was for each reading of the change in elevation, showing how the grade changes as you travel along the river. After completing the river. We went to the lake to install picture post signs and did a drone flight of the lakes. After finishing that site, we drove down to Eagle Rock Lake. I got to fish for awhile, while rich installed more picture post signs

Crew from Descartes Labs and Nusenda Credit Union with me

Volunteer Day on Santa Fe River: On another work day, we prepared to repair a large headcut threatening the walking trail, and create a walking trail down the arroyo. We moved rock from the top of the head cut down to the arroyo, and wheelbarrowed mulch down to the trail. In preparation for the next day, it took the whole day to finish.The next day Nusenda Credit Union and Descartes Labs hosted a “Giving back to the community” event where volunteers from Nusenda, Descartes, St. John’s College, and Santa Fe Realty Unlimited showed up to learn restoration techniques from River Source and help create and give back to the community of Santa Fe. About 15 showed up and split up into 3 groups, deciding what they wanted to do. Carlos worked on building a trail, Rich worked on the head cut, and Emily and I worked on pruning trails located at the river. By 12pm all three projects were finished. With the help of volunteers we all created and completed a head cut repair by building a Zuni Bowl, Media Luna, and a trail. 

Maintenance of Riparian Restoration Project in Cochiti Pueblo: Back at the Santa Fe River in Cochiti Pueblo, Carlos and I watered the plants we transplanted back in March. I was informed that there was a wild horse that was hard to chase out of the enclosed area. Of course, the horse and his buddy were inside the fence when we got there. When my eyes saw that magnificent horse, I was amazed! Woaaah, that horse was all black, tall, muscular, and fast! I tried to chase it out with my truck. It took three attempts, and finally I scared the horse to the edge of the enclosure on foot. That’s when I saw that horse jump and clear that fence!  

Hands on Heritage: “Hands on Heritage” was a two day camp that took place at Santa Cruz Lake near Cundiyo, NM. During the two days, we had three stations set up for 4th – 8th graders participating in the summer program Hands on Heritage, which teaches New Mexico youth about science, culture, and many other subjects at different sites around Northern New Mexico. At the lake, we taught kids fishing, testing water quality and identifying benthic macroinvertebrates. I was glad to see the youth interested in the stations. Sadly, the fishing was bad. No one caught a fish. However the kids were having fun learning how to cast an open cast rod and identifying macroinvertebrates. 

Being able to work with River Source has been so great. This internship has brought me closer to what my future holds, and that idea really makes me excited! I want to thank Rich, Emily, Carlos, and everyone else I worked with for making my summer great and memorable. This work experience has been one heck of a time! Thank you!

Thanks to Santa Fe Community Foundation, McCune Charitable Foundation, Lineberry Foundation, and the Santa Fe Indian School Community Based Education Program!

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