Land Restoration in the Upper Santa Fe Watershed

Hello my name is Jose Ramirez, I am a former intern at the Watershed Academy. I would like to start off by thanking the staff at River Source for a great experience and also Future Focused Education for this great opportunity.  On orientation day I felt a bit anxious, but also excited. I knew I was about to learn some new things and improve my social and personal skills. On the first day we did some team building exercises; we built a canopy with one of our mentors Carlos Herrera. The exercises helped me and the team build trust and to get to know each other.

The first few days we went on field trips and I learned how to read arroyos on the landscape. I also gained new knowledge about New Mexico. We are facing a severe drought. This made me realize that sooner or later one of our most important resources, water, will have an end. But I also learned that we can have a positive impact on our environment and our water.

One of the things that stuck with me was learning how to alter the characteristics of stream flow. My mentors taught me how to build dams using natural resources around the sites. For example we built one rock dams. The way this works is by placing boulders across the stream so sediment from upstream can get caught in between the boulders. This process is part of land restoration, this helps keep every animal in its environment happy. After I learned about land restoration, I gained knowledge of what a picture post is. It’s a tool that we used to take before and after pictures, we always started by taking pictures from the North. This helped us track our progress. 

As the days went by we headed off to the Santa Fe upper Watershed. I fondly remember the hike up the hill that humbled me . I also remember flying the drone across the McClure Reservoir, which was beautiful by the way. The views up there made me feel peaceful bliss. At the upper watershed, I learned how to measure streamflow and to identify different types of habitats. We measured streamflow by using decimals and feet. I learned how to measure the depth and width with a yard stick. First we identified the different habitats in a stream. We did pools and riffles, we checked if the pools were deep enough for fish. They had to be 1ft to be able to call them pools.

I learned a lot in these past 14 days, and I see that as a reward. This made me interested in pursuing a career as a Firefighter, and also made me have a different outlook on the way I see nature. I realized when a certain environment is blissful and healthy, every animal, plant and human is happy.