My Summer Experience … Tyler Quintana

Yoo!.. I’m Tyler Quintana from Cochiti Pueblo; I am a farmer and an outdoorsman. Participating in my traditional practices helps me understand the importance of our environment. I’d like to have a career in the natural resources to try and restore the Rio Grande and Santa Fe River that flow though my pueblo. I also use the river water for irrigation purposes- alfalfa and crops so I understand the close connection our people have with the water. It’d be wonderful to see meandering in the rivers so they flow slower and to transplant native species and bring in native flora and fauna.IMG_3275

Working for River Source with Rich Schrader and Carlos Herrera is a lot of fun and very educational for likeminded people, who are interested in water restoration and the importance of water for all habitats and learning how water quality sustains different species of invertebrates, fishes, and plants.

Our first week we camped in Taos with other students and professionals who gave us experience working in the environmental field.  At camp we broke up into groups with different environmental disasters; the experience we gained, was towards finding how we could fix our scenario. These were real scenarios that have happened. While we were there, the Red Cross presented cautions and dangers in the wild and showed us how to perform CPR. We took a field trip to Pot Creek Pueblo and the Red Willow Farm; where I got the chance to compare and ask questions about my types of planting, irrigation, and harvesting. I learned how to make organic mulch and fertilizer, and to use native or eco-friendly herbicides and pesticides instead of chemically made herbicides (pest).

I got to test the soil around the camp, along with the water and plants. Soil is primarily made up of sand, silt, or clay. It’s the amount of each that gives you different soil, also the red in dirt is from iron; just as a nail rusts and turns red. Each type of soil grows specific plants. Water is just as important as to which specific plants it’ll support. It might not have any oxygen in the water, or too many nitrates, not enough plants overhead to keep a cool temperature. At the end of camp we presented to the Taos Elders and the professionals that helped us through camp.  The following week we presented our work at IAIA (Institute of American Indian Arts).

After camp, we began studying geomorphology of the Cochiti Canyon and the Santa Fe River; it includes measuring the elevation of the flow, and how wide the flood bank is. We’re also doing basic water testing; Turbidity, Flow, pH, Dissolved Oxygen. The restoration of the Santa Fe River deals with the understanding and testing the water, understanding the soils water interactions and bringing in native plants and animal species that will be supported in the new habitat.

I appreciate getting this opportunity to be an intern for the River Source, it is terrific. I have two turtles and I want to build them a natural habitat in my backyard with the experience I gained and hope to help bring back native medicinal plants. I also got a scholarship to help me get into college from this internship. After I graduate I plan to come back to Cochiti Pueblo and help the Restoration Project of Cochiti Waters and create my own scenarios to fix.