My Watershed Academy Internship 2020

By Charlotte Fritz

Hi everyone my name is Charlotte and I am a recent intern at River Source. It is the summer of 2020 and we are in the middle of a global pandemic. In my mind this was a perfect time to start a job! The internship was 14 days long and one of the most interesting and exciting work experiences I have ever had. My main goal for this year is to save enough money to go to a wildlife conservatory in Costa Rica with a small group of friends. You could say this internship was part of my research to go to Costa Rica. During this time I learned so much about myself and where I live. Along with our global pandemic there is a severe drought in New Mexico, some even say aridification. A big thing that I learned during this internship was how to have a positive impact on our environment and our water. Due to our global pandemic the internship had very strict protocols on masks and sanitation. Our number one goal was safety and our number two goal was education. I learned a lot from working at River Source!

Throughout our internship we learned how much dams alter environments. We learn that with specific beaver dams analogs we could get water to areas to improve the soil moisture and enable plants to grow.

We also learned about water basins (also called rain gardens) that are strategically placed around Santa Fe to improve soil moisture and plant growth. These rain gardens allow sediment to settle so that water can go to the Santa Fe river without bringing that sediment.

By drawing up a plan about how we can improve a landscape, we practiced land management. In our target area we used dead tree branches and lower hanging ones to create swales. We also built structures to spread water to other areas of the land that needed it. The reason we used dead and lower hanging branches was to reduce the fuel load in case of a fire. Those low hanging branches could catch fire and ignite the entire tree. Also by cutting off the dead branches and pruning the trees it helps the trees because they need less water. Less branches equals less water needed to be pushed out to the branches. And during a drought that could potentially save a tree’s life. 

During our field trips we learned how to read the sediment. In a stream of water if there are large rocks that means that the velocity of the water was at one point so high it could lift and carry those rocks to another location. If there are only small rocks / sand then that may mean that the velocity was low and couldn’t carry bigger sediment. I am so grateful for my experience at River Source and hopeful that the Pandemic will end in time for me to go to Costa Rica!