Our Week Reconstructing El Rito Campground

Hello my name is Estrella Weikel and my internship with River Source has been an adventure so far. We have accomplished and learned so many things these past two weeks. Coming together and working as a group with the other interns was just a blast. On our first day of the reconstruction on the campsite in El Rito, we completed water sampling for e coli, stream flow, and water testing. And we spent time observing the campsite before the next days to come. When we began working on the campsite we made an observation that there were a total of five areas that needed to be reconstructed and made ecologically friendly, and useful for campers/ visitors.

The days were very hot and long, but we succeeded in installing twenty-one posts,  18 of which supported fence that became a non-access point for cars as well as a designated area for tents. We needed to move the fire ring away from the creek as much as possible, which we did. We also created a blockage for OHV’s on an area that had become eroded but that allowed foot traffic; we put in a picnic table, a supported fence, as well as posted information posts. A few other things we did while working on this project was create an area for people to enjoy the land as well as respect it. We created trails for minimum OHV’s as well as posting information for outside visitors and locals.

As part of my experience I would like to share some of the article from an Outdoor equity conference I had attended. for River Source posted in the Albuquerque Journal. “Estrella Weikel, a student at Mesa Vista High School in Ojo Caliente, grew up gardening. To her, clean water and healthy crops at home, while her father worked in construction and sold firewood. That lifestyle where [I] spent so much time outdoors with dirt under [my] fingernails,” helped me learn that there are other things in life than sitting around and not caring about the  environment. It helps me in my life because I can think of ways to make our environment and lives better.

“That internship led Estrella to River Source, a New Mexico group dedicated to catalyzing stewardship in water conservation. Last year, River Source was awarded a $15,000 Outdoor Equity Fund grant from the New Mexico Outdoor recreation division to continue  the work with Mesa Vista and four other New Mexican schools. As part of the curriculum, River Source invited ‘community leaders who have lived, farmed and worked the land to participate and share their lived experiences and wisdom on what the water meant to all life and why we must preserve it.’ Last fall Estrella, along with Alyssa Banuelos, an Albuquerque student who went backpacking with the N.M. Dream Team, another Outdoor Equity Fund-supported group that fights for the uplifting of immigrant, queer and communities of color, spoke about their outdoor experiences at the virtual Outdoor Economics Conference. Both young women shared how the outdoors has inspired them, even in their future career choices. ‘I’ve always been really observant on what we need to keep our food, crops, and our air sources healthy,’ Estrella says, ‘so I started looking into hydrology.’”

Link to rest of article: https://www.abqjournal.com/2354551/nm-must-invest-in-its-outdoors-and-its-young-peo ple.html