Working Hard for Restoration of El Rito Campground

Here during my time with River Source, I’ve learned and experienced some fun and also some more difficult tasks and jobs. I worked with River Source during the summer of 2021. River Source is a small company that specializes in watershed research, restoration, and education throughout New Mexico. Our main goal was to study a campsite and brainstorm ways that we could restore it and make it a more sustainable and welcoming place. We also went on to research and sample the quality of the El Rito Creek throughout 5 different sites.

The first day consisted of introductions, learning about the other interns that I would be working with, and the leaders of the project. On This day we met a few forest service workers including Ricardo Leon and Angie Krall. They discussed education and degrees necessary for their jobs and also discussed some important information about the land. Lastly we went for a drive and took our first look at the site that we were going to be working at.

I began working with field scientist David Fay and Environmental Scientist and Science Teacher Victor Jaramillo to begin water quality testing at site 1 (highest site). Here we calculated the streamflow using various materials and tools. After that we entered a series of calculations to ultimately determine the cubic feet per second that the creek/river is traveling at. Next we went on to calculate the amount of nitrates and phosphates that were in the water using a special machine. Finally we measured the pH, water temperature, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity in the water. These tests were conducted using a different tool for each experiment in order to get the correct reading and accurate tests. We conducted all of these tests at 5 different sites (except streamflow).

Next we planned how we to execute our main project. The goal was to restore a campsite that hadn’t been tended to. We made a rough drawing of what we wanted it to look like, getting an input from all 5 interns. The next task was to make a materials list for our partners in this project, the forest service and mainly the El Rito Ranger Station. Ricardo Leon and Angie Krall were our main helpers in our restoration efforts. Ricardo provided us with the 21 wooden posts and a high quality picnic table that we needed to execute our plan accurately. River Source and Victor Jaramillo provided the necessary tools that we used.

Starting the first Wednesday, we began to execute our plans by digging holes where the posts were to be put. We took one of the trucks to go and pick up some rocks for us to place for functionality and decoration. Then we deconstructed the makeshift fire ring made with a few small rocks to make way for a new metal fire ring. Sites would be designated for different work that was planned for each site.

The next week we performed the bulk of our physical work at the site. We received all of the materials needed allowing us to get to work. We dug holes for fencing, moved debris, picked up many large rocks and transported them to our site using a truck, installing and anchoring our metal fire ring and picnic table with concrete. During this week, we finished all of the physical work at the worksite.

Lastly, checks and reviews of the project were done to ensure all goals were met. Then our work changed focus to a final presentation. Here we assigned a person to each area of the site. There were 5 interns to go along with 5 sites so it was easy to split up the efforts relatively evenly. This was the final project that we presented on our final day to ultimately complete our internship.