September 2015 Navajo Monitoring Day

In 2013, a partnership was formed between the San Juan Conservation District, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, 13 private landowners, U.S. Partners for Fish and Wildlife, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies (Formerly Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory) Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, community volunteers, and the Chama Peak Land Alliance to address the altered hydrology of the river from the installation of the Oso Diversion in the 1960s and subsequent sedimentation events that have impacted the river. Since then, the partnership has been working to improve in-stream aquatic habitat, riparian areas, and wetlands along the 6.75-mile stretch of private lands below the Oso Diversion to Highway 84.

On September 19th, 2015, the Navajo Landowner Workshop and Project Tour gathered partners and landowners to: 1.)Tour in-stream, riparian, and wetland projects, 2.) Learn about photo monitoring as a tool for landowners, and 3.) Identify opportunities for future restoration efforts downstream. Jerry Archuleta with the NRCS explained to the group that a normal hydrograph for a river would go up and down with the seasons and snowmelt/rainfall. But because of the diversion, the hydrograph is essentially a straight line. Additionally, the diversion doesn’t allow the input of larger materials that would help form gravel bars; the silt that it does allow through, has settled to the bottom and form a foot-thick layer of “concrete”. As a result, the river below the diversion is a system with very low diversity — it is one long riffle with very little aquatic habitat. This project has focused on creating habitat diversity through bank stabilization, in-stream shaping and meandering, and the addition of large rocks and woody material to create structures and other features that support aquatic macroinvertebrates and fish.

One long-time landowner said of the project, “Now after a storm, I can hear the river again…Like I could before the diversion.”


Click on any image to start a slideshow