Grant from State of New Mexico

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The State of New Mexico awards a Grant to improve habitat along the Pecos River.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund and the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, received a $518,500 grant to restore six miles of the Pecos River as it runs through Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge near Roswell.

The grant was made possible by the 2007 River Ecosystem Restoration Initiative, a one-time funding opportunity under Governor Bill Richardson’s ‘Year of Water’ agenda.  A total of $2.35 million was awarded for river ecosystem health. 

The grant funded Phase II of a large Pecos River restoration effort at Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge that included removing tamarisk and floodplain levees, lowering floodplains, re-connecting historic river sections, and establishing native plants.  Phase I re-connected a channelized oxbow lake and improved roughly one and half miles of river habitat.  Phase I was constructed by the Bureau of Reclamation as part of their mitigation for Pecos River operations. The funding from New Mexico’s River Ecosystem Initiative allowed the Service to conduct Phase II, and address restoration on an additional six river miles.

The restoration project demonstrates the feasibility of various techniques used to restore the tamarisk-infested reaches of the Pecos River and the river’s ecosystem functions, such as flood and drought mitigation, fire reduction, recreation and maintaining biodiversity.  The project will restore basic river functions; improve water quality; improve habitat for the Pecos bluntnose shiner; attract more birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish; remove 100 acres of invasive non-native plants; reduce flood risk for downstream properties; reduce fire risks; enhance recreational opportunities; leverage federal restoration dollars; increase refuge visitation which brings associated benefits to the local hospitality business.

The restoration project will benefit the more than 90 odonate species that occur at the refuge, including the continent's largest and smallest dragonfly species.  The life cycle of the insects requires water and wetlands including seeps and springs, brackish lakes, marshes, and the Pecos River with its old oxbows.