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Title: The potential for implementing partial restoration of the Middle Rio Grande ecosystem

Author: Crawford, Clifford S.; Ellis, Lisa M.; Molles, Manuel C. Jr.; Valett, H. Maurice;

Date: 1996

Source: In: Shaw, Douglas W.; Finch, Deborah M., tech coords. Desired future conditions for Southwestern riparian ecosystems: Bringing interests and concerns together. 1995 Sept. 18-22, 1995; Albuquerque, NM. General Technical Report RM-GTR-272. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. p. 93-99.

Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)

   Note: This article is part of a larger document. View the larger document

Description: The Rio Grande currently inundates only a small portion of its riparian forests during late spring runoff. Such flood events were once responsible for the germination of cottonwoods and willows along the river, for a mosaic of wetlands mixed with different aged stands of forest, and for enhancement of decomposition and nutrient cycling. River regulation in this century has decoupled the linkage between the floodplain and the river and has led to senescence without replacement of the once dominant native cottonwoods in the Middle Rio Grande (MRG) valley. We propose that partial restoration can be accomplished by re-establishing a regime of seasonal wetting of riparian soils at select sites most likely in the MRG’s southern reach. Our research at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge suggests that this practice would 1) accelerate decomposition and nutrient cycling within existing stands and 2) promote cottonwood-willow germination on banks and other cleared areas. It could also expedite the creation of wetlands. We outline methods of implementing partial restoration, and emphasize the importance of continuous monitoring by citizen volunteers. With careful planning and implementation, our suggested approaches could be used for other restoration projects in the Rio Grande Basin.

Keywords: riparian ecosystems, human dimensions, hydrology, ecology, history, restoration

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Crawford, Clifford S.; Ellis, Lisa M.; Molles, Manuel C., Jr.; Valett, H. Maurice. 1996. The potential for implementing partial restoration of the Middle Rio Grande ecosystem. In: Shaw, Douglas W.; Finch, Deborah M., tech coords. Desired future conditions for Southwestern riparian ecosystems: Bringing interests and concerns together. 1995 Sept. 18-22, 1995; Albuquerque, NM. General Technical Report RM-GTR-272. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. p. 93-99.

 


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