June 1st was the date for New Mexico Trout’s annual volunteer project day and BBQ. This year the project location was a spot near where FR 376 passes over the Rio Cebolla in the Jemez District of the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF). Our task was to build vehicle barriers to help close off an old, informal road that has been eroding and contributing to the degradation of the creek and its surrounding meadow. Earlier, SFNF personnel had built a gate across the old road to allow access only by emergency vehicles. We were there to build barriers on either side of the gate to protect a wet meadow that already showed tire tracks from vehicles driving around the gate.
About 30 NM Trout members and guests came up for the workday, providing enough volunteers to form three teams. One group used a power auger to dig holes for vertical posts (bollards). Another team repurposed the now redundant buck and pole fence to close off a significant part of the meadow. A third group cleaned up a large number of old campsites and fire rings, as a first step in a SFNF plan to start restoring the area to a more natural condition.
The group worked hard and by noon everyone was ready to stop for a well-deserved lunch from Rudy’s Barbecue. After lunch, Chantel Cook, SFNF Fisheries Biologist, thanked the NM Trout volunteers for our conservation work over the years. She remarked that the hours we spent working counted as a significant, in-kind contribution that is a condition for their riparian restoration funding.
New Mexico Trout conservation projects have made a significant, cumulative impact on the streams in the Jemez Mountains. As you drive the back roads and fish the Guadalupe, Cebolla, San Antonio, Vacas, and other Jemez streams, you will see evidence of our work over the years. The streams are in better condition because of our efforts. However, drought, higher temperatures, and wildfires are major threats that will require more work from us in the future. The Club sincerely thanks all of you volunteers for your past contributions to our conservation program and asks you to keep up the good work.