Conservation Project Report- Rio de las Vacas

Ron Loehman, Conservation Chairman

This past May 22nd, almost twenty volunteers from NM Trout and the Truchas Chapter of Trout Unlimited joined forces on a conservation project on the Rio de las Vacas upstream of the Chaparral Girl Scout camp. Some old, barbed wire cattle fencing intended to protect a sensitive riparian area wasn’t doing the job, so we removed some of it, repaired other parts, and installed new fencing where needed. Two grazing permittees with allotments along the Vacas came to help and gave us some helpful hints on how to work with barbed wire fencing.

The project was organized by Toner Mitchell and Nick Tsapatsaris of TU, who also provided lunches for the group. Jim Eaton, the Cuba Ranger District’s Range Specialist and his staff provided overall supervision and materials.

With the enthusiasm and hard work of the many volunteers, much of the planned fencing was finished by early afternoon. I enjoyed interacting with the two grazing permittees. I asked a lot of questions about their history in the area and how they managed their cattle. They were grateful for our work, which will help them keep their cattle out of the creek. With the right planning and approach, I believe we can do productive projects with other permittees in the future. Also, joining with TU on future projects would be beneficial.

There is a large overlap in our memberships anyway and attracting more volunteers on larger projects will allow us to accomplish more in a day. Incidentally, that part of the Vacas is a pretty mountain meadow stream with greater flow than where it joins the Rio Cebolla above Porter’s Landing. It runs through a patchwork of public land and private inholdings, so it would be useful to have a map if you plan to fish it.

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