The habitat mitigation associated with the Buckman Direct Diversion (BDD) surface water diversion project has been in full swing since November 2013. The mitigation work involves removing non-native vegetation and restoring diverse native riparian-wetland habitats to the area.
Non-native trees, including Siberian elm, Russian olive and saltcedar that previously dominated the project site were cut with chainsaws, and the stems and branches were fed through a chipper and ground into mulch. Herbicide was applied to the freshly cut tree stumps to prevent them from re-sprouting. The paintbrushes were used to prevent herbicide from dripping onto the soil.
Since the vast majority of the trees occupying the site are non-native, we left the largest Russian olive and Siberian elm trees standing for wildlife habitat until the native habitat develops. However, because the Siberian elm trees produce millions of seedlings that threaten to re-populate the project site, we used chainsaws to remove sections of bark around the trunk. This technique, referred to as “girdling” eventually kills the tree but the standing “snag” that results provides valuable habitat for roosting raptors and cavity nesting birds.
All of this forestry work was completed in January 2014.
The revegetation work began as soon as we completed the forestry work. This has involved planting approximately 3,500 native trees and shrubs, including Rio Grande cottonwood, three different willow species, New Mexico olive, and about seven other types of native shrubs. We also constructed a small (0.3 acre) willow wetland that is designed to flood when the Rio Grande swells during snow-melt runoff or summer monsoon rain events. All of the revegetation was completed in early March.
The next project phases involve erecting strong fences to create a designated parking area and to prevent unauthorized street vehicles from driving into the newly revegetated areas, and creating an educational kiosk to inform the public about the importance of the BDD water project and the goals of the habitat mitigation work.
Non-native saltcedar, Russian olive and Siberian elm trees previously dominated the project site.
These non-native trees were cut with chainsaws and chipped into mulch. The mulch was spread across the existing spur roads.
Garlon Ultra herbicide was applied directly to cut-stump surfaces using a paintbrush to prevent dripping herbicide onto the soil.
Over 1,000 willows, cottonwoods and other native shrubs were planted in a 0.3-acre seasonal wetland. This wetland is designed to flood when the river rises during snow-melt runoff and large summer monsoon rain events.
Over 3,000 native shrubs and trees were planted across the project site.
Native plants were installed using auger-mounted skid steer tractors to ensure that plants were installed close to the groundwater table.