Watershed Association wins award
The Santa Fe RiverWatershed consists of about 182,400 acres and is a sub-basin of the Rio GrandeWatershed. It includes the two reservoirs of the Santa Fe MunicipalWatershed, which can contribute as much as half of our City and County water supply in some years. I recently joined the board of the Santa FeWatershed Association and I have an ever-increasing appreciation of the work they do in our community. The organization was recently honored by the Santa Fe Community Foundation with a prestigious Piñon Award for applying its four-pillared strategy of education, restoration, stewardship and advocacy to work toward bringing back a healthy and vibrant river running through the heart of Santa Fe and honoring the connection of people and the watershed.
The SFWA was founded in 1997. You may remember when American Rivers, a public education and advocacy group that seeks to protect and restore rivers, declared the Santa Fe River to be “America’s most endangered river” in 2007. It is difficult to refute that 2015 has been a good year for the river, with city contributions to the river exceeding the required (wet year) contribution of 1,000 acre-feet of water, as per the 2012 Living River Ordinance, for which theWatershed Association was a major advocate.
The greatly improved appearance of the Santa Fe River in 2015 is due not only to the rather wet spring and early summer, and to forced diversions to the river because of (almost completed) construction work at McClure Reservoir, but also to the role the Santa FeWatershed Association plays in river cleanups and to the businesses and community groups that “sponsor” reaches of the river with tax-deductible contributions under its Adoptthe-River program.
Schools, neighborhood associations and community groups serve as Adoptthe-River Stewards, partnering with River Sponsors to keep designated stretches of the river free of trash and graffiti, and lined with native vegetation, by providing the labor for this program. Roadside signs acknowledge sponsorship. Reaches of the river currently available for sponsorship are noted on the website. The organization is now seeking sponsors to help clean up the arroyos that feed the river.
In addition, SFWA staff are actively involved in watershed education in the schools, (the MyWater, MyWatershed program), adult education (Climate Masters), and in leading educational hikes to the upper watershed, in conjunction with the City of Santa Fe and theU.S. Forest Service. I encourage you to peruse the SFWA website, which offers explanations of its programs, lists upcoming events and is also an excellent resource for everything that goes on in thewatershed — including prescribed burns. The SFWA always welcomes individuals and groups who arewilling to contribute their time and labor to improve the riverscape.
The SFWA is supported by grants from other non-profits, government entities, and individual memberships. (Please join!) A major fund-raising event is planned for later this year, with the goal of seeking additional funding sources and recurring benefactors and donors.
StephenWiman has a background in earth science (M.S. and Ph.D. in geology). He is the owner of GoodWater Company, a member of the City of Santa Fe’sWater Conservation Committee and he serves on the Board of the Santa FeWatershed Association. He may be reached at 505.471.9036 and firstname.lastname@example.org.