The San Antonio and Los Pinos Rivers and their tributaries in Northern New Mexico have experienced significant impairment due to soil erosion, which is thought to have resulted from natural and other activities such as grazing, recreation, stream bank modification, removal of riparian vegetation, silviculture, road construction and maintenance, and channel widening. In support of Total Maximum Daily Load implementation by the State of New Mexico Environment Department (to comply with Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act), Meridian was hired to help local communities develop the capacity to improve water quality in the watershed.
Meridian organized and facilitated local meetings between December 2004 and July 2006 among a diverse array of stakeholders, including members of the general public; water users; private landowners; local, state, and federal government officials; environmental group representatives; and ranchers and farmers.
Meridian helped community members form an informal watershed group, develop a detailed Watershed Restoration Action Strategy, and undertake ongoing community outreach and education programs. Meridian also helped members of the group apply for grants for watershed restoration projects.
In 2006, the watershed group obtained a “319 Grant” for the Los Pinos River Restoration Demonstration Project. Due to the success of the project, the group received another grant in 2007 from the New Mexico Governor’s River Ecosystem Restoration Initiative. Also in 2007, grazing associations and land management agencies in the watershed collaborated to obtain a grant to better protect riparian areas while improving access to water for cattle.