Yay! After waiting out Covid for 2 years, Bernalillo County (Albuquerque) is once again holding classes for Master Naturalist certification! Both Roy and I applied and were accepted into the program along with 20 other students of all ages and backgrounds.
Many of the classes are being held via Zoom meetings. But thanks to scheduled field trips we are getting to know each other while learning some cool stuff, including a visit to The Tijeras Creek Remediation Project, in our home town. We never realized!
The first half of our morning was expertly led by ”Professor” Jim Brooks, who has been involved with the Project for many years. He explained how cooperative efforts to effectively manage stormwater runoff into Tijeras Creek has been a huge success. By creating features like on-contour and non-contour bioswales, catchment basins, sponges and natural material fascines to divert runoff, they’ve been able to completely convert the area from a wasteland to its natural state. These efforts have proven it’s possible to capture stormwater from large parking areas adjacent to the Project site, without eroding existing soils (or removing the parking areas).
Hydrophobic soils that were present due to the erosion of organics and topsoil, have been replaced by soils with improved structure, and are organically rich in nutrients and beneficial microbiota. They have turned what was essentially inorganic inert dirt, into seedbeds for desirable plant species capable of building a healthy riparian ecosystem. And the water quality of Tijeras Creek has improved dramatically due to increased runoff retention and natural plant filtration that occurs before water finally enters the Creek.
We discussed the continued efforts to remove invasive plants (like Siberian elm) that were outcompeting native species, and the increasing use of the area by wildlife (garter snakes and Monarch butterflies) who are clearly benefiting from these changes.
I came away with so many things to ponder (like, ”if this is a workable solution to remediating stormwater runoff damage, then why isn’t this being done everywhere?”). Also, I plan to learn more about the invasive and native species on-site.
What an eye-opening day!