The Road to Master Naturalist: A Field Trip … Tijeras Creek Remediation Project

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Hydrophobic soils that were present due to the erosion of organics and topsoil, have been replaced by soils with improved structure, and are organically rich in nutrients and beneficial microbiota.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!

6 Comments

  1. seattlebro says:

    This is cool stuff !

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    1. Wow! Thanks “Seattlebro” for checking out the blog posts. This comment you posted looks like your first post? Thought you had commented before? Thanks Bob! Oh, back up one post and check out my new song!

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  2. Fantastic, Barb! So exciting — Master Naturalist! I look forward to hearing about your journey along the way. How long is the program? What a perfect program for you! And, increasing habitat for the monarchs is golden!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m very excited to be participating in the program, and really delighted Roy is too! Classes are once a week I and and a field trip once a week throughout June and July. Then to certify each student must do a minimum 40 hours of volunteer work to benefit the program and county in some way ….. and we get to choose (there’s so many things we can pick from, or devise something of our own with approval by the program leader). We have a year to complete the work, and to recertify every year afterwards requires more class work and volunteer time. It’s been great, and even though a lot of the classes are refresher, there’s always new material.

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  3. Deidre Pistochini says:

    Barb – Very excited for you as you work your way through the Master Naturalist program in your state. I completed the Virginia Master Naturalist program (Fairfax Chapter) and was certified in June 2022. It was a long-term goal for me and wonderful journey. I wish you all the best!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Deidre! I’d really be interested in comparing your master naturalist course curricula with mine. We’re about finished with course work and field trips. Next will be volunteer projects as an intern. Would appreciate your input through an email discussion. Let me know if you’re interested.

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