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Greater Rio Grande Watershed Alliance

New Mexico is fortunate enough to have the Middle Rio Grande Bosque, the largest remaining bosque in the Southwest. However, the number of fires in the bosque has been increasing over the past two decades. Historically, the primary disturbance regime in the bosque has been flooding, not fire, which means the system is not fire-adapted. 

Today, overbank flow is uncommon in many areas of the Rio Grande due to the heavy alteration of the channel and flow regimes. This has led to low fuel moisture
content and high fuel loads, as well as increased human presence in the riparian area. As a result, bosque fires are more common and more severe: they kill cottonwoods and other native species, creating spaces which are filled by non-native species such as salt cedar, Russian olive, Siberian elm, and Tree-of-Heaven.

 The Greater Rio Grande Watershed Alliance (GRGWA). GRGWA is a collaboration of soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs), Pueblos, agencies and stakeholders along the Middle Rio Grande Watershed working on landscape-scale watershed restoration, with a focus on non-native phreatophyte removal from the bosque. They use a variety of techniques including extraction,mastication, aerial, basal, foliar and cut-stump herbicide applications and planting grass, shrubs and trees. They follow community, statewide and national management and conservation plans, and also seek to monitor the effectiveness of their restoration efforts.

 

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