About the Rio de las Vacas Riparian ReLeaf Project:

American Forests and WildEarth Guardians are reforesting 120 acres of Santa Fe National Forest with 55,000 trees to establish and protect a native riparian ecosystem.

Global ReLeaf provides forests like this — and the communities that depend on them — with the restoration they need to thrive. Since 1990, American Forests has brought ReLeaf to forests in all 50 states and 45 countries, planting more than 45 million trees in the process.

ReLeaf Location:

Santa Fe National Forest, NM

Key ReLeaf Activities:

  • Planting 55,000 trees across 120 acres
  • Restore a riparian ecosystem to improve watershed function
  • Engaging hundreds of volunteers from local schools, organizations and the community

Why This ReLeaf Project?

Historic grazing — by both livestock and wildlife — within the riparian ecosystem along the Rio de las Vacas has led to significant loss of the vegetative community, which has been further degraded by off-road vehicle activity. The loss of native woody riparian vegetation has destabilized stream banks and increased stream temperatures because of the lack of shade cover, along with other negative effects, impacting fish and wildlife.

This project is restoring natural resiliency and establishing and protecting native riparian vegetation to improve watershed function. In addition, the project is constructing elk and livestock exclosures to protect the riparian corridor from overgrazing.

Why Rio de las Vacas?

The Rio de las Vacas is home to one of only 13 remaining core populations of the native Rio Grande cutthroat trout, New Mexico’s state fish. As such, the river has been identified as a priority recovery area by the Forest Service. Now occupying just 15 percent of its historic range, the Rio Grande cutthroat trout is a candidate for inclusion on the Endangered Species List.


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