Elk on Valles Caldera, which is home to a large herd of the species. Credit: Larry Lamsa
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Project Name:

Valles Caldera National Preserve Re-vegetation and Watershed Restoration

Location:
Valles Caldera National Preserve, N.M.

Key Activities:

  • Planting 45,000 trees across 400 acres
  • Restoring a watershed adversely affected by wildfire


Project Description:
American Forests and WildEarth Guardians are reforesting 400 acres of New Mexico’s Valles Caldera National Preserve with 45,000 trees to restore riparian areas damaged by a 2011 wildfire.

Why This Project:
In 2011, the second largest wildfire in New Mexico’s history, the Los Conchas Fire, burned across more than 150,000 acres of the Jemez Mountains, affecting a variety of public and private lands. The high-intensity fire spread across more than 27,000 acres of Valles Caldera National Preserve.

In order to restore ecosystem and riparian health to the area’s Rito de los Indios watershed, this project is planting a variety of species, including aspen, bog birch, coyote willow, American plum, golden currant, red osier dogwood and more, across 400 acres of Valles Caldera.

Why Valles Caldera:
Valles Caldera National Preserve, the site of a former ranch located inside a caldera (a volcanic feature that resembles a cauldron), has experienced years of overgrazing, creating sediment loss and destabilized streambanks along the preserve’s riparian areas. The area’s recent high-intensity wildfire further compromised the preserve’s soil and vegetation. Through tree planting, this project is stabilizing Valles Caldera’s soil.

In addition, the preserve is a well-established wildlife habitat. A 2,500-plus member elk herd makes its home in Valles Caldera, as well as golden eagle, coyote, black bear, bobcat and wild turkey.


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