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Project Name: Jemez Mountain Riparian Forest Re-Vegetation

Location: Santa Fe National Forest and Valles Caldera National Preserve

Number of Trees: 100,000

Since October 2010, parts of New Mexico, along with the rest of the Southwest, have experienced a drought that most experts expect to last through most of 2012.

One way to protect the precious remaining water is to care for and restore the state’s forests and trees:

  • Trees stabilize waterways. Trees’ roots hold the soil in place along streambeds, keeping the water flowing smoothly and slowly downstream. When vegetation is lacking along a stream’s shores, the force of the water erodes the soil, the stream loses definition and less water is carried downstream. The water that does make it downstream is filled with more sediment, which lessens water quality and compromises the health of aquatic species.
  • Trees make the water cleaner. When rain falls, it accumulates pollutants from the air and from the ground. When rain falls on trees, their leaves intercept the water, letting it evaporate into the air or slowly trickle down to the soil. Once the water reaches the soil, the tree’s roots help filter it before it enters the adjoining river or stream.
  • Trees cool and shade the water. Cooler water evaporates less, and many aquatic species need cooler water to thrive.

Recognizing the important benefit of trees to water quality and quantity in streams and rivers, American Forests is partnering with WildEarth Guardians in 2012 to reforest areas along some of New Mexico’s streams. From aspens to willows to dogwoods and more, 100,000 will be planted along three streams in the upper headwaters of the Jemez Mountains — Rito Penas Negras, Rio San Antonio and Rito de los Indios. These plantings will restore areas damaged from livestock grazing and off-highway vehicles and will improve water quality.

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