San Vicente Creek River Stewardship Projects

The San Vicente Creek River Stewardship Project will improve water quality and riparian habitat. With funding from the NM Environment Department River Stewardship Program, Gila Resources Information Project (GRIP) has partnered with the Town of Silver City, Stream Dynamics, Gila WoodNet, Southwest Tree Solutions, and Lone Mountain Natives to address water quality impairments and threats to riparian habitat in San Vicente Creek. Phase 1 of the on-the-ground work was completed in early October 2023, and Phase 2 began in fall 2023.

Phase 1 redesigned sewer line access routes and constructed grade control structures, which will improve water quality of San Vicente Creek by assisting the Town in conducting its routine sewer line maintenance to prevent future sewage leaks. Nutrient loads are reduced by constructed water harvesting earthworks and check dams in a tributary, which was experiencing severe erosion.  Stream restoration work improved stream geometry and floodplain access by induced stream meandering and construction of one grade control structure. 

To reduce riparian fire risk, slash and non-native trees, such as Siberian elm, tamarisk, and Tree of Heaven were removed, protecting legacy cottonwoods and other native trees. Grasses, wildflowers, and native trees and shrubs were planted to restore the San Vicente Creek riparian corridor and stabilize stream banks. 

The project area includes Town of Silver City property, private property owned by three cooperating private property owners, and easements held by the Town which encompass 25 acres of riparian corridor and 1.09 stream miles from the Highway 90 Bridge to Mobile Drive. 

The Phase 2 project covers management units on San Vicente Creek not covered by Phase 1 and expands the restoration work to San Vicente Creek’s two main tributaries:  Silva Creek and Pinos Altos Creek, the principal waterways draining the upper watershed. Silver City’s greenways extend northwest along Silva Creek from the San Vicente Creek confluence to the Waterworks Site and to the north along Pinos Altos Creek to the Silver City Disc Golf Course and Silver High School. 

Building upon past planning and work conducted by NMED, Phase 2 will address water quality impairments and threats to riparian habitat in San Vicente, Silva and Pinos Altos creeks, including non-native, invasive tree removal, native plant restoration, stream channel work to reconnect the floodplain, and construction of water harvesting infrastructure to capture urban stormwater runoff. This project will decrease nutrient loads to streams, re-establish healthy riparian habitat for people and wildlife, and reduce riparian fire risk.

These riparian corridors are enjoyed by local residents and tourists, and the trails and open space system are important natural assets that contribute to the area’s outdoor recreation opportunities and high quality of life. 

San Vicente, Silva and Pinos Altos creeks also provide important riparian habitat that serve as corridors for migrating birds, including the state-threatened Mexican Blackhawk, and other wildlife. The perennial reach of San Vicente Creek is the only watercourse in the Silver City watershed known to support a fishery. Pinos Altos Creek also has perennial flow in the vicinity of the reclaimed Hearst Mill Site, now the location of Silver City’s new disc golf facility.