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The Silver City Watershed Keepers

The Silver City Watershed Keepers is a citizens’ water resources stewardship program that engages community members in protection and restoration of the Silver City Watershed. Silver City Watershed Keepers is a program of Gila Resources Information Project

History of the Watershed

[we can add a map and historic photos of the Big Ditch formation]

San Vicente Creek drains the 38-square mile Silver City Watershed. Its headwaters are located in the Silver City Range and the Pinos Altos Mountains north of Silver City and it discharges to the Mimbres River 16 miles northwest of Deming, NM. Its two main tributaries, Silva Creek and Pinos Altos Creek, meet to form San Vicente Creek in the heart of downtown Silver City.

Historically, the land within the Silver City Watershed was used primarily for mining, agriculture, logging, and cattle grazing. Extensive woodcutting and grazing denuded vegetation from the watershed and subsequent flooding incised drainages. This damage occurred most acutely on San Vicente Creek where stormwater runoff incised the stream down to bedrock, and as deep as 55 feet in places, forming “The Big Ditch.”

Along with urbanization, these practices over the years have degraded the watershed’s streams and wetlands and have impaired water quality that affects fish habitat and recreational usage of these surface water resources.

The Silver City Watershed is in the process of recovering from the damage, but high volumes of stormwater from streets and drains on top of these legacy incisions create a continued threat to riparian habitat from high velocity/high volume flow that is exacerbated by extreme storm events as a consequence of climate change.

Environmental quality monitoring, stream restoration, education and outreach and other stewardship activities are important tools used by the Silver City Watershed Keepers to protect and improve San Vicente Creek and its tributaries as we respond to the challenges of climate change. Our efforts also encourage learning and recreational enjoyment of this unique riparian corridor in the heart of Silver City.