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Watershed Restoration

How is the Watershed Being Restored?

Watershed restoration efforts in the Silver City Watershed have been ongoing since the 1980’s when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted environmental assessments and cleanup of historic mine sites, such as the Hearst Mill and Cleveland Mill sites, under its Superfund program.  The NM Environment Department funded stream restoration projects through EPA’s 319 program. Most recently, NMED has funded restoration work under its River Stewardship program to improve water quality and wildlife habitat.

Restoration of the Silver City Watershed includes the following activities:

  • Monitoring and Assessment:  The monitoring and assessment of water quality, hydrology, stream channel morphology, soils, and vegetation.
  • Managing the Vegetation:  The goal is to replace the non-native species, such as Siberian elm and Tree of Heaven, with appropriate native species, including willow, cottonwood, box elder and Arizona walnut.
  • Restoring Stream Hydrology:  To increase the frequency of flood stage overbanking and floodplain connectivity, instream structural elements are constructed using rock and native materials.
  • Cleanup of Historic Mine Sites, Illegal Dump Sites and Litter: Contamination of local waterways from historic mine sites, illegal dumping and littering continues to be a threat to the health of the watershed.
  • Protection of the Riparian Corridor: The Town of Silver City continues its efforts to protect the riparian corridor for recreation, sewer line maintenance access, and wildlife habitat through conservation easements and land purchases.