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Gallinas Project FAQs


Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Watershed?  A watershed is a region of land that drains into a particular body of water such as a river or a lake. Rain or snow that falls anywhere in that watershed eventually flows to that water body. It may travel overland as surface water or flow underground as groundwater.  The Gallinas watershed is all the land from the top of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the valley bottoms that drain into the Gallinas River.  If this land is healthy it increases the chances that we’ll have cool, clean and abundant water, as well as productive forests, rangelands, agricultural lands and backyards well into the future. 

Where does the funding for this project come from? Funding comes from EPA who supports local watersheds through a grant known as the Federal Clean Water Act Section 319 Nonpoint Source Grant.  Those funds go to the NM Environment Department who then grant those funds to watershed organizations in NM.

What are acceptable stream temperatures? In order to support coldwater aquatic life, water temperatures should not rise above 68 degrees F, (20 C).

What are the temperatures in the Gallinas River?  Water temperature in the Gallinas has been recorded as high as 86.7 degrees F (30.4 C) in 2003 and it commonly gets to 70.7 degrees F (21.5 C).

Why are warm stream temperatures a problem?  Warm water holds less dissolved oxygen than colder water and that means less oxygen for species like trout.  When the stream gets too warm, oxygen levels plummet and this can be harmful or even fatal to these fish and to other species that depend on the stream.  Changes in the aquatic plant, fish, amphibian and macroinvertebrate communities occur when water temperatures increase.  Warmer water also increases the amount of algae and other aquatic plant growth and death, further reducing dissolved oxygen and reducing water quality.

What are causes of high stream temperatures? Are some “natural” and some human influenced? Many factors can cause high stream temperatures. The temperature of the air, the aspect of slope in regard to the sun’s rays, topography, substrate, groundwater, flow rates, stream shade, and width to depth ratio of the river can influence the stream’s temperature.  Most of these factors are “naturally” caused, although stream shade and width to depth ratios can be changed and controlled by humans. As such, these are also the two factors that can be controlled in order to lower water temperatures in the river. Removing streamside vegetation and widening a stream’s course can contribute to higher water temperatures, while conversely, planting streamside vegetation to create more shade and narrowing and deepening a stream channel can help to reduce water temperature.

What kinds of projects might help reduce stream temperatures and improve watershed health?  1. improvements to livestock watering and grazing systems, 2. planting trees and shrubs along the river, 3. building structures in the river to help restore natural flow patterns and narrow and deepen the channel.

How can the community be involved in this project? It takes the entire community working together to take care of the river and the bosque.  Our families have relied on the river for generations; we know that if we take care of the river, it will take care of us.  We will be meeting with each family that lives along the river to hear about their ideas and concerns.  We will also hold public meetings, workshops and a watershed festival; all opportunities for the public to be involved and learn more about watershed health.  The community can help by doing field work with our researchers, attending a workshop on watershed restoration techniques, or just coming to our events.