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Mora Watershed Plan

February 20, 2014

The Hermit’s Peak Watershed Alliance was awarded and has begun work on an EPA 319 grant to develop a Watershed Based Plan for the Mora River – Upper Canadian Plateau.   We would like to thank those of you that provided letters of support and have already offered to collaborate on this project.  Your support strengthened our proposal and will undoubtedly help make it a successful effort.

This grant offers us the opportunity to begin community based work to help maintain and improve the condition of our watersheds.   It is also an excellent opportunity for the communities along the Mora and lower Sapello rivers to develop a vision for these our watersheds, obtain funding for watershed restoration, and educate community members on conscientious land stewardship to keep our watersheds healthy.

See below for a brief explanation of this planning project. Additionally, a map of the project area is attached for your information.

We would like to meet with you or other representatives of your organization to further discuss this project and clarify how we might best work together to develop a watershed plan that will yield the most for our community and our watershed.  We will contact you to determine who you would like to serve as a liaison and to set up an initial meeting.  Alternatively, you can respond directly using the contact information below.




Lea Knutson,                                                                                      Katie Withnall,

Executive Director                                                                  Project Coordinator





Watershed Based Plan for the Mora River – Upper Canadian Plateau

Project Summary


The NM Environment Department (NMED), with many years of data, has determined that the Mora River, from the USGS gage east of Shoemaker to Highway 434, have nutrient levels that exceed New Mexico Water Quality Standards.  For that reason, NMED prioritized the Mora watershed for the receipt of funding to develop, and later to implement a plan to restore stream conditions in order to lower nutrient levels in the river.

Hermit’s Peak Watershed Alliance (HPWA) is starting work on this watershed planning project and intends to pursue future implementation funding when the plan is finished.  We hope to have the plan completed by December 31, 2015.  Our specific project goals are to:

1.       Identify likely source areas that contribute to elevated nutrients;

2.       Determine potential remediation to those problems;

3.       Find landowners willing to collaborate with us to take on restoration projects;

4.       Identify impediments to undertaking remediation; and

5.       Develop specific remediation plans.

While funding from NMED targets stream nutrient problems, HPWA will strive to use this project to better understand and solve other related watershed health concerns.  We will further use this effort to educate our community in watershed stewardship.   We will make every attempt to make this a community effort while working with private and public land management organizations.

This project consists of the following tasks:

1.       Seek input from the community through interviews and public meetings on watershed condition, land management challenges, and practical solutions to those challenges.

2.       Assemble existing information to help assess overall watershed health and stream and riparian health.  Also gather information on land cover, land features, landownership, and the locations of past restoration projects.  This information will be assembled in GIS.

3.       Conduct field research on nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) and the condition of riparian and instream areas.  This field research will include community members and landowners when possible.

4.       Hold local workshops to further engage the community to participate in watershed work through seeking their input and through education.

5.       Develop the plan based on our work, help from experts in the field and public input.