Thanks to the City of Santa Fe and YouthWorks, water-guzzling elm trees and weeds are being cleared from the banks of Santa Fe River this summer. The project will improve visibility and safety along the watershed while also improving water conservation and aesthetic appeal. As noted on the Santa Fe Watershed Association website:
"The Santa Fe River Park and Trail follows the river almost ten miles from Patrick Smith Park to the new Camino Real Park at the river’s intersection with NM 599. Both the parkway and trail are under construction in various reaches along the river. When completed, the trail will be one of three primary urban trail spines along with the Rail Trail and Arroyo Chamisa Trail serving the Santa Fe area. The parkway will provide open space corridors, trails for walking and biking, and a series of parks, as well as a way for bicycle commuters to get to and from downtown safely. Below are listed some the current projects happening along the river.
River restoration is an integral part of the project. The channel and banks in many sections of the river are in poor condition. Erosion has caused steep banks with few plants and the riverbed has many failed grade-control structures. The goal is to have the river meander where possible and to use bioengineering techniques such as boulder drop structures and cross vanes to slow the water down and limit erosion. These approaches will also help increase aquifer recharge and support plants and trees.
Santa Fe River Park, known as El Parque del Rio, is a linear park that follows the Santa Fe River as it flows through downtown Santa Fe. A major amenity and historic site within the city, the river park was beset with a series of long-term problems. Progressive down-cutting of the river channel has affected the health and viability of many of the old cottonwoods and other trees along the park. Storm water that had for decades helped support the river environment is now piped and fed directly into the river, increasing erosion and contributing roadway pollutants. The City of Santa Fe is exploring new ways to handle its storm water runoff and has hired Surrounding Studio to help implement new methods.
Surrounding’s team, working with City Public Works staff, has developed a variety of methods for directing storm water to support the river environment, including “oxbow” infiltration structures and pipe conveyance intercepts. A unique idea on the project is modeled on historic agricultural acequias to create “storm water acequias” that take road runoff and intercept and reroute it to linear water-absorbing wicks. Through passive infiltration, these storm water acequias will benefit new orchard trees and native cottonwoods along the river.
Other park improvements and irrigation upgrades are being made at Louis Montano Park (near the Boys and Girls Club); West De Vargas Park at Guadalupe Street; and on the north side of the Santa Fe River along Alameda between Galisteo Street and East Palace Avenue.