Category Archives: Tijeras

Adaptive Actions with Tijeras Creek

 

Tijeras Creek during a dry season. The remediation project is uphill on the left.

Upper Tijeras Creek during a dry season. The project site is up to the left.

When I first visited the Tijeras Creek Remediation Project two years ago, it was to explore large-scale earthworks: a system of basins, swales, berms and spillways.  I discovered that much more is occurring there.  The project returns natural processes to the upper creek’s floodplain and expands watershed awareness and resiliency know-how.

Before: Degraded Environment

Following the expansion of A. Montoya Elementary School, stormwater from the parking lot and rooftops flowed through culverts that dumped onto the stream bank.  But when it rains just two-tenths (.2) inch, over 300,000 gallons flows into the area.  The intensity of the water carved out gullies, carrying pollutants from the parking lots.  As water rushed through the gullies, it carried loads of soil into the creek.  Some people used the area as a dumping ground. Thus:

  • Water pollution
  • Groundwater depletion
  • Invasive plants
  • Loss of bio-diversity
  • Degraded public space.

Ongoing: Resiliency

The opportunity to develop solutions that mimic nature was something that Jim Brooks couldn’t resist.  Jim has offered volunteers a variety of skill-building activities using permaculture principles.  As Jim describes it, “We’re treating the water with respect when it falls into the site.” The teams practice a variety of adaptive actions, revealing soil as a living thing.  It’s a long-term process that includes new basin and spillway installations this year.  

Thus:

  • Water Harvesting with earthworks
  • Groundwater supports floodplain.
  • Clean stormwater enters creek.
  • Water is stored in living systems.
  • The plant /soil / food web expands.

The earthworks and soil techniques are applicable in many places where development and nature meet, and volunteers are inspired to practice them in their own places.

Work Parties Dig It

Querencia Green is coordinating work parties with volunteers for the spring and summer.  We’ll start on Sunday, March 20 with Albuquerque Involved volunteers and anyone who wants to participate (wear suitable work clothes).  Tools are provided but you can bring your own. The project site at 24 Public School Road is only eight miles from Albuquerque’s eastern boundary.

We’re also sponsoring field trips with high school classes to increase outdoor experiential learning! Teachers can contact Joanne via the Contact page.

More news about the spring events appear on Facebook Tijeras Creek Remediation Project.  

During 2015 and 2016, project support is provided by the PNM Foundation, and field trips with Highland High School are supported by Albuquerque Involved.  Thanks to all who are part of the resilient solutions!

September Work Party at Tijeras Creek

Learn about the improvements on the stream bank and ideas for future expansion.

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Tijeras Creek Remediation Project
DATE & TIME: Sunday, September 13, 9 am – 1 pm
LOCATION: 24 Public School Rd., Tijeras  (map below)

 Crews will work on these items (dependent on soil moisture conditions):

  • Ground preparation and seeding
  • Remove invasive plants
  • Repair and construct rock spillways to slow stormwater.
  • Soil sponges.

Over the past several years, James Brooks has been working with his design and installation team, experts in herbicide application, and volunteers to build a system of basins, swales and berms that improve Tijeras Creek’s water quality and solves stormwater management problems.

Upcoming work parties will provide hands-on experience with stormwater harvesting and green infrastructure, the suppression of invasive plant species, habitat restoration, and improvements in soil health and stabilization.

Schedule: We will start at 9:00 am at the parking lot with an orientation.

Supplies: Bring sunscreen, your full water bottle and work gloves.   Soilutions / Adaptive Terrain Systems will provide necessary tools. If you have tools, bring for your use.

Work Requirements:  Streambank remediation is a moderately strenuous activity.  Please wear pants, long-sleeve shirt, hat and work boots.

We need to get a head count in advance!  Answer the Poll below or visit Facebook Tijeras Creek and look for this event.  Questions?

Facilities:  Portable toilet facility is on site.

Hosted by Soilutions / Adaptive Terrain System with Querencia Green.

Financial support provided by PNM Foundation.

Site map 2 MY

Querencia Green Reaches Out with Partners

2015 Monsoon News from Joanne McEntire

The accelerating need for adaptive resilience in the US West motivates me to continue the work of Querencia Green: providing outreach and educational opportunities about green infrastructure and water harvesting.  The Juan Tabo Seed Library and the city’s Open Space Visitors Center hosted my Water Harvesting Basics class last spring,  Homeowners with run-down yards or difficult, eroding areas got a new perspective about tending the water/ soil connection.  I’ll be at the Urban Homesteading Club on August 24 with an accelerated version of the class.   Thank you to the site hosts of this free class!  

During the past few months, I worked on a few grant proposals that are leading to new resources for Querencia Green.  A complex project up the watershed of Tijeras Creek holds numerous educational opportunities.  In collaboration with Jim Brooks, the site manager of the Tijeras Creek Remediation Project (aka Soilutions‘ lead man and soil expert), we will strengthen the educational opportunities at the site: hands-on experiences with green infrastructure, suppression of invasive plant species, and improvements in soil health and stabilization.  I first explored the site in early 2014 and reported in the blog post Earthworks Working.

Jim Brooks explores the restored plant community at Tijeras Creek with visitors.

Jim Brooks explores the restored plant community at Tijeras Creek with visitors.

The good funding news: ABQ Involved has provided a small grant for field trips with Highland High School’s Advanced Science class to the Tijeras Creek Project.  A new grant from PNM’s Power Up program will increase the number of field trips and work parties at Tijeras Creek while supporting an expansion of the streambank recovery area.  We’ll post news about upcoming workshops in the next month so you can get out there to dig, pull and rock.  Thank you to the Environmental Education Association of New Mexico and Executive Director Barbara Garrity for your support in submitting the grants, and all the collaborating partners, current and future!

In other ‘free’ hours, I’ve practiced water harvesting design as a community service to the Valle del Oro National Urban Wildlife Refuge, focusing on its old farmhouse, and the Walatowa Charter High School at Jemez Pueblo.  One more service project is in the works.

Practice practice practice.  And observe.

It’s raining, again.

 

 

 

Earthworks working at Tijeras Creek

Jim describes the design of the basin and berm.

Jim (far left) describes the design of the basin and berm system, with Kurt Capalbo and Dana Allen.

A few days after a sole spring shower, a few explorers walked through the Tijeras Creek Restoration site with Jim Brooks.  Tijeras Creek is a tributary of the middle Rio Grande watershed, flowing westward in the canyon between the Sandia and Manzano mountains, near Interstate 40.  Jim designs and constructs resilient green infrastructure using permaculture principles, and owns Soilutions, the compost company.  He provided project tales and details as he guided us through the work areas.

Culverts and pavement send stormwater into onto the banks of the creek.

Culverts and pavement deliver stormwater onto the banks of the creek. A restored mulched area is visible above the culverts.

Previously, large rainstorms would deliver stormwater draining from 16.5 acres of pavement and buildings into eroding gullies, delivering sediment and pollutants to the creek.  Jim described how volunteer crews have removed multitudes of elm trees and re-sculpted the slopes so that the water slows down in basins, drains into the soil, and flows into the next basin down slope.  Several rock-covered berms between the basins reveal how effective they are in altering the water’s speed and volume – sediment covers the rocks.  Some areas need repair; as Jim says, it’s always a process.

Jim and Dana stand near a soil sponge in the basin.

Jim taps a soil sponge in the basin as Dana checks it out.

Within the basins, Jim is experimenting with a “soil sponge” technique.  His special soil mix is shoveled into small deep pits, where rainwater finds porous spaces to collect in, attracting nearby plant rootlets and offering seedlings a better chance at survival.

Soil sponge

Soil sponge with porous and organic materials

One of my favorite spots was the restored area alongside the roadway, where Jim installed a “net and pan,” a technique that harvests water in small depressions that are connected by a boomerang-shaped network of shallow channels.  The mulch in the photo below covers the earthworks, making it difficult to see, but the earthwork is retaining water, creating an ecological win-win situation for grasses, herbs, worms, fungi and millions of other microscopic critters.  Just add more water with the next monsoon!

Net and pan with mulch on top

Net and pan with mulch on top

There is plenty of work to do: removing unwanted plants, maintaining the existing restored area, and generating more basins and berms and gentle slopes.  Jim is co-hosting an Invasive Species Control Workshop on Saturday, June 28, from 9 am until Noon.  He’ll demonstrate using his favorite weed removal tool, the skidger!  The location is easily found near the middle and elementary schools on Public School Rd, just southwest of the Tijeras exit on I-40.  Albuquerque dwellers are fortunate to live so close to an important restoration site where we can work and learn!  For more information, call Soilutions at 877-0220.

Jim Brooks

Jim Brooks