Wetland Project Nearing Completion

The Southwest Environmental Center's La Mancha Wetland Restoration Project is coming along nicely.

The tons of excess dirt that were stockpiled on the site when it was donated to SWEC have been hauled away. A berm around the property has been constructed, and the 4-acre pond has been excavated to 80 percent completion. It is becoming much easier to envision the wildlife oasis it will soon become.

The pond would have been completed by now, but we were forced to stop construction while we wait for the Office of State Engineer (OSE) to act on a water rights application that would allow us to dig into the groundwater. The application has been awaiting action since it was submitted by the City of Las Cruces 12 months ago in May, 2011.

Bureaucratic delays were not the only challenge we faced during construction. The project site was donated to SWEC in 2005 by a Las Cruces developer. Now we know why.

Unbeknownst to us, the developer had used the site to bury concrete waste from a local street reconstruction project. Dealing with the enormous quantity of large concrete pieces has caused considerable delay and additional expense. We have been able to use much of the concrete to line the perimeter of the pond which we then buried with a layer of dirt, but it has made digging the pond much more difficult than anticipated.

In the meantime, we are going ahead with revegation of areas that will not be affected by the final construction of the project. The first planting was done by a dozen NMSU students in Dr. Wiebke Boeing’s Principles of Fish and Wildlife Management class, who installed more than 30 cottonwood and black willow poles donated by Kevin Cobble of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

We will be organizing more volunteer events in the coming months. Please contact kevin@wildmesquite.org if you would like to help out.