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Hubbell Trading Post Riparian Restoration

barn and wool wagon at Hubbell Trading Post

Bill Zeedyke is a wildlife biologist from New Mexico. Since his retirement from the U.S. Forest Service he has been developing and testing some innovative methods for restoring healthy ecosystems in riparian areas of the southwest--mostly in his home state of New Mexico. In 1999 he began working on the section of Colorado Wash that passes through the Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site. The Army Corps of Engineers had built massive gabion structures and dug a straight channel for the stream bed. When Bill arrived the stream bed was a twelve foot deep trench. While trenching and armoring washes may be necessary in some urban situations--where human encroachment has disregarded the natural behavior of waterways--it made little sense here. Bill set about restoring a natural stream bed by which he means one that allows the stream channel to meander the way streams normally do, depositing silt on point bars and thereby allow grasses and other native riparian vegetation to be reestablished. Such a configuration can better absorb the impact of major flood events.

Bill Zeedyke at Largo Creek in New Mexico

Bill calls his technique "induced meandering." Meandering is induced by using native materials to build low-tech structures (baffles, riffle-weirs, and vanes) that slow the speed of stream flow and direct flow first one direction and then the other. The placement of these structures is based on rather precise calculations Bill has devised building from Rosgen stream classification system (http://loki.stockton.edu/~epsteinc/rosgen~1.htm).

Bank cutting can actually be a sign of stream health. Bill's structures promote bank cutting which results in deposition of materials on point bars and the stream bottom. The point bars are where native plants can be reestablished. The structures Bill has introduced on Colorado Wash at Hubbell have raised the stream bed several feet. Some of his original structures have been buried as a new flood plain has benn built. The goal is not to control the stream at flood stages--that is impossible. The goal is to restore a natural stream configuration the fosters water retention in the stream margins and underlying aquifer, reduces scouring erosion, and reestablished a health ecosystem to support native plant and wildlife.

The images above show a baffle being started by Ed Blanchard (first two) on Largo Creek in New Mexico in September, 2001. The juniper poles were cut off at about twelve inches above grade and branches woven in between. The third image is of a baffle-weir constructed nearby only six months prior. The plant growth within the weir emerged post-construction.

Bill has been working at Hubbell since 1999. This is another characteristic of this  work. You must be prepared to come back for a number of years. There are no one-shot solutions to bringing back degraded riparian streams. VOAz became involved in 2003 with final work on some of the basic structures and extensive planting of native species.

Here is a web link for more information about Bill's work.

Here is a link to information about Hubbell Trading Post

Upcoming Events
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Completed Work
Number of Events: 4
Total Volunteer Hours: 0
Total Participants: 0

Completed Event Reports

March 11 - 12, 2006  Riparian Stream Restoration

A spring snow storm kept all but three VOAz volunteers at home. Those that made it from AZ and New Mexico did a final round of planting.

March 11 - 13, 2005  Riparian Stream Restoration

Grand Falls on the Little Colorado was a worthwhile stop on the way to or from Ganado

Ten VOAz volunteers (Marilynn Grieser, Barbara Bruno, Jim Mathus, Brenda FairKiyan, Rita Vautrin, Lee Milne, Robin Wright, Michael Baker, Conrad Griese, and Ted Osmond) converged on this  magical place to continue the riparian stream restoration work planned and supervised by the master of "induced meandering" Bill Zeedyk. Along volunteers from the University of New Mexico and local staff of Bill's we planted 80 desert shrub about 50 cottonwood poles and an uncountable number of willows. Our sense of the worth of this effort was strengthen by the knowledge that between 80 and 90 percent of the planting we completed.

The Colorado Wash was heavy with winter run off. Bill has never seen it this high since he started working here in 1998.

Several nasty side drainages have been created by changes made to road runn-off outside the trading post boundaries.  The planting mainly will serve to dress up the eroded banks.

March 13 - 14, 2004  Riparian Stream Restoration

Another magnificent seven returned to Hubbell for an intensive planting project on March 13 and 14. They were joined by University of New Mexico students and a crew of locals. One hundred twenty five potted plants (Wood's Rose, New Mexico Olive and Hackberry) were set on the margins of the flood plain that has been reestablished by this project. Plains Cottonwood poles (38) were the hardest to set because of the need for three to four foot holes that would reach the water table. About 1,600 of three willow species were also planted.

We tried some new techniques for us, planting potted seedlings and cottonwood poles higher on the bank to make them safer from flood flows. Also, for the first time, we tried used irrigation tubes so that planted specimens can be watered through the first growing season for improved survival. Hopefully that will protect out sweat equity and insure future smiles of sweet success.

work done perviously at the trading post has raised the stream bed and replaced a straight trench with a meandering channel and reestablished a flood plane. Over the next few years additional work will be undertaken to extend the native plant coverage and provided wildlife cover.

Thanks to everyone, the guys in particular, we ate very well.

As usual, someone just has to make a fashion statement. Actual

March 19 - 30, 2003  Riparian Stream Restoration

At VOAz's first event at Hubbell we joined by volunteers from the University of New Mexico and Gallop. Most of our energy went into harvesting and planting 56 cottonwood cuttings, about 400 willow sets, plus uncounted numbers of hardstem bullrush root clumps and American three square sod clumps. Some of the Zeedyke structure were also built.

Slawa Ciula planting willows

This was hard work. Our constant companion for the weekend, "Lady," catches some zzzs Saturday after work.

There were lots of old farm implements on the grounds. more photos

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