Conservation projects in the Pecos River area received a boost this year, as approximately $ 1.5 million in grants went to organizations in southeastern New Mexico and western New Mexico. Texas to restore habitat and maintain the health of the river.
The Pecos Watershed Conservation Initiative, a consortium of private companies and government agencies established in 2017, released its fourth annual grant last week, providing dollars for seven projects along the river.
The funds were doubled by around $ 3 million from participating organizations, the Carlsbad Current-Argus reported.
Last year, approximately $ 1.8 million was awarded to eight projects, to which is added another $ 3.7 million.
Partners in the initiative included oil and gas companies such as Chevron, Occidental Petroleum and XTO Energy and federal government agencies such as the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management.
In a joint statement, the initiative’s corporate members said the funding was intended to improve communities that host oil and gas extraction, such as those in the Permian Basin that covers southeastern New Mexico. and West Texas, as well as the Pecos River Valley.
“Our people are on the ground every day in Pecos, living and working, so it is essential that the initiative’s investments bring real benefits to local communities, landscapes and wildlife,” the report reads. communicated.
“By enhancing the health of existing habitats along the Pecos River and its tributaries in eastern New Mexico and western Texas, improving the management and function of native grasslands, and protecting some of the remaining populations of native fish and other aquatic species found. only in the Chihuahuan Desert, we achieve this goal.
BLM New Mexico Acting Director Melanie Barnes said the projects were needed to support the diverse ecosystems of the Pecos River region, restore native grasslands and combat invasive species.
“Controlling invasive species helps restore grasslands and improve water quality and availability and changing restrictive fences allows unhindered movement through these landscapes for large and small game,” said Barnes. “Both of these efforts are management priorities for public lands.”
Between 2020 and 2021, the 15 funded projects led to the leasing of over 13,000 acre-feet of water to support the restoration of aquatic habitats, the restoration of approximately 26 square miles (67 square kilometers) of grassland in the desert of Chihuahuan, while improving grassland management of 93 square kilometers.
Over 96 kilometers of new secure fencing for native pronghorns was to be installed, while hydrology was restored at four habitat sites.
Which projects along the Pecos River have been funded for 2021?
Texas Horn Mussel: A project to improve stream flow in the Delaware and Black Rivers for the native Texas horn mussel through the Carlsbad-based nonprofit CEHMM received $ 250,000 and was fully matched for total funds of $ 500,000. The project supported water transactions during periods of low flow and developed a long-term plan to maintain healthy river flow.
Blue Springs: The Carlsbad Soil and Water Conservation District received $ 207,519 and matching $ 208,694 for a total of $ 416,213 for a project to improve the Blue Springs riparian area in the county of Eddy on the Black River. The project will see the removal of invasive salted cedars and Russian olive trees to improve soil and vegetation in the area.
New Mexico Plains Pronghorn: Approximately 20 square kilometers of grassland habitat for the New Mexico Plains Pronghorn will be restored with a grant of $ 105,041 and $ 1.6 million in matching funds for a total budget of approximately $ 1.7 million. Mesquite brush would be controlled and at least 5 miles of pronghorn compatible fencing would be installed.
Bird surveys: Bird monitoring will continue to use the new automated telemetry to study the non-breeding ecology, movements and survival rates of Chihuahuan Desert grassland birds such as the Sprague’s pipit and the Collared Sparrow. . The Bird Conservancy of the Rockies project received $ 236,000, fully compensated for a total of $ 472,000.
Pecos River Flow: This Texas Water Trade project aims to restore habitats on the river for several avian and aquatic species by addressing water quality and scarcity issues for wildlife and agriculture and the impacts of orphan oil and gas wells in Pecos County. The project received $ 299,331, matched with $ 266,500 for total funding of $ 495,831.
Grassland Restoration: In northern Hudspeth County, $ 250,000 has been provided and matched with a budget of $ 500,000 to restore at least 23 square kilometers of dry mixed grassland along the river, expand native grasslands and eradicate grasslands. invasive brush to improve habitats for species such as the pronghorn.
Another grassland restoration project in Brewster and Jeff Davis counties by the Big Bend Soil and Water Conservation District received $ 105,041 and raised about $ 1.6 million for a total fund of about $ 1.8 million. dollars.