BLM Colorado

BLM Colorado

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Rio Chama Flow Optimization and Playa Lakes Projects

BLM FISHERIES NEW MEXICO

Rio Chama Flow Optimization and Playa Lakes Projects

The Rio Chama Flow Optimization Project is a multiple agency effort to restore the sediment transport, ecological function, and channel dynamics of 30 miles of the Rio Chama Wild and Scenic River that has dam controlled flows. The Fisheries and Aquatics Program monitors the fish population, aquatic habitat, aquatic invertebrates, and amphibian populations for the project.


Stonefly larvae on the Rio Chama


Playa Lakes Project

The Playa Lakes Project is a part of the Healthy Lands Initiative: Upper Rio Grande Focal Area project and includes: Aquatic community composition of the playa lakes and earthen tanks; frequency of inundation using Hoboware water level loggers; analysis of water quality and land use effects to the playa lake indicator species; and development of geodatabase encompassing include water quality, aquatic community assemblages, inundation frequency and length, common shorebirds, amphibians, allotment, and land use.

Partners Involved
Agencies participating in the Rio Chama Flow Optimization Project include: BLM Taos Field Office, Santa Fe National Forest, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, Bureau of Reclamation, Army Corp of Engineers, City of Santa Fe, City of Los Alamos, Interstate Steam Commission, City of Albuquerque, University of New Mexico, rafting community, ranching community, Trout unlimited, and other stakeholders.
Partners for the Playa Lake Project include New Mexico Highlands University, Northern New Mexico College, and the BLM San Luis Valley Field Office.

Other Resources Benefitted
Other resources benefited by the Rio Chama Flow Optimization Project include; riparian resources, terrestrial wildlife, recreation, migratory birds, resident birds and river otters.

Other resources benefited by the Playa Lake Project include; rangeland resources, water resources, migratory birds, resident birds, large game species, non-game mammals, recreation, and cultural resources.

BLM Plans and Objectives Addressed
  • Taos Resource Management Plan (2012), Fisheries Goal to: Manage streams within the planning area to ensure that the natural integrity of aquatic ecosystems are protected, restored, and/or managed in an ecologically sound manner.
  • Taos Resource Management Plan (2012), Fisheries Goal to: Ensure aquatic habitats will support a diversity of self-sustaining biotic communities that are appropriate to the given environment.
  • Taos Resource Management Plan (2012), Fisheries Objective to: Develop and/or implement one project per year to conserve, enhance, or restore fish populations and habitats, based on survey results.
  • Taos Resource Management Plan (2012), Rio Chama Wild and Scenic River prescription to: Manage instream hydrologic processes to maximize aquatic and riparian habitat area, improve river condition, and reduce excessive deposition or erosion.


Rio Chama Flow Optimization monitoring for aquatic habitat and amphibians
  • Taos Resource Management Plan (2012), Taos Plateau ACEC prescription to: Survey playas for aquatic biota.
  • Taos Resource Management Plan (2012), Taos Plateau ACEC prescription to: Assess wildlife uses of and needs for playas.
  • Taos Resource Management Plan (2012), Taos Plateau ACEC prescription to: Survey playas for frequency of inundation and relationship to precipitation events.

Stream and Riparian Treatments

BLM FISHERIES NEW MEXICO

Stream and Riparian Treatments

The Taos Field Office Fisheries and Aquatics Program assisted the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) with the stocking of Rio Grande cutthroat trout within 10 miles of the Rio Grande’s Upper, Middle, and Lower Box sections of the Wild and Scenic River; the wild and scenic section of the Red River; areas of the Orilla Verde Recreation Area; and Rio Chama Wild and Scenic River. Aquatic resources addressed include the sensitive Rio Grande Cutthroat trout, recreation, and aquatic biological diversity of the Rio Grande and Rio Chama Wild and Scenic Rivers.

Partners Involved
New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, Questa Public Schools, Trout Unlimited, US Forest Service, and Taos Schools.

Volunteers hiking into the Rio Grande Wild Rivers Recreation Area with Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout fingerlings for release.

BLM Plans and Objectives Addressed

  • Taos Resource Management Plan (2012), Fisheries Goal to: Expand recreational fisheries while protecting native fish populations and their habitat by developing and enhancing partnerships.
  • Taos Resource Management Plan (2012), Fisheries Objective to: Continue to work with New Mexico Department of Game and fish to stock trout species in BLM-managed waters for recreational fishing opportunities.
  • Taos Resource Management Plan (2012), Special Status Species Objective to: Determine long-term trends in distribution, abundance, and threats or other limiting factors of selected special status species on BLM lands and evaluate the significance of those lands in the conservation of the species.
  • BLM Manual Section 6720, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Objectives (B) (D) (E)

Proper Functioning Condition

BLM FISHERIES NEW MEXICO

Proper Functioning Condition

Proper functioning condition (PFC) was assessed for the Rio Ojo Caliente (3 miles) a tributary of the Rio Chama and the Red River (5) a tributary of the Rio Grande.


PFC analysis of the Ojo Caliente

The PFC information is critical in continuing an adaptive management monitoring strategy for projects going forward. Other resources that benefit from the riparian surveys include rangeland playa ecosystems, migratory birds, resident birds, mammals, river otters, aquatic macroinvertebrates, fishes, and amphibians.

BLM Plans and Objectives Addressed:

  • Taos Resource Management Plan (2012)
  • Riparian Vegetation Goal to: Provide for proper functioning condition (PFC) of vegetative communities by managing for viable and resilient native wildlife species and other associated habitats.
  • Riparian Vegetation Goal to: Move toward and/or remain in PFC such that riparian communities will be sustainable, provide physical stability and adequate habitat for a wide range of wildlife species, and support healthy, diverse, and abundant populations of fish and associated aquatic and riparian dependent species.
  • Taos Resource Management Plan (2012), Riparian Vegetation Objective to: Monitor riparian areas and conduct rangeland health assessments to document progress toward achieving and maintaining PFC.

PUBLIC OUTREACH THROUGH INTERPRETATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION

BLM FISHERIES NEW MEXICO

PUBLIC OUTREACH THROUGH INTERPRETATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION

Envirothon 
The Envirothon is a competition for high school aged students that covers five topic areas: aquatic ecology, soils and land use, forestry, wildlife, and a current environmental issue. The Taos Field Office fisheries and aquatics program participates yearly as mentors to the students in preparation for the State and National competitions. The Envirothon is a vital program to guide the next generation of aquatic biologists and natural resource managers.



Taos Soil Water Conservation District Science Conservation Youth Camp
The conservation youth camp is an interactive program for junior high students. Over the course of two days the students participate in science lessons at eight stations that include: aquatic ecology, wildlife, forestry, soils, avian biology, rangeland management, weather, and botany. The fisheries and aquatics program contributes as the aquatic ecologist and wildlife biologist instructors.

Taos Charter School Science Program
The Fisheries and Aquatics program works with the Taos Charter School Science Department to teach 7th and 8th graders aquatic field biology methods. The areas discussed in detail are water chemistry, aquatic invertebrate monitoring, fish habitat measurements, fish population inventory and monitoring, riparian zone biology, watershed analysis, and climate change.

Partners Involved
The Envirothon and Taos Soil and Water Conservation Youth Camp are multiagency efforts that include the BLM, Carson National Forest, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, New Mexico Environment Department, US Geological Survey, Taos Soil Water Conservation District, and teachers from local schools. The Taos Charter School program is solely the BLM Taos Field Office.

Other Resources Benefitted
Other resources benefitted from the education of youth include wildlife resources, riparian resources, range resources, and healthy soil, water and air. The youth are the next generation of environmental stewards and the future of our natural resources and the environment begins with their education.


Taos Charter School 7th grade Science Program

Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area

BLM FISHERIES EASTERN STATES

Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area 

The Jupiter Inlet provides a natural outlet for the Loxahatchee River and the Indian River portion of the Intracoastal Waterway to the Atlantic Ocean.  Although this tropical estuarine system has been dramatically modified since the turn of the Twentieth Century, it supports healthy mangrove covered shorelines, lagoons, and seagrass beds.  Jupiter Inlet is known as the premier snook fishery of South Florida and its brackish waters support numerous other fish species like tarpon, snappers, redfish, sheepshead, jacks, bluefish, grouper, sea trout, and many others.  The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area (ONA) encompasses 120 acres of open space within the highly urbanized South Florida coast and affords public access to roughly 2 miles of shoreline.


Jupiter Inlet ONA.  Confluence of the Loxahatchee River (Right) and Indian River (Left) and outlet to the Atlantic Ocean (Above).

Since its inaugural 2015 event, the BLM has hosted its annual Jupiter Inlet Veterans Family Fishing Classic, a community-fishing event in partnership with FishingCommunity.Org, to bring wounded veterans and their families to enjoy fishing instruction free of charge, and provide educational and interpretive activities to foster a deeper appreciation of America’s public lands.  The Jupiter Classic provides an opportunity for underrepresented communities, such as veterans and those who are transitioning out of the military, to socialize with their community and uses fishing as a tool to encourage health and reduce stress.
                         

Mangrove snapper (Lutjanus griseus)

Hardhead catfish (Arius Felis)


In 2016, Hurricane Matthew churned along the Florida coast, staying far enough offshore to avoid a direct hit, but still caused flooding, wind damage, and power failures.  The ONA, like many beaches in Palm Beach County, experienced moderate erosion and overwash from storm surges, that required extensive clean up.  BLM and co-hosts: American Legion Post 271, Diveheart.org, FishingCommunity.Org, Fishing Headquarters, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Leonard Bryant Photography, Loxahatchee River Historical Society, Through Our Lens LLC, Veterans Administration-West Palm Beach, West Palm Beach Fishing Club, and many others, managed to hold a successful event under good weather and great catches for 42 participating wounded heroes and their families.
  

Veterans and families at the Jupiter Inlet Veterans Family Fishing Classic 2015


Veterans and families at the Jupiter Inlet Veterans Family Fishing Classic 2017

The popularity of this event continues to grow, and in 2017, 58 veteran and family members participated in the Jupiter Classic.  In addition to the Jupiter Classic, other ongoing and new veterans and family fishing classes will take place at the ONA.

Colorado River Salinity Program

BLM FISHERIES NATIONAL OPERATIONS CENTER

Colorado River Salinity Program

The NOC Division of Resource Services continued efforts to refine and develop a regional water-quality model for the Colorado River Basin. The purpose of the model is to provide capability for quantifying and reporting the effectiveness of BLM management activities in retaining salt and sediment on public lands and to assess cumulative efforts towards meeting federal water quality standards for the Colorado River.


Quantifiable damages from excessive salt concentrations in the Colorado River are estimated at about $382M each year. The BLM is required by the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act of 1974 to partner with federal and state agencies to protect and improve the quality of Colorado River water.




Groundwater Investigation and Well Tracking

BLM FISHERIES NATIONAL OPERATIONS CENTER

Groundwater Investigation and Well Tracking

The NOC Division of Resource Services completed development of a preliminary database of more than 8,000 groundwater wells located on BLM-administered lands. The BLM and authorized users of public lands have historically relied on wells to provide water supplies in remote areas, but the BLM has lacked a comprehensive system to manage this information for effective decision making. As a result, field offices have used various localized approaches for managing data and substantial legacy paper-based records have been maintained at the NOC.