Southwest Arroyo Restoration: Expansion of a Hydro-Ecological Resource Cañada Bonita, NM

Benjamin D. Gonzales
June, 2016

Abstract: Developing and restoring moisture retaining areas or patches in arid Southwest landscapes has gained importance in recent decades. Arroyos, specifically those on high desert plateaus, may through cost-effective restoration provide a resilient hydro- ecological niche during uncertain precipitation and prolonged droughts. This research addresses two questions related to this role: 1. what are the microclimatic differences between an arroyo and the adjacent upland and the relationships between soil moisture and reduced sun and wind exposure; and 2. how effective are restoration structures (e.g., one rock dams) in arroyos in enhancing those differences. To address these questions, a local arroyo and associated upland were monitored for one year. Field results were incorporated into the evapotranspiration equation with solar and wind adjustments used to compare the arroyo and its upland counterpart. The initial data indicate that arroyos may conserve significant quantities of soil moisture throughout the growing season and into early spring. Combined with precipitation and runoff data, measurements provide a predictive system of soil water loss through evapotranspiration (ET) on a per acre basis which is essential in hydrologic analyses and ecological water management.