Healthy watersheds are the key to having a sustainable source of clean water, not to mention thriving wildlife populations and a reduced chance of catastrophic wildfire and subsequent flooding. There are many factors to consider when determining the health of a watershed: land use practices, forest structure and management, soil texture. Then there is the all important variable: water quality.
Arid Land Innovation, LLC used Share with Wildlife funds to take information on these important concepts and components of a healthy watershed into classrooms in elementary schools in Bernalillo County, New Mexico. Students were given classroom-based instruction and then taken out to the field to learn about soil properties and biological communities, water quality assessment techniques, and methods for surveying forest structure and species composition. Field trips were held at Cienega Canyon in the Cibola National Forest.
Arid Land Innovation, LLC also held two bigger events, one at a school and the other at the Sandia Mountain Natural History Center. One focused on watersheds as a whole and the other considered forests. Among other things, the events included presentations focused on a Rolling River Watershed Model. The model is an outreach activity of the Ciudad Soil and Water Conservation District. It is transported in a trailer and allows for creation of varying landscapes and consideration of different climatic conditions. It provides an excellent vehicle for explaining connections between land use activities in the watershed and conditions in local streams.