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The Lower Embudo Watershed

The Rio Embudo and Rio Pueblo watershed spans nearly 200,000 acres on the western flank of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the northern Rio Grande bioregion in New Mexico. The headwaters originate on some of the highest peaks in the state and the Rio Embudo empties into the Rio Grande in the village of Embudo. The downstream half of the watershed area containing the Rio Embudo is known as the Lower Embudo watershed (see map below) or Embudo Valley. However, this part of the watershed includes high mountain drainages as well, such as those of the Cañada del Ojo Sarco and the Rio de las Trampas. The upper watershed with the Rio Pueblo includes the headwaters around the Angostura and Santa Barbara drainages.

The Lower Embudo watershed is part of the ancestral lands of the Northern Tiwa-speaking Picuris Pueblo and is well known for its traditional, acequia-fed irrigated agriculture and orchards, deep rooted Hispano community, artist community, and rugged, rural landscape. Much of the land, however, has a wilderness character with narrow sandstone canyons, rocky outcrops, hidden wetlands, woodlands and forests, and shrub and cactus plateaus. Periods of severe drought alternate with seasons with abundant rainfall and flooding.  The threats of aridification, wildfire, flooding and erosion pose serious challenges to the community and its economic systems.

Interactive map showing the Wetlands Action Plan area in blue and the larger Lower Embudo Watershed in red. 

Lower Embudo

Ecotone Initiatives

Upon invitation by local acequia leaders, Ecotone began working in the Lower Embudo watershed in 2012, continuing Earth Works Institute’s work that began in 2009. Initially, Ecotone’s work focused on community engagement through several hands-on projects aimed at environmental health and safety. These included a large trash cleanup initiative, experiments with the removal of invasive trees without using herbicides, erosion control and sediment management, and wildfire prevention through thinning of some small parcels in the bosque along the Rio Embudo. Ecotone also led a series of erosion control and wetland restoration projects and the improvement of the headgate system for the Acequia de la Plaza.

Key Issues:






News & Announcements






To be announced...


Ecotone was recently awarded EPA Clean Water Act funding to continue to build on previous work in the Embudo Valley, this time focusing on springs and wetlands located on State Trust Land. The  project area encompasses scattered springs, seeps, slope wetlands, and riverine wetlands. Throughout the project area, springs and wetlands have been degraded in the last century due to channel modifications, extreme weather conditions (drought and flash floods), erosion, grazing impacts, mining, wood removal, wildfire, off-road vehicle traffic, and/or Russian olive and tamarisk encroachment. The project goals are to reduce sediment loads and erosion, halt headcuts and channel degradation and raise the channel elevation, restore native riparian and wetland vegetation, remove invasives where it is feasible to do so, and to protect the riparian areas, seeps, springs and wetlands from identified impacts. The project will also create a Wetlands Action Plan, as further detailed  below.

Click on the image to the right to view the public presentation summarizing the project. 

A recording of a recent community meeting further detailing the project can be viewed, here


Restoring Springs and Wetlands in the Lower Embudo Valley

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