Multi-Dimensional Restoration of Pecos Canyon State Park (NM) 

 Susan Sherrod1*, Sydney Salzwedel1, Emily Stout2, Colleen Baker2

1Biohabitats, Denver, CO, USA

2New Mexico State Parks Division, Energy, Mineral, and Natural Resources Department, Santa Fe, NM


The Pecos Canyon State Park (NM) restoration project is an example of effective partnerships, cross-disciplinary goal-setting and stakeholder collaboration, disturbance impacts, adaptability to changing conditions, and multi-agency mandates. The canyon was once home to Pueblos, Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), and Ndé Kónitsąąíí Gokíyaa (Lipan Apache), who still view the canyon as sacred. Historic and current disturbances/stressors affecting the 378-acre park include mining, fire, flooding, and intense recreational use. It was designated a Wild & Scenic River in 1990 and a State Park in 2019, at which time it became the focus of an intensive, multi-disciplinary and multi-agency restoration effort. The 3 campgrounds and 4 day-use areas along a 4-mile reach anchor a phased approach to restore ecological and hydrologic function, provide safe recreational access, and engage visitors of all ages and abilities. The team includes ecologists, water resources and civil engineers, landscape architects, archaeologists, and public outreach specialists; Jemez Pueblo and other local tribes; the US Forest Service, Corps of Engineers, and Fish & Wildlife Service; the NM Department of Transportation; the 501(c)3 Upper Pecos Watershed Association; and other public stakeholders. The 2022 Calf Canyon Fire burned parts of the upper Pecos River watershed, resulting in high flows in late 2022 and early 2023. The restoration team took advantage of these conditions to update Ordinary High Water and incorporate it into design. The first phase is under construction and will be fully implemented in 2025. Other phases are planned concurrently.