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Backyard Restoration Along the Rio Fernando - Invasive Weeds Edition!

Updated: Apr 24

Dear Friend of the Rio Fernando de Taos,


We hope this email finds you and yours safe and well at home. We applaud you for following the state’s guidance, protecting the most vulnerable in our community, as well as the frontline workers essential to our health and basic needs.


In this time, we’re especially thankful for the life-giving, soul-enriching Rio Fernando. We are grateful for its soothing waters, spunky wildlife and springtime, bud-bursting beauty. Taoseños are taking advantage of this time to clean up their yards and ditches, start vegetable plots and gardens, plant their fields and dive into landscaping projects.





At the Rio Fernando Platica (slide show of platica report here) (platica video here) last November, many of you asked what you can do to improve the health of the Rio Fernando. So, while we’re all hunkered down, we at the Collaborative will send periodic emails with actions you can take at home to protect the river we love.


Pull and Dispose of Weeds Safely!


Removing invasive species is a key strategy to restoring the Rio Fernando. Invasive species crowd out beneficial native plants, often changing the composition and function of ecologically sensitive areas (including water storage and recharge capabilities!) - and have been cited as one of the largest threats to native plant species in New Mexico.


This month in particular is a great time to:


1) dig out thistle rosettes,

2) plant cover crops to out-compete invasive species, and

3) pull up cheatgrass before it goes to seed.


While many of us are familiar with common weeds such as thistle and teasel, you can learn more about the many types of Troublesome Weeds of New Mexico here. This guide helps landowners identify and manage over 45 weed species common to New Mexico (including photo documentation, and prevalence by county). You may also find weedy culprits in your yard in this Invasives Species Management Plan for the Rio Fernando Park. Early detection and removal is one of the best methods of weed management -- so, it’s never too early to get out there and start pulling!


Protect and Encourage Native Plants to Flourish


Did you know not all thistles are weeds? (There are 12 thistles native to New Mexico!) Here’s how you can tell what you have in your yard. You can protect and encourage native plans by identifying, seeding and mulching them, appropriately.


Check out the Native Plant Society of New Mexico to learn more about the importance of native vegetation, and how to support native plants in your yard.


Have pre-teen students at home? Explore the Native Plants of New Mexico through this free curriculum that “promotes the knowledge of plant identification and ecology and foster plant conservation and the preservation of natural habitats.”


Take Care of Yourself

Please practice safe workmanship to minimize accidents that might need medical attention. Remember...

  • Easy Does It. Now more than ever don’t over exert yourself. Do little sections, do more tomorrow. Don’t sunburn, stay hydrated.

  • Backstrain, muscle strain, tripping and falling are all major causes of injuries for field workers

  • Wear appropriate Personal Protective equipment- head cover, eye cover, dust mask, long sleeves, pants, gloves, protective shoes, knee protection.

  • It's allergy season and insect season. Take extra precautions if you develop allergy symptoms, or if there are biting or stinging insects about.

  • Use tools properly (rakes, shovels, weed pullers).


And here are more safe gardening tips from our friends “Down Under”.


Can’t go outside today? Listen to our podcast on Noxious Weeds and Invasive Species.


~ ~ ~

The RFdT Collaborative, New Mexico Department of Agriculture, the Taos Soil & Water Conservation District, Taos County Extension Service, and the newly formed Taos County Cooperative Weed Management Area Board are working together to mitigate the impacts of invasive species on wetlands, riparian areas and agricultural lands.


The Rio Fernando Collaborative came together in 2017 to help bring the Rio Fernando de Taos back to life. We are a dynamic collective of individuals, elected leaders, organizations, and government entities working to revitalize the Rio Fernando by improving water quality and ecological function, restoring acequias, strengthening working land capacity, and connecting people to the river and land they love.


Thank you for doing your part protecting our community’s health, and improving the health of the Rio Fernando!


The Rio Fernando Collaborative