Many of us in the Rio Fernando Collaborative are dog owners. We know the joy of exploring the outdoors with our beloved mutt by our side. These days, getting outside on dog walks is salve for coronavirus weary souls. We get it.
Dogs poop. We get that too. Believe us. With dog walks comes, well, dog poop.
The Rio Fernando that we know and love is polluted. Since 2007, the river has been designated as impaired by the New Mexico Environment Department; polluted by bacteria such as E.coli that are harmful to public and ecological health. The Rio Fernando Collaborative is working to change that, and you can help.
The Rio Fernando watershed offers numerous sites for the Taos community to recreate and play. From the El Nogal trailhead to the Rio Fernando Park, this stretch of river provides our community with hiking trails, campgrounds, and rich ecosystem habitat.
In 2019 Amigos Bravos conducted a Microbial Source Tracking study at five sampling sites along the Rio Fernando, to learn more about where the E.coli bacteria originated from. The sampling tested for species-specific sources (such as human, dog, cattle, bird, elk, and others.) of E. coli. E.coli from dogs was detected at all five sites. Dog waste pollution was greatest in La Jara Canyon and Fred Baca Park, two common recreation areas. (Read the full Watershed Based Plan here.)
The Rio Fernando Revitalization Collaborative project creatively titled: "Reducing Fecal Waste in the Rio Fernando de Taos", aims to reduce the fecal bacteria levels in the Rio Fernando through three management measures:
1. Waste management on the Rio Fernando (install and maintain one portable toilet),
2. Creation and dispersion of a Backyard Waste Management Guide,
3. Installation of Pet waste Disposal Bags, Trash Cans and signs (at four locations),
4. The completion of a Backyard Best Practices Workshop and Panel for the public.
But you have to do your part.
The only way to keep your pet's E. coli out of the river is to pick it up. Not the pet, the poop. So please, while out walking with Sparky,
1) Keep a bag on you,
2) Do your “doodie” and pick up your best friend’s poo, and last step!
3) Throw it into the nearest garbage bin.
Your friends, neighbors, and the Rio Fernando thank you!
What else can you do? Keep your dog on a leash. Taoseños love the Rio Fernando for its biodiversity. Unleashed dogs scare wildlife away, disturb nests and habitats, and contribute to E.coli pollution in those hard-to-pick-up places.
You got this!