Conservation Club Does Restoration at Wind River

Conservation Club

Photo: Jesus Rivas
The Highlands University Conservation Club helped with restoration projects at Wind River Ranch, including building a rock dam on the Mora River to create a wetland. From left, biology major Steven Salinas, and forestry majors Elyssa Duran and Juan Jauregui.

Las Vegas, N.M. — The New Mexico Highlands University Conservation Club worked on restoration projects on the Mora River at Wind River Ranch, a 4,600-acre conservation property west of Watrous, N.M.

Ten students from the club worked on two restoration projects at the ranch on March 24. 

With the first, they built a rock dam to slow the Mora River to create a wetland, and a healthier ecosystem along the river.

At another site on the river, the students placed large tree branches on the shore that will cause sedimentary build-up to help restore the natural meander of the river.

“I think it’s important for our Conservation Club members to get hands-on experience in restoring natural areas,” said Alfonso Trujillo, a junior biology major from Mora and the club’s president. “It’s also educational because our professors explain the significance of our work to the environment. That’s rewarding.”

Since the Conservation Club formed at Highlands in fall 2011, 45 students from disciplines across campus have joined. It is the largest club at the university and continues to grow.

Highlands University biology professors Jesus Rivas and Sarah Corey-Rivas are the advisers for the Conservation Club. They joined the students at Wind River Ranch along with forestry professor Sara Brown.

“These students literally did some heavy lifting for conservation with these two restoration projects,” Rivas said. “Their strong commitment to conservation is not just lip service — they worked very hard moving rocks and tree limbs for these projects.”

Brook Reads of Wind River Ranch coordinated the Conservation Club’s work.