Las Vegas, New Mexico – Kent Reid, director of the New Mexico Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute at New Mexico Highlands University, volunteered May 5 – 19 in the Dominican Republic providing advice on strategic planning to protect water resources.
Reid was on assignment with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of the Farmer-Farmer Program implemented by the nonprofit Partners of the Americas.
“The main work I did related to measuring the impact of projects funded by the Dominican Republic’s Fondo Agua, or Water Fund,” Reid said. “For instance, I monitored artificial wetlands created by diverting street water runoff into low areas with native plants. This lessens the pollutants that flow into a nearby stream.”
Kent provided technical support to the Association for Development, Inc. located in the Santiago region of the Dominican Republic. The association provides organizational and technical support for farmers, agribusiness and local communities.
Reid said the Fondo Agua in the Dominican Republic focuses its efforts on protecting watershed headwaters from degradation.
“My main observation was that the Fondo Agua is implementing its water resources plans well,” Reid said.
Reid said that technical solutions to watershed interventions are unique to a geographic area, whether it is the Dominican Republic or the Rio Grande Water Fund in New Mexico.
“While the main goal for both entities is maintaining good water, the technical aspects of the projects differ. The Rio Grande Water Fund works primarily to reduce fire risk, while the Fondo Agua in the Dominican Republic works to maintain ground cover and motivate people to care about where their water comes from,” Reid said.
He said the New Mexico Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute works in collaboration with the Rio Grande Water Fund.
“We share a common goal of reducing wildfire severity, especially related to the ecosystem function of producing and protecting water. We both work to reduce the threat to the water supply that severe wildfire poses,” Reid said.
This is Reid’s second time volunteering to give technical advice on land use practices affecting water resources in the Dominican Republic. In October 2017, he evaluated the Natural Resources Program at the Universidad Instituto Superior de Agricultura in Santiago.
Reid said the New Mexico Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute was authorized by Congress in 2004 to promote practices that reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire and improve ecosystem function.
“The most important work of the New Mexico Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute is to promote thinning overgrown forests and reintroduce frequent, low-intensity fire to forests, which used to occur as a natural process. The institute is a statewide effort that engages government agencies, academic and research institutions, land managers, and the interested public in the areas of forest and watershed management,” Reid said.
The New Mexico Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute works in partnership with similar institutes in Arizona and Colorado. In New Mexico, supporting organizations for the New Mexico Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute include the United States Forest Service and the New Mexico Legislature.