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Baca Beagle March April

Baca Beagle March April

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Published by dxguy7
Karen Koyote's Baca Beagle Newsletter for March/April 2012
Karen Koyote's Baca Beagle Newsletter for March/April 2012

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Published by: dxguy7 on Mar 12, 2012
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The Citizens Watchdog 
March/April 2012
Water, Land, Sun
 If you would like to submit articles, advertise,announce or put something in the upcoming 
section “FOR TRADE” or contribute
financially to this newspaper, send inquires to the editor:Karen Koyotekarenkoyote@yahoo.comPO Box 492 Crestone, CO 81131
The Baca’s
DisappearingRiparian Areas and Wetlands
Why Are They Drying Up?Hint..not just a drought
The health of our waters is the principlemeasure of how we live on the land.
Luna LeopoldBy Karen KoyoteSpecial thanks to Glyder
 What is a riparian buffer?
They are often the “thin lines
green” that 
makes up the land next to a river or stream.In its natural state, it has native plants growing on it: trees, shrubs, or tall, coarse grasses; thetype of vegetation depends on the climate.They are also called vegetated buffer zones.
 As the name suggests, these plants “buffer”
the stream from anything that flows into it -polluted water, eroding soil or toxicchemicals. The roots of the plants hold theriver banks in place, stabilizing the land andabsorbing the water and materials that flow across the land. These areas support bothland and water based animals, insects andplants, and are essential in the interrelated web of our natural world. Riparian buffers
are a river’s right 
-of-way. Small streams needbuffers, too. A healthy riparian area is evidence of wiseland use management.
 Why are riparian zones important?
Riparian buffers are important for good waterquality. Riparian zones help to prevent 
sediment, nitrogen, phosphorus, pesticidesand other pollutants from reaching a stream.Riparian vegetation is a major source of energy and nutrients for stream communities.Riparian buffers provide valuable habitat for wildlife. In addition to providing food andcover they are an important corridor or travel way for a variety of wildlife. Forestedstreamsides benefit game species such asdeer, rabbit, quail and nongame species likemigratory songbirds.Riparian vegetation slows floodwaters,thereby helping to maintain stablestreambanks and protect downstreamproperty. By slowing down floodwaters andrainwater runoff, the riparian vegetationallows water to soak into the ground andrecharge groundwater. Slowing floodwatersallows the riparian zone to function as a siteof sediment deposition, trapping sedimentsthat build stream banks and would otherwisedegrade our streams and rivers.Development pressure inevitably means
pressure on aquifers. Nature’s own water
treatment facilities, riparian buffers helpcleanse and recharge wells and groundwatersupplies. They are a real bargain comparedto a multi-million dollar piece of infrastructure.
The term ‘wetlands’ is being used under the
definition provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). According to that 
definition wetlands are “lands transitional
between terrestrial and aquatic systems wherethe water table is usually at or near thesurface or the land is covered by shallow  water
. Wetlands help maintain the level of the watertable and exert control on the hydraulic head.This provides force for ground waterrecharge and discharge to other waters as well. Ground water recharge occurs throughmineral soils found primarily around theedges of wetlands. The soil under most  wetlands is relatively impermeable. A highperimeter to volume ratio, such as in small wetlands, means that the surface area through which water can infiltrate into the ground water is high. Ground water recharge istypical in small wetlands such as prairiepotholes, which can contribute significantly torecharge of regional ground water resources.Researchers have discovered ground waterrecharge of up to 20% of wetland volume perseason.
Some of the wetland types in the GreaterGreat Sand Dunes region including the Baca Grande, includes wet meadows, riveroxbows, marshes, riparian corridors, andcroplands. These wetland ecosystems aregenerally surrounded by dry uplands vegetated with greasewood and saltbush.
The Problem is that thesewetlands in our area have beendrying up.
And as you can see from theprevious information, these areas are very important for recharging our aquifer and thusmaintaining our water supplies, as well asremoving toxins and providing essentialhabitat for wildlife. Our local covenantsprotect these wetlands and sensitive habitats;however it came to the attention of theBiosphere Coalition www.biospherecoalition.org  that the Baca National Wildlife refuge (BNWR) is actually negatively impacting these areas withquestionable practices.In 2000 the legislation was enacted, and in2004 the Baca Ranch was purchased and theGreat Sand Dunes National Park wasformed. The BNWR was subsequently closed to the public.
The BNWR’s stated
purpose is
“To restore, enhance, and maintain wetland,
upland, riparian and other habitats for native wildlife, plant, and fish species in the SanLouis Valley.
Much less information is known about thewetlands on the Baca Ranch. Because theranch has previously been under privateownership, little research on the area hasbeen done. However, it is known to containan extensive wetland ecosystem. When thenew land is officially acquired by thenational park service, it will become awildlife refuge managed by the United StatesFish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The FWScurrently oversees other wetlands in theregion, including Alamosa Wetlands.
There now has been ten years of destructionof riparian habitat within the Baca GrandeSubdivision. Some historic flows have beenimpeded completely. The subdivisioncreeks, particularly Cottonwood and Spanish
Creeks have become “ditches” for
8000 acresof irrigated hay production (In kind hayfieldimprovements) on the BNWR. They alsorun approximately 500 head of cattle onprotected land each year. Survey mapping and photos show that sensitive species havebeen damaged and their habitats destroyed.

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