The Pueblo of Santa Ana retained Ayres Associates to provide pre- and post-construction topographic survey, hydraulic modeling and design, and construction specifications for plantings and the creation of channels with the goal of improving habitat along this area on the eastern shoreline of the Rio Grande.
Known as Bar 3, the project area was lowered in 2009 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but despite overbanking events at the bar, it failed to naturally revegetate and remained dry without riparian vegetation. The Pueblo of Santa Ana wanted to modify Bar 3 to benefit the Rio Grande silvery minnow (RGSM) and southwestern willow flycatcher species.
Ayres collaborated with the Pueblo to design and create a network of ephemeral channels within the existing 10 acres of lowered river bar that now inundate around 2,000 cubic feet per second. Areas adjacent to the ephemeral channels were pole-planted with woody riparian species, willows, and cottonwoods harvested at the Pueblo. Woody debris piles were constructed on the upper portions of the bar to diversify habitat at higher flows. Rooted riparian species were planted to provide additional vegetation structure and cover. The project has been a success, as RGSM were discovered in the channels within a year of the project’s construction.