The Mid Rio Grande Stormwater Quality Team (MRGSQT), a multi-agency coalition dedicated to educating individuals and businesses on preventing stormwater pollution in order to protect and improve the quality of the Rio Grande, has partnered with the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program (BEMP) to monitor four sites on the Rio Grande and to provide educational activities on water quality relating to watershed management in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties.
Science, Education and Stewardship
The Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program is joint effort coordinated by the University of New Mexico’s (UNM) Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) network and Bosque School. BEMP research is conducted by student and citizen volunteers along the Middle Rio Grande and its associated riparian forest, known locally by its Spanish name ‘bosque.’ Through this project, citizen and student groups accept responsibility for gathering long-term data related to the overall condition of the forest ecosystem located along New Mexico’s most prominent river. Primary program start-up funding was through the National Science Foundation.
Through this program, many people who are not formal scientists gather meaningful data on the bosque’s overall condition. With this approach, citizen volunteers build direct connections with their local environment and in so doing, increase public understanding of a complex ecosystem as well as fulfill essential research needs.
The program consists of a series of 27 research sites along 560 km (350 miles) of the Rio Grande. Sites are presently located between Ohkay Owingeh pueblo and Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park in Las Cruces, NM. Monitoring activities are synchronized between sites with volunteers (primarily grade K-12 students and their teachers) collecting long-term data on:
- core weather data
- shallow groundwater table depth
- monthly precipitation
- surface active arthropod activity
- measurements of forest production such as:
- leaf litter biomass/plant productivity
- tree diameter and growth rates
- woody and herbaceous plant distribution
Data gathered by volunteers is incorporated into larger UNM sponsored bosque research efforts and is shared with other researchers, as well as land and other natural resource managers.