Wetlands & Ponds

Rio-Chama-near-Chama-NM-Troutstalker-Ranch-3Ponds and wetlands represent unique aquatic and riparian environments not found where the water flows quickly. Riverbend evaluates the hydrologic opportunities at a particular site, and develops site plans which maximize the benefits that can be accomplished. Most of our clients are interested in creating sustainable ecological micro-communities. They understand that diversity in the riparian plant community will result in more abundance and variety of the bugs and birds. Depth of water in a pond affects what aquatic species will be present. Ponds and wetlands can be complex, highly productive places in our environment. Careful planning, design, and implementation ensure these outcomes. Scroll below or use the menu to the right to read more about our wetland and pond projects.

Navajo River near Dulce, NM--Jicarilla Apache Game & Fish

Endangered Fish Habitat & Municipal Water Supply Diversion

This project spanned over 4 years and included a river assessment of ~9 miles for possible fish habitat improvements for species of concern, Roundtail chub (Gila robusta) on the Navajo River above Dulce, NM.  That assessment has led so far to ~5 miles of river restoration projects, and reconstruction of the main diversion dam for the potable water supply for the town.

To ensure an adequate diversion of water for the community, the existing dam (piled up river gravel and large rocks) required annual maintenance efforts.  The old dam also created a fish passage barrier, impeding the Nation’s efforts at recovery of the Chub.    The Nation initially considered a much more expensive concept plan for a concrete structure. In the end the diversion was constructed with large boulders and a series of step-pool weirs extending downstream.  Native riparian transplants ensured high function and aesthetics as well as reduced annual maintenance costs. This alternative design provides for natural fish passage and minimizes maintenance time and costs significantly.

Riverbend’s services to the Nation included surveying, hydrologic and hydraulic calculations, preliminary and final designs, construction cost estimates, confirmation of 404 & 401 permit exemptions, project specifications and bid documents. In the implementation phase of the irrigation dam modification project Riverbend was hired as the general contractor, and had construction management personnel onsite each day during construction.


Rio Mimbres in Mimbres, NM - NMDGF

River Restoration for Endangered Species

PHASE I: Mimbres Wildlife Area

This mile-long section of the Rio Mimbres has been owned by the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish (NMDGF) for several decades. This reach is managed for conservation of the endangered Chihuahua Chub fish (Gila nigrescens) and the listed Chiricahua leopard frog (Lithobates chiricahuensis)–public access is limited and fishing is not allowed.   A forest fire in 2006 in the Black Range had left the upper reaches of the Rio Mimbres watershed devastated.  Subsequently there have been several very large flow events that originated on burn-scar areas. Sediment deposition and woody debris accumulations from these fire accentuated runoff events had made habitat conditions that were already poor even worse. The river restoration design for this project paid special attention to the specific habitat needs of both endangered species, and preserved the status of the very healthy existing riparian vegetation.

PHASE II:  Mimbres River Preserve, The Nature Conservancy
(more information coming soon)

Riverbend’s services to NMDGF for both these projects included surveying, hydrologic and hydraulic calculations, preliminary and final designs, construction cost estimates, project specifications, and bid documents. In the implementation phase of the project Riverbend provided construction oversight.  To mimic natural habitat features where sustainable populations of the Chub are currently found, design relied heavily on woody debris type structures and localized scour pools. Habitat for the frog was created by enhancing natural wetland depressions, and with new off channel ponds that are hydraulically connected to the river.

Uncompahgre River in Ridgway, CO

Ridgway logoThis project included complete river restoration, addressing decades of in-stream gravel mining. Restoration work included grading of a stable single thread channel, bank stabilization with large woody debris and large boulders, grade control and fish habitat structures, construction of multiple wetlands (open water and shallow depression types), and construction of two whitewater wave features. A new pedestrian trail was designed, extending from an existing Town park all the way north through the restored river section. The restoration work terminates at the north end at an historic railroad bridge. The design had to accommodate a new pedestrian bridge, an existing CDOT bridge, an existing sanitary sewer crossing the river, fish passage throughout, nesting bald eagle habitat, and a very high sediment load from the upstream watershed. Analysis and documentation of changes to the regulatory floodplain were prepared for FEMA map revisions. Aerial photo “Before” shows highly braided river system after in-stream gravel mining in the 1970s through 1990s. Low angle aerial image “After” shows the restored river with open water wetlands in right foreground, depression wetlands (dark brown areas) further downriver, a CDOT bridge and two whitewater wave features in the foreground. Bald eagle habitat is protected on river-right in the downstream (background) part of the project.

San Juan River below Navajo Dam, NM - NMDGF Quality Waters

NMGF logo 3Riverbend Engineering has been working with the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish on its river restoration efforts as outlined in the Management plan for the San Juan River published in September of 2005.  This reach of Quality Trout Waters is below Navajo Dam on the San Juan River in northern New Mexico east of Aztec & Bloomfield, NM.   Projects include the Braids, Munoz Flats, Hammond Tract, Simon Canyon, and the Rainbow Lodge Boat Ramp.


December 2017: Simon Canyon & Rainbow Lodge in the ABQ Journal & Karl Moffatt’s “Outdoors NM” blog.

Winter 2014: Munoz Flats in NM Wildlife

Fall 2014: Hammond Tract in NM Wildlife

July 2014: Hammond Tract in the ABQ Journal & Karl Moffatt’s “Outdoors NM” blog

March 2014: Munoz Flats and Hammond Tract in Karl Moffatt’s blog

Spring/ Summer 2012:  The Braids in NM Wildlife

June 2012:  Summary of Projects to date in Karl Moffatt’s “Outdoors NM” blog

December 2011: The Braids in NM Wildlife Press Release

November 2011: The Braids in the Santa Fe New Mexican & Karl Moffat’s “Outdoors NM” blog

December 2007: Phase III – below Cottonwood Campground in the Santa Fe New Mexican & Karl Moffatt’s “Outdoors NM” blog

June 2007: Phase II – below Simon Canyon in the Santa Fe New Mexican & Karl Moffatt’s “Outdoors NM” blog


Pecos River near Pecos, NM – Kooi

Historic degradation and widening of the river had created shallow flow conditions and limited aquatic habitat for salmonids. Riverbend’s geomorphic analysis documented relatively recent channel bed lowering and straightening of the channel plan form as a result of the incised conditions. The design solution included narrowing the low flow channel of the river, excavating deep pools, adding rock structures and woody debris structures for fish habitat, grading of alternating gravel bars along the active channel, planting of obligate wetland species and riparian adapted native ornamental shrubs to create a parallel riverine wetland.

Pecos River near Pecos, NM – Casdagli

This project restored a section of the river, which was severely damaged by flooding in September, 2013. The project included full replacement of an existing irrigation diversion dam and headbox, installation of in-stream fish habitat structures, restoration of a river side channel as spawning habitat, installation of riparian and wetland plant species.