July 30, 2009

Rio Grande to flow more like a river, less like a canal

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A plan to manage water flows on the Rio Grande could benefit the endangered Southwest willow flycatcher and restore the natural habitat for a variety of native trees and plants. The plan, reported by Rene Romo of the Aluquerque Journal and picked up by the Associated Press, affects about 100 miles of the Rio Grande stretching from New Mexico to Texas, a section known as the Rio Grande Canalization Project. That stretch has been subject to more than 10 years of water management debate between farmers, who depend on the water, and environmentalists concerned about habitat destruction.  Among the changes hammered out in the recently adopted management plan are a moratorium on mowing in certain areas, and the phasing out of grazing leases along the river. Critics of the plan said it didn’t go far enough, and pointed out that funding to maintain the proposed improvements is not guaranteed.

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