While everyone else slept late, my host and I headed to their ‘wild’–a couple of hundred acres which they put in Santa Fe Conservation Trust. The Trust requires land restoration and has a lengthy list of do’s and don’t’s one must follow. However, if the owners follow these requirements, the results astonish.
The land is mountainous with meadows, ponderosa pines, and a few aspens and fir trees. Before restoration it had been overgrazed at times and no streams ran year round.
This stream starts on a property to the north and ran only on rare occasions when it rained. With careful riparian restoration, little waterfalls now gurgle here and there.
This is the view downstream where water is now running and new grasses and other plants that like water have begun to grow.
After following the other stream, we turned left and found this stream running from higher land to the east. When the restoration began, this was like a ditch with not much growing.
Where there once was nothing, pools form. To my friend’s surprise this one contained numerous fish. They had not been there on his recent visit.
If my memory is correct, this is a type of wild onion in flower. So many different kinds of grasses and flowers thrive now where only a few years ago there were few. Even big blue stem grows in various areas of the property.
A grove of aspen in the shade on the north side of a rock bank. The small ones in the foreground remain encircled in fencing to keep the elk from killing them before they have a chance to grow. Elk like to rub against the bark with their antlers.
We climbed up to the highest points of the land. Trespassers in the past, when the previous owner did not check on it, made a road. Restoration activities slowly allow the vegetation to grow back.
From this high point, one can see Hermit Peak in the background. Near here the current owner found many fir trees sawed off near the ground. Of course, they died. No wood was taken, nothing except the outer most parts of their branches which can be made into Christmas wreaths. Luckily, they missed a few trees.
The view of the previous stream and pool from above. The fencing near the stream protects willows and cottonwoods which would normally be found near streams in this area if undisturbed and not subject to overgrazing.
Remains of such houses stand everywhere. These people had a water catchment system with gutters running into a cistern. Down the hill near the stream an old well could be used when the cistern ran dry.
More than any other this photo shows what overgrazing does. On the left the land has been overgrazed for years. Even though no cattle have been on it since last October, all that grows is sage and blue grama. Cattle will not eat sage therefore limiting the food available for future grazing. On the right is the Trust land filled with biodiversity. It can be grazed, but to do so effectively requires certain grazing methods many are only now beginning to practice.
Later, after trekking around the Trust land for a couple of hours, I drove to another friend’s house nearer the actual town of Rociada. This is the view from her yard. We decided to take a little hike to an old cemetery, Santo Nino, Sainted Child (Jesus), located on the property of an old Spanish land grant.
We found graves from the late 1800’s as well as new ones plus a crumbling wall, the front of the long, narrow chapel of the original hacienda.
Finally, we headed home and as always there lays the fabulous view from 104 dropping down the escarpment.