For decades now we’ve been channeling the Rio Grande through a pretty narrow path in order to prevent flooding. The river is naturally supposed to swell and recede – a messy, but necessary process.
Flooding provides water and nutrients to the Bosque and fortifies wildlife – including the humble silvery minnow, which is classified as endangered.
“The minnow is the last native fish in the Rio Grande,” said Billings.
For such a tiny thing, there is a lot of big equipment at work in the Bosque.
The first stage is clearing out invasive salt cedar and Russian olive trees, and replacing them with cottonwood and willow trees
The next part involves some serious excavation.
“We’re going to do this embayment, which is sort of like making a bay adjacent to the river,” said Billings.
During the spring, floodwaters will fill the little pond. It’ll allow the minnows to be born and develop – and once they’re grown up, they can swim into the Rio Grande.
It’s all about protecting the cycle of life in the Rio Grande; biologists say each species has a natural purpose.
It’s also about complying with federal laws and the endangered species act.
“We will be recruiting, or essentially adding to the population of the endangered minnow,” said Billings.
The price tag on this project is $1.3 million and it’s coming from the Municipal Water Authority’s budget.