Shortly after Robert Mead purchased Martin Ranch in New Mexico in 2000, a forest fire swept through the ridgeline above the ranch, consuming approximately 29,000 acres of forest. Subsequent storm water runoff carried ash and sediments from the hillsides into Cow Creek and rendered the former trout stream sterile.
Mr. Mead decided to restore the entire length of the stream on his property to an improved condition. Working with the USACE Albuquerque District office, he obtained the necessary permits and began work in 2002.
A total of 32 habitat improvement locations were planned. Accumulated sediments were excavated to the original streambed elevation. Eroded stream banks were contoured and cover log structures were constructed to prevent future erosion. Riparian areas were re-vegetated with native grasses and shrubs and mulched to minimize runoff sediments entering the stream. Burned areas upslope were covered with native seed and mulched to promote growth and prevent further erosion. Sedimentation ponds were also constructed to collect sediment-laden storm water runoff from higher elevations and filter the discharge before it entered Cow Creek. Mr. Mead coordinated with the New Mexico Game and Fish Department and successfully restocked the restored stream with 4,000 lbs of trout.
By early 2003, what started out as the total loss of Cow Creek's aquatic habitat on Martin Ranch had been restored to a higher quality than that of the original pre-fire stream.
USACE, the Coastal San Luis Resource Conservation District, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service agreed to a joint effort to preserve, protect, and restore aquatic resources in the sensitive Morro Bay watershed in central California. USACE agreed to provide an expedited 30-day processing of nationwide permit applications for projects that qualify under the "Morro Bay Partners in Restoration Program." The program consists of a series of regulatory agreements and permits that cover a specific set of activities/best management practices within the Morro Bay watershed.