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The New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission will request $2 million in state funds to build river and bosque habitat for endangered species and upgrade a Los Lunas fish hatchery.
The commission approved a funding application to the Water Trust Board on Tuesday.
Trevor Birt, an Interstate Stream Commission hydrologist, said improving the river channel and floodplain is a focus of state and regional water plans.
“It’s something we’ve been doing for 10 or 15 years,” Birt said. “We’ve done about eight major habitat restoration projects, about 350 acres in the Middle Rio Grande.”
Past projects have included widening the river channel and removing invasive plants.
If the board approves the application, about $1.75 million would help the agency design and build 200 acres of habitat in the Middle Rio Grande.
The project would provide a place for endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow to spawn during spring runoff.
Migratory birds could also nest in the project areas.
Another $250,000 would add seven tanks to the Los Lunas Silvery Minnow Refugium.
The facility can currently produce about 30,000 fish each year.
The ISC estimates that the additional tanks could add capacity for 9,000 fish.
Silvery minnows are released from the hatchery into the Rio Grande to boost fish populations.
The Water Trust Board will approve a final project list in November for legislative consideration in 2022.
More than 30 projects received about $51.5 million from the fund this year.
The ISC is one of several federal and state groups required to manage the Rio Grande in a way that protects endangered species.
“We’re trying to improve habitats without utilizing the water that we just don’t have anymore to use,” ISC hydrologist Grace Haggerty said.
Theresa Davis is a Report for America corps member covering water and the environment for the Albuquerque Journal.