A steady trickle of water is bringing wildlife back to a few parts of the Colorado River Delta.
By Brian Clark Howard, National Geographic
PUBLISHED DECEMBER 15, 2014
San Luis Ro Colorado, Mexico”Hector Pati±o leaned against his shovel, taking a break from weeding. The sun beat down on his straw hat. His three friendly dogs flopped down in the shade.
Behind Pati±o, 45, cottonwood and willow trees formed a dense thicket, interspersed with honey mesquite seedlings and a thick understory of shrubs. Bees swarmed. A crissal thrasher sang prettily. A pair of white-crowned sparrows chittered at the shadow of a marsh hawk passing overhead.
Just months ago, this area was a barren wasteland, said Pati±o. But last April he and a crew of workers from the nearby village of Miguel Alem¡n planted the trees. With fertile soil and steady sun”and just enough irrigation water”the trees have already grown ten feet tall (three meters), enough to shade his dogs.
This 250-acre plot in the Mexicali Valley, south of Yuma on the Arizona border, is part of an innovative effort to restore small parts of the two-million-acre (8,100-square-kilometer) Colorado River Delta. Thanks to dams and canals that have diverted water to farm fields and cities, the Colorado no longer reaches the sea, and its delta has been desiccated. (See “8 Mighty Rivers Run Dry From Overuse.”)
But now a coalition of environmentalists, community leaders, and governments, working under a U.S.-Mexico agreement that is allowing them to reclaim a small fraction of the river’s water for the environment, are trying to reverse some of the damage in a few places, including Miguel Alem¡n. Pati±o is the president of the local restoration committee ….
Read the whole story and see the videos: Saving the Colorado River Delta, One Habitat at a Time