Pecos River at Cowles Fish Habitat Improvement Project

The purpose of this project is to improve stream stability and aquatic habitat by restoring channel dimensions and installing habitat structures on approximately 1,000 linear feet of the Pecos River at Cowles, NM. The project begins upstream of Winsor Creek and continues to the upstream end of the meadow above Winsor Bridge. In addition, a side channel and wetlands will be created to provide off-channel aquatic habitat along the Pecos River.

Eroding, widening banks at site of old log structures

Channel narrowed using toe rock and log vanes to appropriate bankfull dimensions while providing a stable location for fishing foot traffic

A series of log structures were installed in the channel upstream from the Winsor bridge in a configuration that has led to channel bed aggradation with finer sediments along with channel widening and bank erosion. These structures are now failing, causing further bank erosion and loss of aquatic habitat. Heavy foot traffic from recreation activities has further eroded the bank and created a wider channel with areas of concentrated drainage from the parking area at popular foot paths.

Failing log structure, with aggradation above and below the cross channel logs

Cross vane weir in project area used to narrow flows to bankfull dimensions and increase pool habitat

The restoration design includes several components that will help improve channel stability and aquatic habitat.

  • Cross vane weirs, rock vanes, log barbs, toe rock, and bankfull benches will be installed along approximately 800 feet of channel to help narrow the channel and reduce bank erosion.
  • Several fish habitat structures will be installed throughout the project including rock clusters, mini rock weirs and log bank buildout structures.
  • A side channel, fish rearing pond, and associated wetland habitat will be created at the upstream end of the project area.

Rock step access with cross vane weir in background

Two rock vanes with boulder clusters approximately 1 week after construction

Cross vane weir at heavily used fishing site near bridge that replaced a failing log structure

Off-channel fish rearing pool

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