commodity potential in high-desert riparian renovation projects: locally derived materials in stack-wall construction: building system and harvest evaluations
The plight of rivers in the high-desert environment of New Mexico is well documented. Estimates of impaired riparian habitat range up to 90%. Four hundred years of watershed mismanagement and the widespread encroachment of naturalized exotic species have reduced the Rio Grande and its tributaries to their current ineffectual state.
In the larger effort to renovate forests proximate to river courses (el Bosque), federally funded projects, aimed at clearing non-native species along the Middle Rio Grande, are typified by costly, single-event interventions. While these projects demonstrate an important shift in public agency understanding of dry-land riparian habitat, the presenters believe that self-supporting solutions for watershed renovation will work best to restore natural and cultural cycles along the rivers.
This project evaluates the commodity potential of Bosque harvesting as a long-term, economically feasible means of restoring and maintaining riparian habitat. Specifically, the project assesses the efficacy of stackwall construction in the high-desert environment and the availability of yields sufficient to support the application of stackwall regionally.
The stackwall system compares well with traditional adobe in terms of time-and-motion requirements, U value, solar mass, and environmental impact. Harvesting for stackwall is environmentally net-beneficial in the context of best-forest-management. Stackwall shows high potential for architectural carbon sequestration and post-consumer content when pozzolan binders are substituted for Portland cement. Yields of small-gauge timber vary widely but sufficient quantities are available now and for the foreseeable future.
project coordinators & partners
Tree New Mexico — Shannon Horst, Executive Director
The village of los lunas, new mexico
A. E. Torrez Company — Arnold Torrez, Principal
Usda forest service — Community Assistance Program
US fish & wildlife — Middle Rio Grande Bosque Initiative
Salt river materials group
GCC rio grande portland cement corp.