Restoration and resilience on BLM-managed lands in New Mexico

Story and photos by Jackie Leyba, Outdoor Recreation Planner

The Torreon Wash illegal dump site before reclamation.
Torreon Wash before reclamation.

The BLM New Mexico Albuquerque District, Rio Puerco Field Office is proud to announce the successful reclamation of three large illegal dumpsites (Torreon Wash, Pipeline Bend Dam, and Horn Arroyo) that were possibly contaminating stormwater destined for not only the Rio Puerco, Rio Grande, and Elephant Butte Reservoir, but also Texas and the Gulf of Mexico. The dumpsites were reclaimed with funding provided by the BLM's Hazardous Material Program. As a result of reclamation efforts, the dumpsites are currently not active contributors to groundwater contamination.

The Torreon Wash illegal dump site after reclamation.
Torreon Wash after reclamation.

The practice of illegal dumping on America’s public lands is not new. However, it has become more prevalent across the southwest in recent years. Illegal dumping of household refuse, construction materials, tires, and industrial waste (and the potentially hazardous materials found within it) pose a serious health and safety risk to downstream water consumers and natural resources.

Pipeline Bend illegal dump site before reclamation.
Pipeline Bend before reclamation.

The Rio Puerco Field Office illegal dumping reclamation effort utilizes Engagement Centered Community Organization (ECCO). ECCO is centered around three tenets which consist of Alignment Research (the process of getting to fully understand the individuals and groups who have an interest in a particular topic/area), Issue Identification and Naming, and Framing. This model promotes civic engagement and is helping to stem illegal dumping through education, outreach, and physical reclamation efforts. The process involves creating deliberative partnerships that are issue-centered and community-driven.

Pipeline Bend illegal dump site after reclamation.
Pipeline Bend after reclamation.

BLM New Mexico’s Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Hazardous Materials contract allows BLM Districts and Field Offices across New Mexico to test and reclaim hazardous materials and illegal dumpsites.