Earth Notes: Adopt-an-Arroyo

Apr 29, 2020

Santa Fe, New Mexico is a city of arroyos. More than 80 miles of these ephemeral waterways enter the main Santa Fe River that flows through the city. But many of the arroyos are ailing. Years of erosion and general neglect have worsened flooding during storms, leading to a lot of damage. Now, the nonprofit group Santa Fe Watershed Association has launched a recovery program called Adopt-an-Arroyo. It’s patterned after the group’s thriving Adopt the River program, in partnership with the city and county of Santa Fe.

A group of volunteers for Santa Fe, New Mexico's Adopt an Arroyo program
Credit Adopt an Arroyo

As part of the Adopt an Arroyo program, the association recruits volunteers to become stewards of particular reaches of arroyos, including Ancha, Rosario, del Las Cruces, and many others.

Following training and working with a hydrologist, teams assess an arroyo’s condition and obvious problems, then produce a plan for projects. That might include collecting trash, removing invasive plants and reporting and monitoring erosion and infrastructure problems. Volunteers commit to working on projects about 6 times a year.

The watershed association provides supplies and equipment and installs signs identifying schools, businesses and neighborhood associations involved in the recovery projects. There are currently more than 600 volunteers logging about a thousand hours with the arroyo program. And there are still many reaches available for adoption. More information is at

This Earth Note was written by Rose Houk and produced by KNAU and the Sustainable Communities Program at Northern Arizona University.