Recovery of Habitat for Gila Trout and Livestock Grazing Following Wildfire in Main Diamond Creek in the Black Range of Southwestern New Mexico
Wood, M. K.
A wildfire in southwestern New Mexico in 1989 led to the loss of habitat for half the total known endangered Gila trout population. Immediately after the fire, it was estimated that the watershed would not support reestablishment of Gila trout for at least 15 to 20 years. It was also decided that livestock grazing would never again be possible. Monitoring of the stream profile, temperature, and pH; riparian vegetation; and stream suspended sediment content indicated sufficient recovery to allow for reintroduction of Gila trout five years following the wildfire. Prior to 1989, the watershed had not burned in over 100 years. Subsequent small re-burns in 1993 and 1997, and grazing and trampling by trespass cattle at the end of the dry season in May 1996 did not affect water quality above tolerance levels of the Gila trout. Managed livestock grazing each year after 1996 during June, July, and August (the monsoon season) had no detrimental effects on Gila trout habitat.