In the arid environment of New Mexico, rain and snow are what ultimately sustain all life. The Rio Grande flows through Bandelier supporting a wide variety of plants and animals. It was important to the Ancestral Pueblo people for fishing, drinking water, and farming.
Locally the river is heavily influenced by the presence of Cochiti dam built in the 1970s. The flow of the river has slowed, the temperature of the water has risen, and sedimentation has increased. The introduction of non-native fish species threaten native fish populations such as the Rio Grande cutthroat trout. The Rio Grande is still a very important habitat for many birds such as the sandhill crane, killdeer, and bald eagle. Animals that once roamed the shores of the river but were eliminated by human activity may someday return.
Last updated: August 8, 2017