The Silver City Watershed Keepers has received funding from New Mexico Clean and Beautiful and The 30Something Grant Program for restoration and beautification efforts in Big Ditch Park.
Enjoyed by locals and tourists alike, Silver City’s Big Ditch Park is a unique riparian green space in the heart of downtown. However, it’s in desperate need of a refreshing face lift. Much of the park’s original non-native plantings have died due to lack of irrigation, crowding out by invasive species like Tree of Heaven, and insufficient maintenance. Several drainage problems are contributing to erosion on steep slopes and access roads, inoperability of the handicap access ramp, and flooding of sidewalks. Crumbling stone retaining walls add to the park’s state of disrepair.
The SCWK worked with the Town of Silver City, Silver City MainStreet, Stream Dynamics, the Upper Gila Watershed Alliance (UGWA), and Lone Mountain Natives to develop a plan to re-establish plantings throughout the park using drought tolerant, native species that are beneficial to pollinators and birds and will help build a resilient and climate-adapted greenway; create color and visual interest through placement of clusters of large concrete planters with vibrant plantings, producing a welcoming effect at park entrances and in seating areas; address drainage issues that are causing erosion of steep slopes, access roads, and the handicap ramp by redirecting runoff into new berm and basin pollinator gardens; and provide additional seating with metal park benches and picnic tables.
Community involvement will be an important component of this project. By engaging students, Aldo Leopold Charter School’s Youth Conservation Corps members, and volunteers, we will create pride of ownership in the project that will be key to increased visitation and park usage, as well as long-term community stewardship of the space. UGWA’s Thinking on a Mountain youth climate program will develop educational signage for the Park.
If you’d like to get involved, we’ll be organizing volunteer events during World Water Day in March and Gila Earth Day in April to plant pollinator gardens and carry out other project tasks. Please contact the Silver City Watershed Keepers at 575.538.8078 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.