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The following projects highlight how we have incorporated sustainability and conservation efforts in our work.
Bachechi Open Space Park – Master Plan and Design
The Bachechi Open Space Park was designed and built for the enjoyment of wildlife; it is perhaps one of Albuquerque’s most beloved natural facilities enjoyed by hikers, bicyclists, equestrians, nature lovers, and wildlife! It is also one of the most important gateways to 21 miles of Bosque and the Rio Grande Valley State Park.
This 37-acre park includes a sustainably designed and managed urban forest of native and endemic plants, a large wetland that attract water fowl year-round with wildlife viewing stations, picnic facilities, and soft- and hard-surfaced hiking trails. Roof water from the Environmental Education building drains to above-ground cisterns and is used to irrigate the surrounding landscape. On-site earthwork is a key component of the water conservation strategy for the park. It directs precipitation to numerous moist soil depressions so that harvested water from surrounding surfaces mimics nearby habitat in the Rio Grande Bosque and attracts wildlife.
The Bachechi Open Space Park also features four wildlife habitat zones in a historic arboretum that was formerly a tree farm and a restored pecan orchard. The park also features four grasslands designed as perennial wildlife food sources to attract migrating cranes and snow geese.
Black Arroyo Wildlife Park – Master Plan and Trail Design
The Black Arroyo Wildlife Park serves many purposes. It provides a respite and educational venue for the surrounding community and school, as well as habitat protection for wildlife, such as burrowing owls and cliff swallows. At the same time, it provides for flood control and a 1½-mile trail through this 72-acre parcel that stretches from Southern Boulevard to Unser and Westside in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. It’s owned by the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo and Flood Control Authority (SSCAFCA). Sites Southwest’s Master Plan for this park and arroyo demonstrates how holistic design of drainage facilities can work to provide wildlife habitat at the same time as providing people a way to experience the natural environment with trails and trailheads, parking areas, three pedestrian bridges, interpretive signage, shade structures, wildlife drinkers, and other conservation-minded amenities.
Valle De Oro Wildlife Refuge – Master Plan and Design
Sites Southwest and Wilson & Company teamed up to help plan an Urban Wildlife Refuge planned from the ground up. Located in Bernalillo County’s far south valley, Valle de Oro is a 600-acre site dedicated to wildlife! The team, selected by AMAFCA and the USFWS, created a master plan for this wonderful new facility intended to attract avian species not found in its sister refuge, Bosque del Apache. Valle de Oro concentrates on attracting smaller migratory species, not the larger cranes and geese. One of the most important features of the Valle de Oro Master Plan, is its focus on education of visitors, especially for kids.
Goals for the refuge include attracting waterfowl and other avian species to xeric and mesoxeric landscape habitats, six wetland/management areas, fields intended to honor the site’s historic past, and pedestrian and equestrian trails. The site will also feature botanical study labs, children’s learning exhibits, and salt grass habitat. Stormwater quality devices in the site’s drainage facilities double as artwork and will clean drainage water entering the site and the Rio Grande and while providing visual appeal.
The High Desert Community, Nature Integrated, Sustainability Accomplished!
This 1,000-acre community in Albuquerque, New Mexico’s foothills encompasses about 350 acres of open space and parks dedicated to nature, wildlife, and water conservation through water harvesting. High Desert devoted 1/3 of the entire community to open space designed to increase vegetative density through intense water harvesting efforts from public and private properties in order to attract more wildlife to its arroyos and open spaces. Sites Southwest worked with the community to design and construct a park, naturalistic streetscapes and trails, and enhanced open spaces. Sites Southwest assisted in the development of the approved plant list and landscape revegetation guidelines, participated in the community review committee, and designed landscape and irrigation for many projects.
The community’s landscaping is drought-tolerant and uses mostly native plants. Water from roadways, roofs, and other impermeable surfaces is harvested for re-use. All materials complement the natural environment. Water harvesting is accomplished by a totally passive gravity irrigation system. It captures stormwater from the streets and other developed areas at High Desert and delivers it to the root zones of newly introduced and preserved vegetation in open space areas. This system provides a means of using moisture that would otherwise be lost, demonstrating an innovative use of alternative technology.
We also used permeable surfaces to allow for water infiltration and use of impermeable surfaces to direct water for re-use, the use of harvested water for wildlife drinkers, and research and use of plants specifically chosen for habitat and food for wildlife including deer, quail, and other avian species. Most materials were collected on site to lessen environmental impacts and complement the natural environment.
Bosque Revitalization Master Plan
Sites Southwest, along with the project engineers, provided the US Army Corps of Engineers with a study that’s changing the face of the Rio Grande in central New Mexico. This Master Plan is the first phase of a comprehensive program to revitalize the river as it winds through Albuquerque. The goal is to restore the Bosque to an ecologically sustainable and natural environment that will provide exceptional visual, recreational, and interpretive opportunities to its visitors.
The project documents the Bosque’s unique history, natural and man-made features, historical reviews, and Geographic Information Systems. Using a design charrette, Sites Southwest worked with project stakeholders as part of the Army Corps’ plan formulation process and facilitated extensive community involvement.
Albuquerque’s Rio Grande Bosque has the potential to change the approach to flood control within a river environment that is also a major recreational destination. Proposed re-forestation techniques, trails, interpretive and passive recreational opportunities create an opportunity to re-invent the Bosque.
Franklin Hills Park- El Paso, Texas
Franklin Hills Park is located on the west slope of the Franklin Mountains in El Paso, Texas. This community park was designed around an existing arroyo surrounded by residential neighborhoods and an El Paso public school.
Sites Southwest and the community developer’s goal was to preserve as much extant desert as possible, while maximizing the use of already disturbed areas for parklands. The protection of the native Chihuahuan desert and utilization of stormwater is central to the facility’s renovation. Amenities in the park include a playground, plaza, walking trail, enhancement of an existing parking lot, and an amphitheater.
This project will be certified by Texas Parks and Wildlife as a “Texas Wildscape.”
Hahn Arroyo Master Plan & Design
The Hahn Arroyo drainage channel was originally built in the 1960s. Over the years, it deteriorated—the concrete lining degraded and even failed during heavy rains. AMAFCA commissioned Sites Southwest to develop a conceptual design for the rehabilitation of the channel. The team decided on an innovative approach using sustainably oriented ideas and state-of-the-art technology. The arroyo would have multiple uses, be safe, and still serve its drainage function.
Sites Southwest teamed with Smith Engineering for the design and rebuild of the Hahn Arroyo. The primary purpose of the project was to replace the drainage lining while addressing water quality. The team took a “whole systems approach” by including a multipurpose trail, water harvesting strategies, and channel areas as open space/parklands. One design element created diversion structures that remove pollutants from stormwater, and then harvest some of the water into cisterns. The water irrigates the landscape providing shade, wildlife habitat, and visual relief.
Other enhancements include a dog watering station and wayfinding signage.
Americas Estates Park- El Paso, Texas
Planned as a neighborhood park between the cities of El Paso and Horizon City, Texas due to its proximity to residential and future civic entities in this growing area, the unique site characteristics of this park were a critical design element.
Maximizing the use of the already disturbed areas with newly designed spaces and functions was one of the goals of the project. Working closely with engineers to accommodate the water flows, the existing arroyo and its native vegetation was protected and a rain garden and wildlife drinker were created to make use of the water before it is diverted outside of the park. The natural slopes provided the perfect opportunity for terraced landscaping with built-in seating planted with low-water use plant material, a large lawn area, and connections to existing area trails.
A playground, sand play areas and a sundial in the plaza, provide a much-needed respite for residents of a part of El Paso County that is currently without parks. Before the recent subdivisions were built, the area had previously been used for ATV & motor bike trails. The connections to these trails have been maintained for walking, jogging or biking.
APS Tony Hillerman Middle School
This APS Middle School is located on Rainbow Road in Albuquerque’s west mesa. The site has unobstructed views of the volcanoes and is an abundant source of basalt.
The theme for this ‘learning landscape’ is “Ancient Mesa.” Sites Southwest’s design re-used the existing boulders throughout the site to create retaining walls and waffle gardens. A wildlife habitat was created with a ponding area, which features plants selected for nurturing birds and butterflies. Bird feeders and bat roosts were also included.
The courtyards include outdoor learning areas with a shaded outdoor classroom, raised bed gardens for students’ use and a traditional oven (horno). A timeline of cultural and geological history is imprinted in the courtyard paving.