October 4, 2023 | Posted in General News
The Rio Grande Joint Venture management board, staff, and guests enjoyed a field trip to Laguna de Santiaguillo during the August board meeting and learned a lot about this very important wetland in the state of Durango, MX. Both Ducks Unlimited Mexico (DUMAC) and Pronatura Noreste, (PNE) along with many other local partners, are working on conservation projects in the Laguna. Declared a RAMSAR site in 2012, the wetland comprises over 59,000 acres and 6 towns within its basin. It is considered a priority wetland by many agencies and organizations for its importance to migratory birds – particularly ducks, geese and wading birds that overwinter there – and for its value as a vital local water resource. However, the lagoon faces many challenges, as both DUMAC and PNE described. A paper released in May 2023 also describes some of these challenges from local residents’ points of view, whose livelihoods are based largely on livestock, agriculture, and forestry within the basin.
Both DUMAC and PNE are working to improve sanitation and water quality in towns within the basin that are impacting the lake. DUMAC is installing biodigesters and other “eco-technologies” on individual properties, and PNE is installing larger scale biofilters designed to treat waste at a community level. DUMAC recently restored 15,500 acres of wetlands in a nearby town, and has launched an effort to partially restore flows to the southern end of Santiaguillo, which has largely dried up. Nevertheless, the southern portion of the lake has converted largely to grassland habitat that supports wintering species of birds and livestock grazing. DUMAC also provides teacher training programs and low impact cattle ranching workshops, conducts waterfowl surveys, and holds wetland and waterfowl workshops for professionals.
In addition to biofilters, PNE is