During the latter part of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century, a major cycle of erosion, arroyo cutting, and gullying occurred in the southwestern United States. Since this erosion cycle began, many projects to control erosion, such as the Civilian Conservation Corps projects in the 1930s, were initiated. However, in the Southwestern United States few studies have documented the effect of these structures in reducing erosion or their effect on gully systems. As part of a watershed rehabilitation project on the Zuni Reservation, New Mexico, 47 structures made either of earth or rocks and 23 rock and brush structures were assessed. Sixty percent of the 47 earth or rock structures have breached and relative to dam height, 65 percent of 47 structures are more than 50 percent silted. Of the 23 rock and brush structures, 22 percent have breached or are close to breaching. Reasons for breaching of all structural types may be piping, scour immediately below the structures, large runoff and large drainage area, poor maintenance, headcutting, and active arroyo deepening and widening. In most cases, documentation does not exist on structure design, the specific purpose for a structure, or when these structures were built.
Additional publication details
Assessment of gully-control structures in the Rio Nutria watershed, Zuni reservation, New Mexico