Habitat restoration work happening along Rio Grande

The IBWC has 22 restoration sites from El Paso to 100 miles upstream.

You might have noticed construction crews along the Rio Grande near El Paso or Sunland Park. It's part of giant habitat restoration project led by the International Boundary and Water Commission.

"Every year we have to maintain the river, and every year we've been planting trees. We've planted over 40,000 trees so far, and this year we're going to plant about 30,000 more," said Elizabeth Verdecchia, natural resources specialist with the IBWC.

The IBWC has 22 restoration sites from El Paso to 100 miles upstream.

It does this work to manage flooding, maintain the habitat for endangered species and improve recreation for people living in the area.

This year it is trying something new.

"It's a pretty involved process where the heavy equipment crews will be removing the native willows from their roots and transplanting them in deep trenches at the restoration cite," said Verdecchia.

CBS 4 took a tour of the project with the contractor, Ideals Inc.

"We're salvaging the coyote willows that were in the islands that were in the river, south of the Sunland Park Bridge, and we're transplanting them up here, to create a new habitat for some of the native birds and animals here," said Margaret Dubbin, Ideals Inc. president.

If you're walking or biking along the trails, there are temporary closures while crews work in the area.

The work is expected to be finished in March.

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