Blue Hole Cienega: A Curriculum for Desert Wetlands and the Unique Plants that Live There


This ecological curriculum for grades 6-8 uses place-based learning and activities to explore concepts in ecology, botany, and social dynamics of Blue Hole Cienega in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. Blue Hole Cienega, a spring-fed wetland in an otherwise arid region, is home to several rare plant species including the Pecos sunflower (Helianthus paradoxus) and Wright’s marsh thistle (Cirsium wrightii). This curriculum was developed by the Institute for Applied Ecology in partnership with the Quivira Coalition, who works with the Santa Rosa community and the New Mexico Environment Department Surface Water Quality Bureau Wetlands Program to guide wetland stewardship in Santa Rosa. Through this effort, it became clear that educating Santa Rosa youth about the unique ecosystem surrounding them is one of the most important steps towards lasting stewardship.The curriculum is part of the Wetland Action Plan funded by the NMED SWQB Wetlands Program. See the Santa Rosa Wetland Action Plan here.