The Riverbend Taos

How Green Are We?

The original tract of land that became the Riverbend Subdivision was purchased in 1989. One of the first decisions made by the owner was to invite representatives from the Taos Land Trust to come out and have a look at the land for a possible future donation. The owner, a dedicated fly fisherman and conservationist had already decided that the area of land from the Rim Rock to the Rio Pueblo de Taos was too special to compromise by allowing any development in the riparian corridor. Before any land was conveyed a Reservation of Land Use Easement was drafted by a local attorney that reserved the area from the top of the Rim Rock to the middle of the Rio Pueblo in perpetuity.

Hundreds of years of grazing practices had seriously impaired the river banks of the Rio Pueblo. The immediate upstream rancher removed his cattle a few years back and the difference in the Riparian Area is amazing. Blessed by abundant mountain snow pack and generous summer rains in 2008 the growth of the native river grasses is higher than it’s been during all the years of ownership. It appears that the river course may be narrowing, and the river if flowing is higher than in the recent past. 2011 and 2012 have been "La Nina " years but the river corridor of the Rio Pueblo continues to improve. Riverbend LLC and Taos Pueblo entered an agreement to remove invasive species and replant native red willow. Many thanks to the Pueblo for the hard work they are doing. This habitat improvement will benefit all the animals and fish that inhabit the Rio Pueblo riparian corridor. Over the years we’ve seen all manner of ducks, geese, blue herons, swallows, white throated swifts, as well as owls and numerous species of hawks. In the winter time bald and golden eagles leave their normal Rio Grande habitat and fly up the Rio Pueblo to hunt and soar in the thermals.

With the formal donation of the 16.36 acres of river habitat to the Taos Land Trust the future of the Easement Area is forever protected. The conditions of the Conservation Easement allow for some recreational uses of the property by Lot owners and their invited guests. Future dreams for the Easement Area include using native, on site materials to improve the  instream habitat for the fish. We’re specifically looking to improve the number and size of the brown trout.

Recently The Pueblo of Taos in association with New Mexico Game and Fish released five wild river otters from out of state into the Rio Pueblo. The reintroduction site is located just west of the Conservation Easement on Taos Pueblo land. You can find more out about this project by going online to and click on river otter press release.

Today, there is a great amount of interest in green development. It is fair to say that the most Taos folks are in favor of environmentally responsible development. Taos County has rigorous land use development standards that must be met in order to subdivide property. Besides it's residents the natural beauty of the Taos Valley is its greatest asset. Whether you are pro or anti development we all realize the imperative of protecting the natural environment of our valley.

Many of the requirements for “green communities” with respect to smart site location, site design and site improvement, as well as water use and conservation are a part of the Riverbend Subdivision final plat approval. In particular there are home site requirements requiring setbacks from lot lines, arroyos, rim rock and the 50 year flood plain that affects certain lots. With respect to water use, each lot is restricted to a specified amount of water, (more than enough for personal family use)  and all the water for the Subdivision comes from cluster wells drilled by the developer. Cluster wells are preferable to each lot owner drilling their own well. Lot owners are allowed and encouraged to take advantage of the New Mexico regulations concerning the use of “gray water” Gray water use information can be found by going online to New Mexico Environment Department click on (home page) then enter "gray water irrigation " in the search box and click on the Gray Water Guide which comes up as a pdf document.

Low flow fixtures are mandated and home owners are encouraged to use the “free” water that comes from roof catchment and retention. To accommodate our high desert landscape there is a per Lot square footage restriction using well water.  For fire prevention purposes all the Lot owners are required to install interior fire sprinklers in their homes and guesthouses. There is also a 10,000 gallon fire tank on site and additional water for fire fighting is available from a fire hydrant located 3/4 of a mile east of the Subdivision along Los Cordovas Road. 

The Restrictive Covenants for the property require that the native growth on the Lots shall be maintained except for necessary driveways and improvements. The overriding aim is to make sure that the disturbance footprint is as small as possible. Likewise the reasoning for the donation of the Conservation Easement is for the protection of the land and the incredible ecosystem of the Rio Pueblo.

With regard to exterior lighting, Taos County has a Night Sky Protection Ordinance (pdf file). In addition the Restrictive Covenants contain language that is intended to protect against light trespass on to neighboring properties. In 1993 when the original Restrictive Covenants were written the use of solar technology was in its infancy. The Riverbend Subdivision intends to promote the use of solar energy technology subject to Taos County height limitations and any new applicable restrictions on solar energy utilization. We will also applaud appropriate wind generated electricity technology. We encouarage the use of local builders who are thinking "green" in their utilization of this forward new thinking. We also appreciate any individual efforts to protect our enviornment. We all need to work together to protect the Taos Valley.