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Requiem for a canyon

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By Chick Keller

Recently, we walked up what’s left of Valle Canyon.  In my memory, there are three Valle Canyons — the lovely one pre-Cerro Grande ever changing, ever beautiful, every diverse, the post Cerro Grande one, still intact at least in the lower part, and now the post Las Conchas one, which has lost its entire forest and most of the canyon bottom.
It’s hard to describe the difference.  Although Cerro Grande left the cathedral-like trees and the riparian shrubs and plants, few trees are left now, and the canyon bottom has been almost totally rearranged by the flooding (as is Frijoles Canyon only worse).  It’s hot, no shade; it’s rocky or silty, no undisturbed soil; it’s quiet, few birds.
The weeds have largely taken over.  Large patches of smooth brome grass are valiantly trying to hold the soil with their intertwined underground runners.