Week 5, Day 3: Water and the Landscape

Prescribed burns are an important part of land maintenance in fire-dependent ecosystems. This photo was taken during a prescribed burn in Frijoles Canyon at Bandelier National Monument in 2008. (Photo by Sally King/NPS)

Today’s Take It Outside post is about water and the landscape. This week’s activities are brought to you in partnership with the Los Alamos County Department of Public Utilities (DPU), as part of our virtual water festival.

Water shapes our landscape in many ways, from eroding rocks, to allowing and limiting plant growth, to playing a decisive role in fire behavior. Today, learn about how water availability impacts you and your environment.

Look for our Droplet Dude to indicate virtual water festival activities. All are welcome to take part, and we especially welcome fourth graders!

Blog Post:

In today’s video blog post, Hanna Davis from Bandelier National Monument discusses the relationship between wildland fires and precipitation and humidity, and gives us a first-hand view of her job managing wildfire. Hanna is the Lead Fire Effects Monitor at Bandelier.


Channel the water around your house into something fun by making a rain chain from materials lying around in your recycle bin! Hang it from a place like your roof, a tree, or a bush, where you can capture run-off.

You can also use the run-off from your roof to provide water for wildlife. Use rocks from your yard to direct rainwater into a small pool and make a wildlife water source. Start by locating a downspout at your house, collect rocks and/or a shallow container, and assemble them to make a small water hole for wildlife that is fed by the rain. Remember to place rocks in and near the pool so that insects and small animals can safely access and exit the pool.

Virtual Water Festival and Outdoor Challenge (Beginner): Outdoor Yard Survey

Check out today’s video blog post before starting today’s challenge.

Wildfire requires heat, fuel, and oxygen to burn. Reduce potential fuels outside your home to help keep fires from spreading near your house. Also, look for any places outside where water is being wasted.

Ways kids can help:

  • Clear brush and vegetation away from your home. 
  • Rake up and dispose of all pine needles, leaves, and dead grasses in your yard. Use your county yard trimming roll cart to dispose of these materials if you don’t have a compost pile at home. 
  • Look around for any trees that have branches extending over your home. These should be trimmed, but by an adult!
  • Check your outside faucets for leaks. Use a bucket to collect the water if you can’t fix the leak right away. Use that water for plants, either inside or out. 

The Los Alamos County website has more information on wildfire preparedness.

Outdoor Challenge (Advanced):

A close-up of a burned tree. (Photo by Craig Martin)

Venture out and look for signs that the presence or absence of water has impacted our landscape, including through drought, fire, flooding, and fire recovery. Can you find:

  • Beetle-damaged trees
  • Charred trees
  • Incised water channels
  • Exposed rock where soil has eroded away
  • Rocks and sand deposited elsewhere by water
  • Young growth in a burned area

Other Resources:

  • The Los Alamos Fire Department is working on wildfire mitigation projects around the county. Learn more about this project, and neighborhoods of focus, on their Facebook page. They can also do wildfire safety assessments of your property. For more information, contact them
  • The National Fire Protection Association has tips for keeping neighborhoods and homes safe during wildfire.
  • Learn more about wildfire management and the effects of the Las Conchas Fire on Bandelier National Monument’s fire management webpage.

Share Your Experience:

Tell us about water in your surroundings! We’d love to see your photos, too. Please send them to takeitoutside@peecnature.org or share them on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #peectakeitoutside.

Join us tomorrow to explore water in Northern New Mexico!

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