New Mexico
Environment Department

Contact Information:
(505) 827-2855 MAIN // 1-800-219-6157 (toll free)
Environmental Emergencies:
505-827-9329 (24 hrs)

Surface Water Quality

Wetlands Rapid Assessment Methods

Developing an Assessment Protocol

The Wetlands Program has initiated the development  of a rapid assessment framework to evaluate the ecological condition of riverine wetlands and their associated riparian areas throughout New Mexico. The New Mexico Rapid Assessment Method (NMRAM) was developed as a part of the SWQB Wetlands Program’s on-going efforts to promote effective management and protection of the state’s wetland resources.  The overarching goal is to provide the necessary information to help prevent the continued loss and decline of New Mexico’s scarce and important wetland resources.

Significant time and funding is expended each year restoring and protecting New Mexico’s river systems and associated wetland and riparian areas. Riverine wetlands and riparian areas are the focus of many of these projects because they provide important functions that also maintain water quality in adjacent stream systems. Some of the important functions that riverine wetlands and riparian areas provide include sediment filtering, flood sequestration and reduction, erosion control, aquifer recharge, maintenance of stream temperature and stream flow, nutrient transformation and recycling, hyporheic interchange, and provision of habitat and maintenance of characteristic native populations. Riverine wetlands help maintain bank stability through the extremely dense and resilient fibrous root systems of typical wetland plants. Riverine wetlands also provide nutrients and detritus that maintain the food chain in adjacent rivers and streams, and provide habitat for beaver and other species that maintain the ecological integrity of stream systems.

Developed with our partners at:


Montane Riverine Wetlands

This version of the NMRAM is focused on Montane Riverine Wetlands, possibly the most abundant type of wetland in New Mexico and the most impacted. Other versions for Playas and other wetlands types will be coming soon!

The NMRAM Montane Riverine Manual is organized to provide the user with a brief overview of rapid assessment and purpose for the NMRAM and definitions and descriptions of the wetland class, subclass, and geographic domain for which the NMRAM is intended. The NMRAM then presents detailed assessment metrics: 1) Landscape Context, 2) Size, 3) Biotic metrics, and 4) Abiotic metrics followed by a brief overview of stressor checklists. Finally, the NMRAM addresses guidelines for rating metrics and provides a scoring rollup worksheet. A Montane Riverine Field Guide, prepared as a standalone document, provides detailed field protocols, worksheets, and a scoring rollup worksheet.


Playas Wetlands

The NMRAM Playa Wetland Field Guide is now available online to download! This manual includes guidelines, worksheets for assessing playas, soil type guides and much more!


Lowland Riverine Wetlands Field Guide

NMRAM Lowland Riverine Wetlands Field Guide

Appendix A Lowland Field Sheets 1.1  – Please note, this is a large PDF, if your browser cannot open it click “open with Adobe” when prompted. If it is not fillable on your computer, a fillable PDF file is available from Maryann McGraw ( or Meg Hennessey ( until the web PDF is fully available for filling.

Appendix B Return Interval Estimation

Appendix C Lowland Plant List

Appendix D Noxious Weeds

Appendix E Photo Point Guide

Appendix F Flood Indicators

Appendix G Glossary