The upper Rio Grande was dramatically altered in the 1930s and 1940s when a rectified channel paralleled by levees was constructed as part of the Rio Grande Canalization project. The goal of the project was to provide flood protection against a 100-year flood and assure the release of water to Mexico from the upstream reservoirs. The resulting channel had become incised over the years which reduced overbank flooding, greatly limited the water quality and habitat functions of a meandering river with active floodplains, caused invasive exotic vegetation to take over (e.g. salt cedar), and reduced the available habitat for endangered species.
As part of the effort to enhance or restore the river ecosystem which had deteriorated over the years, TRC collected site-specific data and designed site-specific engineering implementation plans at 30 restoration sites within the 105 miles that comprised the original Rio Grande Canalization Project in Texas and New Mexico. Site-specific data that was delivered by TRC included soil surveys, groundwater data, cultural resources surveys, and Southwestern willow flycatcher (endangered) and yellow-billed cuckoo (endangered candidate) bird surveys. Engineering implementation plans were also designed to allow for enhanced integration of the river management options along the Rio Grande for habitat, removal/replacement of invasive species, flood control, water deliveries, and restoring the functions of floodplains to enhance river-floodplain hydrologic connectivity in the canalized reach.