The Yerba Mansa Project:

A community service endeavor organized by Albuquerque Herbalism in partnership with the City of Albuquerque Open Space.

Restoration ~ Education ~ Community

Our Mission:

  • To educate about medicinal plants, ecological issues, and our unique local bioregion.
  • To bring the community together through common interests and goals.
  • To contribute to the restoration of medicinal plants and their habitats, especially Yerba Mansa and the Rio Grande Bosque.

Our Objectives:

  • To identify and adopt Open Space Lands within the Rio Grande Bosque that are suitable for the Yerba Mansa Project’s restoration work.
  • To develop and make available to the community new classes and educational events relating to Yerba Mansa, the Rio Grande Bosque, and ecological considerations for other medicinal plants.
  • To organize and undertake community volunteer projects in the Rio Grande Bosque including removal of non-native understory plants and reestablishing Yerba Mansa and other native plants in new areas of the Bosque.



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The Project So Far…

The Yerba Mansa Project is intended to create awareness about medicinal herbs with threatened habitats and to take restorative action. This endeavor began in late 2014 when the City of Albuquerque Open Space accepted our initial proposal to embark on the Yerba Mansa Project.

Over the winter of 2014-15 many site visits were conducted throughout the Middle Rio Grande Valley to evaluate the remaining stands of Yerba Mansa, to observe the plant’s habitat requirements, and to identify areas suitable for restoration within the Albuquerque area. In the spring of 2015 we began restoration work at our selected adoption site along Tingley Drive, south of Central. In its first year, the program collected GPS data for over 1,000 individual invasive non-native Ravenna Grass plants, removed hundreds of them, prevented many hundreds more from reseeding, and also reintroduced Yerba Mansa by replanting two new colonies. Additionally the project provided many hours of free and low cost educational programs for kids and adults on the ecological importance of native plant habitats in our area.

The second year of the project focused on caring for and maintaining last year’s replantings, continuing with the Ravenna Grass removal, reseeding the area with native grasses and herbs, offering more free educational events, and launching the Plants of the Middle Rio Grande Bosque Field Guide youth project. In 2017, the Yerba Mansa Project’s third field season included taking GPS points for new Ravenna Grass growth, removing large remaining Ravenna Grass stands threatening native Coyote Willows, continuing the reseeding work from the prior year, and ongoing maintenance of the growing Yerba Mansa plantings.  We also further developed our youth educational programs with Amy Biehl High School, Chinook Spirit Children’s Academy, South Valley Academy Middle School, and the homeschool community.  Stay tuned as the Yerba Mansa Project continues to unfold!

Our work is undertaken with financial support from Albuquerque Herbalism, the Native Plant Society of New Mexico, Plant Healer, Public Lands Interpretive Association, and individual donors.

Our Cumulative Results Include:

  • a dramatic reduction in the presence of invasive non-native Ravenna Grass with over 1,000 plants removed by hand
  • the reestablishment of Yerba Mansa in the area through live planting
  • a resurgence of other native plants in the absence of invasive competitors
  • reseeding over 8,000 sq. ft. of native grasses and medicinal forbs to increase biodiversity
  • the collection of baseline GIS data for long-term ecological monitoring
  • the establishment of a collaborative community project that had over 1300 hours of volunteer service in the Bosque during its first 3 years
  • launching the youth-created Plants of the Middle Rio Grande Bosque Field Guide project to provide ethnobotanical research opportunities for kids and the creation of a free and fully searchable field guide for Bosque hikers available online and via a mobile phone app
  • ongoing educational outreach about the importance of robust native plant populations for healthy habitat
  • recipient of a 2017 grant from the Native Plant Society of New Mexico
  • publishing our project methodology in The Journal for Medicinal Plant Conservation
  • recipient of the 2017 Champions of the Herbal World prize for activism and advocacy for medicinal plants presented by Plant Healer
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