Albuquerque, NM — Last night over 350 citizens from all over Albuquerque called on Mayor Berry to scrap the Rio Grande Vision and start over. The strongest opposition arose from the proposal to build a 10-foot-wide crusher fine trail through the Bosque that would turn the natural area into an urban park.
“We need natural spaces where we can go to escape the noise and experience the natural world. As a veteran, the Bosque has been essential to me. It’s a place I can go to reflect and find peace. That’s why I’m opposed to the Rio Grande Vision: It forces users onto one common trail. We are New Mexicans, we need our space,” said Alex Limkin.
Albuquerque native and Aldo Leopold Foundation Board Secretary Tony Anella said “Any plan for the Bosque needs to be based on sound science, and the science should come before the plan, not after. We have landscape architects designing as if the bosque were an urban park. The bosque is a natural open space for all Albuquerqueans to enjoy.”
Meeting planners had to forego a station model in which citizens would have been asked to move from poster to poster making private comments rather than public comments because of the large number of Albuquerque citizens who turned out to register their concern about the mayor’s plan.
“Nearly 400 people in the room wanted to express their concerns regarding a 10-foot-wide trail throughout the bosque. People are going to want to be heard and they are going to want others to hear them. All speakers but 2 or 3 were opposed to the plan, and that was important for the city to hear,” said Andrea Serrano of OLÉ (Organizing in the Land of Enchantment).
Participants ranged from long-time area farmers to walkers, bikers, birders and horseback riders as well as nearby residents and scientists. Wildlife biologist David Parsons reminded the public that the bosque is a unique wildlife corridor in an urban setting and that planners were ignoring the mandate of the Rio Grande Valley State Park Act of 1983 that calls for the “preservation, protection, and maintenance of the natural and scenic beauty” of the bosque. Hawks Aloft director Gail Garber presented data from ten years of monitoring birds in the bosque showing a correlation with the construction of a 10-foot-wide trail in the Rio Rancho Bosque, similar to what is proposed in Albuquerque, with plummeting bird populations.
Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter spokesperson Richard Barish reminded the public that “we can connect the public to the bosque by improving parking and entry ways and dedicating funds to existing facilities like the nature center, but the bosque between the levees should be left as largely undeveloped open space where Albuquerque residents can connect to nature.”
As one person who spoke at the meeting astutely observed, we don’t want to repeat the mistake we made with the Alvarado Hotel. We don’t want to rush into destroying a local treasure, only to regret it twenty years down the line.
A second open meeting will be held by the city on Wednesday, September 18, from 6pm to 8pm at the Albuquerque Museum.
For more information, go to Rio Grande Bosque facebook page, which I am helping administrate along with my wife and fellow bosque advocate.