The town hall meeting put on by the mayor’s office was not citizen-friendly. The development committee was not interested in hearing our opinions. I went to the front of the room and read my written statement out loud anyway, uninvited and unsolicited, because the bosque is dear to my heart, and we can not afford to be silent on issues of importance.
“My name is Alex Limkin. I am an Army veteran and I contribute a column with the Alibi. I am here tonight to register my concern about the mayor’s plan to develop the bosque.
We live in one of the most beautiful and wild states in the country. Although Alaska is reported to have the most veterans per capita of any state, New Mexico is not far behind. Many veterans seek out wild places both to live and to recreate. Wild places are restorative to the human spirit. They provide us a glimpse back to the origins of our existence. They help us reconnect with our essential spirit and the spirit of the land. They are a haven and refuge from the demanding pace of modern life.
Here in the middle of our city, we have a wonderful wilderness. I know our bosque is intensely managed by several federal and state agencies, and is not truly wild, but there remains a wildness about it. The coyotes and hawks and lizards and snakes and egrets see to that. I come to this wilderness as often as I can. I am grateful that it exists. I am grateful that cars are not allowed in the bosque, and there are no roads and buildings. From my house downtown, I can drive or walk or even take the bus to the bosque, and be there in just minutes. Access is easy and convenient. All along Tingley Drive there is ample parking and plenty of trailheads for pedestrians and cyclists.
Just a few steps into the bosque and I am overcome by a sense of peace, standing beneath cottonwoods amidst the rustling leaves and sounds of nature.
Here there are no cars, no parking lots, no phones, no roads, no buildings, no restaurants, no movie theaters. To me, this is something beautiful. This is something sacred. In place of concrete and pavement there is the natural world: unblemished, untouched, free. It is a place where I can breathe.
The thought of roads and parking lots and cars passing into this space fills me with dismay, because I know that once these things are put in place, you can never reinstate the wildness that went before. Trees must be felled, animals must be driven away, and the bosque must succumb to the busy pulse of the city’s heartbeat–and forego its own.
When I first heard about plans to develop the bosque, I didn’t know what to do. So I started a public facebook page called Rio Grande Bosque. It is a forum where fellow citizens can demonstrate their support for preserving our wild bosque. I hope that in the days and weeks to come, the mayor’s office will consider what is best for the bosque and for our people, and not just think of turning the bosque into a “waterfront” attraction, sacrificing long term health for short term monetary profit. If you would only walk the short Aldo Leopold trail just behind the Nature Center, and read the quotes that line the footpath, you will come a long way in this direction. Thank you.”
“The average Albuquerquean man, woman, or child, is in need of a place within walking distance of the city where he can enjoy a breath of fresh air and a sight of a few trees, a few birds, and a little water … Just a good trail along the bank and clean woods.” Aldo Leopold (1887-1948)
I took this picture at the pedestrian entrance to the Rio Grande Nature Center at 5:20PM. Despite the public town hall meeting scheduled for 5:30PM, the gate was locked. So I went around to where the cars drive in, blinking against the headlights.