Category Archives: Albuquerque

Alternate vision for bosque proposed | ABQJournal Online

We used Ouray’s riverwalk frequently on a recent vacation. We also spent half an hour near Durango’s riverwalk. Albuquerque is unique, but we should look at what these other towns have done, including Farmington and Pueblo, CO.

Alternate vision for bosque proposed | ABQJournal Online

Tony Anella, an architect and board secretary of the Aldo Leopold Foundation, an environmental group, said he doesn’t oppose improving public access to the bosque, but doing so should be based on conservation science.

“I hope the public will be better informed about what the choices are,” he said of the meeting. “… The issue really is, How do you design that access?”

Barish, one of the leaders of a coalition working on the issue, said it is important to maintain one of Albuquerque’s “wild edges” – a forest and river running through the midst of New Mexico’s largest city. It is part of what “unique sense of place,” he said.

Any city effort should include major habitat restoration efforts, critics argue.

Alternate vision for bosque proposed | ABQJournal Online

Rio Grande Bosque inspires #abqbosque

Kudos to Alex Limkin for exciting and energizing reaction to Mayor Barry and his forces for development (privatization and profit).

Rio Grande Bosque, by Alex Limkin

The Mayor and his design team, Dekker/Perich/Sabatini, want to upscale and upgrade the Bosque. They believe this will attract tourists and business to the region. For them, this means replacing our dirt trails with a 10-foot wide “multi-use” road.

The trails, which they referred to at Wednesday’s Town Hall meeting as a “spiderweb network,” are the trails of our forefathers. They are humble and simple. Quiet underfoot. They have served Albuquerqueans for generations, and much longer still, long before any “Duke of Alburquerque” was even born.

For me, walking on the trails allows me to lose myself in the comforting setting of the forest. The Bosque closes in around me on all sides. I feel connected to the woods. The feeling on a trail is like that of being embraced by nature. A trail does not impose its will on the landscape, like a road, but wanders to the left or right, to make way for trees and bushes. Trails give way. They don’t assert. They don’t demand. Like water seeking least resistance, that flows into the cracks and crevices that present themselves, the trails reflect the combined choice of wildlife and people to blend in with the landscape, to accommodate their steps to the irregularities and unevenesses of the land.

It is interesting that this sort of trail is something that the Mayor and his landscape architects object to. But of course they object. Landscape architects exist to build things, mighty projects, they seek to mold and shape the landscape before them. A humble footpath that costs nothing to build, virtually maintains itself, and does not bear the stamp of Modern Industry would seem, in their eyes, like a bit of nothing.

For me, the trails are beautiful, much like a spider web is a thing of beauty. Instead of building roads, let’s educate our children so they don’t feel this disconnection from nature. So they can sense the majesty and grace of grass and fern, soil and sand. Let’s take them out on these trails so they can experience the wonder and mystery of following in the footsteps of their forefathers, of not being able to see around the next bend, of being surprised by the undulating wonders that the trail gives freely, where no road can.

I walk the trails and touch my fingers to the tips of grasses. This spider’s web, connecting us all–to the river, to the earth, to each other–is worth protecting.

Rio Grande Bosque, by Alex Limkin

Who is behind the Alamosa Land Institute? #abqbosque

Alamosa Land Institute is prominently listed on the Planning Team for remaking the Albuquerque Bosque. Who are they? Everyone else on the team is an architectural or construction firm. Do we need to know more than that to judge this project?

Alamosa Land Institute

Alamosa Land Institute (ALI) is a non-profit organization that is committed to the planning, facilitation, and execution of projects that address community economic development through local and regional ecological health, resource productivity, and the aesthetics of land restoration. ALI is dedicated to using innovative and cost-effective solutions based upon the best science that will produce real change on the ground for the benefit of both local communities and the ecological landscapes upon which they depend.

We are in the process of building our site. Please check back soon.

Alamosa Land Institute

Contact » ABQ The Plan: The Rio Grande Vision

Planning Team
Alamosa Land Institute
Karpoff and Associates
Jettwalker Inc.
Bohannan Huston, Inc

Contact » ABQ The Plan: The Rio Grande Vision

The Rio Grande Vision — City of Albuquerque

Project Presentation

Click to view our latest presentation.About PDF Files

Contact Info

Contact us.

Town Hall Meetings

Wednesday Sept. 18, 6 -8 pm

Albuquerque Museum
2000 Mountain NW
Albuquerque NM 87104


The Rio Grande Vision — City of Albuquerque

We know “improving access” to the Bosque hurts it

Protect our Bosque from the Proposed Rio Grande Vision Plan / Hawks Aloft Inc.

Hawks Aloft Blog

Protect our Bosque from the Proposed Rio Grande Vision Plan

September 4th, 2013

It is not often that we, at Hawks Aloft, take on an activist role in our community.  However, we have relatively recently become familiar with the details of the Rio Grande Vision Plan, proposed by Mayor Berry and his design team.   That site was updated only yesterday, therefore considerable detail has not yet been reviewed.   There is a public meeting tonight

Wednesday Sept. 4, 6 -8 pm

Albuquerque Museum
2000 Mountain NW
Albuquerque NM 87104

There will be a second public meeting on Wednesday Sept. 18, 6 -8 pm.

We encourage you to familiarize yourself with the plan, attend the meetings and express your opinions, either through the public meeting venue or by submitting written comments to via email to Comments may also be mailed to The Mayor’s Office, PO Box 1293, Albuquerque NM 87103. 

As an organization that cares deeply about the health of our bosque, we mailed a letter to the Mayor on September 3, 2013, the same date as the revised Plan was posted on the City website.  We urged Mayor Berry and his team to consider the effects of a similar management that has occurred in the Rio Rancho bosque over the past 10 years and the devastating impacts to bird densities as that reach of the bosque has become more ubanized.  A full copy of our letter to the Mayor follows below this chart.

Rio Rancho bosque Avian  Densities 2003-2012

Rio Rancho bosque Avian Densities 2003-2012

September 3, 2013

Mayor Richard Berry
City of Albuquerque
PO Box 1293
Albuquerque, NM 87103

Hawks Aloft, Inc. is deeply concerned that the City of Albuquerque’s Rio Grande Vision Plan, if enacted, will have a devastating effect on avifauna and other wildlife that depend on the natural habitat of the bosque. We base our concerns on scientific data collected by Hawks Aloft, Inc. We have conducted avian monitoring within the bosque, between Bernalillo and the La Joya Game Management Area since December 2003. The purpose of our study is to assess avian abundance and species richness (number of different species observed) relative to habitat and management entities. We currently monitor 78 (½ mile long) transects in various habitats. Each route is surveyed three times per month during the summer and winter months, when the birds present are resident, rather than migratory.

As greater detail has been released about the Rio Grande Vision Plan, it is apparent that large portions of the bosque within the Rio Grande Valley State Park will be developed to increase human usage, with hardened riverside trails up to as 8-10’ wide, viewing blinds, benches, and other park-like amenities,  many of which are proposed for installation along the river’s edge.  The Plan also calls for removal of non-native vegetation as part of a restoration process.  All of these sound very similar to the Willow Creek bosque management that has occurred in our neighbor to the north, Rio Rancho.

The Rio Rancho bosque has undergone significant changes, from an unmanaged wild area in 2003 to urban parkland between 2004 and 2012. (Changes have occurred in 2013, but data are still being analyzed).  We have documented a significant decline in avian abundance over time as this section of bosque has become increasingly developed.

We provide the history below as potential explanation for the change in bird densities in the Rio Rancho bosque.

2004-2005:      Mechanical clearing of non-native woody vegetation occurred in some areas. Sunflower crop was poor, resulting in relatively low bird numbers during winter.  Limited human use.

2006-2007:      Vegetation re-growth and presence of extensive sunflower patches. The sunflowers attracted large numbers of wintering birds, especially sparrows and finches.

2008-2009:      Crusher-fine loop trail installed.  Human use began increasing as soon as trail was completed.  No winter surveys conducted due to lack of funds.

2009-2010:      Clearing resumed, again using heavy equipment, resulting in removal of all woody vegetation except for coyote willow, cottonwoods, and a few, scattered New Mexico olives. Expanded wide, crusher-fine, walking trails, and smaller trails with classroom style seating.  Sunflowers were mowed prior to setting seed.

2011-2012:      Avian density among the lowest of all transects surveyed.

2013:               Additional crusher-fine trails and benches installed. Riverbed altered to shift water flow closer to the Rio Rancho bosque and provide benefit to silvery minnow. Fill from riverbed mounded on west edge. Fill area seeded; minimal planting of shrubs.

Human and dog use of the Willow Creek bosque has grown exponentially since the establishment of the wide, crusher-fine trail.  It is not unusual to encounter 20-30 people and up to 10 dogs, many of them off-leash, during a ½ mile long transect. This bosque has become a place for people and a de facto dog park, with little natural habitat for wildlife.  Birds that utilize the shrub understory and ground dwelling species have largely disappeared due to the lack of cover and persecution by unleashed dogs.  Those birds present are largely canopy dwelling species such as White-breasted Nuthatch, Downy Woodpecker, House Finch, and Black-chinned Hummingbird.

All Russian olive (non-native) and junipers (native) have been removed from the Willow Creek bosque. Russian olive is of vital importance to birds in the middle Rio Grande bosque. It is, in general, greatly undervalued by land managers, but provides important nesting substrate for sub-canopy and understory breeding birds as well as an important food and cover resource. While dense stands of coyote willow provide valuable cover for birds, they do not provide a substantial food resource, particularly for seed and berry eating animals; additionally, because coyote willow lacks a complex structure, it is of limited value to nesting birds.

We believe that the Rio Grande Vision Plan, if enacted in its current state, will have a similar, equally devastating effect on bird numbers, as that documented in the Rio Rancho bosque. We sincerely hope that we are able to have a voice at future technical science team meetings.  It seems rather odd that the research group that has monitored bird use in the bosque for the past 10 years has not been included in the planning process.  Thank you for your attention to our concerns.

Protect our Bosque from the Proposed Rio Grande Vision Plan / Hawks Aloft Inc.

Help Preserve the Rio Grande Bosque in Albuquerque

From Gail Garber, director of Hawks Aloft:

I am writing to you to request your help in protecting and preserving the Rio Grande bosque within the Albuquerque City Limits. Although Hawks Aloft has not often taken an activist role in local politics, I believe that we must speak out on this issue, using the data we have collected over the past 10 years of avian monitoring in the bosque. Trevor and I are working on compiling the avian numbers for the Rio Rancho bosque, which has undergone a very similar management process with devastating effects on the avifauna of that portion of the bosque. We hope to be able to present a graphic that will show the decline in bird numbers once a riparian forest is developed into urban parkland.

In sending this request, we join with Sierra Club, Audubon, and others, all working toward a common goal.

The City is planning two public meetings, on September 4 andh also on September 18, to present their plans for the bosque. I strongly encourage those of you that can make it on September 4 to attend. However, if you cannot make the September 4 meeting, please try to attend on September 18.

The subject of the meeting will be the City’s schematic designs for the projects between Central Ave. and the I-40 bridge that the City intends to build next year. Richard Barish, of Sierra Club, attended an Open Space Advisory Board meeting this week and got a preview of what the City will present. His two paragraphs below describe only the City’s initial plans for a trail through the bosque.

“The design is for a highly developed trail through the bosque on the east side of the river in this section. The City is considering four possible surfaces for the trail, from crusher fines through graded native soil. The City is not considering an option that would leave the trail as it is in any portions of this section of the bosque. The City talks about varying the width of the trail, but appeared to me to clearly intend that the trail will, for the most part, be an 8 to 10 foot wide trail to accommodate multiple uses. The City is talking about two pedestrian bridges and one, or perhaps two, boardwalks in the bosque in this section. This design is apparently the template for the trail through the bosque in other locations, as well.

“As the direction of the planning becomes apparent, it becomes even more urgent that people show up on September 4 to tell the City that the bosque should left as open space, not turned into a city park. If you love the bosque, it’s time to show up and be counted. We need an overwhelming turnout to turn the tide. Please attend and comment on September 4!”

Meeting details:
Community Town Hall meeting
Wednesday, September 4th and Wednesday, September 18th
6:00p.m.-8:00 pm
Albuquerque Museum
2000 Mountain NW in Old Town

“Time is running out for the bears.”

Bear Canyon Arroyo would seem an ideal wildlife corridor between the Sandias and Rio Grande.

» State should move in to help black bear survive in Sandias | ABQ Journal By Harrison H. Schmitt / Former U.S. Senator on Sun, Jul 14, 2013

For thousands of years, bears could migrate from the Sandias into the Rio Grande valley for water and alternate food sources.

Today, when bears try to do this, they find our homes, commerce, fences and streets between the mountains and the river. The bears also encounter excited, unprepared homeowners.

Some residents contact wildlife officials to remove the bears, unknowingly giving a possible death sentence to these hungry and thirsty foragers.

The remarkable black bear, prominent figure of Native American lore, is a tri-athlete in its own right. These animals can turn on a dime and run at incredible speeds, climb trees with little exertion and swim effortlessly in lakes and rivers. The giant paws can carry its large mass silently through the night with little or no trace. …

As a friend pointed out, “The state that saved Smokey Bear should now come to the rescue of his relatives.”

I live at the base of the Sandias at the edge of Black Bear country. Our family wants the state animal to stay healthy and survive for coming generations. New Mexicans will have heavy hearts if the Sandia Mountain black bear population disappears due to inaction and lack of perspective and common sense.

The governor and other state officials need to act and act quickly. Time is running out for the bears.

» State should move in to help black bear survive in Sandias | ABQ Journal

It’s a nonsoon!

Each summer by early July, the monsoon season arrives just in time to break a long stretch of temps in the high 90s and higher. In the monsoon, clouds build in the mountains, moving out to rain in the late afternoon. (And, if we’re truly lucky, it might rain most of the night.) Showers are widespread but one neighborhood may get an inch and another not a drop.

We have all of this right now, but don’t call it the monsoon. Monsonal moisture moves from the south to the north. This nonsoon flows from the north to the south each day. It’s just a topsy-turvy coincidence, but Albuquerque is loving it just the same. Monsoon or nonsoon, we’ll take it.

Rio Grande Vision- Nature center or amusement park? – New Mexico Mercury #abqbosque

The redoubtable V.B. Price joins the chorus against Mayor Berry’s “Vision Plan” for our treasured bosque, a thin ribbon of green between desert and river, the largest vestige of a riparian habitat that used to flank the entire Rio Grande. I think Price makes a good point about how the plan ignores the Nature Center (which is showing its age) while the plan tips its hat to urban development in other locales. His reference to Elena Gallegos overlooks the development there, which seems to work. We might also compare the rough-hewn trails of the foothills and crest with the ski area and tram. Who opposes those? The bike trail and trailhead parking at Alameda are all the development I want or need. peace, mjh

What’s happened to ABQ? Part 5: Rio Grande Vision- Nature center or amusement park? – New Mexico Mercury By V.B. Price

Modeling itself on duded up urban rivers in Texas and other places, the Vision seems to have overlooked completely the ideal model right under its nose – the Rio Grande Nature Center, a masterwork of architecture so inconspicuous and respectful of its place that birds and other creatures have no fear of us when we’re visiting. …

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry’s Rio Grande Vision Plan is a complete contradiction of the long range vision of the people who battled and struggled for decades to preserve the Bosque as a wild place in the middle of the city that could teach us all that we live in a fragile natural world that needs to be cared for and conserved, rather than exploited as a resource. That battle was part of the Open Space movement that preserved our volcanoes, most of the Sandias, and many wonderful spaces like the Ellena Gallegos Open Space. No one would dare suggest viewing platforms, cafes, and the like in such pristine spaces. The Bosque, for all its human presence, is the same kind of place. The symbol of that founding open space vision of the Bosque is one of Albuquerque’s great works of architecture — the much praised and awarded Rio Grande Nature Center, designed by Albuquerque’s Antoine Predock, FAIA, and completed in l982. …

The Bosque doesn’t need improvement. It needs love, respect, and attentive care. It’s stressed enough by climate change as it is. It’s doesn’t need us to burden it further.

What’s happened to ABQ? Part 5: Rio Grande Vision- Nature center or amusement park? – New Mexico Mercury

ABQ The Plan: The Rio Grande Vision » Connect, Protect and Excite! #abqbosque

I’m suspicious of the word “excite” and the reference to the bosque as “hidden” — you can see it from miles away and hundreds of thousands of people cross it repeatedly each day. However, the Mayor seems to want public input, seems to be reasonable, even as he is clearly not backing down. We need to examine this “vision document” and express our views. peace, mjh

ABQ The Plan: The Rio Grande Vision » Connect, Protect and Excite!

ABQ the Plan is a city-wide public project/public investments plan that will spur private investment, improve quality of life for residents, promote tourism and bring new dollars to Albuquerque, enhance economic development and bring new jobs to Albuquerque. The Rio Grande Vision project is one of several ABQ the Plan initiatives designed around a new Vision for Albuquerque as a great outdoor city, a city of innovation and creativity, and a sustainable community. Click to learn more about ABQ the Plan at

ABQ The Plan: The Rio Grande Vision » Connect, Protect and Excite!

» Proposed city development would threaten river park | ABQ Journal #abqbosque

Our bosque is a treasure but one easily destroyed by good intentions.

» Proposed city development would threaten river park | ABQ Journal by Dave Parsons

Few American cities can boast such a magnificent natural amenity. Many cities have invested millions of dollars to recreate “green belts.” In Albuquerque, all we have to do is protect what we already have.

However, now, following a century of protection, the natural beauty and ecological integrity of the Rio Grande Valley State Park is being threatened by the Rio Grande Vision – a bosque development plan promoted by Mayor Richard Berry.

The Rio Grande Vision is a disturbing departure from the purposes set forth by the state’s legislation and the Bosque Action Plan. It starts us down a path of incrementally destroying the natural and ecological integrity of the bosque through ill-defined development.

» Proposed city development would threaten river park | ABQ Journal

ABQ scores well for parks | ABQ Journal

I live more than a 10 minute walk from a great park, but I walk there at least 3 times a week.

» ABQ scores well for parks | ABQ Journal by Dan McKay / Journal Staff Writer on Thu, Jun 6, 2013

A nonprofit group ranked Albuquerque’s park system as 11th best among the 50 largest cities in the country.

The Trust for Public Land evaluated cities based on how many residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park, the amount of parkland and spending on parks. Albuquerque scored well in the first two categories.

“We applaud Albuquerque for its leadership in developing and managing one of the highest scoring parks and recreation systems in the country,” said Greg Hiner of the Trust for Public Land.

Barbara Baca, Albuquerque’s director of parks and recreation, said there are 296 landscaped parks in the metropolitan area and more than 29,000 acres of “natural open space.”

» ABQ scores well for parks | ABQ Journal

Smoking banned on state-owned land | ABQ Journal

» Smoking banned on state-owned land | ABQ Journal

SANTA FE (AP) — State Land Commissioner Ray Powell is prohibiting smoking, open fires and fireworks on state trust land because of the risk of wildfires.

Powell announced the restrictions on Monday. He said the potential for human-caused fires is high because of drought conditions as well as recent high winds.

The Land Office manages nine million acres of state-owned land ….

» Smoking banned on state-owned land | ABQ Journal