Mayor Pushes Bosque Access

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Mayor Richard Berry stood on the bank of the Rio Grande on Tuesday, with a clear view of the volcanoes in one direction and mountains in the other.

It was beautiful, everyone seemed to agree, as the mayor led an afternoon tour through the bosque.

“We’re here,” he said, “but could you have gotten here by yourself?”

That question is at the heart of an initiative the mayor is pushing to make the Rio Grande and its bosque more accessible to visitors. In many cases, even by river crossings, the Rio Grande is difficult to get to because of underbrush, jetty jacks and other obstacles.

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Berry led a tour of about 40 business people, nature enthusiasts and city department heads to brainstorm ideas. He is trying to build support for approval of a $150,000 contract to start planning ways to bring the river “more into our day-to-day lives.”

On Tuesday, he pointed out areas that could become scenic overlooks, boardwalks, picnic areas or kayak launches. Perhaps a park could sit right next the river, Berry said.

City Councilors Isaac Benton and Debbie O’Malley were among those who attended. O’Malley said she was just listening, for the most part.

Benton cautioned that the bosque is environmentally sensitive and that other government agencies will have to cooperate.

“It needs to be very carefully designed and planned,” he said of Berry’s pitch.

Funding for construction of improvements hasn’t been identified. The initial planning contract would outline what could be done and how much it would cost.

Construction money could be earmarked through the mayor’s “ABQ: The Plan” effort to boost capital investment in the city.

Steve Harris, a rafter and executive director for the nonprofit Rio Grande Restoration, liked what he heard from the mayor.

“People have become so alienated from the river,” he said. “It’s almost like it’s not part of our community.”
— This article appeared on page C02 of the Albuquerque Journal

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