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Rio Rancho restores bosque

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — There were plenty of folks on hand, walking their dogs, taking photographs and generally enjoying the Rio Rancho bosque on Saturday.

After four weeks of being closed, some rehabilitation work along the bosque was completed on Saturday. The project took place along the Rio Grande on the east side of Rio Rancho, near the Bernalillo town line, at North Beach and Willow Creek. The parking lot off Willow Creek Road was officially opened and the trails reopened to the public.

Part of the bosque was closed to the public starting March 4. Approximately 28 acres of habitat were restored, including areas that support the silvery minnow and southwestern willow flycatcher, according to a news release.

Local photographers Michelle Martinez and Bruce Hatten, who were snapping photos in an area near Riverside Drive east of NM 528, said they were unaware that the work had even gone on. The shutterbugs, who regularly take photos of birds and natural scenes, were busy taking photographs of seagulls on a sandy bank that day.

Hatten, who has a passion for taking photographs of lightning, said he was just glad to be out for the day, doing something he loves to do.

The restoration project was done in collaboration with the Interstate Stream Commission, Friends of Rio Rancho Open space and the city of Rio Rancho. The project cost about $467,000 and was funded by the Middle Rio Grande Endangered Species Collaborative Program.

New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission hydro-geologist Page Pegram, whose department was involved in the project, said this was an important effort because if minnow numbers decline, the government may take water for the fish from other uses.

River management since 1912 has lessened flood danger and allowed agricultural development, but has kept the river from changing course and destroying vegetation so new plants can grow. The project will also do something to fix a problem with sediment from heavy flooding that happened in June 2006.

The work took place at a time when migratory birds weren’t nesting, and the contractor helped control dust and disturbances by keeping machinery primarily on the trails and off streets, and used a water truck to control dust.