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Bosque Restoration Plan Leads to National Design Award

By Carolyn Carlson
Journal Staff Writer
    A plan to restore the Middle Rio Grande bosque has won a prestigious award from the American Society of Landscape Architects.
    The Middle Rio Grande Bosque Restoration Project planning document details ideas for 18 miles along the bosque from the North Diversion Channel north of Corrales to the South Diversion Channel south of Rio Bravo.
    The project plan won an Analysis and Planning Award of Honor. A nine-member jury selected 33 projects from more than 550 entries.
    "I think the plan is a great initial starting point to design a bosque that will be healthy in the future," said Fritz Blake, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project manager for the plan.
    The jury called the plan an "excellent and thorough analysis of natural and man-made factions leading to effective strategies for re-vegetation and restoration."
    Sites Southwest Landscape Architecture and Consultant, which put together the 118-page plan for the Albuquerque district of the Corps, received the award Oct. 30 at the society's convention in Salt Lake City.
    Other partners in the project plan included the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District and the city's Open Space Division.
    "It was great to be recognized by our national professional organization," George Radnovich of Sites Southwest said recently. "It was amazing for us to be standing up there with the Frank Gearys of landscape architects."
    Radnovich said the architects who usually get the awards are from much larger firms across the country.
    "In addition, it was great to have our bosque highlighted at these awards," he said recently.
    "This project could not only help to restore ravaged nature, but the human community that's now learning its responsibility to it," the awards jury said about the plan. "A clear and convincing graphic presentation."
    The plan comprises three main projects.
    The first is the Middle Rio Grande Bosque ecosystem restoration within the Albuquerque stretch of the Rio Grande.
    The second project is the Bosque Restoration at Route 66, an ongoing feasibility study for ecosystem restoration of the bosque between the Barelas Bridge and Interstate 40. The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District is the sponsor for these two projects.
    The third is the Tingley Pond and Wetland Restoration Project which encompasses the final plans for the current reconstruction of the ponds. Also, debris and non-native plants will be removed, and further excavation will be done to allow the wetlands to recharge areas for the aquifer. A series of wetlands on the other side of the levee from the ponds will be constructed. The city is the sponsor for this project.
    The plan addresses ecosystem restoration, recreation planning and maintaining cultural and environmental landscapes. It includes removing 15,000 jetty jacks and non-native species.
    The Rio Grande Valley State Park is at the heart of the project area as well as in the center of the city. The Rio Grande Nature Center is part of the state park.
    There were several categories such as design, research and analysis, communication and planning. Awards of honor and awards of merit were given in each category.
    Other aspects of the plan include restoration of the top level, or gallery, of the riparian forest; reduction of fire fuels such as brush and downed trees and increased public safety; improved educational and interpretive opportunities; improved access for passive recreational use and involvement of community and agencies in the planning process.
    The plan is funded by $8 million authorized by Congress as a result of the Atrisco and Montaño fires in June 2003.
    For more information on the plan and its projects, log on to the Corps Web site at www.spa.usace.army.mil.
A Bosque Reconnaissance Tour
  • 1. Corrales Bosque— recreation, equestrian access, undisturbed bosque.
  • 2. North Alameda Horse Trails Area— drain crossing for non-vehicular access.
  • 3. Alameda Rio Grande Open Space— parking, access to the West Side via old Alameda Bridge.
  • 4. Calabacillas Arroyo— paved trail, equestrian access, parking, educational opportunities.
  • 5. Paseo-Alameda Bosque Forest Area— a plant community that will be reproduced.
  • 6. La Orilla Burn Site— 33 acres destroyed by fire being cleared and restored.
  • 7. Montaño Bridge Pocket Park— rest area near Rio Grande Boulevard, entry to ditch-side trails.
  • 8. Bosque School— education and research, meadows created and maintained.
  • 9. The San Antonio Oxbow wetlands— prime riparian wetland habitat, open to guided tours only.
  • 10. Rio Grande Nature Center and State Park— educational and interpretive exhibits and trails, constructed wetlands, demonstation gardens.
  • 11. Interstate 40 Bridge Area— steep cliffs inhibit direct access, thickets of native and non-native vegetation.
  • 12. Atrisco Canal Diversion and Adjacent Undeveloped Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District lands— old irrigation structures, island with salt grasses and old cottonwoods and open meadow.
  • 13. Albuquerque Biological Park— potential site for native riparian botanical garden for educational and interpretive experiences.
  • 14. Bosque Restoration Demonstration Project Site— non-native understory species removed and cottonwood poles planted.
  • 15. Kit Carson Park Wetland Project— Kit Carson Park, the south end of Tingley Beach and the Rio Grande Zoo outside the levee. Along-the-levee bike and walking trails.
  • 16. Hispanic Cultural Center and adjacent bosque— cultural landscape, jetty jack removal and fuel load reduction.
  • 17. Glass Gardens— registered historic site contains millions of pieces of colored glass from before the Second World War.
  • 18. Yerba Mansa Forest— largest mass of native plant that prefers low areas where moisture collects; indicates an undisturbed woodland.
  • 19. Albuquerque Overbank Project— , wetlands and juvenile cottonwoods, river bar cleared of exotic vegetation and re-graded to water table to allow periodic flooding.
  • 20. Rio Bravo Open Space-- completely American with Disabilities Act-accessible recreation area, fishing pier and picnic areas.
  • 21. Harrison Middle School and Bernalillo County Open Space— agricultural activity such as acequia uses.
  • 22. South Diversion Channel— marsh wetland. multiple access for higher-impact recreational uses.