The City of Albuquerque will be holding a public meeting this Thursday, January 7 at Los Duranes Community Center, 2920 Leopoldo Rd NW, from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m., a trail in the Bosque to be built from I-40 to Campbell Rd. This trail is a continuation of the 6-foot-wide, crusher fine trail built last February from Central to 1-40. The trail was built with no notice to related agencies or the public. If you would like to to attend the public meeting, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also please call (505) 715-8388 if you have any questions.
The Sierra Club and Bosque Action Team (BAT) worked with the City to come up with a future works agreement for future development in the Bosque, but the City has now backed out of that agreement and is using an abbreviated public process. We are asking all who can to attend the meeting and comment either in person or in writing. Please submit your written comments as soon as possible, but no later than January 15, 2016, by emailing email@example.com.
The trail alternatives are listed on the CABQ website and below are some of our thoughts on these alternatives.
In light of the City's insistence on building a six-foot wide, crusher fine trail (see below), I am sure that many of you will support the "no action" alternative, Alternative 4. You have all spent time in the Bosque and know that the thing that makes the Bosque special and unique is that it is a wonderful place to enjoy nature in the middle of the City. Obvious, developed features like a six-foot wide, crusher fine trail degrade the experience of being in nature and make the Bosque less useful to wildlife.
Nonetheless, the Bosque is a natural area in the middle of a city. There are reasons to manage the Bosque and have an established trail system, especially in areas of high use like the area near Central. In addition, the BAT wants the Bosque to be accessible to all people and has worked hard to achieve that goal with regularly outings to the Bosque, including monthly wheelchair outings (see our calendar of events below). We want to both have access and to protect the sensitive environment of the Bosque.
To achieve these goals, and to ensure that the City know what Bosque users think is appropriate in the Bosque, it is essential that we all submit comments to the City on the the "build" alternatives. Even if you support "no action," you can comment on what a trail should be like if the decision is made to build a trail. Here are some critical issues and critical points that need to be made.
- SURFACE AND WIDTH - Except for the "no action" alternative, the City's alternatives all call for a crusher fine trail. The width is not specified, but we have been told by City officials that the plan is for a six-foot wide trail, the same as the trail south of I-40.
The alternatives should have included alternative materials and trail widths. These are important considerations that will affect the experience of the trail and about which there are different opinions. It is possible to have a trail that both is in keeping with the natural character of the Bosque and that allows wheelchair access. Please specify in your comments that any trail that is constructed should be made of the existing materials presently in place on the trail, amended and contoured as necessary to make a firm, stable surface that will not pond water. You can also specify that the trail should be three or four feet wide, with periodic wider areas, for instance, every 200 feet, so that wheelchairs, bikers and other users can pass each other. There is no need for a six-foot wide trail. (The United States Access Board offers accessibility standards for federal outdoor developed areas, which can be found at http://www.access-board.gov/attachments/article/1637/outdoor-guide.pdf.)
- TRAIL ALIGNMENT - With respect to the route of the trail, the City presents various alternatives. The current alignment of the I-40 to Campbell Rd. stretch hugs the river bank after the first quarter mile or so north of I-40.
Alternative 1 simply creates a crusher fine trail along the existing alignment. Alternative 1 should be specifically opposed because of the serious impact it will have on the riparian environment and wildlife.
Alternatives 2A, 2B, 2C, and 2D move the new, multi-use trail away from the alignment of the existing trail and into the center of the Bosque at points that are progressively further north. That is, Alternative 2A has the greatest length of trail moved away from the bank and into the center of the Bosque and Alternative 2D the least. In each of these alternatives, the trail along the bank would be left open, and there are no "drop-down" trails to provide access to the river bank. These alternatives are similar to the first phase of the trail in the sense that there is one wide multi-use trail and some undeveloped trails nearby that are narrower and have a natural surface.
Alternative 3 moves the greatest length of trail into the center of the Bosque and away from the river bank and, in addition, has two other features. First, it has "drop-down" trails to provide periodic access from the new, multi-use trail to the river. Second, it would close the existing trail along the bank and revegetate it.
- CRAFTING YOUR COMMENTS - At the outset, please specify in your comments that environmental considerations should guide any decision that is made. The Bosque is first and foremost a natural space, and nothing should be done that degrades nature in the Bosque. All visitors to the Bosque should have the opportunity to see and enjoy it's wildlife and have the most natural experience possible, but if we just blaze through the Bosque, we lose that opportunity.To the extent that the City is insisting on a six-foot wide, crusher fine trail, please support Alternative 3. The river bank is the area that is most utilized by birds and other animals. Creating a wide, multi-use trail along the existing alignment creates an unacceptable risk of disturbance of these birds and animals. Please tell the City that the multiuse trail should be moved away from the river bank.
Alternative 3 would, however, close the existing trail along the river bank. The City has presented a limited number of alternatives, and there is no alternative that moves the multi-use trail entirely away from the river bank, but that retains some of the existing trail. However, parts of this trail might reasonably remain open in their current undeveloped condition. In particular, the part of the trail just south of Campbell Rd. is a popular stretch of the trail that a lot of people really like that might remain open. This would be similar to the first phase of the trail, which constructed a multi-use trail, but also kept a narrower, undeveloped trail in one location.
The City has given no indication that it is willing to consider a narrower, less intrusive trail, but if it would, a trail like the trails in Alternatives 2A -- 2D might work that is along the bank for some, but not all of this stretch.
Please submit your comments (and copy us), and please plan on attending the January 7 meeting. If you are on the discussion list, please discuss! And as always, thanks for continuing to care about the Bosque, one of the things that makes living in Albuquerque special.
Richard Barish and Camilla Feibelman
Bosque bulldozed photo by Ian Mentken