Beginning in late 2012, the Mayor of Albuquerque, Richard Berry, unveiled a development plan for the Bosque, a beautiful stretch of riparian (riverside) forest that bisects the City. The Mayor's plan, called the Rio Grande Vision, triggered a wave of dissent within the community. Community members anticipated that development of the Bosque would damage the natural qualities sought out by visitors and wildlife alike, and harm the Bosque’s delicate ecosystem.
As a response to the development plan, citizens and local community organizations came together to form the Bosque Action Team (BAT) to formulate and fight for better vision for the Bosque. The BAT's healthier vision includes opposing development between the levees and encouraging alternatives, such as improving access points to the Bosque and funding programs that provide education for students about the Bosque. The BAT believes any efforts within the levees should be restorative, strengthening the Bosque as a natural habitat, and preserving its appeal as an "environmental gem."
Read more about our alternative vision here.
Overview of the Rio Grande Vision
The Rio Grande Vision calls for substantial development in the Bosque, including engineered paths, boardwalks, viewing platforms, bridges within the Bosque, bridges across the river, and art installations.
In September of 2013, the City released more specific plans for the first stage of the Rio Grande Vision. These plans cover the portion of the Bosque between Central and I-40. The primary feature of the plan is the building of a crusher fine path that will be up to 10 feet wide. This path, which will be more of a road than a trail, will include four bridges, four viewing platforms, over 200 feet of boardwalk, and is intended, over time, to run the entire length of the Bosque. $2.9 million of our tax dollars has been appropriated to pay for the first phase of construction, and many more millions will be needed to see the plan through to completion.
Adverse affects on wildlife
Surveys conducted by Hawks Aloft in the Rio Rancho Bosque provide compelling and disturbing evidence that the City's proposed "trail" will adversely affect bird life in the Bosque. Hawks Aloft has bird survey data before and after the construction of a similar "trail" in the Rio Rancho Bosque. After the construction of the "trail," bird numbers plummeted. It can be expected that the same thing will happen to birds and other wildlife in Albuquerque should the Mayor go forward with his plan.
Changes to the experience of the Bosque
The implementation of the Rio Grande Vision will change the experience of the Bosque. It will feel less like a unique natural space and more like a manicured typical urban park one can find in any city.
Lack of transparency, science, and communication
The Rio Grande Vision was developed without any dialogue with the community. Little effort was made to solicit feedback from local residents to find out what improvements, if any, would be desired or to determine if the Mayor’s vision for the Bosque was also the community’s vision.
Likewise, the Rio Grande Vision and the Central to I-40 plans were developed by the City without conducting scientific studies regarding the probable ecological effects of its implementation. Under pressure from the Bosque Action Team and the local community, the City did eventually agree to hold public meetings and to gather scientific data and evaluate ecological impacts. However, because of the opaque manner in which the plans were developed and the fact that planning is already at an advanced stage, there is concern that the Mayor will not incorporate feedback from the community or the results of the scientific study.
What We Have Done
Since the BAT formed in the Fall of 2013 we have organized or been involved in a number of actions intended to inform the community and raise awareness regarding these issues, including:
- Initiating a Facebook page, www.facebook.com/newmexicobosque, which now has over 4,000 page likes, and continues to grow daily.
- Organizing a letter-writing campaign, resulting in thousands of letters, emails, and petition signatures opposing the Rio Grande Vision.
- Rallying the community to attend a packed-house Town Hall Meeting on September 4th, 2013 in which opposition to the Mayor’s vision was overwhelming.
- Organizing a well-attended community-led rally on September 18th 2013 that drew a large crowd after the City canceled a scheduled town hall meeting.
- Organizing two successful music benefits: The Big Bosque Benefit Bash, on December 8th, 2013, and Bosque Bash 2 - Return of the Living Bosque, on December 7, 2014.
- Engaging our local music community to the cause by starting Busking for the Bosque
- Launching this website, a central resource for the community.
- Running “Bosquitos,” our popular and ongoing kid-centric series of events designed to educate the community about caring for the animals and plants in the Bosque.
- Demanding direct, ongoing, and productive dialogue with the City.
- Participating in a series of Bosque Educational Forums organized in part as a response to our call for more community education and involvement in Bosque decisions.
- Organizing a public meeting in response to the City's SWCA Monitoring report.
Where We Are Today…and What You Can Do
Much to our great regret, on Tuesday February 10th, 2015, the City bulldozed the public process started constructing a new trail through Bosque without notifying the community. Please Take Action immediately to stop this premature and unwarranted action.