Photo of a plowed path in the Rio Grande Bosque for the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter website

For Immediate Release:

February 16th, 2015

Contact: Camilla Feibelman, (505) 715-8388 or camilla.feibelman@sierraclub.org

Albuquerque, NM ­

Responding to a wide swath cut through the Bosque’s most sensitive riverfront area, Albuquerque City Councilor Ike Benton filed emergency legislation to halt the construction, restart the public process and put the funds Mayor Richard Berry is using in the Bosque into the Open Space Department. The legislation, if the City Council allows it, will be heard on Wednesday. Members of the Bosque Action Team will rally on Civic Plaza at 4 p.m. before entering the meeting.

More than 100 people visited the impacted area of the Bosque on Sunday and were surprised to find a 7-­ to 8­-foot­ wide trail footprint with impacts from debris as wide as 15.5 feet. “We were shocked to see that wide swath opened right in front of the river. This is the most sensitive area of the bosque and is important for birds. Impacts should have been reduced, not increased, in this area,” said Richard Barish, Bosque Issues Chair for the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter and Bosque Action Team leader. “The city claims that the trail needs to be constructed before nesting season begins, but they are creating a trail that will negatively impact nesting birds. Rushing a project like this is just plain irresponsible.”

City spokespeople have also claimed that the trail will be accessible to people in wheelchairs. “We favor wheelchair access to the Bosque. In fact I did a study on wheelchair accessibility to the Bosque and consulted with the accessibility community, something the city has not done. I was the one bringing up wheelchair accessibility on the city’s walks. At no time and in no map was this trail ever indicated by the city as an accessible trail,” said Sarita Streng, member of the Bosque Action Team.

Finally the city has claimed that it’s held multiple meetings with stakeholders over the last two years. “The city fails to mention that its proposal was soundly rejected by the public a year and a half ago when over 400 hundred people attended the public hearing on its proposal. The city promised to take public comments on new options before selecting a plan, but instead it just began construction of the same, rejected plan,” said Camilla Feibelman, Director of the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter. “The City provided our team with maps describing three very general options that showed possible trail routes but nothing else on Monday, Feb. 9, and then with no public notice, it began construction on Tuesday, Feb. 10. The public process had not culminated. Someone made an executive decision and literally bulldozed the public process. The City also began a scientific study, but never published the final document or responded to public comments regarding the report.”

Featured image by Ian Mentken

City Councilor Benton Files Legislation to Halt Bosque Construction