Author: hpwa505

Vegas Verdes: Ask a Master Gardener

Published on March 2020 in the Las Vegas Optic.

Many of us have suffered consternation when we’ve embarked on a grand plan to, let us say, grow tomatoes (because the tomatoes available in the supermarket are so, well, awful), and then realized we don’t know much about growing anything. Who do we ask? Where do we go for information? One answer is certainly your county cooperative extension agent who will direct you to a Master Gardener.

The first Master Gardener Program was established in the neighborhood of Tacoma, Washington, in 1973. The area was experiencing a high demand for gardening advice and the county agent needed assistance. Since then, it has spread to all 50 states and all Canadian provinces. The program is coordinated by the cooperative extension service of land grant universities in the 50 states. Its official designation is Extension Master Gardeners. At the local level, the county cooperative extension agent is the person in charge.

The program is one of education and volunteer service. Participants need not be experienced gardeners, in fact most are not. They are enthusiasts, almost always people who want to garden on some level. They may be town residents or small farmers, they may be young or old (or somewhere in between), they may be weekend gardeners or serious practitioners of the horticultural sciences. What they have in common is a desire to learn and understand the art and science of gardening.

New Mexico county Master Gardener organizations offer a course of 14 to16, 3 ½ hour class sessions covering such topics as fundamentals of plant science and soil science, weather and climate, weed science, integrated pest management, trees and shrubs to list but a few.

Classes are taught by experts in the various fields. The fee for the whole 14 session package this year in San Miguel County is just $150 and worth it. Finishing the course does not endow you with an extraordinarily green thumb, or enable you to rattle off the Latin names and characteristics of all the weeds in your yard. It does leave you aware of the depth and breadth of horticultural science and the skills to know where to look or who to ask for answers to the many questions that will arise.

The San Miguel Extension Master Gardeners (SMEMG) program is young. It offered its first course of classes in February, 2019 and will schedule a new course of classes every year. The initial response was quite satisfactory and its 2020 classes are now underway. After completing the course, each new Master Gardener in the county agrees to 20 hours of volunteer service and 10 hours of continuing education annually.

Opportunities for the SMEMG to make their newly acquired knowledge available to the community are many. Seed to Supper is a free, six session course on vegetable growing for beginners due to start in April. It is taught by SMEMG at two locations in Las Vegas.

The SMEMG is helping with this project. In cooperation with the City of Las Vegas Tree Advisory Board, and Tierra y Montes Soil Conservation Service, the SMEMG will participate in a city-wide street tree inventory. The SMEMG has been assisting the efforts of New Mexico State University to implement a farm incubator project using 2 acres of Memorial Middle School grounds. The aim of the project is to encourage individuals and families to develop their own land for fruit and vegetable growing. This will add to the community supply of fruits and vegetables and reduce food insecurity.

The SMEMG operates the “Ask a Master Gardener” information booth in both
locations of the Las Vegas Farmers’ Market (May to October). The SMEMG is to
design and implement a landscaping project for the Gallinas River Park Collaborative in the area surrounding the kiosk on the east side of the river at Bridge Street. It will feature native and other drought tolerant plants – mostly trees and shrubs – and perhaps include a few well-placed boulders. Planting is expected to begin this spring.

It is hoped and expected that Master Gardener activities will spread and diversify even further in the future. Here are a few possibilities. A horticultural education program coordinated by Dr. Peter Skelton of NMSU already operates at Sierra Vista Elementary School. The SMEMG would like to assist and help expand the program. A Master Gardener hot-line is seen as a good way to be easily accessible to the answer seeking public. Using the beds built for the Farm incubation project at Memorial Middle School, the SMEMG wants to instruct and inspire those who would like to establish a community garden in Las Vegas.

Yvonne Tallent is president of the SMEMG. Individuals interested in signing up for the next course of classes (February 2021) or for information about current activities can e-mail her at ytallent@gmail.com or call John Martinez, county agent, at the San Miguel Extension Office, 505-545-1497, or find San Miguel Extension Master Gardeners on Facebook.

Vegas Verdes: Rebuilding the Gallinas River and Its Park – Behind the Scenes

Published on February 23, 2020 in the Las Vegas Optic.

Earlier in this space, we described the astonishing amenities and improvements that the Gallinas River park Collaborative have planned for the new and restored Gallinas Park and River. We’ve told of some of those improvements that have already been completed. You might reasonably now ask: “When will all the still-awaited wonderful changes come to pass? And why is it taking so long?” The answers are soon (we hope) and money. Our estimate of the cost of the finished product is around $6 million.

Unless you have a very rich and generous uncle, getting money for a project such as ours is a long, arduous and tiring process. The GRPC does not have an uncle. First the GRPC must identify and select possible sources (either federal or state) provide the largest grants and are therefore the most attractive. Smaller amounts of money are available from private entities and they will not be ignored. Many of the GRPC’s proposed plans, however, require rather large cash amounts, and government is the best source.

Let us consider a more or less standard process for winning a government grant. It is not an exciting endeavor. First identify and study a money source (or two or three). If the requirements and goals of said funding agency seem to fit with ours, we submit a grant proposal. One of the pieces of information discovered when we studied the possible source is that it accepts proposals during a limited time period occurring once a year. If we miss the opportunity, we must wait another year before resubmitting. Assuming our proposal is timely, we now wait to learn if it has been selected. This could take up to nine months.

And then … notice arrives that the GRPC has been chosen. It is indeed cause for celebration, yes – but it also means that a great deal of patience is now required. Much must happen before we lay hands on the money. First, we must negotiate a contract – a time-consuming task. It includes demonstrating that we are familiar with government regulations, requirements, accounting procedures and the like. This done, still more preparation must be completed before money changes hands. Before the process began, the GRPC approached the community with its hopes and we responded enthusiastically.

That was some time ago, now the plan has progressed to a much more concrete form, and approval must again be sought from the community. But that’s not all. Contractors must be lined up. A complicated permitting process is undertaken. If the project is river restoration in particular, we must secure a Clean Water Act 404 permit through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the NM Environment Department. It involves archaeological and endangered species studies. If this project is installation of infrastructure, we must apply for building, electrical and plumbing permits and possibly others at the state and municipal levels. All of this might take as much as six months. After obtaining the permits, we must gather together necessary materials, decide on any necessary safety measures, and arrange public service announcements to inform people regarding what work will be done and when.

Finally, if the project is river restoration, the last bit of preparedness will be pre-construction monitoring. This means measuring, photographing and documenting the conditions and appearance of the river before work begins and doing the same again at the completion of the project. Now – 18 months or more after submitting our proposal, we can begin the work…maybe. Surprises happen and we must be ready for some so far unmentioned additional requirement. But if that doesn’t materialize, off we go.

The actual construction or installation of the improvements described in our proposal will take much less time than did the grant procuring process that preceded it. Of course, people giving away money want to be assured that it is well spent. During and immediately after the execution of our proposal, we will submit reports and any other necessary documentation to satisfy our granting agency. We will take the greatest pleasure, however, in reporting to the community. We want Las Vegas to know how much has been accomplished and how pleasing the results are. All is worth waiting for. The hard work that goes into acquiring funds is invisible to most of us. Nor are we aware of the special individuals and organizations that help make it all possible.

The Hermit’s Peak Watershed Alliance fills indispensable roles as fiscal agent and grant manager. State Sen. Pete Campos has been instrumental in securing NM Legislature Capital Outlay funding for past and future aspects of park renovation; the NM Environment Department River Stewardship Program, under the leadership of Karen Menetrey, has provided funds for river restoration. The Las Vegas City government and the San Miguel county government have both contributed resources and funding; the Las Vegas NM Community Foundation has provided funds; West Las Vegas High School has collaborated with the GRPC. These are a few of the many who have helped further the efforts of the GRPC.

Vegas Verdes: The GRPC Wants You

Published on January 19, 2020 in the Las Vegas Optic.

The Gallinas River Park collaborative is all of us. It is mothers, fathers, children and grandparents; it is young folks and old fogies; it is families and singles. Together we make up the community that is the GRPC.

And each one of us has a unique gift to contribute to the community’s success. When you lend a hand, offer your knowledge, donate your resources, even in a small way, it makes a difference. And the pride you enjoy is deserved. In the short history of the GRPC, a workshop, funded and organized with expert assistance, represented a critical moment. A mammoth push to spread the word and encourage attendance preceded it and the results were gratifying. It was an intensive, three-day immersion in Gallinas River ecology, politics and history, and it produced conceptual drawings of what the future river park would look like. An intangible benefit was its demonstration of the meaning of collaboration – a gathering of a broad cross-section of individuals and organizations who, after lengthy deliberation, resolved to work toward a common goal.

Much progress has come about since the workshop. The GRPC has received more grant money for various projects. One was the restoration of a half-mile of river just south of Bridge Street. It can be viewed as a pilot project to show what can and should be done to return the river to a healthy state and restore its historical appearance, width, depth and shape. Also receiving funds was the design and installation of the first of many interpretive signs along the River. This was part of an educational project carried out in 2018 and involving West Las Vegas High School students. Still another very important undertaking recently funded is the production of “shovel ready” drawings which will specify the planned improvements, additions and alterations for the Park and make new grant money for them possible.

All of this is exciting and encouraging, but grant money does not generally pay for all labor or administration. Neither does it pay for on-going maintenance of the Park or for promotional activities. Since its inception, the GRPC has been an organization of mostly volunteers. Early on, it was volunteers who met and brainstormed and then acted to organize. Later, it was volunteers who spread out over the town and distributed workshop publicity, spoke at public gatherings and buttonholed likely participants. Volunteers both led and provided the labor (and continue to do so) for clean-up efforts.

When a grant was secured to pay for restoration of the river south of Bridge Street, it was volunteers who planted many of the native species called for in the restoration plan. In 2018, a volunteer coordinated the construction and installation of the bat houses now standing along the river near Prince Street. They lined up donated materials, volunteer labor and the high school shop classes at Robertson and West to build the houses. West High School students raised money for trash cans. Volunteers designed, constructed and installed the new kiosk on the river bank at Bridge Street. Yet another volunteer began writing a monthly op-ed for the Optic that promotes the activities of the GRPC.

The GRPC has an e-mail list of all the people who attended the workshop and all the people who have since exhibited interest. It needs one or more individuals to take over the maintenance of the list and use it effectively to inform and invite. (email jerickson@hermitspeakwatersheds.org to get on the list).

The GRPC has an idea for a WEB page that could serve as a clearing center for persons interested in volunteering, or to provide current information on what projects are underway or what ongoing task needs help. It needs one or more individuals to design and launch such a page and then maintain it. The GRPC sponsors a clean-up-the-park day once a month. While an individual has taken on the task of organizing the park clean-up, many volunteers are needed to provide the labor for this ongoing project.

The San Miguel County Master Gardeners have volunteered to design the landscaping around the newly installed kiosk near Bridge Street. They need help when work begins in the Spring. Some, so far unimagined, jobs might include work for a photographer, an artist, a poet, a researcher, craftsmen of various fields (woodworking; metalworking; fabrics, to name a few) and all visionaries.

The GRPC meets monthly at 2pm on the third Friday in the ground floor meeting room of Hewett Hall on the Highlands campus. It wants to see you. You may not know what you can or want to do and the GRPC might not know yet how it can best employ your skills – but come anyway. The way to find out is to attend and listen to discussion of work in progress, and discover where your gifts meet the GRPC’s needs.

Vegas Verdes: A Gift to Las Vegas

Published on December 15, 2019 in the Las Vegas Optic.

Breadth and depth are two characteristics that describe the Las Vegas community. We are individuals and we are representatives of civic organizations and service clubs, city and county governments, and various federal, state, and local agencies. The whole is deserving of congratulations. We have come together for a renewed and rebuilt river park; we have worked as a team and have exhibited resourcefulness and perseverance in pursuit of that goal.

A little over a year ago, a widely representative group of dedicated people came together for a three-day, intensely focused, community design workshop. The attendees worked hard; struggled to hear and be heard; to voice their ideas and hopes. The beginning of a working agreement appeared and the result was the development and conceptual drawings of the future river park with the restored river at its heart. Even as the workshop attendees were formulating a grand plan, Hermit’s Peak Watershed Alliance (HPWA) personnel were considering the hard realities of money. Without money, goals could not be reached, plans could not be implemented, and dreams were nothing. And the first and most critical thing money was going to have to pay for was shovel-ready drawings, also known as construction drawings. Organizations granting money for the building and installation of park improvements and amenities would demand them.

Attending the workshop on its last day were State Senator Pete Campos, and Las Vegas Mayor Tonita Gurule-Giron. They heard the desires and intents expressed, and both verbally committed financial support for the Gallinas River Park Project, in particular for the shovel-ready drawings – Campos from the state legislature’s capital outlay program; Gurule-Giron from Las Vegas city funds. Soon after the workshop, Lea Knutson and Elizabeth Juarros of HPWA, invited representatives from the city and county to tour the park and discuss the long-range plans for its renewal, and the amount of money needed. After that eye-opener, the county committed to finding funds for the project and city renewed its previous commitment.

So far, however, all was verbal – no dollars were yet in hand. Time and some reminding have converted the verbal promises to actual allocations. First, a $70,000 capital outlay request was made and awarded during the 2019 State Legislative session. Later in the year, the city contributed $20,000 and at its November County commission meeting, San Miguel County announced a contribution of $30,000. Finally, a donation of $20,000 from the Las Vegas New Mexico Community Foundation will pay for project oversight, promotion, and for efforts to ensure ongoing community participation. Together, the allocated funds will underwrite the entire cost of completed shovel-ready drawings for the Gallinas River Park extending from Mills Avenue in the north to Prince/Independence Streets in the South.

The chief expense covered by the combined contributions is the cost of hiring a landscape architect who will produce the shovel-ready drawings. The City of Las Vegas is currently in the process of selecting a contractor who will undertake the job. The basis for the drawings is to be the conceptual plan that emerged from the workshop.

One important aspect of the drawings is a proposed budget covering the cost of the actual construction and installation of all the new park features and other alterations and additions. The budget, as part of a first draft, should be ready by June, 2020, and with that in hand, The Gallinas River Park Collaborative and HPWA members will begin a fundraising drive. This involves identifying both government and non-government sources and writing grant proposals. The Gallinas River Park is an enormous undertaking and cannot be built quickly. Progress will be apparent as money becomes available.

The draft of the shovel-ready drawings will also spell out specifications and locations for the many fixtures, structures, and equipment planned for the park. These include such essentials as trash cans, signage (interpretive signs and directional signs), lighting, picnic tables, benches and other seating. Amenities never before conceived include an amphitheater, a playground, a compact area for the exercise equipment, spur trails leading to the river bank, and fishing and observation decks.

Landscaping, but not the kind on display in conventional city parks, gardens, and public space for art installations are planned. All will be in keeping with a park that is dedicated to preserving its natural appearance and the river’s history and culture. Several public meetings are planned to insure that everyone in the community has an opportunity to review and comment upon what will ultimately be a blueprint for what the river park will look like. The final and complete drawings, it is hoped, will be presented and approved by the end of 2020.

The new and improved Gallinas River Park is a gift of the people of Las Vegas to themselves. The diverse group of individuals who first came together at the workshop has demonstrated the efficacy of working together for a common goal.

When general agreement is made, success follows.

Vegas Verdes: Importance of Interpretive Signs

Published November 17, 2019 in the Las Vegas Optic.

Interpretive signs can be found in many different settings including museums and other cultural institutions such as public parks and monuments. They are intended to educate and inform. If done well, they can be quite compelling.

The Gallinas River Park has, so far, two impressive interpretive signs that demand to be read and absorbed. They were conceived, designed, built and installed by groups and individuals from the Las Vegas community.

Hermit’s Peak Watershed Alliance personnel and others have been grappling with how to ignite enthusiasm for the restoration of the Gallinas River Park among young people. Lea Knutson, HPWA’s Executive Director, with the help of Lorraine Garcia, one-time VISTA volunteer with HPWA, submitted a grant proposal to the Santa Fe Community Foundation. The SFCF approved an educational program, the objective of which was to teach high school students about “healthy rivers”, especially a healthy Gallinas River, with an emphasis on the importance of wetlands and why we can’t do without them. Written into the grant was a task for the students. They were to create two interpretive
signs – one about the Gallinas wetlands; the other about the history and culture of the Gallinas River – and to install the signs along the river.

From the Fall of 2017 through 2018, a number of West Las Vegas High School students from Erika Guaba’s science class and McKaila Weldon’s art class met regularly to learn about their river. Dr. Elizabeth Juarros, HPWA Education Director, facilitated the program. Juarros invited experts in various fields to speak to the group. Members of the Highlands University Conservation Club, for example, taught the students what to look for in a healthy river and also discussed storm water treatment possibilities; and representatives from the Las Vegas Citizen’s Committee for Historic Preservation instructed the class in the history of the river. Many others with specialized knowledge contributed to the education of the students as well.

Toward the end of 2018, the group turned its attention to its task. The topics for the two signs were specified in the grant proposal. The students had first to decide what content could best convey information about the topics. They then designed a layout for each sign and composed a narrative. For the wetlands sign, they searched for but did not find images that could be used to illustrate the various species of plant and animal life that depend on the wetlands. The students turned to Juarros for help and she unveiled her theretofore hidden talent as an artist. She created water colors of the several birds that are common to the wetlands and enlisted her husband, Aaron Juarros to make charcoal drawings of the fish and other wetland creatures. “Perfect!” said the students. Now they had a finished hand-made sign but no way to convert it into a permanent form to adorn a free standing base.

Expert assistance arrived. Elizabeth Caldwell Miller, Las Vegas native now working in Albuquerque learned from Juarros what the West students were doing and why they were stymied, and she offered help. Miller is a graphic artist. With her knowledge and techniques, she produced a document to be printed on aluminum sign material and mounted on the sign base. The students followed the same process for sign number two. This one shows a photograph of Las Vegas taken from far above. Major streets are highlighted and their names added so that the photograph appears to be a map. Super-imposed on the map are the details of the Gallinas river and its Bosque show in blue/green and the Acequia Madre de Las Vegas (mother ditch) as a blue line with arrows to show the direction of its flow. It’s fascinating to follow the blue line of the acequia and realize that is goes directly under Bridge Street.

A photograph of the compuerta (head gate) marks the point where the Acequia Madre leaves the Gallinas. Acequias represent one of the most significant aspects of the culture and history of the Gallinas. They were the first piece of infrastructure constructed in the Gallinas River canyon and meadows. Their governance, a democracy with members of the acequia association electing leaders, predates that of the town.

The next step in the creation of the two signs was the design and fabrication of a base. An inspired idea from Aaron Juarros led to the adoption of the cottonwood leaf as a distinctive shape for the sign base. The cottonwood plays an essential role in the ecology of the Gallinas and its leaf is HPWA’s logo. Thus it seemed the ideal choice. Again, as with the sign itself, turning the cottonwood leaf into a concrete form required specialized skills. Again, the students discovered the needed skills within the community.

Aaron Juarros, master metal worker, fashioned a leaf of the size and durability needed for its job and finished it with linseed oil to bring out nature’s own colors of green, gold and brown. The two interpretive signs now stand near the river, one at the Prince/Independence Street end of the river-walk and one near Bridge Street.

Thanks to their participation in the program, the West Las Vegas High School students have acquired an appreciation for the importance of river stewardship. Furthermore, they have set the standard for the five additional interpretive signs that are to be installed in the Gallinas River Park in the Spring.

Vegas Verdes: Gallinas River Park Renewal

Published October 20, 2019 in the Las Vegas Optic.

The restoration of the Gallinas River in Las Vegas and the revival of its park began with the gem of an idea in the imagination of some Hermit’s Peak Watershed Alliance (HPWA) visionaries. The idea became a grand plan, having educational, recreational, and physical renewal components. In the past several months, the execution of the plan has progressed and the results are inspiring. Between having an idea and implementing it, many steps are necessary. In 2014 – 15, HPWA leadership approached various governmental and quasi-governmental agencies and not-for-profit organizations and presented the idea. It was generally received with enthusiasm, sometimes guarded, but there nonetheless.

The Las Vegas/San Miguel Economic Development Corporation (LVSMEDC) lent support and labor to promote the idea. HPWA conducted a city-wide survey that reached many Las Vegas neighborhoods and surrounding areas and it also organized and promoted several public meetings. From the survey and the meetings emerged the beginnings of a vision for the Park. Finally, HPWA and LVSMEDC identified and recruited interested individuals and representatives of government entities and community organizations who could and would take the lead to guide the park renewal efforts. This ad hoc committee of dedicated persons eventually became the Gallinas River Park Collaborative (GRPC).

The search for funds began soon – even before the GRPC arose – for the process of procuring money can be slow and laborious. An early attempt to secure funds from a USDA Rural Development Program failed, but several other sources came through with large and small amounts. A small grant from the Santa Fe Community Foundation in 2018 underwrote a year-long educational program at West Las Vegas High School in which students learned about the ecology of rivers and importance of wetlands. The result was excited and motivated young people. They, using donated materials and taking expert advice from teachers and others, designed and built two interpretive signs and installed them near the river walk downstream from Bridge Street. The students’ work has meant that funding for five more such signs was much easier to secure. Organizations with money to give away are more readily convinced of the value of your project if they can see and touch what the funds will buy.

A year ago, the National Endowment for the Arts granted $45,000 to conduct a three-day work shop for the citizens of Las Vegas. It was led by Citizens Institute for Rural Design and billed as a listening operation. Great effort went into insuring that attendees represented all parts of the town and its environs. The West Las Vegas High School students participated and from their recently acquired knowledge could offer useful insights. A broad consensus emerged from this community discussion and the result was a conceptual design of the future river park with the restored river at its heart.

Meanwhile, the HPWA applied for funds from the New Mexico Environment Department’s River Stewardship Program. It received an award of $315,000 to begin river restoration and storm water treatment and that work is nearly complete. The river work involved returning meanders to the previously channeled river and adding riffles, falls, and pools.

It was completed on a one third mile stretch downriver from Bridge Street. Rainwater gardens have been built to treat storm water run-off. The gardens will collect the run-off before it reaches the river, and filter out impurities, contaminates and rubbish. Three of these gardens have been placed in the West Las Vegas High School parking lots. A continuing enterprise undertaken by the HPWA and the GRPC is the annual Riverfest. Three have so far been staged and well-received. The “fest” is used as a setting to educate and entertain with the hope that attendees will carry away intent to care for and enjoy the river. An assortment of Las Vegas businesses and organizations has contributed funds for this event.

Now in late 2019, two small projects are underway using volunteer labor, donated materials, and some professional assistance. A permanent kiosk located on the south side of Bridge Street and between the river walk and the river will provide a center for information about park goings-on and community activities. The Las Vegas Master Gardeners Association and the LV Garden Club are landscaping the small area in which the kiosk stands. The next step is critical funding from three different government entities has been promised for the preparation of a construction ready architectural and engineering design for the Gallinas River Park between Mills and Prince/Independence. Such a design plan is required before applying for funds to build and install the park amenities.

When questioned about the park, all insist on the preeminent necessity of trash cans. The cost of trash cans, however, astounds most of us. Public use trash receptacles must be sturdy, locked in place, and designed to admit trash but not wild-life. Given those requirements, the $1,000 per installed can (about the best price possible) really shouldn’t be such a surprise. The west students were the first to raise funds to purchase one receptacle. Are there not numerous groups, organizations, or individuals who might take on a similar task? The Collaborative hopes you –whoever you are – will step forward soon.

Vegas Verdes: Our Gallinas River

Published September 19, 2019 in the Las Vegas Optic.

Our Gallinas River – one mapmaker called it a creek – is not as wide as the Missouri or as muddy as the Mississippi or as long as the Rio Grande, but it is our river. It runs through the center of town and it’s easy to take for granted. In past years, some heed was given to the River Park maintenance and features (think of the exercise stations along the river walk) however little was paid to the river itself. Now both are getting more sustained attention.

The Gallinas divides the town into East and West yes, but the bridges over it, which are many, unite the same town. The Riverwalk, a pathway left to us by the railroad, runs along the east side of the river and extends the length from Prince Street all the way north to El Camino Road (site of Stonehenge in Las Vegas). It is a lovely, scenic trail, greatly appreciated by Las Vegans. The discerning eye, however, can see where the river route has been altered over the years, and its bed and environs thereby distorted and degraded. The river has, after all, provided decades of sustenance and recreation and beauty.

Use has worn it down – it wants a refresher. Enter the Gallinas River Park Collaborative. It is a diverse group of individuals who, in 2015, began to organize around the shared vision of a reimagined and rebuilt community park and a revitalized river. They have been busy indeed! This and future articles will describe some of what the collaborative has already accomplished and some plans in the works. The articles will attempt to explain how our river developed its present diminished condition and to enlist the reading public in its restoration effort.

Riverfest

The third annual Gallinas Riverfest is Sept. 28, 2019. The day begins at 9 a.m with the all-important river clean­up. Volunteers are needed and will be rewarded with refreshments. The main event kicks off at 10 a.m. with the blessing of the river. As in previous years, the Riverfest is intended to celebrate and instruct. The Collaborative hopes that children in particular, will be inspired to involve themselves in the care of their Park. Organizers also expect to continue the community discussion about the appearance of the Park and its river. The now familiar laminated ·map of the river and its environs will be on display for all to make known their ideas for what’s wanted in the River Park of the future. Fishing is a popular and enduring pastime among young and old and it is the focus of this year’s Riverfest.

By the end of 2018, restoration was completed on a one third mile stretch of river south of Bridge Street. The work done added many new riffles and falls – river alterations that encourage an increase in dissolved oxygen and support insect growth. It also created 21 new pools. All of these changes revive and stimulate the fish population. Trout, especially, love the pools. For those who’ve never enjoyed the pleasure of catching their dinner, there will be plenty of opportunity to learn how it’s done. The State Department of Game and Fish will provide instruction in bait and spinner fishing – sometimes called traditional fishing. Volunteers from Trout Unlimited will teach fly fishing and demonstrate tying your own flies. Fishing students will also learn about the insects that live on the bottom of the river and upon which fish feed. All the equipment and supplies are provided. And best of all, NM Game and Fish has declared Saturday, Sept. 28, a free fishing day for the entire state – no license needed.

For the few not fishing, many other activities are scheduled throughout the day. Riverfest attendees will be able to learn about the medicinal and edible values of plants found along the river; they might begin to master the intricacies of chess or archery; they could become proficient at water coloring; and most important, participants can avail themselves of an educational guided tour of the river and discover all that has been done and will be done. and why it’s all essential. Any who have taken the tour in the past will want to take it again – this is not last year’s river you’ll be observing.

Several of the amusements are new this year. Children will be especially captivated by the pop-up playground they will themselves create. It is to be a temporary installation composed of cardboard boxes and tubes, swathes of fabric, willow, branches, and whatever else can be found. This flight of imagination can provide pointers for what may become a permanent though not traditional playground. Another activity sure to please is miniature boat building using common yet surprising materials: sponges, egg cartons, tin cans and wood blocks – in fact, anything that floats. The finished boats are to be launched at 2 p.m. downstream a little ways from the Bridge Street Bridge.

Popular entertainments from previous years will be back. Scheduled are musical programs by Josei No Seishin, Taiko Drummers and the Fireball Blues Band. A straw bale amphitheater will accommodate the performers and also serve to alert park planners regarding a possible permanent performance space. Yoga classes, a disc golf demonstration, chair massage, and the ever amusing duck race are all on offer.

Gallinas River Park Community Input Webinar

On December 10th, 2020 Amy Bell from Groundworks Studios gave an online zoom presentation to members of the Las Vegas, NM public. This presentation’s goal was to present the cohesive plans for various amenities and additions to the Gallinas River Park. The presentation lasted for 25 minutes, with the remaining time being reserved for questions/comments from the public.

We of HPWA encourages people to watch the webinar, which can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saQtypqHzq4&feature=youtu.be&ab_channel=GroundworkStudio

After you’ve watched the video, please send any comments, questions, concerns, feedback, etc. to: amy@groundworkstudionm.com

Poster for the Webinar: