Vegas Verdes: Optic Articles

Vegas Verdes – Accomplishments and Things to Come

Published in the Las Vegas Optic on November 24th, 2021. The Gallinas River and its Park continue their steady march toward full restoration and revitalization. Many goals have been reached and new goals have been set. As 2021 nears its end, we applaud some notable accomplishments and likewise recognize some projects recently begun. The City of Las Vegas has established a Gallinas Park Advisory Committee. It is composed of representatives from each of the four council districts and will work closely with the Parks and Recreation Commission to ensure that the community’s concerns, problems, and needs for the River Park […]

Vegas Verdes – Gallinas River Park: A Natural Green Space

Published in the Las Vegas Optic on July 14th, 2021. Summer is here (at last) and the Gallinas River Park beckons. The park – natural, green, and cool – awaits you. All sorts of benefits derive from an untamed natural space – especially when a river runs through it. We Las Vegans are pretty lucky, you know. Few towns and cities can claim a true nature park at their center. Appearances and conditions of a nature park are defined by Mother Nature. While beautification processes such as mowing, trimming, pruning and grooming, are essential in traditional city parks, our nature […]

Vegas Verdes: Beaver Visit the River Park

Published on May 25, 2021 in the Las Vegas Optic. At one time in our history, beaver were plentiful in rivers all over North America. With the arrival of the Europeans and the growing demand for fur, beaver pelts became an internationally traded luxury item and the beaver population declined. Some rivers, the Gallinas through Las Vegas for example, haven’t seen any at all for a number of years. The beaver, with their engineering feats, are known to promote water quality and quantity. Let’s welcome beaver back to the Gallinas River Park. Beaver sightings were recently reported in the area […]

Vegas Verdes: Keep the Gallinas River Park Clean and Beautiful

Published on Feb 17, 2021 in the Las Vegas Optic. Pollution in all of its variations seems always to be with us. But…that doesn’t mean we should learn to live with it. Consider Las Vegas. We residents are lucky that our water comes from high in the mountains and flows through rural – nonindustrial – areas. The quality is pretty good, though not perfect. Trash is a major source of pollution and for the Friends of the Gallinas River Park, trash – whether it’s in the river or in the river’s environs – is a never-ending concern. Enter the Las […]

Vegas Verdes: Gallinas River Park Design Ready for Your Review

Published on December 9th, 2020 in the Las Vegas Optic. A conceptual draft of the long-awaited “shovel-ready” drawings, showing the future Gallinas River Park, is complete. When the final design is approved by the Las Vegas community, it will be a blueprint for what the revitalized park will look like. The 2018 Community Design Workshop attended by representatives from every part of Las Vegas and its surroundings produced, after three days of discussion, debate, and idea exchange, a conceptual master plan of the future River Park. The current draft is a compilation of all the ideas, recommendations and desires expressed […]

Vegas Verdes: Birding, Fishing for Kids in the Gallinas River Park

Published on October 28, 2020 in the Las Vegas Optic. The Gallinas River Park, thanks once again to the efforts of Hermit’s Peak Watershed Alliance (HPWA) and the Gallinas River Park Collaborative (GRPC), is to receive another grant for project funding. This time it is for an appealing and indeed stimulating youth program. The Park has been awarded one of the 25 inaugural grants from the brand new Outdoor Equity Fund. The fund was created as part of New Mexico Outdoor Recreation – a division of the Economic Development Department – and signed into law by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham […]

Vegas Verdes: A Coming Attraction on the River Park

Published on September 16, 2020 in the Las Vegas Optic. The unfolding plans for the revitalized Gallinas River Park, an enterprise led by Hermit’s Peak Watershed Alliance (HPWA) and the Gallinas River Park Collaborative (GRPC), include some very intriguing and creative projects. One that has been in the plotting stage for some time, just recently was awarded a grant to begin con­struction. It is an arboretum with an irrigation system fed by storm water harvested from a nearby parking lot. It is destined for the North end of the River Park near the Highlands Recycling Center and extending South to […]

Vegas Verdes: The Next Stage

Published on August 19, 2020 in the Las Vegas Optic. After much time and effort, the hard work of funds procurement has once again paid off and money is in hand to begin Phase II of Rewinding the Gallinas. The New Mexico Environment Department has awarded Hermit’s Peak Watersheds Alliance (HPWA) $485,000 from the River Stewardship Program. The final design for the project is complete and the contracts have been awarded. Let the work begin! The grand plan of the Gallinas River Park Collaborative (GRPC) together with HPWA envisions a revitalized and rebuilt river park with a restored and healthy […]

Vegas Verdes: The River Park is Your Park

Published on July 2020 in the Las Vegas Optic. In 2020, the Gallinas River Park and its river have seen and will see many astonishing improvements. The Task before us is to ensure that every citizen of Las Vegas comes to realize that each of us and all of us owns the Park. We are living in an unbalanced time and none of us has a perfect handle on how best to cope. The confined inactivity and isolation imposed by COVID-19 has required adjustment. Each of us needs a place where we can go for a few minutes or a […]

Vegas Verdes: Willows to the Rescue

Published in June 2020 in the Las Vegas Optic. We all know what riparian vegetation is – don’t we? It’s the bosque. It grows along and near a riverbank and is essential to the good health of any river. Rivers, including our own Gallinas, can deteriorate or undergo changes that adversely affect their health; but if their riparian vegetation is in place and thriving, rivers will recover from whatever afflicts them and likewise thrive. A crucial part of this vegetation is willow especially, and also cottonwood – the woody vegetation. Willows and cottonwoods have been largely scorned by us – […]

Vegas Verdes: It’s Happening Along the River Walk

Published in May 2020 in the Las Vegas Optic. Amy Bell, principle architect at Groundwork Studio, has been hired to produce shovel-ready drawings for the Gallinas River Park improvements. These drawings will honor the conceptual design developed during our Community Design Workshop. Amy has already begun work to produce shovel-ready drawings and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The Gallinas River Park is owned by the City of Las Vegas and extends for about a mile and a half from Mills Avenue to Prince/Independence Street. The drawings will convey the future appearance of that entire […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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: After you’ve watched the video, please send any comments, questions, concerns, feedback, etc. to: Poster for the Webinar:

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