Domenici's Dream of ABQ Bosque Park Launched into Reality
U.S. Senator Pete Domenici's dream of creating a park-like setting within the Rio Grande bosque began taking form Saturday with a groundbreaking ceremony that could transform 17-miles of the cottonwood riparian region into an environmental and civic centerpiece for the Albuquerque region.
Domenici joined officials from the Army Corps of Engineers, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District and the city of Albuquerque to launch the "Ecosystem Revitalization @ Route 66" project. This is a joint $6.6 million Army Corps and MRGCD project to restore and revitalize the west bank of the Rio Grande bosque from Bridge Street past Central Avenue to the north.
Domenici first proposed the creation of a public greenbelt through the bosque in the mid-1990s as a new aspect of this work to preserve and improve the bosque. Last year, he won a $25 million authorization for Army Corps work on the project. The Route 66 project is considered the first phase of the bosque park.
"I grew up playing and exploring in the bosque as a boy, and I want the people to be able to enjoy it as much as I did then. To reach that point, much more work must be done to clean out the bosque to create a wonderful park-like setting that is good for the river's ecosystem and people alike," Domenici said.
"I truly believe this project, which will take a continued commitment from everyone, holds the promise of giving Albuquerque a wonderful and unique park that could rival other famous parks like Central Park in New York or the Rock Creek Park in Washington," he said. "I am so grateful that I am still in office to see this project launched, and I look forward to seeing it progress."
The Route 66 project will involve restoring about 121 acres by restoring native plants and removing debris and jetty jacks. Public facilities will be built, including a boardwalk, trails and other educational structures.
In addition to securing funding authorization for the bosque park, Domenici also gained new authorization in the 2007 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) for the Army Corps to carry out environmental restoration and management along the Rio Grande statewide. Domenici has secured funding for bosque restoration and endangered species (silvery minnow) activities as chairman or ranking member of the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee that funds federal water programs.
Domenici on Saturday also toured the Isleta Pueblo's bosque wildlife restoration project which is being undertaken to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. This is a cooperative project with the Army Corps.
Since 2004, Domenici has funded the Corps of Engineers' Bosque Wildfire Restoration project at a total of $16.2 million since 2004. This funding has involved invasive fuels removal, jetty jack removal and bridge installation from Sandia Pueblo south to Isleta Pueblo. The work has been to rehabilitate the bosque after the June 2003 fires and to make the area safer and more accessible for firefighters.