The Community Turns Out for Rio Grande del Norte
A festive crowd of about 200 people gathered recently to celebrate the 4th anniversary of New Mexico’s Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. The celebration took place at Taos Mesa Brewing, located near the famous Highway 64 bridge over Rio Grande Gorge. Taos Peublo Governor Ruben Romero (photo, below), Senator Tom Udall, (left) and several other community leaders were on had to give remarks and recall the diverse and effective coalition of people who campaigned for the monument. President Obama used his authority under the Antiquities Act to protect the 242,500-acre area in 2013, known for its fantastic wildlife, trail system, cultural history and Wild and Scenic stretch of the Rio. Since the designation, the Conservation Lands Foundation—along with many partner organizations—has been especially committed to restoration and stewardship for the monument.
Just two days prior to the celebration, one of those partners, RBC Blue Water Project, announced a $35,000 grant to the Conservation Lands Foundation to support a conservation corps made up mainly of young military veterans to conduct habitat restoration along the river inside the monument. This will be the third year RBC has supported river restoration on the Monument, and the timing with the anniversary made for extra good news to share with elected officials and participants at the celebration.
BLM staff from the Taos Field Office, leaders with the Southwest Conservation Corps and Veterans crew, along with community volunteers from the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance and other “friends” of Rio Grande will collaborate on an on-going river corridor restoration project. Crew members and volunteers will remove invasive species, re-treat 30 acres of river habitat previously cleared of tamarisk, and establish new native plants species that are beneficial to insect pollinators and birds—in a popular part of the monument called the Rio Grande Recreation Area. In addition, grant funds will help provide transportation and a field trip experience for high school students from neighboring communities—many of whom may not have visited the Monument nor experienced the river and watershed that provides drinking water and irrigation to a vast majority of New Mexicans and people further downstream.
RBC’s Blue Water Project is a $50 million charitable commitment to help provide access to drinkable, swimmable, fishable water, now and for future generations–values shared by so many who worked to protect the Rio Grande del Norte and remain committed to its thriving future. The Conservation Lands Foundation extends a heartfelt thank you to our partners at RBC, and we look forward to helping complete the next phase of river restoration and community outreach for this tremendous river.