Fun and profit on the Rio Grande
As part of the America’s Great Outdoors initiative, a new study is being undertaken of the recreational and educational opportunities that might exist along the 180-mile stretch of the Rio Grande between Cochiti and Elephant Butte. The goal of the study, announced in January by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, is to find a way to enhance the economic vitality of the Middle Rio Grande valley’s riverine system while increasing recreation.
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge ecologist Gina Dello Russo said there was an earlier initiative, sponsored by retired Sen. Pete Domenici, to coordinate ecological restoration and management of the same stretch of river but this is something new.
“They’re looking at the Middle Rio Grande again from the perspective of recreation — what the river offers in terms of recreational opportunities, and opportunities for small business,” Dello Russo said.
According to a March 21 press release by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, “the plan will be shaped by the input of community members, stakeholders and partners in the Middle Rio Grande.”
Community members and stakeholders will have an opportunity to contribute to the shaping of the plan at a public meeting this Saturday, March 21, at the Socorro County Annex building on Neel Avenue.
Some of the questions that are being considered as the plan, which needs to be developed by July 1, are:
- How are conservation, recreation, and education defined?
- Who are the partners and interested parties?
- What are the top five to 10 goals for each of conservation, recreation, and education?
- What programs, projects, initiatives exist now?
- What types of new programs, projects and initiatives should be addressed under the plan and
- What potential enhancements and new projects should have the highest priority??
People who can’t make the Saturday meeting, which starts at 10 a.m., can make recommendations, respond to a questionnaire and get more information online at www.middleriogrande.com by clicking on the “Middle Rio Grande Conservation Initiative” icon.
The website also provides access to a meeting calendar and minutes of previous public and committee meetings.
People who attend Saturday’s public input meeting, however, will have an opportunity to address questions and comments directly to Dave Simon, a contractor with Fish and Wildlife and the Bureau of Reclamation who is working on plan development.
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