The Santa Fe River Trail and River Channel Improvements are Completed;
Celebration is this Saturday, April 28
Santa Fe, NM – April 24, 2012 – On Saturday, April 28, 2012 from 9:30
a.m. to 11:30 a.m. the City of Santa Fe will celebrate the opening of
new segments of the Santa Fe River Trail, and the completion of
extensive improvements along the Santa Fe River between Camino Alire
and Frenchy’s Park. The celebration will take place at the southwest
corner of Calle Don Jose and the Santa Fe River Road. The gathering
will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony, music, activities for
children, tree planting, and a group bicycle ride. Attendees are
encouraged to ride their bicycles (or walk) to the event. Park-and-
bike options include Alto Park, Griego Park and Frenchy’s Park which
are all situated along the River Trail.
The newly completed sections of the Santa Fe River Trail add 1.3 miles
to the city’s urban trail network for pedestrians and bicyclists. The
River Trail now extends from St. Francis Drive west to Frenchy’s Park
for a total of 2.1 miles of off-road, non-motorized travel along the
Extensive work completed on the Santa Fe River includes new grade-
control structures, built with large limestone boulders. The
structures will help to control erosion and prevent the continued down-
cutting of the river bed. New bank protection will stabilize river
banks to protect the river trail and other adjacent properties. With
grading and contouring of terrain, steep eroded river banks have been
reduced to gentle slopes while the river’s flood plain has been
widened which will slow down storm flows. Rock-lined structures along
the river’s edge will help capture and clean storm-water runoff from
adjacent streets. Plantings of new trees, shrubs, and grasses will
provide for new greenery, shade, wildlife habitat and additional
The $4.5-million project was paid for with funds provided by the state
of New Mexico, plus city of Santa Fe bond funds that voters approved
for the development of the city’s urban trail system.
The Legislature decided to let water run in the Santa Fe RIver twice this year. Water began running on April 16th and arrived near Frenchy’s Field on Wednesday, two days later. SInce then I’ve been walking along the river daily, marveling at the work the city has done preparing the river bed, adding huge rocks and planting hundreds of native willows and many cottonwood trees along the shore. Both willows and cottonwood trees have leafed out in the last few days. The water threads along in ribbons, tumbles over small waterfalls and round stone dams that people have added. Within a few days, swallows circled overhead and a killdeer ran along the water’s edge. Ravens took baths and perched on a new fence to fluff their wet feathers.
Many people of all ages have been enjoying the river. I’ve seen children lying on their stomachs in the water, running gleefully barefoot in the wet sand, marching down the rippling water and sitting in the middle of the river, watching it flow around them. One laughing boy was floating a homemade blue boat on a string behind him. There are “installation pieces” made of heart rocks and sticks. One has blue ribbons tied to willows where people have written blessings and poems on the ribbons.
There is a strong sense of community about it already, with people smiling at each other commenting on their joy in having flowing water. Many are walking, riding bikes, roller skating and skateboarding, running and pushing strollers along the new path beside the river.
It is lovely in the quiet morning light, under the midday sun and gleaming silver at sunset. It feels like a miracle in our high desert.