The Santa Fe River Trail and River Channel Improvements are Completed; Celebration is this Saturday, April 28–Report and Photos by Ursula Moeller

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
river’s edge.

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
channel stabilization.

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.


Ursula writes:

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.

Join Me at the History Museum

Dear Friends,
You are cordially invited to the release of the new anthology
The Return of the River: 
Writers, Scholars, and Citizens Speak on Behalf of the Santa Fe River
edited by A. Kyce Bello and published by Sunstone Press

Friday, May 6th 5:30-7 pm at the 
New Mexico History Museum 
(113 Lincoln Ave in Downtown Santa Fe)

A Celebration of the Santa Fe River in poetry and prose
featuring selected readings by anthology contributors.
A book signing will follow.

The Return of the River includes the words of writers and poets, historians, artists, and ecologists who eloquently and passionately express their hopes for a living river. Their words range from scholarly to deeply personal, from practical to whimsical. The result is a convergence of landscape, community, and creativity that recognizes the interdependence of all three.
 “When our neighbors and our community come to know the Santa Fe River as this book would have them know it, love and protection, long overdue, will follow.” –William deBuys, Author of Enchantment and Exploitation: The Life and Hard Times of a New Mexico Mountain Range
“The Return of the River represents a landmark in the ongoing history of the Santa Fe River, and is a true gift to the community, to the river, and to the world.” –Felicity Broennen, Director of Santa Fe Watershed Association
 For more information: / 505-474-7998

Flash Flood: Community Art Action

I was excited to learn about the following environmental art project:

What: FLASH FLOOD Community Art Action
Where: The dry bed of the Santa Fe River
When: Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dozens of community institutions and activists are gearing up for a series of workshops and events in advance of the November 20, 2010 “FLASH FLOOD for a Living River.” The Santa Fe Art Institute, in coordination with Bill McKibben’s, an international campaign dedicated to building a movement in response to the global threats of climate change, is spearheading the New Mexico project, which is one of five U.S. sites out of 20 global locations. 3,000 community members will carry and flip blue-painted recycled cardboard to compose the FLASH FLOOD in the dry bed of the Santa Fe River, which has been designated as one of America’s most endangered rivers. The art action and aerial design will be visible and documented from outer space via satellite. The FLASH FLOOD will be projected worldwide alongside the 19 other global aerial designs as part of the Cancun Climate Change Summit, November 29 – December 10, 2010.

The large coalition of community institutions forming around the FLASH FLOOD project include:

Casa Allegre
City of Santa Fe
DeVargas Middle School
Earth Care International
Earth Guardians
EarthWorks Institute
Frenchy’s Field and Commons community groups
Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA)
New Energy Economy
New Mexico Arts Commission
Salazar Elementary School
Santa Fe Arts Commission
Santa Fe Community College
Santa Fe Parks Commission
Santa Fe River Commission
Santa Fe Watershed Association
Santa Fe University of Art and Design
State of New Mexico
Youth Works
and more!
Information from the Santa Fe Art Institute Blog–
Although unfortunately I couldn’t be there, I was lucky enough to find Margo Conover’s photographs, taken today. Thank you, Margo!

Reading for the Santa Fe River

Please join us

Wednesday, May 12th
5-7 PM

for a reading of poetry, prose, and historical writing about the
Santa Fe River
featuring contributors to the forthcoming collection
The Return of the River: Writers, Scholars, and Citizens Speak on Behalf of the Santa Fe River.
(Sunstone Press, 2010.)

at the Santa Fe Community Gallery
Southeast corner of the Convention Center building
201 W. Marcy

People protect only what they love and they love only what they know. For too long the Santa Fe River has existed almost invisibly within the busy city that it nourishes—and it has been neglected and ignored. Now comes a group of activists, community elders, historians, and poets who, by joining their testimonies in this heartfelt volume, aim to restore the river to visibility and to its centuries-old identity. The Return of the River will delight and amuse you, and through it you will come to know the Santa Fe River.

–William deBuys

This reading is a part of a group visual arts show sponsored by the SF Arts Commission and the Santa Fe Watershed. Meander: Works inspired by the Santa Fe River will be showing until June 6th. For more information on the exhibit and related events, visit