The Corps of Engineers and six other agency partners gathered at Albuquerque’s Tingley Beach Nov. 18 to conduct a groundbreaking ceremony in celebration of the beginning of the construction phase of habitat restoration work planned for several areas along the Middle Rio Grande.
The main purpose for the project is to restore habitat for multiple species of fish and wildlife including the Rio Grande silvery minnow and Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, two of New Mexico’s endangered species. Additionally, the project will develop several recreational features including new trails and signs, emergency watercraft access and canoe launching points, parking improvements, pedestrian benches, wildlife blinds and river overlooks.
The project was designed by the Corps, in concert with the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District and Sandia Pueblo, as well as with the help of the City of Albuquerque, Open Space Division; Office of the State Engineer; Village of Corrales; and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
Approximately 916 acres of native Bosque (riparian cottonwood forest) will be restored along a 26-mile stretch of the Middle Rio Grande between Isleta Pueblo and the northern border of Sandia Pueblo.
Former New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici, a passionate supporter of restoration efforts in the Bosque, attended the ceremony and strongly praised the intended benefits of the project.
Remarks were also made by Matthew Zidovsky, Office of Rep. Martin Heinrich; Bill Woldman, Office of Sen. Tom Udall; Patricia Dominguez, Office of Sen. Jeff Bingaman; Grace Haggerty, Interstate Stream Commission; Sayre Gerhart, Mayor Pro Tem, Village of Corrales; Doug Lutz, Mayor’s Office, City of Albuquerque; Vice-Chair Eugene Abeita, Middle Rio Grande Conser-vancy District; Governor Malcolm Montoya, Pueblo of Sandia; and Lt. Col. Jason Williams, Corps’ Albuquerque District Commander.
Following the speaker portion of the ceremony, attendees were invited to walk through the Bosque to an area of wetlands where the actual groundbreaking took place.
The $13.1 million, 3-year contract for the first phase of construction was awarded to AJAC Enterprises, Inc., an Albuquerque-based contractor.