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Come celebrate the Gallinas River next weekend

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We’re having a party on Saturday, Sept. 30! Recently, Hermit’s Peak Watershed Alliance was awarded $315,000 from the River Stewardship Program at the NM Environment Department to restore healthy conditions to the Gallinas River between Bridge St. and Prince St.

This $315,000 development is something to celebrate!

Later in this article, you can learn details about this exciting project, but now let’s get a taste of what to expect when you meander down to the south side of Bridge Street along the Riverwalk between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

After watching a fly fishing demo, you can learn how to tie flies. Then you can try your hand at casting. Fling a line or two. Who knows, maybe you’ll catch supper! Under the expert guidance of the amazing Debbie Pike, who is with the Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge, you can pick up a bow and arrow and aim for the bull’s eye.

When Debbie assisted at AAUW’s “Girls Can” earlier this year, she inspired lots of fifth graders to consider a career as archers in the great outdoors!

What about checking out the medicinal and edible plants that are indigenous to our area? We could all benefit from relying less on pharmaceuticals and overly processed foods.

The Rooster FRESH food truck (owned by Miguel Velasquez, who ran the El Fidel restaurant until it closed last month) will be selling food and beverages. There will be art galore. There’s always art in Las Vegas. And music! Ditto.

Bring along a poem for the Open Mic poetry jam. Create a haiku on the spot. Here are my entries: “Babbling brook lures me in.” “Gentle ripple, catch me in your spell.” “Fly skims the surface to entice a trout.” In addition to poetry, you can participate in Tai Chi, Yoga and Fitness Exercises.

Have a go at reflexology to soothe your soul and your soles. Kids can get their faces painted. So can you.

Ernie Quintana of LVCCHP will speak informally to explain that the Gallinas River is not a dividing line but a uniting force. Ask him about the turkeys! Want to check the water quality? Hermit’s Peak staff member Eliza Montoya and a West Las Vegas high school teacher will collect a sampling of the Gallinas River water and demonstrate how it’s tested.

Raffle prizes? Did I hear prizes? Tito’s Gallery has donated mother of pearl earrings. Curves for Women has donated two passes for 30 days each. New Moon Fashion has donated something stunning. And there will be more items. All proceeds go to the Gallinas Riverwalk Park project.

Designs for the river restoration work will be on display. Input from the community will be solicited. That’s you! Just think of what our riverside could become. Not only for us but also for visitors to Las Vegas. Steeped in history, we already have a plaque commemorating Francisco Vasquez Coronado who crossed the river in 1541.

Now, many of us drive or walk across the bridge without giving the river a thought. As a newcomer, I once considered the Gallinas River a divider between West and East Las Vegas until Rudy Laumbach pointed out that the river connects us.

From way uphill, our one source of water spills into the treatment plant at Montezuma before splitting off to nourish the East and the West Side.

When folks talk about San Antonio, their riverwalk is always mentioned.

I can speak firsthand about Chicago’s extended riverwalk which boasts outdoor concerts, restaurants, kayak rental, and pleasure boats that tie up along the new docks. On weekends, the path is jam-packed with Chicagoans and tourists alike. We could do the same.

Well, maybe not boats tying up along the riverbank, but you get the idea.

On Saturday, Sept. 30, why not arrive early and join a mini-cleanup from 9 to 10 am with light refreshments provided by Red Rooster Fresh for our volunteers?

We are grateful to our sponsors including the City of Las Vegas, Southwest Capital Bank, Borracho’s, West Las Vegas Schools, Presbyterian Mustard Seed Grant Recipient, and Have on Art.

Now for those details: this Hermit’s Peak Watershed Project will extend from Bridge Street to Prince Street. Deep pools and small waterfalls will be added to provide the appropriate environment for healthy fish and healthy rivers.

Riparian vegetation will be planted on the riverbanks. The project also involves cleaning storm water that comes off nearby streets and parking lots before it enters the river. To treat storm water, rainwater gardens will be constructed in the parking lots at West Las Vegas Schools, and bio-retention basins will be built near the river where street storm water now enters untreated.

I must mention the new logo for Hermit’s Peak Watershed designed by Clarence Bustamante, a gifted former Highlands student. Bravo, Clarence.

Let’s not take our meandering unique natural resource for granted! A revitalized Gallinas River Riverwalk will be a source of pleasure not for just one day but for the entire year.

Beth Urech is a contributing writer, traveler, and artist of the spoken word, performing both nationally and internationally. She lives in Chicago and Las Vegas, N.M., with her husband, Mark, and dog, Java. Follow Beth at bethurech.wordpress.com. She may be reached by email at beth@bethurech.com