Water bottle stations

The new water bottle refill station is up and running just inside the barrier on the north side of Bridge Street.  It’s bright blue and ready for use – you can’t miss it.  Now there’ll be no reason to throw away your plastic water bottle – you can use that bottle again and again. 

The Gallinas River and its park continue their steady march toward full restoration and revitalization.   Many goals have been reached and new goals have been set.  As 2021 nears its end, we applaud some notable accomplishments and likewise recognize some projects recently begun.

The City of Las Vegas has established a Gallinas River Park Advisory Committee (GRPA Committee) made up of representatives from each of the four council districts and other community organizations.  It will work closely with the Parks and Recreation Commission to ensure that any community concerns regarding the River Park will be conveyed to the Las Vegas Department of Parks and Recreation.  The construction drawings showing the plan for the River Park amenities and improvements is now approved.  The GRPA Committee will support and assist the Parks Department director as implementation of the plan proceeds.   The Hermit’s Peak Watershed Alliance (HPWA) and the Friends of the Gallinas River Park (Friends) have enjoyed a strong partnership with the City and especially with the Parks Department.  This new GRPA Committee will ensure that the partnership continues.

The most recent phase of the river restoration began in winter 2020, continued through 2021, and will be completed this spring with a little more planting.  Strollers on the river walk watched and marveled as meanders and riffles emerged, ponds came to life, and filtration basins appeared.  A big duck pond where cattails once predominated, now attracts many ducks; muskrats enjoy the small river pond near the foot bridge; and fishermen are happy.  Approximately 600 trees, shrubs and grasses have been planted thanks to volunteer labor. First steps have been taken, again with volunteers, to remove or control some of the invasive species along the river bank. Tierra Y Montes Soil and Water Conservation District undertook elimination of some of the largest of the invasive species, such as the Siberian Elm.

The Unity Orchard team looks forward to the first tree plantings.  Before this can happen, an irrigation system must be installed and prior to installation, several parties must sign off on a memo of understanding.  Even with these steps that must come to pass, and soon, the orchard planners expect to have the first trees in the ground a year from now.  Mike Bode of Sapello will donate a number of heirloom semi-dwarf apple trees.  The orchard will also include several other varieties of fruit trees and shrubs.  The Las Vegas Rotary, Semilla Natural Foods, First United Presbyterian Church and Las Vegas Community Foundation have been generous with their fund raising assistance.

The magnificent mural announcing the Gallinas River Park was something of an unexpected, but fabulous, gift from the City of Las Vegas.  The Las Vegas Rotary Club funded the work by local artist Jaime Chavez, and it appeared without fanfare in the spring of 2021.  Chavez has lived among us for the past dozen years or more and has begun to make a name as a muralist in New Mexico and neighboring states.

Solar lighting has been placed along the walkway south of the bridge.  The standards are unobtrusive; the illumination is directed downward so as to avoid adding to light pollution; and the lights require no power.  They provide security and safety for evening walkers, joggers and bikers. The new water bottle refill station is up and running just inside the barrier on the north side of Bridge Street.  It’s bright blue and ready for use – you can’t miss it.  Now there’ll be no reason to throw away your plastic water bottle – you can use that bottle again and again.  

New park benches destined for scattered sites up and down the River – both sides – have been ordered.  Their delivery is delayed due to pandemic related shipping problems.  Other possible projects under discussion for 2022 include erection of remaining solar lights, installation of decorative gates at Park entrances, the placing of new tables in designated picnic areas, and resurfacing the north end of the walkway.

Part of the kiosk garden is in and thriving.  In 2020, members of the San Miguel County Master Gardeners, with help from the city Parks and Recreation personnel, planted a selection of shrubs and small trees.  Pandemic related shortages, however, meant some of the plants intended for the garden were not available.  But now they are.  A variety of smaller blooming plants will be added to the garden this spring.

And finally, less thrilling, but most essential, seven trash cans are in position and being emptied regularly, and two city organized clean-up projects brought out nearly 50 volunteers.   The aim, provided funding is received, is to install the remaining 9 trash cans this summer.

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