Groundbreaking for NM’s 34th State Park

MESILLA, NM, 12/9/2005 – Governor Bill Richardson and several local and state dignitaries broke ground this morning at New Mexico’s 34th State Park – Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park. The event was attended by several local and state dignitaries, and was held adjacent to a 13-acre property, recently protected by the Trust for Public Land and New Mexico State Parks, which will form the heart of the new park and the site of the visitor center.

Following the groundbreaking, Governor Richardson and other dignitaries were handed cottonwood tree seedlings to plant in the park, as a symbolic first step in the park’s Bosque restoration effort.

“Before I came into office, I pledged to New Mexicans that I would help to protect our natural resources not only for the economic development of the State but to protect the cultural resources as well,” said Governor Richardson. “Mesilla Valley Bosque will not only be an economic asset to the Las Cruces area, but will also be a place where New Mexicans and visitors can learn, recreate and protect.”

Also at the event, retired State Representative J. Paul Taylor was honored for his legislative efforts to protect and restore the Bosque, and to appropriate funding for Mesilla Valley Bosque. Consequently, the Foundation for New Mexico State Parks established a fund in Taylor’s name, which will be used for education and wetland and Bosque restoration efforts.

“I am honored to have been recognized by the Foundation and State Parks,” Taylor said. “This is the land I explored as a youngster almost eighty years ago that we worked to protect. Youngsters today deserve this same rare privilege of exploring the Mesilla Valley’s natural environment.”

“The idea for the park emerged from the community,” says Kevin Bixby, Executive Director of SWEC, “and community groups have been active in restoring habitat and providing public education at the site for a long time. I expect that kind of involvement could continue after the state park is operational.”

To create the park, State Parks, TPL and SWEC partnered with 10 different agencies and nonprofits. “TPL’s role was to work with the federal congressional delegation and the state legislators from Do?a Ana County to secure the funding and to add 150 acres of privately-owned land to the park,” says Karyn Stockdale, the TPL-New Mexico project manager working with the landowners. “As a part of this larger effort to create this new Rio Grande park, TPL approached Harris Farms in 2000 about their farm property along the Rio Grande for inclusion in the park. The Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park would not have been possible without the Harris family’s dedication to protecting this special area and opening it up to the public.”

“It’s taken nearly three decades of hard work by numerous public agencies and nonprofits, as well as the local community,” says State Senator Mary Kay Papen, a proponent of the new park. “We are grateful to everyone who’s continued to support the park proposals, including TPL, which has been a consistent presence right from the beginning and has really championed this project.”

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization dedicated to preserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since it’s founding in 1972, TPL has protected nearly 2 million acres of land in 46 states. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For information, please visit us on the web at