Santa Fe River Protected at Community Farm (NM)
SANTA FE, NM, 1/18/2005—The Trust for Public Land (TPL), El Camino Real River Connection (CRRC), and Santa Fe County’s Open Space and Trails Program announced today the successful acquisition of the Santa Fe River portion of the Community Farm. The 8.89-acre property is situated within the traditional village of Agua Fria, approximately five miles southwest of the Santa Fe Plaza. The property includes the river bottom and land on both northern and southern banks and will be conveyed to Santa Fe County’s Open Space and Trails Program. The Community Farm will continue to own and operate their irrigated farmland.
The acquisition of this river property will allow Santa Fe County to expand the San Ysidro River Park and continue to link parks, trails, and open space along the Santa Fe River and sites commemorating the El Camino Real Trail. The Santa Fe County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved the purchase on December 14, 2004 and the project had previously been recommended by the County’s open space advisory committee known as COLTPAC (County Open Land, Trails, Parks and Advisory Committee).
Paul Olafson, Director of Open Space and Trails Division for Santa Fe County, says, “We are excited about the acquisition of the Community Farm property and the subsequent expansion of the San Ysidro River Park. Given the historic significance of the property, it fits in perfectly with the County’s mission of creating a network of cultural, historic and natural open spaces and trails throughout Santa Fe County.”
Funding for this purchase comes from state capital outlay funds requested by New Mexico State Senator Nancy Rodriquez (D-Santa Fe). Senator Rodriguez has been a long-time champion of the Santa Fe River project and continues to support increased recreational and educational opportunities for Agua Fria residents. The Santa Fe Land Use Resource Center, in affiliation with CRRC, contributed matching funds to meet important stewardship requirements for open space and trail acquisitions along the river.?
As part of a coalition of non-profit conservation organizations and governmental agencies including the County, CRRC, Santa Fe Watershed Association, Santa Fe Conservation Trust, the City of Santa Fe, and community members from the village of Agua Fria, TPL has been involved in the creation of parks and trails and the protection of open space along the Santa Fe River corridor for the past four years. Santa Fe County, through the Open Space and Trails Program, has worked with TPL and other partners in acquiring these Santa Fe River properties, designing infrastructure and restoration work, and creating management plans for new parks and trails for the public.
“For the last four years, TPL has worked in collaboration with public agencies and citizens groups to protect and restore the Santa Fe River corridor. We’re happy that the Community Farm property serves as another important link to complement the ongoing efforts to preserve the Santa Fe River,” said Deb Love, Director, TPL New Mexico.
The El Camino Real River Connection (CRRC) ties this river corridor protection project to the historic route used by pre-historic and Spanish travelers. The historic El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, or Royal Road of the Interior, dating back to the 16th century, was the main artery connecting the two capital cities of Mexico City and Santa Fe. “CRRC has been able to accomplish so much in a few years because of this complex collaborative approach that builds consensus from all those who care about restoring the river and the history of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro along its banks,” says Nichoe Lichen of CRRC.
With TPL and CRRC’s help, the County has refocused attention on the entire river corridor and hopes to establish a greenway to preserve and celebrate the area’s historical and cultural heritage. There are many archaeological sites along the Santa Fe River which may help tell the story of the pre-Hispanic Keresan (Pueblo) people who traveled and lived along this stretch of the El Camino Real Trail. In addition to teaching travelers and residents about this ancient route, this site will offer opportunities for restoration and environmental projects along the Santa Fe River. Planned interpretive signage will highlight the archeological and cultural resources of the area.
The Santa Fe Watershed Association has helped to restore sections of the river where past sand and gravel mining operations destroyed the riverbanks and vegetation. Additionally, “river sponsors and stewards, ranging from individual residents to local businesses, can sign on for the Adopt-a-River project through the Watershed Association,” says Vern Stanford, new Director of the Watershed Association. Both the Watershed Association and CRRC have promoted community clean-up days for clearing the river of debris. Santa Fe Conservation Trust, a local land trust, has also worked with TPL in meeting with landowners and promoting this project.
Direct appropriations from the New Mexico State Legislature, including the funding for the protection of the Santa Fe River corridor since 2002, have assisted Santa Fe County in purchasing and enhancing open space properties. However, most of the County’s funding for the purchase of open space properties primarily comes from the two bond measures passed in 1998 and 2000, which together generated approximately $20 million. These bond measures were strongly supported by County voters and both measures were passed with assistance from TPL’s Conservation Finance team.
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 www.tpl.org.