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Gutierrez Canyon Accessibility and Preservation Through Councilors Heinrich and Benton Efforts

Albuquerque City Councilors Martin Heinrich and Isaac Benton are seizing a rare opportunity to expand existing recreational open space in the rapidly developing East Mountains.

R-07-260, if approved by the City Council, will allow for purchase of four hundred and twenty acres of land adjacent to existing city open space at a fraction of its actual cost. It will also provide easy public access from the Turquoise Trail to the forested side canyons and high rim rock outcrops of Gutierrez Canyon. Since its purchase in 1963, access to the 300-acre Gutierrez Canyon Open Space has been limited to an area through a nearby residential neighborhood.

“The purchase of this 420-acre parcel creates the opportunity for a new trailhead and parking facilities, just off of NM 14, the Turquoise Trail Scenic Byway. Protection of the parcel will also formalize trails that criss-cross the property and are already used by the public,” said Councilor Heinrich.

In 2007, the State Legislature allocated $1.25 million in funding for the project and the State Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department committed an additional $250,000. The City of Albuquerque’s contribution would be no more than $500,000 from the Capital Implementation Program, although the land would be entirely deeded to the City of Albuquerque by the Trust for Public Land.

“This valuable piece of land is being made available to the City of Albuquerque for a fraction of the cost that we’d have to spend outright for its purchase. I’m thrilled about the opportunity to not only make a great buy, but to simultaneously conserve natural and archaeological resources, protect wildlife habitat, and provide opportunities for outdoor education and recreation,” added Councilor Benton.

R-07-260 was introduced at last night’s City Council meeting and will be heard when the City Council re-convenes in August.