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Gutierrez Canyon Public Open Space to Expand

Over the past year, a coordinated effort has been under way to acquire 420 acres of open space in the East Mountains.

In early 2008, the City of Albuquerque was scheduled to close on the purchase of the land.

The effort was led by the Turquoise Trail/Gutierrez Canyon Preservation Coalition and the Trust for Public Land and gained the support of Governor Richardson, Lt. Governor Diane Denish, and numerous State legislators. City Councilors Isaac Benton and Martin Heinrich sponsored legislation to appropriate a portion of the total land acquisition cost, which was supported by Mayor Chavez and the entire City Council.

“The City’s acquisition of these 420 acres, which will more than double the area of the Gutierrez Canyon Open Space in the East Mountains, is a great accomplishment,” said Councilor Heinrich. “We are fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate in the preservation of this open space, and the citizens of the Albuquerque metropolitan area will be the beneficiaries of our expanded open space network,” added Councilor Benton.

Andre Larroque of the Turquoise Trail/Gutierrez Canyon Preservation Coalition thanked the councilors for the role they played in the acquisition. “Councilors Heinrich and Benton stepped up and helped secure critical funding to ensure that this land acquisition could take place. We are grateful for their support, as well as that of Governor Richardson, Lt. Governor Diane Denish, state legislators Sue Wilson Beffort, Kent Cravens, Kathy McCoy and Mimi Stewart, the full City Council, and Mayor Chavez,” said Larroque. “This acquisition means that people will be able to access the Gutierrez Canyon Open Space more easily, and we will now have an opportunity to create a new trailhead, parking areas, and facilities that will educate visitors about the history and ecology of the area.”

The State provided a total of $1.7 million ($1.25 million from legislators and the governor, and $450,000 from the State Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department), and in September 2007, the City Council unanimously approved the use of up to $500,000, in Open Space Acquisition funds to acquire the 420 acres.