ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – People who hike the Bear Canyon Open Space area in the heights are confused and upset. Viewers alerted News 13 that someone drove over the trail, ruining plants and cacti.
Many hikers in the canyon Wednesday said they’d never seen anything like this: cacti and other shrubs flattened, and tire tracks left along both sides of well-established trails. The Bear Canyon Open Space is a treasured stretch of relatively unscathed wilderness in the heights.
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“During COVID, you’d see 30 people out here at a time walking during those months where we were you know in lockdown. So, I think that there’s just a real love for this open space,” says Molly Minana, who lives nearby. However, over the weekend people who frequent the area noticed trails had been marred.
“There’d just be this wide swath of vegetation, that’s just been scraped and just pfft destroyed. Cactus, you know, the sage,” Minana says.
“The other day I came on a little hike out here as well and I noticed that what it looked like maybe the city had done it, but I wasn’t sure like all sorts of cactuses for quite a stretch like a lot of acres like a car track width just mowed down cactuses everywhere,” says Patrick Martell, who hikes in the area frequently.
Everyone wants to know who did it: whether it was a work crew or someone off-roading.
“I have no idea what it’s all about but I’m surprised we didn’t notice the machinery,” Minana says, “Is it something that’s been planned for? Or is it just something random that we need to be, you know, trying to figure out?”
“I’m not really sure why that was or what happened or if it was malicious or if the city did it on purpose or something? But yeah, it’s like this whole area just plowed out,” Martell says.
Martell says there are now dangerous spots on the trails: “You couldn’t really walk on it anymore because there’s so many cactus pieces everywhere it was like, took a while to get all of the stuff out of my shoes, and people with their dogs, I was telling them you gotta turn around cause their dogs are going to get thrashed…It would be nice if at least it was sort of cleaned up so there’s not pieces of cactus there for the next 15–cause you couldn’t walk there ever again cause there’s just so many cactus thorns.”
News 13 reached out to the city, and a spokesperson did confirm the Department of Municipal Development had been out there over the weekend to repair a drainage system. However, it’s unclear if that is what caused the destruction.
A spokesperson for the city’s open spaces says they have not had any projects in the area recently.