ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The city of Albuquerque, along with the county and National Park Service, is looking to develop up to 24 miles worth of trails in the West Mesa area—and they’re asking for community input.
The ‘West Mesa Trails Plan’ looks at areas surrounding already well-known places, like Petroglyph National Monument and Piedras Marcadas Canyon. “As we do see development coming into the west side, I think it’s important that we really consider how to add extra protection in a way to those areas and really develop a trail system as a part of that so that the increased visitation that we wanna see in the open space areas can be done in a sustainable way,” says Colleen McRoberts, open space superintendent for the city.
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The West Mesa Open Space is an area of over 3,800 acres of high desert landscapes. While McRoberts says there are some existing unofficial ‘social trails’ throughout the area, the plan would present opportunities for people to hike, bike, and horseback along natural surface trails that link major monuments and landmarks in more accessible ways.
Hikers in the area say they like the prospect of conserving this area and having new places to explore. “Teddy Roosevelt started the parks, you know, the national parks and I think we should continue to maintain that mentality of ‘how do we protect our earth?’ Not only for us but for our children in the future so I think it’s really important that we have the opportunity,” says Emily Thomas, who was hiking in the area.
The Environmental Planning Commission also has some projects on the horizon to help conserve open spaces: of six agenda items in Thursday’s meeting, four deal with changing zoning from mixed-use or space for development to public open space zoning.
The city is looking for input on the West Mesa Trail Plan Tuesday. They are asking residents about what uses are important to them and what routes they would want to see. The meeting is at 5:30 p.m. at the West Gate Community Center. For a list of more upcoming meetings, visit their website.
Officials with the project say they hope to get the planning phase wrapped up by August. As for when people might be able to see the new and improved open space: “The entire plan could take years,” McRoberts says.