ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s truly a hidden gem in Albuquerque, tucked away along the Rio Grande. Now, there are grand plans to expand the area for both human and animal visitors alike.

It’s easy to cross paths with a variety of plants, animals and people at Albuquerque’s Rio Grande Nature Center. A place to get outside and get to know the local wildlife.

“This is usually a once, twice a week walk for us,” said locals Miamon and Louise Miller. “We’re always out and about in other areas.”

Soon, the area by the state park could look a lot different. The city is ready to roll out plans to diversify the area even more.

“The Rio Grande used to meander and create lots of different types of habitats historically so we had many wetlands, grasslands, many different types of vegetation,” said CABQ Open Space Superintendent Colleen McRoberts. “We had bosque and patches so what we’re trying to do here is mimic that diversity again and that will help support more wildlife.”

The changes would transform the neighboring farmland into this: a project that could be in the works for the next 20 years. “When people look in here in the future, they won’t see farm fields, they’ll see grasslands, native grasslands, saltgrass meadows and they may see more of an extended wetland area,” said McRoberts.

Along with the vast wildlife and vegetation changes, the area could also add more accessible trails, more bird blinds and include more guided tours. The project could cost a little more than $9 million. People say as long as the area doesn’t change too much, they’re on board.

“I hope they don’t over manicure it because its wild,” said the Millers. “This is what is so amazing, I mean you can hear Albuquerque in the distance but you could as well be in the middle of nowhere.”

The next step will be to present the plans to the city council. However, no date on that has been set. They hope to get funding from the city, GO bonds as well as cut some costs by having volunteers help plant the trees.

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