ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – If you’ve seen the Rio Grande in Albuquerque in recent weeks, you may see that a large portion of the river is dry and only a few pools of water remain. While some experts say it may be a frequent sight each year, the city’s Open Space superintendent is asking people to be mindful if they visit the drying riverbed.

“When the river is drying like this, you know, it’s better to not go into the dry river bed. And more importantly, it’s really important not to disturb the areas where there is still water,” said City of Albuquerque Open Space Superintendent Colleen McRoberts.

McRoberts said the drying riverbed and surrounding bosque is a sensitive ecosystem that could be damaged by visitors. McRoberts reminded visitors that off-road vehicles are not allowed at Rio Grande Valley State Park, including on the levees, within the bosque itself, and within the riverbed. “ATVS tend to do a lot of compaction actually cause soil erosion. Along the levee, they may you know, cause some damage to the levee itself, which is, you know, very important infrastructure,” McRoberts said.

Andy Dean, a fish and wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said if ATV riders travel through the remaining pools of water in the riverbed, they could harm any wildlife that is already stressed while trying to survive. “Driving through any water that still exists in the riverbed could cause direct mortality to fish or turtles or other wildlife that still might be using the water that’s left,” Dean explained.

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Dean and McRoberts also said the noise from ATVs or off-road vehicles could disturb wildlife in the area of the Rio Grande. Riders are asked to go to the Montessa Park Off-Road Vehicle Area instead.

McRoberts said if anyone sees off-road vehicles in the Rio Grande Valley State Park to call the police department’s non-emergency line at 505-242-2677.