Update on the Rio Grande Trail

Bikepacking the RGT. Photo by James Boyle


Summary of the Rio Grande Trail Commission Meeting on Jan. 11, 2017

Author: Peter Mattox – SNMTA Board Member, Rio Grande Trail Commissioner


“Hi folks-

A quick public service announcement: here is a recap of last week’s Rio Grande Trail Commission (RGTC) meeting in Santa Fe.

It was an important meeting. The New Mexico Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resource Department (EMNRD) reported to the Commission on a “request for proposal” (RFP) that they have finished and now made public. They are seeking someone to complete a Rio Grande Trail master plan and alignment study by the end of 2017. There is available funding through a $500,000 grant agreement with the U.S. Federal Highway Administration Recreational Trails Program. The grant was secured by the NM Department of Transportation.

Otherwise, the Commission passed a fairly straightforward “open meetings resolution.” Essentially, it committed the RGTC to always and forever follow existing state law (specifically: The Open Meetings Act, NMSA 1978, Sections 10-15-1 to -4). In concrete terms that means:
(1)There needs to be a quorum to hold meetings
(2)The public needs to be given notice of meetings ten days in advance via the commission website, at least “one newspaper of general circulation in the state,” and by being posted at the ENMRD office (1220 S. St Francis Drive in Santa Fe)
(3)Meeting agendas need to be made publicly accessible 72hrs in advance

Also notable at the Santa Fe meeting, National Park Service (NPS) employees Attila Bality and Marcy DeMillion gave a brief presentation on the NPS Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program which “supports community-led natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation projects across the nation.” Specifically, they discussed some case studies in trail planning.

Since the Southern New Mexico Trail Alliance is a user-based organization, the largest takeaway we have from the Jan 11 meeting is a concern: neither the original 2015 legislation which created the Rio Grande Trail Commission (HB0563), nor the more recent RFP, specify the Rio Grande Trail as being “multi-use.” While it’s important to state clearly that this oversight is not necessarily damning in any way, it does seems a surprisingly large omission. The lack of specificity is troubling in so far as it continues to crop up. And it has potentially serious long-term ramifications for the trail’s design, maintenance, and cost.

The next meeting of the Rio Grande Trail Commission has been tentatively scheduled for April 6. Location to be determined.

If you want to get involved with the Rio Grande Trail stuff, please ask us how. User voices are key as the process continues to move forward!

Best to all. Stay posted.”


What’s Next?

The next Rio Grande Trail Commission meeting will be held April 6, 2017 in Santa Fe. Details here on the SNMTA Calendar. Matt Nelson, the executive director of the Arizona Trail Association, will be the guest speaker. Please attend if you can and pass along the information to a friend.

More information about the RGT Commission can be found here.