Rio Grande by A. Molles

Project type: Outreach

BBMP Recommendations Met: Supports all recommendations

Purpose/objectives: Restoring the Middle Rio Grande: A Community Action Plan is a community education and outreach project with the essential components of listening and action. The four aspects of the project are: public awareness, community building, individual action, and creation of a vision. The purpose is to inspire positive and effective action for the river, with an emphasis on communication, collaboration, and, creative problem solving.

Background: Rio Grande Restoration's overall objective is not only to restore the river's biological functions, but, perhaps more importantly, to restore people to the river. Among those concerned about the future of the Rio Grande, most agree to the importance of public education and participation. Rio Grande Restoration's community action plan for the Middle Rio Grande Valley includes: 1) taking people to the river, and the river to people, through slide show presentations, river walks, and river rides, 2) promoting dialogue and understanding about the river, through the dynamic of listening, and 3) inspiring creative action by providing opportunities for individuals to become involved in the search for and implementation of solutions.

The many groups now working to find solutions to the myriad problems facing the Rio Grande agree about one thing: public education and outreach is essential to these efforts. Since 1999, Rio Grande Restoration has developed a number of education and outreach initiatives through the multi-year project Restoring the Rio Grande: A Community Action Plan. During its first year, with the support of the Middle Rio Grande Bosque Initiative, Rio Grande Restoration established an Albuquerque office, developed a data base, and convened River Day at the Roundhouse. Other efforts include the following outreach initiatives: The Listening Project; Middle Rio Grande Workshop; "Rio Grande/Great River, From Source to Sea" slide show; Rio Grande Restoration web site; Bosque Restoration Demonstration Project; River Advocates Training; and Bosque Speaker's Bureau.

Scope: Rio Grande Restoration is committed to continuing our outreach efforts, and expanding on their success, through the implementation of educational and public participation programs as described below.

The Listening Project is an innovative outreach project that includes slide show presentations, involving participants in dialogue and visioning through River Questions, and providing opportunities for individual and group action.

The Middle Rio Grande Workshop was a day-long workshop held in 2000 with presentations by a broad range of groups working on issues related to the Middle Rio Grande, including policy and action groups, restoration projects, and technical groups, for the purpose of information sharing, improving communication and understanding, and acknowledging common challenges. As a result of the workshop, two follow-up groups were formed: the San Acacia and South Forum, to address issues and solutions specific to that river reach; and, the Whole Pie Group, also know as the Middle Rio Grande Coordinating Group, to develop a comprehensive federal funding request for Middle Rio Grande related efforts.

The "Rio Grande/Great River, From Source to Sea" slide show provides an overview of the river from source to sea, including its social and cultural significance, human uses and impacts, current conditions, and major problems and their potential solutions. The slide show has been presented at meetings of community groups, at the Bio-park and Hispanic Cultural Center, and at a myriad of public gatherings.

The Rio Grande Restoration web site, www.riogranderestoration.org, features educational information, recommended resources, and action opportunities.

The Bosque Restoration Demonstration Project includes the development and coordination of a restoration project along the Rio Grande in downtown Albuquerque for the purposes of public education and community participation. (See web page on this site entitled Bosque Restoration Demonstration Project - Public Education & Community Participation)

The River Advocates Training program is designed to enable individuals to become further informed about the Rio Grande and to explore complex issues and action opportunities in greater depth. The training program includes six 2.5-hour sessions on the following topics:

  • River Grande/Great River: From Source to Sea - slide show presentation with questions and discussion.
  • Life of the Rio Grande in the Middle Valley - historic and cultural context, current issues; upstream and downstream perspectives with panel of featured speakers.
  • Dynamics of a Desert River: The hydrograph then and now -Overview of river dynamic (hydrology, sediment transport, etc.).
  • River Management: The institutions and their authorities - guest speakers from Federal, State, and local river management agencies.
  • Demands on the Rio: Water needs and uses - Panel presentations by stakeholders.
  • River Vision: A call to action - Group participation, identifying opportunities and available tools for translating knowledge and concern into constructive action.

The training program will also involve field trips, to include a tour of the Bosque Restoration Demonstration Project and a River Float with attention to diversions, wastewater treatment facilities and restoration sites.

Most recently, a Bosque Speaker's Bureau is being designed to promote public awareness and understanding of the issues pertaining to the bosque. The Speaker's Bureau will provide groups, organizations, and individuals with a more accessible means for offering informational programs on the bosque. A brochure will be developed, identifying specific topics for presentation and providing background and contact information about participating entities that are actively involved in river and bosque related issues and projects.

Benefits:

  • Improved public understanding of the bosque, including its ecological requirements and ecosystem services
  • Improved public awareness of the diverse issues that affect the management of the river and natural resources along the Middle Rio Grande
  • Development of educational resources for the public
  • Opportunities for public participation and action

General Project Location: The project is coordinated at the Albuquerque office of Rio Grande Restoration. Programs and workshops are held at locations throughout the Middle Rio Grande Valley.

Approximate Project Size: Program work extends from Cochiti Reservoir to Elephant Butte Reservoir, but is concentrated in the greater Albuquerque area

Period of Performance: March 1999 - April 2003

Project Status: Outreach efforts for the Bosque Restoration Demonstration continue. The River Advocates Training program has been developed; training workshops will begin in Autumn, 2002. The Bosque Speaker's Bureau will be operational in January, 2003.

Sponsoring agency: Rio Grande Restoration

Primary contact information:
Deb Hibbard
Middle Rio Grande Bosque Coordinator
131 Harvard Drive SE, #2
Albuquerque, NM 87106
Ph: 505-266-3609
rioheart@rt66.com

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