Rep. Jeff Steinborn and Bipartisan Legislators Introduce Legislation to Create Statewide Rio Grande Trail
The “Rio Grande Trail” Would Connect Iconic New Mexico Landscapes and Cultures
A group of bipartisan legislators from across New Mexico introduced legislation today to establish a statewide recreation trail from Colorado to Texas called the Rio Grande trail. Legislators, tourism officials and small business owners say the new trail would be a boost for jobs along the route, as well as provide a new high quality recreation opportunity for New Mexico residents.
HB 563 would create the Rio Grande Trail Commission to study and recommend the best paths for a new Rio Grande Trail. The Commission, made up of the many stakeholders along the Rio Grande including cities, counties, tribes, federal agencies, conservancy districts, and private citizens would help define the best trail routes and reach the necessary agreements to designate a path through the many jurisdictions along the river. The trail would only cross land with the agreement of its owners.
Currently there are segments of existing trail along the Rio Grande including the Bosque in Albuquerque, Taos, Elephant Butte, in and around Las Cruces.
Under current law the New Mexico Secretary of Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) has the authority to establish state trails. HB 563 would create the Rio Grande Trail Commission under the authority of the Secretary of EMNRD, who would make the various appointments to the Commission specified in the legislation.
HB 563 sponsor Representative Jeff Steinborn (Las Cruces) said the Rio Grande Trail would tie together New Mexico’s unique landscapes and cultures, and that the commission is a critical step to bring the idea to fruition.
“The Rio Grande passes by iconic New Mexico landmarks including three national monuments, six state parks, two national wildlife refuges, diverse cultures and communities, and miles of existing trail along beautiful stretches of river. A statewide Rio Grande Trail would string together these natural and cultural pearls into one of the most unique tourism opportunities in the state. Creating the entire Rio Grande Trail will take time but it’s a venture that will pay off significantly for New Mexico.” Steinborn added that the Rio Grande Trail would not have to be complete in order to be designated, and that established trail segments could be marketed right away.
Phil San Felipe, Executive Director of the Las Cruces Visitors and Convention Bureau applauded the new legislation. “The proposed Rio Grande Trail is an incredible opportunity for our state to really showcase the best of what New Mexico True is all about. Outdoor recreation is a significant job creator, contributing over $3.8 billion and 47,000 jobs in New Mexico alone. A statewide trail would really bring a cohesiveness to New Mexico’s brand as a whole.”
Legislative co-sponsor Jason Harper (R- Rio Rancho) added, “as a legislator, scout leader and parent, the Rio Grande Trail is a one of a kind opportunity to teach our kids and country about New Mexico’s land and culture. It will create great job opportunities across New Mexico, as well as an unparalleled recreation opportunity for our communities. This is an exciting project for all the state.”