From today’s newspaper, the story of a private property owner and a loose-knit coalition of folks around her working to preserve and restore one of the most remarkable stretches of Rio Grande riparian wildlands in the middle Rio Grande (sub. or ad req):
A gate that used to keep cattle in now keeps them out of what is likely the largest privately owned riverside habitat restoration project on the middle Rio Grande.
For more than a mile, along the river’s east bank, dense thickets of invasive salt cedar and Russian olive have been cleared, leaving isolated clumps of cottonwoods and the gentle curve of the river.
After a dry spell earlier this summer that left the river bottom nothing but isolated pools of water surrounded by dry sand, recent rains have brought the Rio Grande back to life. On a recent late Sunday afternoon, barn swallows and nighthawks darted over the open space, snatching bugs from the sky.
“The river has a personality,” said Matt Mitchell, a neighbor and member of a loose-knit coalition that has banded together to help Rhodes preserve and restore this isolated flood plain.