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Friday, November 28, 2014

Take a walk on the wild side of Albuquerque

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By Sergio Jiménez / New Mexico Daily Lobo

Lisa Hada, a volunteers for the ABQ BioPark and Zoo, observes a beaver lodge through her binoculars during a moonlight hike on Tuesday. The ABQ BioPark is giving guided tours of the bosque on July 15 and Aug. 19.

The silhouette of a 147-foot-tall cottonwood stands high at the center of the city, ignored by people as they speed by on a day-to-day basis.
The ABQ BioPark, in collaboration with Albuquerque Open Space Division, is re-introducing residents to this natural wonder with the Moonlight Bosque Hike.
The Hike takes groups through the bosque, around the Deep Marsh, and then makes a quick stop at the Rio Grande before ending the tour at Tingley Beach after nightfall.
Kathryn Venzor, an ABQ BioPark Education Curator, said she has been on the hike three times and said her favorite part of the tour is near the end, when bats fly over the Rio Grande.
“You have the river habitat, forest meeting the mountains, you have the desert, and it all comes together,” she said. “We are a super unique experience for a lot of community members to understand.”
Monika Skiba, a BioVan Environmental Educator, has been on the Moonlight Bosque Hike four times, but has walked the same route more than 60 times on her own. Seeing the excitement of the hikers when they learn something new, she said, is her favorite part of the Moonlight Hike.
“The hike is important to introduce the citizens of Albuquerque to the nature of the bosque, in their own backyard. To hopefully gain a greater sense of stewardship, appreciation and connection to the river and the water,” Skiba said.
Mike Leffert, a retired Latin American studies professor, has been an avid bosque hiker for 50 years and said he supports the tour, but does not like the way the area has been manicured through urban development.
“Do you remember Tingley Beach before they did this?” Leffert said. “It was basically just a strip. They just went fishing. There were no signs telling them what they couldn’t do. Things are more organized now. They are horrendously less natural.”
ABQ Bio Park holds two other evening programs, which are Twilight Tours at the Zoo and Night Walks at the Botanical Gardens. The next Moonlight Bosque Hikes are July 15 and Aug. 19.

Lauren Marvin is a freelance writer for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at culture@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @LaurenMarvin.