I’ve been long overdue in writing something more detailed about the popular woodlands, so here goes.
The Rio Grande Bosque, or “the Bosque” (Bosque is usually said with a heavy Spanish accent, regardless of whether the person saying it speaks the language or not). The word Bosque is a Spanish term for “woodlands”, and while there are other parts of the world that use the term, the Bosque is by far the most well known example where the word is used to describe woodlands. This place is considered a gem in New Mexico, both ecologically and culturally, because it’s a strip of forest land along the Rio Grande whose claim to uniqueness is that it is surrounded by raw desert, especially in the Albuquerque region. I myself have always had something of an attachment to this place, which is why I upload a lot of pictures of it. I live close enough to it to to reach it on foot, so I visit and trek around the place often, probably more than three times a week on average.
The area has undergone significant ecological evolution over the last few decades, not least of which would include a rapid takeover by invasive plants. That owes in large part to Albuquerque’s quest to recreate the East Coast, suburban ideal of thick, grassy turf and dense foliage, a type of biome that, outside the Bosque woodland, isn’t natural to the Albuquerque area.
The end result is that the water, containing seeds from trees that grow elsewhere in the world, seeped into the river area, setting into motion an annexation of the riverside by non-native trees such as the salt cedar, and Russian olivet. Here’s a photo of Russian olive trees dominating an area that a generation or two ago, would have been exclusively for cottonwoods and junipers:
I grew up near the Rio Grande, and when I was a kid, Russian olive trees were sparse enough that any time I saw them, I’d take notice. Now they’re so numerous that they’re changing the dominant colour of the woodland. We may be looking at a silver riverside forest in 20 years or so, which will be quite a sight, but will have serious effects on the local ecosystem.
Various groups, including one in my town, have worked to help replenish cottonwood trees in parts of the Bosque that most need it. Some of these efforts have had great success. One such area includes a stretch in Corrales, NM, not far from where I live, which was savagely ravaged by a wildfire five years ago. This helps maintain some balance to the Bosque, but I don’t see how it would be possible to keep it the way it had been. Evolution of the ecosystem is tough to reverse once its fully in motion.
This is just my two cents on one of my favourite places in the world. Having grown up near it, and still living close to it, I consider my passion for it somewhat integral to who I am. This is why I walk there and talk about it so much.