Keep Walmart out of the Rio Grande's Riverside Forest

Mr. Williams We met once when you visited Bosque School and you have helped to support our environmental education and monitoring efforts.

As you may recall, in addition to teaching at Bosque School I also co-direct the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program (BEMP) Within BEMP we now involve over 6,000 people, mostly school children, in the study of the Rio Grande and its riverside forest. Our primary gateway into the bosque for this work is adjacent to the Bosque School Campus and the City of Albuquerque's Pueblo Montano Park. It is also adjacent to a proposed Walmart. There are many issues related to this development concerning design, traffic, and safety. It fails to comply in both the spirit and the details of the City of Albuquerque's major adopted plans. Even so, the political pressures and war chest of Walmart make such violations problematic and not necessarily project stopping.

We are working very hard to stop this. Acting as a member of the Taylor Ranch Neighborhood Association and not a school employee I am contacting you for help with opposing the development. This email seeks to alert you to the problems and violations of this proposed development concerning its proximity to the Rio Grande and its riverside forest the bosque, the impact it would have on habitat, wildlife, and the environment as a whole, and the deleterious effects on BEMP and other environmental education and research efforts. Albuquerque is defined by three sections of its landscape - the Sandia Mountains to its east, its west-side volcanoes and escarpment, and the Rio Grande at its core. The Rio Grande and its riverside forest, the bosque, is a major migratory pathway for neo-tropical migrants and other species as well home to a wide array of plants and animals. A proposed Walmart would be shoehorned into a vacant of commercial development parcel of land just west of the bosque. It would compromise one of Albuquerque's most important ecological and community assets.

On the environmental front

1. Species and habitat compromise. We have documented 122 vertebrate species within an area that is less than 50 acres and is adjacent to the proposed Walmart. This includes bald eagle roost sites, willow flycatcher presence but no nest sites detected (the southwest willow flycatcher is a federal endangered species), and City of Albuquerque species of concern as listed in their Bosque Action Plan, Policy 2M: tawny-bellied cotton rat and yellow warbler. This parcel of biodiversity is outside of the formal boundary of the bosque itself and the developer is using that argument to say that it is an area of little ecological consequence. This is the same developer who without Bosque School authorization when they were clearing their own land went on to Bosque School property with heavy equipment and obliterated tawny-bellied cotton rat habitat.

Habitat and tawny-bellied cotton rat presence they were informed of in a series of public meetings.

2. Drainage/Water Pollution: We have documentation about the connectivity of the shallow ground water to the ditch and river in the Pueblo Montano Park area. This raises concerns about surface runoff water quality even if there is no apparent direct discharge from the proposed large retail facility into the ditch/river. Dr. Kim Eichhorst, of the University of New Mexico Biology Department and BEMP's Co-Director has the specific research findings and analysis to support this assertion.

3. Ecological Light Pollution: A 24 hour high impact retail center with its attendant light and noise pollution would be harmful to wildlife. There is a body of information supporting this assertion about negative response for wildlife from ecological light pollution. (The following citation might be helpful:

Travis Longcore and Catherine Rich, "Ecological light pollution," Front Ecol Environ 2004; 2(4): 191–198)

There are other environmental issues such as air quality and noise pollution but we have not yet pulled together the data to support our arguments. Monday night the 13th of February the local Audubon Chapter is considering a resolution to oppose this development. Mr. Williams, we could sure use your help. It could be as simple as contacting our local Audubon Chapter President, Beth Hurst-Waitz ([email protected]) and letting her know that you know of and support the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program and believe a big box store next to such an important ecological zone and environmental education center would be a bad decision. Or, if you were so inclined we could use some national attention brought to this issue.
Thanks for your consideration
Dan Shaw