The Taos Land Trust is now well into the process of revitalizing a 20-acres tract of wetlands and agricultural land next to Fred Baca Park.
The UNM-Taos Digital Media Arts team is producing a series of short videos for the Taos Land Trust and Rio Fernando Park, highlighting their community building strategies and helping to spread awareness of the incredible watershed, to get young people and schools involved in outdoor education.
When I talked to Juniper Manley earlier this year, she told me that this project will revitalize a section of the Rio Fernando River, bring an acequia back to life, along with restoring the once productive agricultural lands of this property. When completed, the site will provide our community and its visitors with downtown access to the river and green space through a network of trails.
The ongoing rehabilitation work will also be used for educational demonstrations for teaching the best possible practices for the conservation of soil, water and habitat.
When Juniper left the Harwood due to changes that were occurring at the time, she wasn’t sure what she would do, after having been so involved for so long, in the Museum’s day to day operations, that went over and beyond her position there.
Juniper’s 20 years of experience in nonprofit administration, plus her passion for the land and New Mexico where she was born and raised, prompted her to join the Land Trust. As the Taos Land Trust Associate Director, Juniper manages all fundraising activities and grant stewardship.
For the Rio Fernando Park project, Juniper is in charge of Project Management and coordinating staff and contractors.
She works very closely with UNM-Taos Digital Media Arts Chair, Peter Walker, who put together a student media team to shoot and edit onsite projects.
Peter Walker, his colleagues and students are all excited about the opportunity they’ve had to document the ongoing Rio Fernando Park Project (along with a Pro National Parks crew), as the Land Trust works to revitalize a critical wetland here in Taos, to improve the water quality (and quantity) that feeds the Rio Grande, to help mitigate climate change by minimizing the effects of extreme storms after periods of extreme drought, and to enhance the natural habitat for both migratory and resident species.
The Rio Fernando Park will offer a unique park experience; wetlands, green space, agricultural fields, walking trails and access to the Rio Fernando will all be part of its charm.
“We are attempting to create a park experience that is a key field site for education.” Juniper told me.
This will include hands-on demonstrations of conservation techniques for the community, along with partnerships with local high school and college educators. Several events have already taken place at the site, and more are planned. You can read about them on the Rio Fernando site linked below this post.
Partnering up with the UNM-Taos DMA program is another aspect of the Educational focus of the project.
“Each year, since its inception, the UNM Taos DMA program has produced skilled media students who are looking for real life media experiences as interns and paid assistants.” Said Peter Walker when I talked to him about the project.
“Ideal relationships for the DMA internship program include businesses who understand the schedule and demands of being a full-time student and can be flexible with their working hours and training.” He explained. “The Taos Land Trust is the perfect partner.”
Because it’s centrally located (Rio Fernando Park is next to Baca Park) with easy access for UNM-DMA student interns to get there and do their media work in a dynamic location. it’s also a great opportunity to learn video production in an outdoor setting, along with access to several important people(involved with the park project), to interview, helping the students to develop real-world media production skills.
“It’s a great mission to be involved in,” he continued, “ with folks working hard to provide access for Taosenos to experience nature in the heart of town, while protecting and restoring important wetlands.”
For much more on the UNM-Taos DMA Program, please visit their site linked below this post. I have included a link to the Taos Land Trust’s Rio Fernando Park site as well.
All images c/o Taos Land Trust by photographer and writer, Jim O’Donnell, who blogs for the Land Trust as well. Jim’s site is linked on my sidebar, under Taos links.