Volunteers clear paths at Elena Gallegos Open Space for National Trails Day

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It was a busy start to the weekend at Elena Gallegos Open Space. Dozens of volunteers donated their time and energy to clear up the paths crisscrossing the beloved area for National Trails Day.

“We want to make sure that it stays nice for everybody,” said Pat Bethke, one of the nearly 75 volunteers. “We’re actually doing some work to make it look natural, but also uninviting to walk through. We’re taking cuttings of the chollas and the prickly pears and putting it onto these, what’s known as social paths.”

Basically, the group is making sure that hikers and mountain bikers stay on the actual trails.

Other volunteers focused on trying to divert the water so it flows off where people aren’t walking.

“We feel very honored to be able to help and contribute to a beautiful society and environment that needs to be conserved,” said Violet Martinez.

Among the volunteers, hikers, and bikers was Viki Teahan, co-founder of the nonprofit group Save the Elena Gallegos. The group is battling the City of Albuquerque in court to make sure it follows the rules laid out in the property deed.

“The deed has very clear land-use restrictions that are legally binding, they run with the land,” Teahan said.

According to her group, a 5,000-square-foot education center is not allowed. The city recently abandoned plans for that proposed facility after public backlash, but the group wants to make sure the city doesn’t try again.

“In my mind, the citizens own the park, and we should have standing outside of just the two parties that were involved in the deed,” Teahan said.

A judge actually agreed with that argument back in May, clearing a path toward a potential permanent injunction.