Earth Day at Río Fernando Park: health for the earth and ourselves

By Cindy Brown
For The Taos News
Posted 4/18/19

Spring calls us to wake up to the rhythms of nature and our own bodies. The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 in the United States. Since that time, the …

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Earth Day at Río Fernando Park: health for the earth and ourselves

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Spring calls us to wake up to the rhythms of nature and our own bodies. The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 in the United States. Since that time, the celebration has grown to more than 190 countries, with people coming together on April 22 each year to learn about and take action to protect the environment.

Locally, the Taos Land Trust is planning a week of events at Río Fernando Park. The park is a perfect place to celebrate the health of the planet, along with the well-being of our bodies and minds. Since late 2015, Taos Land Trust has been working to restore the 20 acre park to a more natural state. The organization, with the help of Youth Conservation Corps members, has returned a section of the river to its previously meandering course and thinned invasive tree species from the land. The improvements are helping create a healthier balance for the seven acres of the park devoted to the river and its wetlands. The Vigil y Romo acequia has been restored and is running across the land for the first time in 50 years and a walking path is being created.

“The improvements are part of an effort to get people outside to walk in the park,” says communications director Jim O’Donnell. “It’s restorative to be in nature with the river running and the sound of frogs all around.”

On a recent visit to the park, the trees were beginning to emerge from their winter sleep and send buds out. The river is rising, and the overflow is being stored in new ponds that will hold and cleanse the water, slowly releasing it back into the river over time.

Río Fernando Park is a place to experience the rejuvenating rhythms of nature. Because the park is located in a convenient central location off La Posta Road, people are coming out to enjoy the spring weather with a walk at lunch or with their families during special events like those planned for Earth Week.

Benefits of walking

Spring is a great time to start moving, if you’ve been inactive this winter. Walking is a low-impact way to begin exercising so that you can experience the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of being in nature.

Walking can help maintain a healthy weight and prevent or manage conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, according to researchers at the Mayo Clinic. It also strengthens your bones and muscles, while improving your balance, coordination and mood. Consult your health care professional to find out how walking might be part of a healthy lifestyle for you.

Taking a walk in nature has even more benefits. A concept that has reached the United States from Japan is known as "forest bathing," which is spending relaxed time in nature to allow us to feel calmer and rejuvenated. Those who walk in natural settings have experienced these benefits and a growing body of research supports these feelings.

“Spending time in Río Fernando Park near the river surrounded by nature helps us reconnect with ourselves,” says TLT Executive Director Kristina Ortez. “The quarter-mile loop that we have in place provides an easy walk and it’s great for families. We will be expanding the walking trail to three-quarters of a mile. By connecting with the trails at Fred Baca Park, you can get your steps in and get the benefits of walking therapy, which include physical and mental health. We encourage everyone to visit the park and find a spot that brings them joy.”

(BOX SIDEBARS)

Events

Earth Day celebrations at Río Fernando Park offer opportunities to be in nature and to learn about the changes happening at the park.

• Monday (April 22) – In coordination with the Field Institute of Taos, school groups explore and learn about the environment.

• Tuesday (April 23) – Thursday (April 25) – Each day at noon walks at the park will be led by Kristina Ortez and/or Jim O’Donnell to talk about the history of the land, along with restoration efforts and future plans such as the extended trail, benches and picnic tables.

• Wednesday (April 24) at 8 a.m. – A morning bird walk led by local expert Robert Templeton. There is a limit of 15 people for this walk; call Taos Land Trust to see if spots are available.

• Friday (April 26) at 6 p.m. – Taos Land Trust fundraising celebration at Manzanita Market . Farm-to-table seasonal meal sourced locally – call or visit the website for tickets.

• Sunday (April 28) from noon to 1:30 pm – Safe Routes to Parks Walkability Tour is a walk to explore routes to the park and identify locations for repairing or installing new sidewalks.

• Sunday (April 28) at 1 p.m. – Río Fernando Park Land and Trails Exploration Day is a chance to learn about tree planting, go on a medicinal plant walk, build pollinator homes and receive pollinator seeds.

International celebration

In providing plants and homes for pollinators, the Río Fernando Park celebration supports the theme of this year’s international celebration: protect our species.

Among the species in need of protection are bees. We need bees to pollinate food and flowers that feed animals and humans. According to the Earth Day Network website, there are 369,000 flowering plant species and 90 percent of them are dependent on insect pollinators. A honeybee can visit 50-1,000 flowers in one trip and if a bee makes 10 trips a day, a colony of 25,000 bees can pollinate 250 million flowers in a day. Bees are a keystone species, meaning that other species depend on them to survive. Many species of animals depend on bees for their survival because their food source such as nuts, berries, seeds and fruit rely on insect pollination.

To find out more about International Earth Day celebrations, visit: earthday.org/campaigns/endangered-species/earthday2019.

Directions

Río Fernando Park is located at 410 La Posta Road. From Taos Plaza, head south on Camino de la Placita. Turn right onto Ranchitos Road and go to La Posta Road – turn left. Stay left and drive .4 miles to 410 La Posta Road. Look for the Taos Land Trust sign.

For more information

Contact the Taos Land Trust at (575) 751-3138 or visit taoslandtrust.org.

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