When I was in Albuquerque recently, I spent a day exploring the Bosque by bicycle. I rode along the bike path and took several trails to the water's edge. In many places, you could not see through to the Rio Grande because the banks were so wild and the vegetation was so thick. That was good news for this section of the river, because much of the Rio Grande, as all rivers, has been channelized. Here I still saw sandbars, which are essential to the health of the river and the Bosque.
Water is the source of life for the Bosque, with cottonwoods being the heart as they provide habitat for so many creatures. Cottonwoods have deep roots that reach down to the water table, though they can only grow in areas with permanent water supplies. Sadly these important trees are being threatened and many forests have been cleared for farming, development, and river projects. Here is a link to some information about the Bosque and cottonwood trees: http://www.nmnaturalhistory.org/bosque-education-guide/chapter-2-bosque-background .
New Mexico is a desert, so water is a scare resource. To provide enough water to the Bosque and the creatures that live here requires healthy creeks and channels and periodic natural flood surges. These smaller bodies of water are necessary to the health of native ecosystems since the flow is slower, which is particularly critical during spawning season. The restoration of the Silvery Minnow system was partially to help this endangered fish which once made 1900 miles of the Rio Grande its home but now only occupies about 200 miles along the river.
The image above is from the trial in the State Park at one end of the Paseo del Bosque Trail. You can see through the vegetation to sand bars in the Rio Grande.
This stunning blooming cactus was near the Aldo Leopold Forest. Maintaining areas like this with native species is critical to the survival of the Bosque. The introduction of non-native species in other areas is threatening cottonwoods and other native plants and that often reduces biodiversity in a region.
The teeming life in the desert around waterways always astonishes me. The Bosque is such a rich area and I know I only skimmed the surface of what it has to offer during my visit. Hopefully, I can return soon and get to know this beautiful area even more intimately.