History of the Trails
In 1997, former Bloomfield Fire Chief George Duncan had a vision – a vision for non-motorized trails along the San Juan River that runs through Bloomfield
George and his friends, all of whom were and are advocates for outdoor recreation, formed the Sand and Sage Trail Trekkers, with the purpose of advocating the development of those non-motorized trails along the river and in other areas in Bloomfield.
George visited trails in Michigan, in and around Durango, Colorado, Moab, Utah, and the river trail in our sister city of Farmington. George took his vision and his research to the Bloomfield City Council in 2005 and asked the city for its support. Resolution 2005-11, which was for the construction of trails, bicycle paths and pedestrian walkways, was passed.
City land was cleared of trees to reduce the risk of wildfires, and the land – which paralleled much of the San Juan River was dedicated as the Vereda de Rio San Juan area. Reviewing maps of the area, which stretched from Highway 550, east along the San Juan River, and back to the highway, plans were marked and a rough path for the trail was begun.
George submitted a grant application to the New Mexico Recreational Trails Grant, which is part of the New Mexico State Parks Division of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, to help with materials and labor. That project also included engineering/surveying, pavers for the first 1,000 feet of the path, and would be followed by lighting of the trails, restrooms, benches, waste receptacles and asphalt services.
In October of 2005, the City of Bloomfield was notified that the grant of $399,000 had been approved and awarded. George's vision was about to become a reality.
Archaeological and environmental assessments were begun and in the fall of 2006, construction of the trail began. A Youth Conservation Corps grant was approved, which provided 12 workers, who installed the pavers for the first section of the trail. In April of 2007, another contract with the YCC was approved and construction of the path was begun. By the spring of 2007, the laying of the pavers was complete and the trail became a dream come true for George Duncan.
While the river walk and trails along the San Juan River – and the beautiful park at Vereda de Rio San Juan – are popular spots for visiting nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, as well as the residents of Bloomfield, Bloomfield Mayor Cynthia Atencio and the Bloomfield City Council hope to further that development in the future.
Private property must be obtained and the local economy must improve before that development can be achieved. However, with the beautiful San Juan River running through Bloomfield - and the determination of Bloomfield's Mayor and City Council, along with the support of the citizens of Bloomfield - the Riverwalk area of Bloomfield will become a destination point for visitors and a focal point of the community.