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A survey will be mailed out to residents near the Corrales Interior Drain to learn what changes, if any, should be considered to the long drainage ditch east of Corrales Road. A committee appointed by Mayor JoAnne Roake has been convened to develop plans for how the property owned by the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District might best be used. A cover letter accompanying the questionnaire explains its purpose. “The Corrales Interior Drain was constructed in the 1930s to lower the water table and reclaim flooded farmland. The Interior Drain runs from East Valverde Road south to the Corrales Clear Ditch and Bosque Preserve, culminating just south of East Meadowlark Lane. The 26 acre, 120-foot-wide drain is owned and maintained by the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy.

“Today, the Interior Drain serves many uses, providing access to homes, farms and the elementary school, recreation for biking, horseback riding, hiking, fishing and bird watching. It is a vital nature sanctuary with entry to the Bosque Preserve. In recent years, use of the ditch banks along the Corrales Interior Drain have given rise to concerns about increased traffic and associated dust and potential contamination of water in the drainage ditch. Concerns have been raised about children’s safety especially as they walk or ride bicycles along the ditch going to and from Corrales Elementary School. Villagers have long thought about how the ditch right-of-way might serve community uses while maintaining MRGCD property ownership and drainage mandate.

“In 2020, Mayor Jo Anne Roake appointed The Corrales Interior Drain Committee tasked to make recommendations on the drain’s uses, preservation and potential.

“Preliminary ideas have included:
• Installing water lines along the ditch for fire suppression and landscape enhancements.
• A pathway or trail along the ditch as a safe route for children between the east end of Corrales Elementary to the Recreation Center.
• Biologists have been asked what habitat should be preserved or enhanced.
“While the committee began collecting and recording public input for the project last year, an effort is under way now to personally contact residents living near the drain.

“We are seeking your opinions and recommendations to help guide the planning effort. The questionnaire is included here. You can email your response or call any of the committee “ To return by email, send survey responses to Csmiller@UNM.edu. Appointed to the committee were Doug Findley, Sayre Gerhart, Jeff Radford, Rick Thaler, John  Perea and Ed Boles. Claudia “Taudy” Smith Miller and Shai Haber-Thaler are facilitating.

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The committee’s mission statement is as follows. “Our mission is to identify and help to implement ways in which the Interior Drain and its right-of-way may be improved for safe, enjoyable and essential public use while maintaining tranquility for adjacent residents” A draft of the questionnaire, or survey, reads this way.

1. Do you live along the Corrales Interior Drain? Please provide the location address.
2. Do you use the drain to get to your home?
3. Do you drive along the drain to get to your home?
4. Do you drive along the drain for other reasons besides going to and from your home? If yes, for what reasons?
5. What is the impact of motorized traffic along the drain on you? Please describe.
6. How do you feel about the drain being used as an alternative route for Corrales Road?
• Very good
• Good
• Neutral
• Bad
• Very bad
7. If you have concerns with motorized traffic on the drain, do you have a suggestion which mitigates your concern?
8. How often do you use the drain for outdoor recreation such as walking, biking, horseback riding or bird watching?
• Frequently
• Sometimes
• Never
9. Do you agree with the statement – bird and animal life along the drain have significant value?
• Very much
• Somewhat
• Not much
• Not at all
10. How would you feel about having a pocket park (a small park) somewhere along the drain?
• Good idea
• Ok
• Neutral
• Not good
• Bad idea
• Not enough information
11. Do you use the drain for other activities? Please provide examples.
12. What are some activities you would like to see along the drain?
13. What are some activities you would like to see discouraged along the drain?
14. Would you like to see any other changes in the drain?
15. Do you have any other thoughts, comments, or ideas about the drain that you would like to share?
16. Would you like to be invited to any meetings or discussions the committee will be having concerning the drain?
17. Would you share your email address and phone? (only for the purpose of the study)
18. Do you have any friends or neighbors, that would be interested in this discussion? Will you share their phone number or email address?”

Since the Village of Corrales has no ownership in the land involved, the committee acknowledges that its eventual recommendations would need concurrence from the MRGCD to be implemented. The district’s chief concern is expected to be retaining full use of the ditch and ditchbanks to perform routine maintenance. One of the first things the committee did was to document what is physically in the ditch and on the ditchbanks, how the land is now used and what adjacent features should be taken into consideration, such as homes, trails and Corrales Elementary School and the playground there. Suggested opportunities for future use of the land indicated in the presentation to the council included: a Fire Department fire suppression water line to fight fires east of the drain; horse riding; hiking; children’s access to school grounds; a pond; a green corridor for appreciation of nature and wildlife habitat; a butterfly garden; and improvements in air quality for neighbors asa result of reductions in dust.

In the presentation to the council, the committee outlined the following as “what problems are we trying to solve?” traffic, dust, safety, liability, loss of habitat and devaluation of property. Discussions with neighboring property owners and ditchbank users began last month to be followed by the survey. As a preliminary concept, the committee is considering possible uses for three conditions along the ditch: ponds, water areas and xeric locations. A photo essay of the varying parts of the long ditch can be found in the centerfold pages of Corrales Comment’s May 22, 2021 issue.

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