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Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park receives trails grant

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The nonprofit Asombro Institute for Science Education (AISE) of Las Cruces was among 25 organizations around the state to receive a trail development grant from the Outdoor Recreation Division (ORD) of the New Mexico Economic Development Department.

The $20,000 grant, announced Nov. 1, is for the institute’s “Gateway to the Desert” project, which “will increase and improve the public’s access to outdoor recreation and education opportunities at the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park (CDNP),” ORD said in a news release. “The project will include an entry kiosk, new parking area, new trail, interpretive signs along the trail, a restoration project, interactive photo monitoring sites, benches and fencing.”

“We’re honored to receive the Outdoor Recreation Division's Trails+ grant and to bring support for improved outdoor access to Doña Ana County,” said AISE Executive Director Stephanie Bestelmeyer, Ph.D. “Everyone should have the opportunity to experience and learn about the wonders of the Chihuahuan Desert. This project’s new kiosk, map, signs and trail that links to our existing trail network at the CDNP will be especially helpful for people with less experience exploring the desert. We’re also excited to use it with more than 1,000 local students hosted by AISE on field trips to the site each year.”

The 935-acre CDNP is located at 56501 N. Jornada Road, about 15 miles west of Las Cruces.

ORD awarded $506,736 in funds through its Trails+ grant program, the news release said. The grant funds conservation-based, shovel-ready projects that are open to the public and demonstrate a clear benefit to the community and visitors, ORD said. Eligible projects include trail systems, trailheads, signs, outdoor classrooms and river access. The grant requires a one-to-one match (in-kind accepted) from other funding sources.

ORD said 64 percent of this year’s awarded projects are located in rural counties.

In 2021, 60 organizations applied for Trails+ funding, with funding requests totaling $1.2 million.

In 2020, six organizations received just over $77,000 in grant funds.

Visit www.nmoutside.com/outdoor-grants-equity-fund and https://asombro.org/.