Early History of the Albuquerque Open Space Program

On Sunday, January 19, 2020, Rex Funk presented a photographic history of the Albuquerque Open Space system going back to the 1960s. The program was held at the Albuquerque Museum at 2000 Mountain Rd. NW in Old Town.

ABQ OPen Space logo

Albuquerque’s nationally known open space system dates back to the 1960s and includes over 30,000 acres of volcanic escarpment, river bosque, agricultural fields, arroyos, mesas, areas in the Sandia and Manzano Mountains and mountain foothills. The system is considered a national model for land acquisition, conservation and preservation. Land has been acquired using special taxes, general obligation bonds, federal and state funds and land exchanges.

Photo of Rex FunkRex Funk arrived in Albuquerque in 1969 to teach science courses at West Mesa High School. He grew up in Los Angeles where he witnessed urban sprawl overrun much of the city’s natural setting. He quickly became an open space advocate working with the Bosque Society to establish a nature center and preserve along the Rio Grande in Albuquerque. He went on to serve on several boards and task forces including chairing the Open Space Task Force. He was a leader in the effort to save the Elena Gallegos lands and create the Open Space Trust Fund in 1982. He was hired that year as the City’s first Open Space Planner and was instrumental in the establishment of Rio Grande Valley State Park in 1983. In 1984 he became the first Superintendent of the Open Space Division of the City Parks and Recreation Department. He was elected to the AMAFCA board and served 6 years. He retired from the City in 1994. He is a recipient of the Gulf Oil National Conservation Award and The Albuquerque Conservation Association Individual of the Year award, and the Audubon Society Washburn Award. He currently lives in Corrales with his Wife, Lujet (Lou Jet).

Photo of Picnic Shelter at Elena Gallegos Open Space Park
Picnic Shelter at Elena Gallegos Open Space Park