El Oso Grande Pollinator Habitat

Message from Oso Grande Neighborhood Association

Let me introduce you to Tom Stewart, Tom is currently the President of the Native Plant Society

and volunteers to keep an eye on the El Oso Grande Pollinator Habitat located on the east side

of our beautiful park. If you have not walked through the unique habitat lately please take the time for a leisurely stroll and enjoy the sights.

Pollinator Habitat 2020

 I have been a fan of the Oso Grande Pollinator Habitat always, but inheriting the watering tech job was a new challenge. I remember the joyous kick-off day way back when the original volunteers put in numerous potted plants. Unfortunately, no one kept track of which plants were on which of the four separate irrigation lines. Although most of the shrubs we put in have grown, many of the original smaller plants have been lost — a few possibly “poached” by would-be gardeners, and some chewed by rabbits. The latter sometimes come back stronger.

 Most losses came from lack of water during drought times. So sorting out which plants were affected by leaks in a particular line, and ferreting out all the clogged emitters (drippers) was a time-consuming chore in early summer. A big triumph was locating and repairing an underground gusher that my predecessor was unable to fix. It grew even worse after he departed. Happily, I can say now that everything is working like it should and a half-dozen new plants are doing well. More will appear as temperatures moderate and it is safe again to plant.

 The habitat has proven to be a refuge for all kinds of wild bees, butterflies, birds and lots of blue tail and other lizards. Even a few honeybees show up. Surprising new plants are volunteering, perhaps from the old seed bank in the soil or a seed dropped by a bird or a dog’s feet. The flowers change during the day, with the plentiful “doze daisies” opening from their snooze around midday and the yellow blazing star opening toward evening. Some show only after a rain, like the blue-flowered “purple sage.”

 This place is also a refuge for human beings who need to get out, away from their homes for a little while and experience something different and peaceful. They enjoy reading the new, neater signs identifying the different plants. Things will only improve as time goes on. Meanwhile, I have some suggestions for visitors. Please stay on the paths for safety sake — there are prickly things and tripping hazards out there. If you bring a dog, please leash and pick up after him. And don’t discard fruit or other people foods to support critters. As well-meaning as it might be, the critters don’t seem to relish it and it lingers looking out of place. Let’s thank our friends and neighbors for rejuvenating the paths, improving the signage and the other good deeds they so enthusiastically contribute.

 Tom Stewart

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NeighborWoods Project

                   Albuquerque NeighborWoods Project for Oso Grande Neighborhood

Prepared by Karen Rivard, a member of OGNA and project manager for the Neighborwoods project

At the fall meeting of the Oso Grande Neighborhood Association, Betta Eisenberg informed members of the exciting news that our neighborhood had been awarded a tree planting grant by our city councilor Trudy Jones. This grant gave Oso Grande 100 street trees as well as 100 additional give- away trees. The street trees required planting within 20 feet of the street. Planting, cost of the tree, as well as a water rebate would be provided by the grant. The additional 100 trees would be planted by the homeowner with no requirement of 20 feet from the street. The next challenge was getting the word out as a small percentage of homeowners attended the meeting. Fortunately, our city councilor provided the funds for a mailing of postcards to each and every homeowner. Ms. Jones’ assistant, Aziza, provided a mailing list of 435 homeowners and the postcards were mailed at the end of March. At that point one would think that there would be a flood of inquiries. Not so. It seemed that the response was more like a trickle. A few months went by then Betta proposed that we canvass the neighborhood to increase interest in the project. On several occasions, teams of 4-5 TreeNM employees and volunteers ventured forth, street by street. With our masks, hats and sunglasses I am sure we looked a bit suspicious! (No one would ever be able pick us out in a line-up). We did wear our TreeNM green shirts. We encountered more challenges such as no answer to our ringing of a doorbell (if there was one). On the occasions where someone did answer the door, we were able to present the homeowner with options for trees and the response was enthusiastic. Incrementally, we neared the goal of 100 adopted trees. A final posting in Nextdoor.com put us over the top with actually two homeowners on a waiting list. As a result of this project, Oso Grande is going to be much more colorful and shady in the future with the following trees to be planted on August 29: 50 Crape Myrtle, 14 Desert Willow, 6 Emerald Sunshine Elm, 6 Southwestern RedBud, 3 Hot Wings Maple, 2 NM Olive, 5 Raywood Ash, 7 Shantung Maple, 2 Smoke Trees, and 5 Vitex. Hopefully these trees will grow and thrive leaving a beautiful legacy long after the current residents are gone.

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Park Improvements

El Oso Grande Park Improvements

Many of you may have noticed the wonderful El Oso Grande Park improvements taking place this Spring and Summer, 2020.   The park’s irrigation system was outdated and inefficient and the old pipes were prone to break causing maintenance issues.  The entire mainline, irrigation valve, wiring and irrigation controller were upgraded and the irrigation pipes replaced with durable HDPE pipe.  All of the sprinkler heads were replaced with new efficient sprinkler heads.  The new irrigation controller now has built-in cell phone-based communication to the City’s Irrigation Central Control.  So from the City’s central control the irrigation system can be monitored, scheduled and checked for line breaks, malfunctions and uniformity of irrigation throughout the park.   This will provide the healthiest turf with the least amount of water. 

Other upgrades include new plantings around the perimeter of the park:  58 Trees (Frontier Elm, Honeylocust, Chokecherry, Autumn Blaze Pear, etc), 33 large shrub/small trees (Butterfly bush, Crepe Myrtle, Vitex, etc.), and 24 small shrubs (Smoke Bush, Bosnian Pine etc.).  Additionally the playground sand was replaced with safer engineered wood fiber and several new park benches were installed.

The total cost of the project was $378,849.79.  Many thanks to City Parks and Recreation and Councilmember Trudy Jones for these long awaited El Oso Grande Park Improvements so that Northeast Heights neighborhoods can enjoy them.

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