- Associated Press - Thursday, February 19, 2015

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - A group of New Mexico lawmakers wants to create a 500-mile, statewide recreation trail that stretches from Colorado to Texas and weaves through majestic vistas, monuments and cultural areas in the Land of Enchantment.

Called the Rio Grande Trail, the pathway is envisioned as being similar to the Appalachian Trail or the Continental Divide Trail.

Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, introduced a bill Thursday to create a commission to define the best routes and reach necessary agreements to designate a path.

“Creating the entire Rio Grande Trail will take time but it’s a venture that will pay off significantly for New Mexico,” Steinborn said.

Commission members would include cities, counties, tribes, federal agencies, conservancy districts, and private citizens.

The idea for the trail in not new, but the magnitude of the project has previously deterred construction, Steinborn said at a news conference flanked by a bipartisan group of lawmakers who support the venture.

The trail would only cross land accessed through voluntary agreements with owners and would link pathways that already exist along the Rio Grande, including the Bosque in Albuquerque, Taos, Elephant Butte and Las Cruces.

The existing pathways comprise just 10 percent of the proposed trial.

As envisioned, the trail could be built in pieces - even non-contiguous ones.

If the bill passes, a fund would be created with seed money for initial staff to begin work at the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. The fund would accept private foundation money and other donations.

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