Ojito de San Antonio is currently closed to the public due to a forest health restoration project. The property will be closed until further notice. If you have questions about this project, contact Grant Brodehl at 505-314-0433.
Ojito de San Antonio consists of 88 acres that borders the village of San Antonio de Padua to the east and the Cibola National Forest to the northwest. In July 1999, Ojito de San Antonio became the first open space property purchased by Bernalillo County. Ojito de San Antonio takes its name from two nearby springs that also share the same name with two acequias that supply water to Ojo de San Antonio and Acequia Madre. The springs have provided clean drinking water for people and wildlife for centuries, in addition to supplying water to an existing fruit tree orchard. Outside of the acequia-fed riparian and orchard areas, Ojito de San Antonio is characterized by a grassy meadow surrounded by steep, piñon-juniper forested foothills.
The adjacent village of San Antonio de Padua was part of the 1763 Cañon de Carnuel Land Grant. In 1819, local residents established San Antonio and constructed the acequia system to distribute water among community members. In the early 1930s, Albuquerque trading post owner Charles Wright purchased the property and planted many of the fruit trees that are present in the orchard, while respecting the acequia and village traditions. Today, the Acequia Madre de San Antonio Community Ditch Association continues to care for the water and ditch system in conjunction with Bernalillo County. The springs and acequias are a part of the community’s identity and cultural traditions. Religious ceremonies are performed each year in June to honor the water and care for the acequias.
The springs begin on private property west of Ojito de San Antonio. The acequias carry spring water through the orchard area and wetlands on the property, and then across N. Highway 14 into the Village of San Antonio for farming and residential use.
The riparian area stands in contrast to the upland piñon pine-juniper woodlands. This unique combination provides food and water for black bear, mountain lion, mule deer, elk, coyotes, golden mantled squirrels, birds, and many other species. Black bear use the area in the summer and fall. The orchard and acequias provide a critical buffer zone for bears from residential areas. Three years of seasonal bird surveys conducted by Talking Talons have verified 63 species of birds on site. Tree species include: willow, grey oak, one-seeded juniper, cottonwood, box elder and mountain mahogany, in addition to several varieties of apple, pear, cherry, peach, apricot and walnut trees. The area has several existing vegetation and wildlife surveys that need consolidating and updating to provide a current picture of the habitat.
The property has also been known as Los Manzanares, the name of a proposed housing subdivision before open space acquisition. The name “Los Manzanares” refers to the old apple trees on the property.
Planning and Management:
With the assistance from a Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program grant of the National Park Service, in 2005 a resource management plan (RMP) was developed for a number of properties in the East Mountains by the East Mountain Open Space Steering Committee (EMOS), including Ojito de San Antonio. The EMOS was a temporary planning group comprised of the following agencies: Bernalillo County Parks and Recreation, City of Albuquerque Open Space Division, U.S. Forest Service, Sandia Ranger District, and local community members. The RMP identified specific management objectives and strategies to help preserve the unique historic and cultural character, protect its abundant natural resources, and offer limited, resource-based recreation opportunities. The document has served as a general management guide.
A more in-depth environmental analysis report was conducted in 2008 to further identify historic features and the environmental character throughout the property to guide future work at the property. The county also worked with the East Mountain Historical Society to write an interpretive guide, capturing much of the site's rich history. Since then, a trail has been constructed, a burnt down building has been removed and the area remediated, and an irrigation system has been installed to maintain the historic fruit orchard.
Bernalillo County Open Space works in partnership with The Acequia Madre de San Antonio Community Ditch Association to manage the property. The county also works with Master Naturalists and school groups on a number of citizen science projects related to land health monitoring. Examples of these projects include the following:
· water quality including surface and ground water;
· benthic macroinvertebrates;
· flora studies for the orchard, riparian, and woodland areas;
· and wildlife studies.
In fall, 2010, Bernalillo County constructed 1-1/4 miles of natural surface trails that primarily traverse a north-south ridge on the east half of the property. The trail is open to hiking. To protect this resource, please avoid using the trail when wet or muddy, never cut switchbacks, and use only designated trails.
In 2011, Bernalillo County constructed a drip irrigation system that is providing water to young heirloom fruit trees that were planted in 2012. Ultimately, these efforts will help revitalize the fruit tree orchard, which provides food for wildlife.
In early 2013, Bernalillo County will work with the New Mexico State Forestry Division and Cuidad Soil and Water Conservation District to conduct forest thinning within the piñon-juniper woodland to improve forest health and minimize the threat of major forest fire.
Master Naturalist Becky Schnelker created a medicinal plant guide to Ojito de San Antonio. Click on the title to download the guide, Wild Plant Traditions
East Mountain High School students created a brochure to educate the public about bears. Click on the title to download the guide, Be Bear Aware
For additional information, contact the Open Space Coordinator at (505)314-0400 or email email@example.com
Please click on the icon below to see the Ojito de San Antonio Open Space video.