The Desert Oasis Nature Park

An Oasis? You’ve Got To Be Kidding!    

On frozen pondThe basis of an oasis is simple indeed!  It is a fertile area in a desert or semi desert environment where water  is found and a habitat for animals and plants is created.  And yes, my friends, you can find and enjoy just such a place that is being developed right here in Rio Rancho.

The Desert Oasis Nature Park is being created at the historic East Lakes of what was once the Club Rio Rancho golf course.  The park will serve three purposes:  Preservation, Recreation and Education.  It will also serve some of the goals of the Rio Rancho Comprehensive Plan: To preserve water resources; to preserve vegetation and natural resources; and to support wildlife habitat.

Some of the features of this new  Desert Oasis Nature Park envisioned for the future include:

    • All the existing vegetation in the park will be identified and as much as possible, only vegetation native to New Mexico will be retained or added. In fact, every desert plant in the state will be sought, identified and added to the park.
    • All existing golf course cart paths will be accessible.
    • The entrance to the park will be at the cart path crossing on East Lake Drive just outside the entrance to The Islands at Rio Rancho and will include “Handicapped Parking” to allow easy access.
    • A shoreline walking nature trail will be cleared to provide for health and wellness activities.
    • Near the trailhead (again at the cart path crossing) are a number of sand hillocks may be cleared to provide miniature “sand dunes” for children to play on.
    • In shady areas along the trail, sites will be cleared for picnic table, grill and trash can for public enjoyment and perhaps for a fee, appropriate food for fish and fowl may be provided.
    • Classes from local schools will be invited to visit the shoreline trail with their teacher(s) to learn about all the natural features.
    • Volunteer individuals and groups with special interests will be invited to share in the development and operation of the Desert Oasis Nature Park.

The Historic East Lakes

Golfers who played the old golf courses will remember all seven of the original lakes.  The three on the West Nine and two on the North Nine were destroyed to make way for future development and Open Space.  A struggle ensued to preserve the East Lakes and to allow for the creation of the nature park. 

All seven lakes were created to provide for the aesthetic enjoyment of the courses, to add to the challenge of playing over and around them, but most of all to provide for the irrigation required for fairways and greens.  The East Lakes were the point of origin for irrigation as they received the reclaimed water from the Rio Rancho treatment facilities.  The water was then pumped to the additional lakes from which it was pumped further through the irrigation system watering the entire golf course.  The East Lakes were therefore the “Mother Lakes”.

However, recent studies have revealed that the nature of the East Lakes has evolved to become best defined as an “Oasis” which now is the centerpiece for the Desert Oasis Nature Park.