Place:  Animas River Trail

Location:  Farmington, New Mexico   

Person interviewed:  Dr. Robert Lehmer, retired Orthopedic Surgeon

Land and Water Conservation Fund
Land and Water Conservation Fund

How this place/site benefits you and your community: Dr. Lehmer came to Farmington in the late 1970’s and immediately realized the need for more open, recreational spaces for himself, his family, and his community. The Animas River was always the town’s greatest asset but at the time, he said, it was a place for vagrants or a place to dump trash.

He co-chaired the Rivereen Task Force and recruited 12 other community members to work on recreation and making a more livable city in New Mexico’s northwest corner. Programs like LWCF, donations of plots of land, and work by city officials helped transform Farmington. The efforts led to a River Park Trail system that today stands as a centerpiece of the town, drawing families and visitors into the town’s outdoor areas.

“It’s the center of our community,” Lehmer said. “It’s a place where we gather, a beautiful, natural space with only planned development. It’s a wonderful place to be outdoors and, because it was a community effort, everyone is proud of it and we want to see it grow.”

The annual RiverFest, held each Memorial Day, draws people from the Four Corners. Now in its 33rd year, Riverfest draws 25,000 people to the area. Planners also developed a golf course, soccer fields and an aquatic center.

“First this town was known for agriculture [then oil and gas], but now, it’s outdoor recreation that’s the big push.”

Land and Water Conservation Fund