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Discover the Hidden Gem of the Sandia Mountains: Carlito Springs Open Space Reopens to the Public

Carlito Springs Open Space, a historic property located on the southeast face of the Sandia Mountains near the village of Tijeras, is set to reopen to the public on Saturday, May 6. The reopening event will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and visitors are invited to attend and celebrate the occasion.

The property, which encompasses 179 acres and ranges in elevation from 6,300 feet to 7,000 feet, was purchased by Bernalillo County in 2000 and later acquired an adjoining two-acre tract in 2008 that includes its namesake spring. The property is bordered by the Cibola National Forest to the north and northwest and private property on all other sides.

Carlito Springs has recently been named to the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places. The State Cultural Properties Review Committee also approved listing Whitcomb (Carlito) Springs on the state register of cultural properties, and the Department of the Interior approved listing on the National Register. The property qualified as an historic district worthy of preservation because of its significance in the fields of outdoor recreation and landscape architecture.

The property is named for the spring that flows from exposed bedrock in the north-central portion of the property. This spring once provided water to a residence and several cabins and continues to feed several ponds and a lush riparian environment that nourishes ornamental gardens and an orchard. This spring water also provides critical habitat for many species of birds and animals, including black bear, mountain lion, badger, and mule deer.

Bernalillo County Public Works is currently conducting rehabilitation work at Carlito Springs.

The county is in the process of completing the second and third phases of improvements to this historic property that will result in new infrastructure for and a renovation of the main house. Building on the improvements completed in 2014, the county is using New Mexico Capital Outlay funds, Parks, Recreation and Open Space funds, and over $2 million in County General Funds for a total of $3.6 million to design and construct water system improvements, building improvements, parking, Americans with Disabilities Act access, and site landscaping improvements. Building improvements consist of upgrades and rehabilitation of the entire structure and outside of the main house building, including new meeting spaces, exhibit spaces, and caretaker residence.

After the reopening event, the main gates of Carlito Springs will be open to the public from Wednesday to Sunday and closed on Monday and Tuesday. Future programming at Carlito Springs will include land health monitoring, youth education programs, and volunteer efforts such as SiteWatch, a forest management plan, and the Carlito Springs Volunteer Cohort. With the recent rehabilitation work and continued improvements, Carlito Springs Open Space promises to be a treasured natural retreat for many years to come.

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