This is the story of how Albuquerque overcame its cowtown reputation to become a national leader in preserving open space. Early efforts to control the Rio Grande sparked a pushback from the public and environmentalists. From proactive grassroots advocacy to a city program, the Open Space movement has saved over 30,000 acres of foothills, bosque, arroyos, volcanoes, and petroglyphs for nature preservation and recreation, making it a cornerstone of Albuquerque’s quality of life.

While a high school science teacher, Rex Funk became an advocate of open space. He was a leader in the effort to save the Elena Gallegos lands and was hired as the City’s first Open Space Planner where he worked to establish Rio Grande Valley State Park.  As the first Superintendent of the Open Space Division, he led the effort to acquire, manage, and protect City Open Space until he retired in 1994.