Gorge trail

Morgan Timms/Taos News

The Slide Trail descends into the Río Grande gorge in Orilla Verde.

The water conservation nonprofit Amigos Bravos will host its Rally for the Rio flagship event in Pilar on Saturday (Sept. 18). The COVID-safe celebration of the Rio Grande will offer four free events, including bird watching, a bird photography workshop, fly-fishing demonstrations and a float ride down the river.

“We all need to work together to protect New Mexico’s rivers and watersheds – especially in these days of climate change,” said Joe Zupan, the group’s executive director for the last five years.

Now in its fourth year, the Rally for the Rio has served to connect the community to the group’s water conservation efforts, and to show appreciation to its members. The event had included music, food and beer in the past, but due to the ongoing pandemic, a new format was adopted. Last year, the group hosted the event online.

Founded in 1988, Amigos Bravos (brave friends) works to restore and preserve the ecological and cultural integrity of New Mexico’s water and the communities that depend on it. Based in Taos, the group focuses on advocacy and regulatory campaigns, community organizing, water quality monitoring programs and ecosystem restoration initiatives.

Beginning early on Saturday morning, Meg Peterson from the Audubon Society will lead 6-8 attendees on a guided bird watching tour. Bird watchers will meet at 7:15 a.m. at the Rio Bravo campground in Orilla Verde Recreation Area, and then caravan to other sites in Orilla Verde.

From 10-11:30 a.m., Bob Friedrichs will present a workshop on photographing birds in the wild at the Rio Grande del Norte Visitor Center in Pilar. The indoor event will require attendees to wear a facemask, and is limited to 12 people.

Nick Streit of Taos Fly Shop will lead a fly-fishing demo at the County Line River Access area at 9 a.m. The 30-minute demo will be followed by a 15-minute Q&A session.

And Los Rios River Runners will take Amigos Bravos members on a scenic float ride. Departure times are 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., and each time slot is limited to 18 people. Participants will be shuttled from the County Line River Access area south of Pilar to the Orilla Verde Recreation Area and float downriver back to County Line.

“We want to remind people to nurture their connection with the rivers, and that’s what our event is designed to do,” said Zupan.

For more information, visit amigosbravos.org.

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