Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Catwalk Controversy.(Final)

Byline: Rene Romo Journal Southern Bureau

Glenwood residents fear closure of trail for improvements will keep tourists away and hurt business

GLENWOOD Spring and summertime tourists are the economic lifeline for this tiny village on the western edge of the vast Gila Wilderness, and the Catwalk National Recreation Trail is the prime draw.

The Catwalk, including the signature metal grate walkway that stretches spectacularly over Whitewater Creek, was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the mid-1930s. The trail follows the path of a water pipeline built in 1893 along the canyon to supply water to a gold and silver mining mill in the former town of Graham.

If the Catwalk is unavailable to visitors, some residents here worry that tourism will be suppressed and businesses smothered.

Though the Forest Service disagrees, some Glenwood residents say that's exactly what is happening.

''What tourism is there here if it isn't the Catwalk?'' asked Catron County Commissioner Auggie Shellhorn.

A Forest Service contractor in November began a $1 million rehabilitation and expansion of the Catwalk trail.

When finished this summer, the trail, extended by 1,000 feet, will be 4 feet wide throughout, handicapped accessible, and the trail's defining feature roughly 250 feet of metal catwalk will be new.

The entire 1.1-mile long Catwalk trail will be open to visitors from Fridays through Sundays until the project is finished by next winter. …

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