Remembering the Forgotten River

In 2000-2001, the Southwest Environmental Center interviewed residents of El Paso, Ciudad Juarez and Dona Ana County to learn about their experiences of growing up with the Rio Grande. We asked them to tell us what the river has meant to them and how it has changed in their lifetimes.

We undertook this project because many of the dramatic changes to the river--the straightening of the channel, construction of Caballo Dam and the levees, and the clearing of trees along the banks--took place during the lifetime of people still alive today. We wanted to preserve their memories so that people might know what a healthy Rio Grande was like, and what it has meant historically to the people of our region.

Leroy Lozier remembers catching and eating eels from the river when he was a boy growing up in the Mesilla Valley.

Their stories reveal a river that was widely valued for its wild bounty, a backdrop for childhood adventures. They also reveal a place for learning how to swim and for gathering on weekends with families and friends. They also tell of a river feared for its powerful floods.

You can read excerpts from these interviews in our booklet entitled Remembering the Forgotten River. We hope these stories will help keep alive the vision of a restored and healthy Rio Grande.