This map shows the segment of trail being named after Jim Billen starting behind the Jewish Center on Canyon Road and extending to Graduation Point. Courtesy/LAC
Members of the public are invited to the naming ceremony for the Jim Billen Trail at noon Friday, June 28.
A brief ceremony will be held at East Park with Billen’s wife, Mary, and their family sharing remarks about him and his work on the trail, followed by a group hike to the nearby point on the Pueblo Canyon Rim Trail where the newly named Jim Billen Trail begins.
A new sign designating the trail will be installed by the County denoting the segment now known as the Jim Billen Trail, along with a memorial bench overlooking the canyon. The bench was donated by family and friends in remembrance of Billen.
The Los Alamos County Council approved the request to name this portion of the trail after Jim Billen at its May 7 meeting and after following a public process dictated by County Code for naming facilities (or in this situation, a trail) after a deceased person. Billen moved to Los Alamos in 1983, had a successful career at the Laboratory and was a resident of Los Alamos for 35 years.
On April 14, 2018, Billen died at the age of 71 of Multiple System Atrophy. At an April 25, 2019 public hearing to consider the request for naming the trail, many members of the community spoke in favor of the request. Irene Powell, who led the effort to have the trail named after Billen, noted that he worked on this part of the trail for six years. Powell remarked that, after Billen retired from LANL, he would be working on the trail six to eight hours a day, clearing the brush of a narrow deer path, digging into the side of the hill and moving rocks to make the trail wider for both hikers and bikers alike to enjoy. Powell and others at the public hearing said that Billen worked hard and was usually by himself, refusing any help, unless it was removing a large tree.