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Monday, December 5, 2016

Aren’t 1,500 ft walls enough?



This week the Dallas Morning News and many other news outlets across the US including the Washington Post and the Associated Press reported on growing concerns on how a border wall in Big Bend National Park would destroy the park’s scenic beauty and threaten wildlife, including the return of the black bear to Texas.

The Greater Big Bend Coalition is quoted in the story where coalition founder Rick LoBello states “A big wall in Big Bend would basically destroy the wilderness quality Big Bend has protected.”

Earlier this year GBBC called upon the US and Mexico governments to designate lands currently protected by the National Park Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife and Comisíon Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas as a Big Bend Rio Bravo Binational Natural Area to help to call attention to the importance of protecting the entire Big Bend and adjoining areas in Coahuila and Chihuahua, Mexico. The regions’ fragile environments need protection from development projects that could be harmful to the environment and ecotourism. Protecting this fragile desert mountain region and its wildlife and culture is important to people who live there and to our natural heritage and global ecotourism which is important to the economy of both countries and the world.

You can help support this effort by:
1. Sending a letter of support representing yourself, your business or organization to: Rick LoBello, Executive Committee, El Paso Sierra Club Group, ricklobello@gmail.com.
2. Signing the change.org petition supporting the creation of Big Bend International Park.
3. Liking our facebook page at facebook.com/greaterbigbend

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Friday Video: Interview with Janae' Reneaud Field and Judy Ackerman


This is a must see video of an interview of two people who have done much toward making Castner Range a National Monument. I asked Judy Ackerman what was next and she told me that people should keep sending in letters. The clock is ticking. Obama will leave office and Trump will become President. President Obama is the last great chance that we have. Now is the time to help make Castner Range a National Monument. Please help. Go HERE.

If you can't see the video on your device, go to elpasonaturally.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

El Paso Needs Bike Lanes

Photo "Selfie" by Amaya Williams

I recently hosted Erik Schampion and Amaya Williams in my home. Over the last ten years they have bicycled through 102 countries on every continent of the world. They are now on a final trek across America and expect to be in New York City in April. From there they will travel to southern France to live for a couple of years and get some much needed rest. You can watch their adventures HERE. I am looking forward to the book and the movie.

While visiting, Amaya pointed out the huge economic benefits of bicycling tourism. Check out this page to see just how huge that impact is: $133 Billion annually in the United States. El Paso, which is on the Southern Tier Bicycle Route, could expect more business from bicyclers IF we had bicycle lanes. Erik and Amaya told me that El Paso was far behind other cities in this regard.

Fortunately, there is now a City Master Bike Plan which calls for 900 to 1,000 more miles to be added to the existing paltry 140 miles of lanes that we have. There is good news: Sun Metro accommodates bicyclists and the City's bicycle sharing program is a success - contrary to predictions by bloggers who saw bicycles streaming across the border. (Hasn't happened.)

Next step: Get aggressive about the bike plan.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Castner Range Public Meeting: A Must Attend Event

Courtesy of Mark Clune
elpasonaturally cannot emphasize enough the importance of tomorrow's public meeting to make Castner Range a National Monument. In order to become a National Monument, Castner will need the approval of Congress or the President. Do not count on Congress and, once Mr. Trump is inaugurated, do not count on the President. President Obama is our last, best hope. We must show his administration our overwhelming support. Please attend Rep. O'Rourke's meeeting tomorrow at EPCC Transmountain Campus Forum Theater. (MAP) Here is Rep. O'Rourke's message and more details: 


Castner Range is one of the cultural, historical, and ecological treasures of our region that should be protected for future generations.

I want to invite you to join me for a public meeting that I am hosting about the future of Castner Range on Saturday, November 19, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. 

The event will take place at the El Paso Community College Transmountain Campus Forum Theater (9570 Gateway N Blvd). There will be experts, public officials, music, and culture. 

This is your chance to make your voice heard. I hope to see you on November 19th! 

RSVP here: https://www.facebook.com/BetoORourkeTX16/events/ 

Thank you,

Beto


Congressman Beto O’Rourke announced he will hold a public meeting to discuss why the President should designate Castner Range a national monument. This public meeting will be the community’s chance to speak directly with public officials and experts about why this land should be protected in perpetuity. 

Join us Saturday, November 19, for a family friendly event to show your support for Castner Range as a National Monument! 
Enjoy music, performers, food trucks, kids free activities and much more!  Please do not forget to walk inside to view the beautiful art work by our local school children ranging in ages from pre-k to high school, all telling through their art why Castner Range should be forever.

Inside Venue (Forum Auditorium): 
9:00 to 9:50 a.m.: Castner Range Video, and Live Performances by Brass Quintet and Viva El Paso.
10:00 – 12:00: Public Meeting on Castner Range

Outside Venue: 
10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Live Entertainment, Music, Food Trucks, Free Activities (Obstacle Course, Rock Wall, Bouncy House)
11:30 a.m. Awards Ceremony Recognizing Participation of Schools


Let us hear your voice Saturday on why you want to see Castner Range as a National Monument!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Save the Date: A Special Plea from Frontera's Director

Click on image to enlarge.
The Director of Frontera Land Alliance, Janae' Reneaud Field, has sent out this plea to all of us who favor land conservation, especially the preservation of Castner Range:

Over 34,000 El Pasoans have signed the letter to make Castner Range a National Monument. Over 100 El Paso businesses also signed. The El Paso County Commissioners’ Court, the County Judge, the El Paso City Council, the Mayor, the City-affiliated Neighborhood Coalition, El Paso’s five Texas State Representatives and our State Senator have signed the Proclamation of Support, and the Times has published two dozen op-eds in support of a National Monument. And for the last 12 months, Congressman Beto O’Rourke and his staff have strongly backed our drive to conserve Castner Range, which began 50 years ago when the Range was closed down.

Yet Washington DC wants more. “Can we actually see the faces of these folks who say they support a Castner Range National Monument? Can you get these folks together so we can hear with our own ears that El Pasoans really want a Monument? Let’s see if you are up to that,” say the high-placed people in DC.

And so we’re going to do it! At 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19th a major Castner Range event will take place in the auditorium of the Transmountain Campus of the El Paso Community College, on the US 54 Freeway north of Diana Drive and just across from Castner Range itself. Viva El Paso and Ballet Folclórico will be on hand. Animals from the Zoo will howl upon command. The Brass Quartet will play to beat the band. A surprise VIP from old DC will be there to see us take a stand. And best of all (for the rest of the folks in DC) the event will be live-streamed.

But the biggest focus will be on you. The DC decision-makers need to hear why you want Castner Range to be a National Monument. They must hear why you support the drive to conserve the Range. So when you go to the open mic, you’ll have a chance to “speak Castner to power” and tell DC both loud and clear that the time for a Monument is now (and not another 50 years from now).

So let us know that you’ll be there at 10 a.m. on Sat., Nov. 19th. Please RSVP by emailing me at janae@fronteralandalliance.org or by phoning me at 915.351.8352. Leave a message if you wish.

We really hope to see you on Saturday the 19th. We need to see you there.


Janaé

Friday, November 4, 2016

Castner and Pipeline

Just want to catch you up on two stories: Castner Range and the pipeline to, through and under San Elizario.



Something big could be happening with Castner. Franklin Mountains Wilderness sent this plea to save Saturday, November 19th at 10 AM for a public meeting about Castner Range. When sending it, Secretary Judy Ackerman wrote: 

Dear Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition Organizational Members,

We need YOUR help NOW in order to make Castner Range a National Monument!

What:  !! Castner Range Public Meeting !!
Come so President Obama hears our community voice!
Date:  19 November, 2016
Time:  9:15 - noon
Location:  El Paso Community College, Transmountain Campus, 9570 Gateway N. Blvd

PLEASE share this event with your organization’s members and ask them to attend. 

We would dearly like to have an estimate of how many of your members will attend.

Individuals can RSVP via Facebook Event HERE, or directly to Janae' Reneaud Field Janae@fronteralandalliance.org, 915-351-8352.


Since 1978, we have been working to protect Castner Range from development. With the help of Congressman Beto O’Rourke, this is the closest we have ever been to conserving Castner. 

My inside sources tell me that an overflow crowd of 200, 300 or more people is hoped for. A grand poohpah from D.C. will be there and will be guaging support for preserving Castner Range. 

All of this year, Rep. O'Rourke's office has been driving a public relations campaign to convince one of the President's top advisers that Castner should be declared a National Monument. Convince this guy and you convince Obama.

I've also been told that it is a coin toss: a 50-50 chance that it can go either way. Expect an official White House decision before Christmas. So, elpasonaturally will continue to beat the drum between now and the 19th. Let's overflow the meeting hall.

There are two more events coming up:





A community forum in San Elizario tomorrow (Saturday, November 5th) at 2 PM will take on the issue of the pipeline going under and through San Elizario that is being built by the same company that is defiling Native American land in North Dakota. Thanks to activists such as Crystal Arrieta, Eric Stolz and others (some of whom I met at the Water Townhall Meeting on October 26th) more and more local active opposition to the San Elizario pipeline is forming.

The Academic Revival of Indigenous Studies & Education at UTEP is sponsoring another forum about the Comanche Pipeline in San Elizario on November 10th at 11:30 AM in Leech Grove on the campus.

What is encouraging is that there is now a strong grassroots movement by much younger people than you find in FMWC for example. They are far more savvy and activist than the older generations.