Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Volunteer Bike Patrol Program

Our good friend, Judy Ackerman, sent me a message along with a forwarded email from Dave at Borderland Mountain Bike Association, El Paso's official mountain bike community. Judy wrote: "Here is another way you can help the Franklin Mountains State Park: join the volunteer bike patrol program, jointly sponsored by the Park and the Borderland Mountain Bike Association."

Here is the other way from Dave:

I apologize for the long delay on making any solid decisions on getting training for bike patrol members, but finding a location AND a trainer for a weekend that more than a couple of people could attend was impossible.

Here is what YOU need to do:

Step 1: Attend volunteer training at the State Park June 7 in the morning. It will take about 4 hours and we don't have a definite start time yet, but I'm guessing around 8 am. This is a service the park will provide to us for free and it is necessary to be an official IMBA/BMBA Bike Patrol member.

Step 2: Get your own cpr/first aid training and pay for it yourself.

Step 3: Log on to the IMBA website and follow all steps for the IMBA patrol training. This includes taking a test, sending them your first aid and land manager (state park) credentials, and paying the minimum $50 fee.

Step 4: Upon approval, contact me here so I can get you the things listed below.

Step 5: Start volunteering and logging your volunteer hours on the IMBA web page.


1. Reimburse you $25 of the patrol fee or waive your club membership fee for the year.

2. Give you a laminated personalized # plate.

3. Provide you with an extra pair of club socks.

Other benefits:

National Bike Patrol Members get pro-deal (that's the price unsponsored pro and expert riders pay on equipment direct from a manufacturer) from several different bike companies and industry sponsors . Patrol members receive lots of other cool deals from IMBA (though the pricing on their patrol jerseys and other swag isn't that great).

You earn volunteer hours while riding your bike! Very cool if you ask me. All you need to do is be courteous to other riders by stopping and asking how their day is going, educate them on any mistakes they might be making (no helmet, no water), and give a hand to riders in need. Carry a cell phone with park personnel #'s, small first aid kit, essential tools, extra tube, chain quick links, and the maximum amount of water you are comfortable carrying.

If you have any other questions, please ask me.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Big Rocks Mean Weeds, Trash and NO MOUNTAIN

Lee Byrd, the Treasurer of nearby Newman Park Neighborhood Association and co-owner of Cinco Puntos Press, sent the following email to El Paso Parks and Recreation Department Assistant Director, Joel McKnight:
These little pocket parks are a very sweet idea, but they don’t really seem to have been thought through.

Yesterday, my friend and I went to sit in the little park between Elm and Louisiana on Memphis and underneath the bench was covered with ants from an ant hill close by so we had to get up quickly. The big rocks (so many of them!) had caught lots of
garbage. The little pebbles had slid out of place and covered the sidewalk.

This morning another friend and I went with a broom and garbage sacks to sweep and pick up garbage, but the gravel was too heavy to sweep, plus the weeds between the rocks were hard to get it. Some were so big we couldn’t pull them out.

If the intention of these little parks was to be a pleasant place to sit and an easy place to maintain, that isn’t happening. The Neighborhood Association is concerned about these parks and glad to help to make them work. They do need maintenance. And they surely don’t need all those big rocks.

We appreciate all you can let us know about these parks and the detention ponds.
Mrs. Byrd is referring to the "pocket" park created by open space enhancement funds which also paid for the improvements and environmental art at the Van Buren Dam site. The little park is located in the 2700 block of Memphis Avenue.

Indeed there has been little thinking about landscaping around the City of El Paso.
All those big rocks at the little pocket park make it hard to manage weeds and debris. All those big rocks will eventually choke off the growth of the native plants put in the park.

ALL THOSE BIG ROCKS mean our mountainside is being removed and not one damn thing is being done to stop it. In fact, the City of El Paso enables this environmental destruction and policy of unsustainability!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Impact Fees - Now What?

Most of you already know that impact fees passed City Council this past Tuesday night with Mayor Cook breaking a 4-4 split vote.

Already, builders are suggesting that homebuyers will absorb the costs (as opposed to everyone else prior to the decision).

We do know that there is some disgruntlement within the El Paso business community. There are fears that the City Council will turn increasingly anti-business now that the election is over. One business person even asked, "Why is Susie Byrd so anti-business?"

In response, Representative Byrd wrote the following in an email to me:
"I'm pro-District 2. I'm pro-El Paso. I'm pro-El Paso businesses.

I want a city where folks can depend on a good wage for a hard day's work, where they can live in a great safe neighborhood that makes them proud of the place they call home, where they can start a business and flourish and thrive and where they know they are getting value and services for the taxes they give to the City.

This year, ratepayers paid about $100, or 20% of their water bills, for new development. They receive little or no value for that investment in new development. We voted to shift those costs to the developers and to the users who receive the full value of that investment. That was the right decision for District 2 residents and the right decision for El Pasoans.

For too long, the prevailing business model depended on influencing government and little or no competition. Look where that got us. We are now seeing many business and civic leaders step up and speak out against that business model, demanding real competition and investment in our community that will create jobs and make El Paso shine. We need to put that era behind us and look for solutions that serve the community and serve business."

Hopefully, now that there will be impact fees, the City will be able to manage sprawl much better than before. According to a 2003 Maryland study, impact fees can direct growth to targeted areas and protect open space.

Monday, May 11, 2009

City Council to Hear Public about Impact Fees

El Paso's City Council has scheduled a public hearing on impact fees for water and stormwater infrastructure tomorrow, Tuesday May 12th at 6 p.m. Here's more info along with comment from Charlie Wakeem.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Andy Lipkis, the founder of Los Angeles-based Tree People, believes large community and city cisterns have a number of benefits. They save energy; they reduce flooding; and they reduce pollution. Below is a video that CNN produced about his cistern project. Although the data refers to conditions in Los Angeles, there are ample reasons here in the El Paso area to do the same thing.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Urban Forestry Department for El Paso?

A University of Vermont report on tree canopy for Washington D.C. well explains the need for any urban center to increase its tree canopy: "Urban tree canopy provides many benefits to communities including improving water quality, saving energy, lowering city temperatures, reducing air pollution, enhancing property values, providing wildlife habitat, faciltating social and educational opportunieties, and providing aesthetic benefits." We could also add that trees help to calm traffic and to manage stormwater.

The City of El Paso (or any City) does not have to do it's own research to establish the fact that healthy trees and landscapes are a great investment for municipalities. There are studies already out there that show just that. There are also plans already being implemented that can serve as models for increasing canopy. A good example is the Roadmap to Tree Planning and Planting, a cooperative effort of the Texas Trees Foundation and the City of Dallas.

One can also draw upon studies by other organizations such as the American Lung Association which shows the state by state pollution problems of counties including El Paso County.

Regional Urban Forester, Oscar Mestas, believes that "El Paso does need to and should look at developing a Urban Forestry Department with it own separate funding where the department will be able to develop a management plan that looks at what we have, what is available and how can we go about increasing our canopy." He agrees that reports such as that from the American Lung Association provide good reason to increase the urban tree canopy.