Monday, December 28, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
We may have a wonderful Christmas present this year. First, I got a call from Rick Bonart, then Rep. Ann Morgan-Lilly this afternoon about great news for our city, the Open Space Plan, the Mountain to River Trail, and the Franklin Mountains. Stanley Jobe has agreed to turn over FEMA Flowpath 41A (Mountain to River Arroyo on the GLO leased premises) for preservation. However, Mr. Jobe must first get permission from the GLO, but Rep. Lilly said that should be no problem. She told me she's been in talks with Mr. Jobe for about a month, but that it's now OK for everyone to know about this positive turn of events.
Mr. Jobe will meet with key people and groups after the holidays to discuss the details of his offer. Rep. Lilly also told me he will repair and improve bike trails and wants to turn the property over to the PSB and not to the Parks Department, which I agree is the right thing to do.
We don't know exactly how much of the property will be dedicated at this time, and if it will include more than just the FEMA 41A stream bed. That will be determined in talks at a later date.
Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy & Healthy New Year.
From: Victoria_Kantsios@URSCorp.com [mailto:Victoria_Kantsios@URSCorp.com]
Sent: Friday, December 18, 2009 2:38 PM
: WAA Site Characterization Update Castner Range
***This email is being sent on behalf of US Army Garrison, Fort Bliss***
The US Army is currently performing various activities at the
(west of US 54, north and south of Fort Bliss Castner Range Transmountain Road) as part of the Wide Area Assessment Field Demonstration Project. The project team has suspended site preparation activities until 5 January 2010. Upon our return, the team will finalize site preparation activities for the geophysical surveys. We plan to fly low altitude helicopter-borne magnetometry the week of 11 January 2010 and deploy ground-based geophysical teams later in the month. Local residents should not be surprised with the flurry of people and activities.
As a reminder, we have scheduled the second Technical Project Planning Meeting for 14 January 2010 beginning at 9:00 am at the Radisson Hotel,
. El Paso Airport
If you have questions about this project or the MMRP, please contact Mr. Ron Baca, Program Manager, Environmental Division, Directorate of Public Works, Fort Bliss, at (915) 568-7979; or Ms. Kimberly Watts, U.S. Army Environmental Command, at (410) 436-6843.
2450 Crystal Drive, Suite 500 Arlington, VA 22202
(703) 418-3030 (Office)
(404) 702-1141 (Cell)
(703) 418-3040 (Fax)
This e-mail and any attachments contain URS Corporation confidential information that may be proprietary or privileged. If you receive this message in error or are not the intended recipient, you should not retain, distribute, disclose or use any of this information and you should destroy the e-mail and any attachments or copies.
is soliciting comments on their Draft (EIS) for Fort Bliss Army Growth and Force Structure (GFS) Realignment. The full document on line: Fort Bliss
(You may encounter several security warnings, but no worries, click continue.)
Send written comments no later than December 29, 2009 to:
• John Barrera, NEPA Program Manager/ Attn: FB GFS EIS/IMWE-BLS-PWE/Bldg. 624,
Pleasonton Rd., Fort Bliss, TX 79932; or by email: bliss.EIS@conus.army.mil.
Requests for additional information may be sent to:
• Ms. Jean Offutt,
Fort BlissPublic Affairs Office, IMWE-BLS-PA, ; Fort Bliss, TX 79916-6812
Tel: (915) 568-4505; Fax: (915) 568-2995; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
"The following are Comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement Analyzing the Potential Impacts of Army Growth and Force Structure Realignment at
from The Frontera Land Alliance. Fort Bliss
"We understand the need for national defense and necessity to train military personnel. We appreciate the economic benefits that the
Fort Blissexpansion bring to our area and support ’s partnership with the military. El Paso
expands, there has been, and continues to be, significant habitat destruction. We recommend that as a mitigation for the past and continuing environmental damage, Fort Bliss Fort Blissactively seek permanent preservation of as natural open space. The appropriate end state would be when Castner Range Castner Rangeis cleared of unexploded ordnance and the property is transferred to the . Franklin Mountains State Park
benefits all El Pasoans including military members and their extended families. This project could be completed in phases starting with a conservation conveyance. This is a natural follow on to the Wide Area Assessment that the Army Environmental Command is currently conducting on Castner Range . Castner Range
"At a minimum,
Fort Blissshould commit to a long range plan that specifies that should be preserved in its natural state." Castner Range
Monday, December 21, 2009
The City of El Paso Community and Human Development Department currently has a survey that it is asking El Pasoans to take until 5 p.m. Friday, January 22nd. The statement given with the release of the survey says:
"The Department of Community and Human Development is in the process of developing the five-year Consolidated Plan for the City of El Paso. In this plan, we must identify community needs and priorities and discuss how we will address them over the course of the next five years. City Council will use this Plan to help them decide how to spend CDBG funds, and other grant funding during the five-year period. We need input from the community in order to identify needs and priorities, and the survey below is a tool we are using to receive community input."
The planned Montecillo development along Mesa just north of Executive Boulevard is a model of walkability and sustainability. This urban village is certainly a radical shift for El Paso builders who prefer to use up every inch of desert land. City Council voted to provide Montecillo developers with some tax incentives.
Monday, December 7, 2009
If the quarry becomes operational, it could drastically alter the landscape and life of the Franklin Mountains and adjacent lands. To envision these potential changes, take a look at existing quarries in the area. Several can be seen while driving east on US 62/180 toward Hueco Tanks, and then there is the massive 750 acre McKelligon Canyon quarry. The first change is likely to occur when vegetation is removed. Native wildlife, such as the Lesser Nighthawk and the Texas Horned Lizard, depends on vegetation for cover, food sources, and nest sites. Some plants of concern, the Night-blooming Cereus and Sneed’s Pincushion Cactus, for example, need stable soil conditions to grow. The effects of a quarry could compound the difficulty that wildlife and native plants have surviving in our increasingly urban setting. We have enough species of concern as is. Drilling and blasting can send particulates into the air. Particle fallout could coat vegetation so that growth is hampered and food supply for deer and other plant eaters is diminished.
Tiny particles in the air can sink into human lungs as well. Depending on wind direction, particulates can impact air quality around schools and homes. According to an El Paso Times report from June 22, 2006, airborne particulates in the Montana Vista neighborhood near a far East quarry were associated with widespread breathing problems in adults and children and concern that lower property values would result. Further, the Mine Safety and Health Administration website (http://www.msha.gov ) describes the dangers to mine workers themselves from fine particulate matter.
Water quality and flow issues are also possible. Runoff from rain events naturally follows arroyos to the Rio Grande. However, if these conduits are altered, as arroyo 41A may soon become, enhanced flooding can occur, as in August 2006 (www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/2006/ann/events.html).
The quarry could also dramatically alter the gateway to the city. As seen from I-10 heading south toward El Paso, the quarry could mar the natural beauty of its Northern Chihuahuan Desert setting and prompt visitors to wonder about the city’s values and priorities. The majesty of the Franklin Mountains is a reason to live in El Paso. If the magnificence of the mountains is marred, our city’s economy may suffer.
Should the quarry develop as planned, it may bring about some uncomfortable changes in our lives. I urge you to talk with your city representatives to find a solution before we are faced with what could become a matter of compromised public health and safety. For more information, please see the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition website at http://www.franklinmountains.org.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
24. SURFACE USE LIMITATIONS: LESSEE shall not drill or mine, erect buildings or conduct any mining operations within three hundred (300) feet of the improvements without reasonably compensating the owner of said improvements.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
The EPA Region 6 Wetlands Coordinator in Dallas has been out to Arroyo 41A (planned Mountain to River Trail). Jobe violated section 404 of the Clean Water Act by not having a permit to grade the arroyo. EPA won't fine Jobe since this is his first violation. However, the Army Corps of Engineers is requiring Jobe to mitigate the damage and he will likely have to obtain a 404 permit to quarry the arroyo. The city, county and public may be able to comment on the sufficiency of the mitigation and also comment on the permit process.
According to a local Corps official, if Jobe wants to remove fill from the arroyos he can without a permit, as long as he doesn't store fill in the arroyo. Also, according to the same official, commenting on mitigation may not be an option specifically allowed by statute (although statute does not prohibit such either).
The above should also pertain to the developer of Desert Springs who intends to fill in much of 41A. The goal would be to work with the Corps so the permit mandates the least environmentally destructive alternative be selected.
Go here to be notified by email about any public notices through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.