Thursday, July 29, 2010
A second mountain to river stakeholders meeting was held yesterday in a conference room of the IBWC. Sponsored again by the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition, this meeting topped the first. Those who had spoken at the first meeting added to their presentations. New speakers offered new insights. Mike Gaglio, President of the Frontera Land Alliance, provided new food for thought: mitigation banks and in lieu fee mitigation. He was supported with additional information from Rick Gatewood of the Army Corps of Engineers.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
"In this case, the dam and the area behind the dam had not been maintained in many years if ever. The outlet where the controlled release of water is supposed to occur was completely covered by several feet of soil. In order to remedy that situation, we built access road, desilted the bottom and filled some eroded areas on the dam slope. We did not disturb the remaining sides of the area behind the pond. We recognize it is highly visible from scenic drive, but it is a high dam and the work had to be done. We do not plan on re- vegetating, but we will not again disturb vegetation on the bottom until sufficient fill comes in to require removal. Unfortunately, we cannot allow shrubs and trees on the dam slope as this can provide a pathway for water flow and subsequent dam failure and we would be cited by either TCEQ or the Corps of Engineers (as appropriate) during inspection and enforcement.
Keeping the dam slopes free from shrubs and trees and keeping the outlet free flowing is critical to maintaining the safety of the public below the dam. As a note, the five ponds that we desilted last year were not re-vegetated yet are beginning to recover. We are working two more near Scenic Drive but those will be disturbed less and will be a little less visible."
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers agrees that what EPWU is doing would likely be authorized under Nationwide Permit 3 - Maintenance. In addition, UTEP Engineering Professor John Walton says that Balliew is being reasonable.
Erosion control is still a concern as well as being more pro active re-seeding the area. Elpasonaturally still wonders whether planning remediation ahead, even if no agency requires it, wouldn't be the way to go.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
A little over two years ago members of the Newman Park Neighborhood Association met with top officials of El Paso Water Utilities. Their concern was the planned "clean-up" of the Altura detention pond. Neighbors wanted assurances that trees and other native vegetation would be preserved as much as possible. The EPWU corporate brass promised that trees would be preserved and only some vegetation would be removed to create a truck lane into the pond. When the project was done, neighbors were stunned to see a moonscape. Trees and other vegetation all around the pond had been scraped, bulldozed and hauled off.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Friday, July 2, 2010
On Wednesday evening the Dover Kohl team of consultants gave a summary of their work so far regarding ASARCO and three transit corridors: Five Points, Oregon and Remcon Circle. You can read their post about it here.
"I have to say that the engaging streetscapes depicted during last night's WIP [Work-in-Progress] presentation were a sight for sore eyes. And, the whole Dover Kohl team was a breath of fresh air that El Paso has so desperately needed. I am so very glad City Council spent the (our) money to bring the team to El Paso to show all of us what is possible.
"I was especially encouraged to hear Peak Oil mentioned during the presentation, that it is being taken seriously.
"However, from what I heard and saw, my concerns are these: focus on consumption as a form of leisure, and the potential for displacing low-income people from their neighborhoods. My mantra is, 'design to include, not exclude.'"
Immediate action needed to save cottonwoods near Las Cruces
The NM Department of Transportation is on a mission to cut down trees along I-10 in
. Please help us stop them. Las Cruces
Since April, NMDOT has cut down about 45 of the native trees growing along the highway just east of the Rio Grande, some of them maybe 50 years or older. Now, it has announced its intention to remove the remaining dozen or so trees, despite previous assurances that it wouldn't.
Why? Good question. It's hard to get a straight answer out of NMDOT.
At first, the reason given was for safety. Apparently the trees were in a required "clear" zone that would allow vehicles leaving the roadway to recover. (Never mind that these trees are at the base of a steep embankment and any cars going off the roadway at that point would have greater worries than hitting a tree.) Later the department admitted the trees were outside the clear zone, and that the presence of a guardrail made it a moot point anyway, but said that the homeless people camped under the trees posed a hazard. When we proposed that they remove the underbrush (mostly nonnative salt cedar) and leave the trees as an alternative solution, they agreed.
Now the department has changed its mind, apparently because the neighboring farmer has complained that the cottonwoods ON PUBLIC LAND are "stealing" his water and fertilizer and shading his pecan trees. (See article in today's LC Sun-News.) SWEC respects water rights, but this is taking the concept too far. The cottonwoods are on publicly owned land. If anything, the pecans are benefiting just as much or more from the rainwater running off the interstate on to his property. Not to mention that some of the cottonwoods probably were there before his pecans were planted.
They are an integral part of the bosque ecosystem, and they provide many benefits to people and wildlife. SWEC has been working hard to get MORE cottonwoods along the river and in the floodplain. NMDOT should be protecting them, not cutting them down, especially when it lacks a compelling transportation-related reason to do so.
Please take a moment to call or email these NMDOT officials TODAY. If they hear from enough people, they will be forced to reconsider.
Ask them to:
- Immediately cease cutting down any more cottonwoods along I-10 near the
. Rio Grande
- Plant at least 45 new native trees to replace the ones already removed, in approximately the same location.
Here are the officials and their contact info:
- Gary Girón, Secretary, NMDOT: Gary.Giron@state.nm.us; (505) 827-5110
- Frank Guzman, NMDOT District Engineer: firstname.lastname@example.org; (575) 494-0363
- John Hummer, NM Transportation Commissioner: email@example.com; (575) 496-7272
Thank you for taking action. If possible, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org that you contacted them.
Read the Las Cruces Sun-Times story. Historically, in the El Paso area cottonwoods were chopped down in the 1930s to straighten the river. (The wood was used for fuel for the machines re-channeling the Rio Grande.)