Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Petition Calls for Vote on Stadium

2300 signatures were collected on a petition calling for approval of sports stadiums or arenas before they can be built. Petition supporters presented their petition to City Council this afternoon and submitted their documents to the City Clerk. Here is how the petition reads:

"The undersigned support and ask that the El Paso City Council pass the following ordinance: To adopt an ordinance concerning: No sports stadiums, or arenas be built without prior approval of the majority of voters to include the June 26th, 2012 Agenda item #12."

Petitioners had until Thursday to submit their petition but decided to come forward to today's City Council with more than the needed 1500 signatures.  The 2300 signatures will need to be certified; however, word around City Hall is that the City Attorney is not worried about the petition and will say more tomorrow. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

PSB Chair to Meet with Rodriguez Environmental Committee

Elpasonaturally has learned that PSB Chairman, Mr. Ed Escudero, has accepted an invitation to meet with Senator José Rodriguez's Environmental Committee on August 9 at 2 p.m. at 100 North Ochoa Street.

Here's the email chain which should be read from top to bottom:

From: "Teschner, Richard" 
Date: July 30, 2012 4:38:30 PM MDT
Subject: Ed Escudero accepts the invitation to attend our Thurs., Aug. 9 meeting

Good afternoon, all.

I’m pleased to announce that Ed Escudero, current Chair of the Public Service Board, has accepted the invitation (see below) to meet with us this coming Thursday, August 9th and discuss the decision by the majority of the members of the recently-convened ‘Blue Ribbon’ committee regarding the role the PSB should play in recommending which parcels of City of El Paso land should be sold. From meetings of other committees (the UTEP “Campus Transformation Project” committee) I know Mr. Escudero personally and I think that you will enjoy getting to know him as well. And as you’re aware from the piece in the Times (see the attachment’s first item), members of City Council have declared themselves to be in favor of accelerating the sale of City-owned land, including land that adjoins the Franklin Mountains State Park.

See you Thursday, August 9th at 2 p.m. at 100 N. Ochoa Street!


From: Ed Escudero
Sent: Monday, July 30, 2012 3:54 PM
To: Teschner, Richard
Subject: RE: An invitation to engage in committee conversation


I gladly accept your invitation to attend this meeting.  Please let me know if anything changes regarding time or place.

Thank you for the invitation,  See you on August 9th.

Ed Escudero   

From: Teschner, Richard 
Sent: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 10:20 AM
To: Ed Escudero
Subject: An invitation to engage in committee conversation

Good morning, Mr. Escudero.

I am wondering whether you’d be interested in dropping by the next (monthly) meeting of State Senator José Rodríguez’s Environmental Committee, which I chair. This committee, up and running since September 2011, provides the senator with ideas and texts for bills he might wish to consider introducing in Austin; we also discussion local environmental issues but take no public stand on them. To date we’ve written five drafts of bills, all of which are currently being vetted by the senator’s Austin staff and two of which stand a very good chance of being introduced in the next legislative session. Our committee meets in a small conference room at the senator’s offices at 100 N. Ochoa Street, 79901. The next meeting is Thursday, August 9, at 2 p.m. Our meetings typically last 75-90 minutes. Of great interest to our committee at the present time (and of course to the El Paso community at large) is the decision by the majority of the members of the recently-convened “Blue Ribbon” committee regarding the role the PSB should play in recommending which parcels of City of El Paso land should be sold. I personally commend your own minoritarian stance on this issue (and I’ve said so in the letter to the editor I e-submitted yesterday afternoon; let’s see if it gets published!). The other members of the Environmental Committee are the senator’s administrative assistant Mrs. Ceci Rodríguez (no relation), Mark Benítez, Chico Domínguez (a long-time Lower Valley alcalde), Kevin von Finger, Judy Ackerman, Rick Provencio and Pat White.


Richard Teschner
Chair, Senator José Rodríguez’s Environmental Committee

Another Letter Supports PSB

Last Friday I published Justice David Chew's letter to Rep. Cortney Niland as well as a letter from Judy Ackerman to elpasonaturally. Both are in response to the attempt to speed up the sale of City land - an idea being spearheaded by Rep. Niland with the support of what would seem to be a majority on the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Committee led by Ted "TxDOT" Houghton. Houghton's comments in the meetings make it obvious that what is really behind the desire to speed up sales of land is additional income for the City and not just economic development. At issue is the need to be judicious in selling land because of the overwhelming need to conserve water. Elpasonaturally believes that the primary reason for declaring land inexpedient (not necessary for the water utility's needs) is the need to conserve more land in its natural state in perpetuity - a need that supports water conservation while increasing the value of land that could be marketed for development. (It's the law of supply and demand - less land, same or greater demand, the higher cost for the land.) Many, including Niland, do not understand that the water in the bolsons are limited and diminishing as recharge is negative. It's not a matter of drilling more wells. Imagine a big bowl of water. Add more straws and more thirsty mouths and what happens to that glass of water sooner rather than later?

Today the E.P. Times published a letter from conservationist, Dr. Richard Teschner:

"For years, I've stated that the Public Service Board only manages open City of El Paso land and does not own it. 

"That said, I have seldom objected to the PSB's land-management practices, which are mindful of our desert location and our great distance from normally high-volume rivers such as the Colorado or the Mississippi.

"Precisely because of the water expertise of the PSB and its El Paso Water Utilities subset, the PSB indeed 'ought to be in the land-management business' and should definitely 'have a say-so in growth,' to quote in Chris Roberts' July 17 article (El Paso City Council rep seeks to speed up PSB land-use process).

"And while it's difficult to argue against including 'the city's chief financial officer and a deputy city manager in the PSB's financial committee meetings,' it also makes sense for representatives of local land conservation groups to be included there as well.

"We conservationists know where lie the arroyos, the aquifers and their intakes, and we've also had a fair amount of experience defending them."

Richard Teschner

The motion to include the city's chief financial officer and deputy city manager followed the infamous motion to establish a new committee to determine inexpediency - in effect doing what the PSB has done relatively well. The context for both motions was the seeming lack of communication between the City and the PSB. However, that lack of communication is solved by the presence of the city's financial officer and deputy city manager being part of the discussions. A committee is redundant to that end which committee proponents must know. Their real goal is to control land sales in order to gain more money for a City with a tight budget and a soon to be homeless City staff. 

Although EPWU officials probably know better than anyone (or we should all hope that they do) about "where lie the arroyos, the aquifers and their intakes", it is a need for the value of conservation to be primary rather than secondary to the market. The PSB has done quite well horse trading land so to speak. But what should be their first reason for land management is land conservation. It is that value that conservationists could bring to the table. That can be solved by re-defining PSB seats.

It's wrong to react to the PSB's market strategy for land-management by wanting the City to be the land manager. The PSB is a better place for such management as it takes it away from City politics. What needs to become the strategy for land management at the PSB is water conservation and thus land conservation. The biggest reason for declaring land inexpedient is the need to preserve land in its natural state - no development. Economic development can come through infill. More on that later.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Chief Justice Chew Takes Niland to Task

Few living El Pasoans have earned more respect for their service to community and country, their integrity and their wisdom than Chief Justice David Wellington Chew, Chief Justice, Senior Status, and former City Council Representative, District 2. You can read his biography and an announcement of his receipt of the prestigious Trailblazer Award. David's father was also a prominent community servant and El Paso has named one of its Senior Centers after him. David's sisters, Linda and Patricia, are also highly respected judges in El Paso.

Upon hearing about Rep. Cortney Niland's desire to speed-up land sales in El Paso, Justice Chew wrote her the following letter:

July 20, 2012
The Hon. Cortney Niland,
City Representative District 8
2 Civic Center Plaza, 12th Floor
El Paso, TX 79902

Dear Representative Niland:

The El Paso Times recently quoted you as saying that estimates that the water supply for the City of El Paso will be severely strained as soon as 30 years from now [sic] are “scare tactics.” Chris Roberts, (2012, July 17). “Rep seeks to speed up PSB land-use process.” El Paso Times. pp. A1,A5.
If you said that, then I am personally disappointed in your position, and take great exception. 

May I remind you that El Paso is the driest major city in Texas, lying in the Trans-Pecos region of the Chihuahuan Desert, and it has faced water problems and drought throughout it’s history.  And while El Paso is in a perpetual drought, Texas, including El Paso, and much of the rest of the United States is confronted with the beginning of almost certainly the worst drought of the century.  We will see the depletion if not the drying up completely of the only surface water source that El Paso has --  the waters of Rio Grande from the reservoir at Elephant Butte.  Indeed, one only has to drive by, as I did this past weekend, and look out onto the much larger but nearly empty Lakes Falcon and Amistad, the reservoirs that serve the lower Rio Grande, to know that the drought in West Texas has begun. 

I am proud to have been a member of the 1991 El Paso City Council, which at the urging of the EPWU/PSB, enacted the earliest and most comprehensive water conservation measures in the state.  Then too, there were critics saying that “scare tactics” were used to enact "draconian" measures; but the unequivocal fact is that the Water Conservation Ordinance and subsequent water conservation and expansion measures taken by the EPWU/PSB since 1991 have preserved and enhanced the ground waters of the Mesilla and Hueco Bolsons, which provide the majority of the water to El Paso and are its lifeblood. 

It also seems to me that your and others’ criticism of the PSB are likely based on “Potemkim numbers,” groundless estimates of property tax revenues and job creation,  numerical facades so often created by proponents of unregulated economic growth for short term profit.  Without water, the prospect of economic growth in El Paso is simply dust.

I thank you for your service to the City of El Paso.    

With best personal regards,

David Wellington Chew,
Chief Justice, Senior Status, and former City Representative, District 2

Also in response to Niland, 2010 Conservation Award recipient and environmental activist, Judy Ackerman, wrote elpasonaturally the following:

"Representative Niland and the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Committee on the City's relationship with the PSB’s land management want to speed up selling City owned land for development.  STOP IT!  Hurry-up development got us Crazy Cat, widely cited as a huge mistake and eyesore.  Hurry-up development got us eastside sprawl with no parks, but plenty of traffic jams. 

"Remember that taxes generated from sprawl do NOT cover the cost of maintaining the streets, water, sewer, police, lighting, etc.  Sprawl development must be subsidized by existing taxpayers.

"El Paso has just been through the Master Planning Process with world renowned Dover Kohl.  Now is the time for carefully thought out, planned, sustainable, low impact, smart growth development.  Take your time and do it right.  “NO!”, to hurry-up development."

Water Scarcity, City Land and Development

There are some who, in the name of economic development, want to speed-up the sale of city-owned land for development. Most of this land is in the hands of the PSB which has historically been slow to declare land inexpedient - i.e., okay to sell. If land is required for utility infrastructure, flood control or the like, it won't be sold. If the land isn't required for those things and is good deal on the market, it will be sold. Although I've been critical of the PSB's failure to conserve land and their CEO's tight-fistedness in working out any immediate compromise in NW El Paso, I see the value of a land management strategy that is judicious, slow, deliberate and conservative. At the heart of such management should be the need to conserve the City's precious little water supply - a supply getting lower year by year. Factor in drought and global climate change and that scarcity is scary.  By some conservative estimates, El Paso is only 30 years away from needing to import water - a solution not necessarily guaranteed because of shifting political policies and realities in other localities - again because of dramatically decreasing supplies of water. 

Yet, some in the City and on City Council seem hell-bent to sell land faster for development. The Mayor's Blue Ribbon Committee on PSB land management policies has met twice now. At their last meeting on July 16, they voted 5 to 3 to recommend that a new committee be formed to determine whether land is inexpedient. The committee would consist of 5 members: the Mayor as Chair, 2 City Council representatives and 2 PSB members including the sitting Chairperson. They would short circuit what the PSB currently does more carefully: declare land fit to sell.

The Blue Ribbon Committee seems to be dominated by Bulldozing Ted "TxDOT" Haughton who has made it clear that there is only one reason to sell land: to make money and make it now. He was the one who made the motion for a new committee. His initial motion called for more money out of land sales and water revenues to go to the City. When asked by OSAB Chairman, Charlie Wakeem, to remove the additional revenues from his motion, he replied, "I was just trying to get you more money." TxDOT Ted employs a Kindergarten rhetorical style. He bullies by interrupting speakers and saying "you're wrong" or similar as someone makes a point contrary to his own. Haughton is also the one who has not enjoyed the extra audience of PSB member, Dr. Rick Bonart, myself and, at the July 16th meeting, Chris Roberts from the El Paso Times. At both meetings he has asked whether the proceedings were closed. After all, bulldozing TxDOT Ted prefers to do the people's business behind closed doors without the people. When his horrific recommendations finally get sent to City Council (and the PSB?), one hopes that the people will show up because at stake is the most valuable commodity in El Paso: WATER.

Also at the last Blue Ribbon Committee, Rep. Cortney Niland actively engaged the committee. She suggested that estimates of rapidly diminishing water supply are scare tactics and that the solution to our water problems is to drill more wells. If the lakes are running dry (and that is what the bolsons are that help supply our water - underground lakes from the ancient Lake Cabeza de Vaca - then all the drilling on either side of the mountain will find no additional water. 

Read Chris Roberts EP Times story about the blue ribbon meeting and Ms. Niland's comments. Unfortunately, the clueless EP Times Editorial Board endorsed the joint committee and stated that Niland is right that faster land sales means more jobs - well, at least, construction jobs.

Keep in mind that Niland's big campaign contributors are from the development, mortgage and insurance industries especially through the Citizens for Prosperity PAC. The top contributors to that PAC are from the very industries who would benefit from an expedited process to sell City of El Paso land. The El Paso Times (the same paper that rushes to endorse a scheme to sell land based on market benefits rather than water conservation) reported during last year's campaign that Gerald Rubin's River Oak Properties was giving Niland free office space.  They reported that Citizens for Prosperity gave Niland nearly $25,000.

It's not all about economic expansion and jobs. It's also about the City with a bloated budget finding more revenue sources. Behind the move to control the water utility more tightly is a need for greater revenue. If the City succeeds, expect your water bill to go up - and I mean way up. If the City is also successful in expanding the economy by developing land more quickly without regard to water supply, expect a boom and then imagine a site not unlike Chaco Canyon, where a long drought finally brought down the advanced Anasazi Culture. Imagine, El Paso including its new ballpark some day looking like this:

Photo by James Gordon, Chaco Canyon

Sorry, guess those are scare-tactics. However, just for once it would be nice to know that our El Paso developers and friends made decisions not just on the basis of the immediate gratification of exorbitant wealth but with a sense of community and what is good for their grandchildren's grandchildren. 

What's another reason for declaring land inexpedient? Conservation of that land in its natural state in perpetuity by conservation easements. Wouldn't it have been great if the PSB/EPWU's CEO had embraced that policy rather than attempting to keep the power to control sales to himself. Those who want economic expansion now only want to be more efficient than Mr. Archuleta and the PSB. But efficiency shouldn't be the issue. Saving our water for future generations should be.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sen. Shapleigh Announces Next Town Hall to Reform EPISD

Read the court document of charges against Lorenzo Garcia, the disgraced, indicted and convicted ex-Superintendent of the El Paso Independent Public School System. In spite of all we know and all that the El Paso Times has brought out publicly, the EPISD School Board voted unanimously yesterday to direct attorney, Tony Safi, to get clarification from the Texas Attorney General's Office regarding audits and the Texas Open Meetings Act. (EP Times story.) Not just a majority of the board seeks to continue this Nixonian policy of cover-up - but a majority.

The incompetence and seeming complicity of the EPISD Board of Directors is the reason to get behind the reform efforts of former Senator Eliot Shapleigh. Sen. Shapleigh sent out the following email announcing another citizen's event:

Dear Fellow Paseños—

Wow! What a great town hall at Valle Verde! That story by Bowie teacher Pat Padilla on how her students got ‘disappeared’ at EPISD made me really want to do more. So many more teachers, students and parents are now coming out with their stories.

Let’s do our next Town Hall — mark your calendar now -- UTEP on August 2nd at 5.30 at Union Cinema. Strap on your chanclas—and let’s get going!

Over the last few days, dozens of you have helped on a petition, work on a website and share great ideas about great schools. Let’s first thank all the great students and teachers at EPISD for a job well done. But let’s roll up our sleeves now to un-do the monumental mess Lorenzo Garcia made at our largest district.

If you want a road map to corruption, here is Garcia’s federal information. [Court document link above] When school starts, our job is to stop the corruption, kick out the culprits and restore great education to a great district.

Join me at UTEP, Thursday, August 2nd at 5.30p at the Union Cinema. Please, send this email to ten of your friends—don’t wait. Do it now. And on August 2nd give each a call to get them to UTEP.  Better schools start today.

For all of us, for all our children and grandchildren, it’s worth the fight!

Eliot Shapleigh
Proud Paseño  

The sustainability of our City depends on an educated citizenry. Poorly managed, EPISD must be reformed now. Changes must occur now. Transparency must be paramount. 

Time for a Hike

El Paso Hiker is back and fresh after a month’s rest.

Do visit, bookmark and join the El Paso Hiking Group. More new hikes are now being posted including an easy one-hour beginner’s hike tomorrow morning at the Stoney Hill Trailhead. Plan to leave at 7 a.m. sharp. Hikers can begin gathering at 6:45 a.m.  There’s a Women’s Only hike on Friday at Tom Mays and a more difficult Tramway Trails Hike on Saturday. Also on Saturday is a Ranger-led Interpretive Hike to Guadalupe Peak. You can find details about this hike at the El Paso Hiking Group or the Guadalupe Mountains National Park Meetup Group. In fact, visit, bookmark and join the Guadalupe Mountains National Park Meetup Group.

If you would rather ride to the top of Ranger Peak on Saturday than do the Tramway Trails, Interpretive Park Ranger Nancy Scarantino will talk about wildlife on a Wyler Aerial Tramway trip at Noon. This event co-sponsored by TecH2O includes free refreshments. Check out details online because reservations are necessary.

Two other places to bookmark: Las Cruces/El Paso Adventurers Meetup and El Paso Ridgewalkers. You will find much useful information at Ridgewalkers including GPS tracks of local hikes that you can download.

Hiking, mountain biking and mountain climbing in our area are all getting more publicity because of you, a variety of groups and Peak Fitness Challenge. Check it out. Like them on Facebook. Read a recent shout out from Austin360. There’s a Peak Fitness Challenge hike on the Aztec Caves Trail this coming Sunday.

El Paso Hiker can no longer recommend nor endorse Las Cruces Hiking Meetup events. Word has come back to us that hike leaders are telling groups to find their way back to the beginning of a hike and then abandoning the group to go off alone. Also, we have learned that hike leaders are not familiar with a scheduled trail and that they have not even hiked it before resulting in getting lost, going too far and having to ask for help. When El Paso Hiker learns that the Las Cruces group is once again leading hikes in an ethical, responsible manner, it will again promote their events. Until then, all the groups mentioned above sponsor events for all levels of hikers and do so with the health and safety of participants in mind.

Learn more about this beautiful place on earth which we enjoy whenever we get outdoors.  There are some good online newsletters.  The Southwest Environmental Center’s Summer 2012 Mesquite Grill is now available online. Look for great links at Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition.  Plan visits to the Centennial Museum on the UTEP campus and to the El Paso Museum of Archaeology.

The new August 2012 Franklin Mountains State Park Hiking Schedule is posted. Check it out! It includes movie nights in McKelligon Canyon, a Peak Fitness Challenge hike, a Women’s Only hike and more.  Ranger Adrianna Weickhardt is simply the best!

Finally, if you like this e-letter, please forward to all your friends. The El Paso Hiker tries to present in one place what you can get only by visiting multiple sites or receiving multiple emails. If you aren’t  a subscriber, please reply to this email and ask to be added to the list. Please also visit elpasonaturally and join that email list too.


FMSP August 2012 Hiking Schedule

Click on image to enlarge.

Click on image to enlarge.

Click on image to enlarge.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Statements about the City Council Vote

After Tuesday's vote, I sent an email to the Mayor and City Council and issued a statement for the next Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition. Here they are:

Mayor and Members of Council,

Thank you so much for your vote to preserve the land in the NW Master Plan. Given all of the circumstances, I believe that you took the wisest and most prudent action. It has become very apparent that you and staff (both City and PSB) were trying very hard to respond to the citizens of El Paso who signed the petition. As the author of the petition and the coordinator of the petition drive, I am sincerely touched by your caring and your solid efforts in favor of conservation.

I also strongly support the PSB recommendation of Alternative 1 as a new access into the State Park. I very much appreciate your added endorsement of a separate animal corridor near the current entrance.

All of us in the conservation/environmental community look forward to working with you collaboratively in the future. We have more land than water and no land without water is or will be of any value. Therefore, preserving land as natural open space maximizes the economic value of the remaining land. May we as El Pasoans be as prudent, judicious, deliberate and conservative with our land and water management as you were with your decision about the preservation of land in the NW Master Plan. May we be faithful stewards of our land for our grandchildren’s grandchildren and may we not ever be lured by any need for instant profit and gratification.


Jim H. Tolbert
Proud El Paso Citizen and
Publisher, elpasonaturally

And to the editor of the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition newsletter:

As the author of the petition and the coordinator of the petition drive, I hope we all see the tremendous achievement which came from our dedicated work.  On July 17, 2012 City Council voted unanimously  to preserve land in the NW Master Plan in perpetuity by deeding and donating the land to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to become part of the Franklin Mountains State Park. Language in the deed will contain very strict covenants that will forbid the property from ever being used other than as recreational natural open space. If for any reason the land comes back to the City, a conservation easement will be created and the land will be dedicated as Parkland. The conservation of this land in perpetuity is just one of many benefits created by our successful petition drive.  The NW Master Plan was redone as Smart Growth/Smart Code.  Moreover, City Planners are now seeking to incorporate Green Infrastructure/Low Impact Development into the engineering tools and building codes of the City.  Also, conservation and smart growth have become the goals of the City of El Paso rather than conventional growth and sprawl. The City’s Planning Department is now led by progressive, Smart Growth, New Urban, conservation advocates. Finally, a better working relationship between the conservation/environmental community and the PSB/EPWU has begun and needs nurturing.

The way is clear for all of us to begin wrestling with the bigger issue of scarcity of water as we face more years of drought and global warming/climate change.  As El Pasoans we need to realize that we have more land than water and no land without water is or will be of any value. Therefore, preserving land as natural open space maximizes the economic value of the remaining land.  Much of City-owned land managed by the PSB should be declared inexpedient not to sell to developers but to preserve as natural open space.  May we as El Pasoans be as prudent, judicious, deliberate and conservative with our land and water management as City Council was with its conservation strategy to preserve land in the NW Master Plan. May we be faithful stewards of our land for our grandchildren’s grandchildren and may we not ever be lured by any need for instant profit and gratification.

Publisher, elpasonaturally
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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

In Perpetuity!

On the whole issue of how to preserve the land in the NW Plan as natural open space, City Council today adopted the plan presented by staff – specifically by a joint City/PSB committee that worked on the strategy. The plan deeds and donates the land to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to become part of the Franklin Mountains State Park. If for any reason, the covenants which are placed on the land are not followed (use as natural open space and recreation in such an area), then the land reverts back to the City. (Fat chance as a TPWD official from Austin told City Council today.) If it reverts back to the City, then it becomes a City park and a conservation easement will be created with a land trust company at that time. Is the deal perfect? Many argue that a conservation easement should be placed from the very beginning or, at the least, the terms of such an easement should be worked out now. That may have been the best of all possible worlds – but what was proposed was what this Council could accept now. The bottom line for me was stated by Attorney Risher Gilbert in answering concerns that the land might not be preserved in perpetuity if it comes back to the City. Ms. Gilbert said: “It [the land] could be sold, but not developed.” It just doesn’t get more perpetual than that. In fact, the mere fact that Council members were wanting assurances of preservation forever, was in and of itself a sign that this proposal will work. Gilbert even gave assurances that she would add language to the contract that clearly states that the City’s intention is “never to develop the land.”

The team that made the proposal did hear what we were saying as conservationists and environmentalists. They incorporated our thoughts into a plan that would pass PSB and City Council – a huge task. Here's their presentation:

Conservation Strategies

As conservationists and environmentalists, many of us can choose to be unhappy because we didn’t get extra salsa with our chips. But let’s count blessings. First, if the proposal was what could pass and the proposal assures perpetual preservation (with an easement should it come back and plenty of language upfront to define covenants and intentions), then shouldn’t that be acceptable?  I think so and I choose to be happy about it.  Second, we have as conservationists – indeed as all El Pasoans – reaped some benefits from this whole process. We got a better NW Master Plan which utilizes Smart Growth/Smart Code. City Planners are now excited about Green Infrastructure/Low Impact Development and issues about rainwater capture and development strategies that help conserve water – an issue bigger than how to conserve several hundred acres just in the NW Master Plan. The entire concept of conservation easement is acceptable now to PSB members and part of the vocabulary of Council. One year ago and just up to a short while ago we could have all been at odds. Now we can shake hands and walk away as friends no matter what rhetoric or tactics were employed in debate.

Make no mistake: those of us in favor of preserving more land and protecting the environment must remain vigilant and engaged. There is much more to accomplish. Those in the conservation community have a big task ahead to do more educating. This is not to say that those who are not card carrying greenies are dumb. Quite to the contrary, they are thinking people who try to see not just a year from now but a hundred years from now. That more people are talking in terms of conservation means that what got started as a petition signed by 1,600 El Pasoans has been taken to heart by many more people. That heart and mind needs to be nurtured and it won’t be if some are seen as enemies and not the caring, thinking people that they are.

In my mind there is still one big issue outstanding: the preservation of the arroyos (which includes bridges not box culverts). The Low Impact Development engineering is yet to be worked out. The City is working with one of the best firms for doing this: the Crabtree Group. Still will we end up with concrete canvasses for taggers? Also, will we have a plan that takes into consideration the width of the arroyos in a 100 year flood scenario and not just a 50 year or less scenario?

City Council also recommended  Alternative 1 for a new access to the State Park. In addition, after hearing from Dr. Richard Bonart, they recommended a safe animal passage near the current entrance to the Park. The new access road which follows the small development area north of Transmountain and the proposed resort/park headquarters would be built as a Low Impact Development project (another leap forward) and can be configured in a way that is acceptable to the State Park protecting any sensitive areas. This alternative allows for money to remain on the table for a safe (and useable) animal corridor, hike and bike paths and the construction of a deer fence. I’m in agreement with Representative Niland and City Planner Gallinar that the small developed area north of the highway can be a place for outdoor supplies for hiking, biking, mountain climbing, etc. Again, the idea is to invite people into the outdoors – a sure way to make a conservationist and environmentalist out of anyone.

Of course, all of the above is my opinion and many of my readers will disagree in whole or in part. Your frank (but respectful) comments are always welcome. My attitude is this:  You celebrate if you get a touchdown but perhaps don’t make the extra point. You keep playing to score more points and, at the end of four quarters and a long season, you win the game and then the championship. Much more than that – you have a helluva fun time playing.

Finally, one last hurrah for El Paso sent to me by the guy who probably loves the lore of El Paso better than anyone – Jackson Polk. Read a July 2012 Chicago Sun-Times piece written by Laura Emerick: Architecture, art and history all meld in El Paso.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Breaking News on Conservation Fronts

Three pieces of breaking news:

City staff will present a "springing conservation easement" proposal to City Council tomorrow.

The PSB's recommendation for an alternate entrance to the State Park will also be presented and acted on.

The Mayor's Blue Ribbon Committee may have handed the development community a green light to build, build, build no matter how limited our water resources are.

Once again, City Council takes up tomorrow (Tuesday, July 17) the entire issue of preserving acreage in the NW Master Plan in perpetuity. The debate has centered around the best way to do that. After further consideration, the committee tasked with presenting a plan to City Council will present the option recommended by the PSB: transfer the land to the State Park with a reversion clause that requires a conservation easement should the land return to the City. If the State Park decides to sell the land or use it for another purpose (which would be counter to their mission statement), then the land returns to the City for Parkland Dedication. Everything about this plan is solid except for the fact that the City might as well put a conservation easement on it now rather than depend that an election might overturn the perpetual preservation of the land.

Do see the attachment to City Council Agenda 10A-1. It is the presentation that staff will give with the above recommendation. Without a doubt, the new recommendation is very good news.

Add to this good news the following: There has been some question about the reliability of Texas Parks and Wildlife not to keep the land - to sell it instead. In an email dated July 15, 2012 to Risher Gilbert from Scott Boruff, the Deputy Executive Director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, assurances are given about TPWD to preserve land in perpetuity to fulfill the mission of the department. Concerns that there have been previous examples of sell-offs are addressed. Here's the email:
From: Scott Boruff <>
Date: July 15, 2012 7:20:35 PM CDT
To: Risher Gilbert <>
Cc: Deirdre Hisler <>, Corky Kuhlmann <>, Ted Hollingworth <>, Jeannie Munoz <>
Subject: Review of TPWD land transaction list
To Whom It May Concern
Thanks for the opportunity to review the land transactions referenced in the document titled "The 837-acre West Transmountain Scenic Corridor Land: Why a Conservation Easement Is Necessary".  All land transactions move through the Executive Office, and are subject to intensive review and analysis to insure that each transaction is consistent with the agency's mission " to manage and conserve the natural resources of Texas and to provide hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation opportunities for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations".
This list does reflect 57 land transactions completed by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department over the past 17 years.  Each of these transactions resulted in a net gain for conservation, except for those very few that resulted from previous deed provisions or legislative direction.  Examples include the transfer of 12 acres to the Union Pacific Railroad (an old abandoned rail track at Lake Mineral Wells State Park), pursuant to a deed provision that allowed the railroad to reclaim the track at any time.  The Texas State Railroad was transferred by the Legislature to a newly created Railroad Authority.
The overwhelming majority of these transactions represent overall improvements for both conservation and recreation, and result in ongoing protection from development.  Although rare, in those instances where TPWD transfers land to private ownership, strict protections are put in place to preclude development and other impacts to natural resources and view sheds.  TPWD does not sell land that is contiguous to a park, and on those occasions where it makes sense to trade parcels to increase conservation and recreation value, once again, the trade envisions protections that preclude development.  Most of the transactions on this list represent transfers and sales to other public or NGO entities that insure continued protection of the land, usually via reversion clauses or other deed mechanisms.  At least a few represent extremely significant additions to the State Park system, such as the Big Bend addition of the 7,000 acre McCormick parcel.  To suggest the 180 acre parcel transferred as a deed without warranty is a sale of parkland is just one example of using this data out of context.
In short, the agency's mission and strategic plan are very clear about the handling of our land inventory.  We have a robust and thorough process to insure that we protect any land in perpetuity that we have owned and then transfer to improve conservation.  On those rare occasions when we sell or transfer land out of the public domain, we do so with strict restrictions on development that comport with our mission to protect the State's natural resources.
Any suggestion that TPWD sells State Park land to use the money to support operations is not supported by the agency's long track record of stewardship and land protection.  We are quite proud of these transactions, and would gladly provide more specifics.  The fact is that any thoughtful and thorough review would dispel any perception that the agency sells parklands for development or to support operations.
Scott Boruff
Deputy Executive Director
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Finally, Carlos Gallinar told me today that the City has learned that the State Legislature does not have to approve the transfer - the Commission overseeing TPWD has that sole authority. With the strong recommendation of Dr. Cesar Mendez of the Franklin Mountains State Park, this recommendation is pretty much assured.

In addition to the above, Item 10A-2 is discussion and action on an alternative route into the park. Again, read the attachment. Staff will recommend the PSB's Alternate 1 as this blog has previously reported. This route has some added advantages of securing "saved" money for a workable animal corridor where the current culverts exist east of the current park entrance and a deer fence that will help direct animals (particularly Mule Deer) to the corridor and away from Transmountain Road.

Bottom line: good things are taking shape.

One piece of news that may lead to some pretty grim results is that the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Committee on the City's relationship with the PSB over land management voted this morning to recommend a 5 member committee to determine whether land was inexpedient. This committee will consist of the Mayor as Chair, two City Council members (supposedly chosen by the Mayor with the blessing of City Council) and the Chairman of the PSB and one other PSB member. The decision seemed to spring from a desire not so much for better communication between the City and the PSB, but from an attempt to further the expansion and growth of the City no matter how limited our water resources are. Based on the 5% average annual growth of the City, water supply estimates are only 30 to 50 years. 30 to 50 years!!! Yet one Council member present exclaimed that she didn't care what resources aren't there, "if a billion dollar industry wants to come to El Paso, we will make it happen." There are going to be many thirsty people in 30 to 50 years. The motion for the new committee was made by Ted "TxDOT" Houghton (whose "soul" incentive is growth, growth, growth, money, money, money) and sadly seconded by Open Space Advisory Board Chairman, Charlie Wakeem. 

The excuse for this committee has been the lack of communication between the City and the PSB. I agree that something needed to be done. But the committee also recommended that the City's CFO and Deputy City Manager participate in PSB budget and strategic planning sessions. Communication is fixed by communication. Favoring development and developers with no concern for the rare (and getting rarer) resource of water is furthered by weakening the PSB, if they would only begin to be driven by the need to conserve the supply of water before being driven by maximizing land value (which they would do if they conserved more land and not fight conservationists as their CEO did with the NW Master Plan. The PSB and Archuleta should have been allies. Hopefully they will become more so and hopefully (though I doubt it) City Council will reject the Blue Ribbon Committee's recommendation for a new land management committee.

The best approach to the land management issue would have been the conservative one: maintain the status quo. The only thing needing fixing immediately was the piece about communication. That's solved by talking and by employing less autocratic leadership models.

Bye, bye bathwater. Bye, bye baby.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Only a Conservation Easement Will Preserve the West Transmountain Scenic Corridor In Perpetuity

On Tuesday, March 20, the El Paso City Council approved a plan which called for preservation, in perpetuity, of the 837-acre Scenic Corridor land just west of the Franklin Mountains State Park. The motion, made by Representative Niland and seconded by Representative Robinson, amended the Public Service Board’s Westside Master Plan and specifically mentioned “authorization to process a Conservation Easement by a third [party]” for the Scenic Corridor. The previous month this plan had been approved by the City’s Open Space Advisory Board. On Wednesday, June 13, the Public Service Board itself unanimously approved this resolution, made by Mayor Cook: “To approve the [Technical Working Group’s] recommendations that if the [Scenic Corridor] reverts to the City [after having been transferred to the Franklin Mountains State Park], it will come back with conservation easement if that is legally possible.”

A conservation easement is simply a legal contract. It binds the parties to honoring the contract’s terms in perpetuity—forever. The terms of a conservation easement are negotiated by the land’s current owner, the land’s new owner if any, and a third party—typically a land trust organization. (The world’s largest land trust is the Nature Conservancy, preserving land through easement or ownership in over 30 countries and all 50 states.) The third party monitors the easement while the land’s owner manages it. If the Scenic Corridor is transferred to the Franklin Mountains State Park (a frequently-mentioned possibility), the park would manage the land and a land trust (yet to be named) would monitor it, making sure that the terms of the easement were honored.

It’s indeed possible for a land trust to hold a conservation easement on land that is owned by the City of El Paso or by the State of Texas. At the present time, El Paso’s Frontera Land Alliance holds the easement on the 26-acre Thunder Canyon on the upper West Side, owned by the City through 2037 as a Public Improvement District. At present, at least five Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) properties carry easements in full or in part, including the Black Gap Wildlife Management Area near Alpine and the famous Government Canyon State Natural Area to the west of San Antonio. But it’s also true that state- and city-park land can be disposed of. From 1995 through now, TPWD disposed of 57 parcels previously forming part of Texas state parks. Seventeen were sold, fifteen were transferred, eight were exchanged and so forth. In El Paso itself, parts of the Mission Valley’s Blackie Chesher Park were disposed from parkland use so that a police station and a municipal court building could be built on them.

A very important reason why an easement must be deployed on the Scenic Corridor can be summed up thus: “frontage roads.”

A very important reason why an easement must be deployed on the Scenic Corridor can be summed up thus: “frontage roads.” According to TxDOT’s plans for Loop 375, frontage roads will run about 300 yards to the east of the Paseo del Norte interchange, on Scenic Corridor land. Frontage roads provide access to stores, restaurants and other commerce. The temptation—15, 30, 45 years from now—to sell off part or all of the 837 acres will remain strong. But with a conservation easement, the 837 acres will be preserved in perpetuity, just as City Council and the Public Service Board want them to be.

I strongly urge that when it meets next Tuesday, the El Paso City Council renew its commitment to a conservation easement on the Scenic Corridor land by voting in favor of one. 

Dr. Richard Teschner

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Feds list ways to save the Rio Grande

"Officials have warned that the basin's water is fully appropriated and the region's long-term water crisis will only be exacerbated by climate change."

Read Feds list ways to save the Rio Grande.

Does climate change increase the odds of extreme weather events?

Here’s a recent article on the new NOAA report that makes clear Texas heat waves are now 20 times more likely than 50 years ago:  Does climate change increase the odds of extreme weather events? ( video)

Read the above article and watch the video. Click on the links. Now ask some questions:

What implications are there for the Rio Grande water shed?
What plans will PSB put in place to deal with these new facts?
How does the Rodriguez bill (disenfranchising 75,000 water district voters) change the equation in acquiring new water—and what will be the price?

The Ballpark - Readers Take Sides

Have I ever criticized Joe Muench of the El Paso Times? Hmmm? Hmmm? Well, maybe a couple of times - but not about the ballpark. I commend his two columns on the subject: Downtown ballpark should help ease tax load and Our wailing denizens in the black pit of misery.

I commend these two editorials with some trepidation. Not all of my readers agree with me about the ballpark. I've gotten a couple of "personal" emails but most have been respectful. All have made some good arguments. I'm particularly touched by concerns for the future of the people in Chihuahita and the Segundo Barrio not to mention the Tiguas. Economic development aside, there are issues of social justice involved. 

There have been concerns about wasting water, energy and raw materials. Conservation efforts cannot be had through one instance alone. However, one of the biggest energy wasters downtown is the City Hall building and remains so today according to sources who work on the problems. A new LEED-certified building will be an energy-saver. A LEED-certified, rainwater adapted ballpark would be a water and an energy saver.

I also reject the notions that the rich and powerful are doing it to us again. That just isn't the case and I have not been bought out (please call me, Woody and Paul), drunk the juice nor have I sold my soul. One of the reasons that convinced me that El Paso is ready for such a venture is the fact that residential opportunities are increasing downtown. Read New Downtown housing almost full

However, one of my readers did challenge whether a ballpark would benefit economic development. In part she wrote:

[Here is what the research shows]: 
  • Cities were talked into these deals in the 90's, and by 2000 these places were all in terrible trouble. (So, we are way behind the curve here!)
  • There is No, I repeat, No economic impact from these efforts.
  • There is a minimal quality of life benefit . . . I suppose if you're a baseball fan.
  • They produce low paying jobs, which are seasonal.
  • It is proven that they NEVER pay for themselves and never break even!!  The taxpayer must subsidize them FOREVER!
  • There will be somewhere like 80 "baseball nights."  We need 365 nights plus daytime and solid weekend activity.  (Paul Foster and Woody should put their $20 million into rehabing spaces and programming!) 
  • Every successful downtown revitalization MUST HAVE residential components. The noise level at an outdoor stadium does not induce a good night's sleep, if you live close by.
  • The stadium will hold 9000 folks.  We have a maximum of 4300 parking spaces.  (No one is talking about the cost of building additional parking.) If the museums, the Plaza Theatre and the Civic Center are having competing events, where does everyone park?
  • Relocating 650 employees and ultimately building a new City Hall will cost between $100 and $150 million.  I admit that the present City Hall has to be one of the ugliest buildings on the planet.  However, there have been millions of $ of improvements such as all new elevators, new HVAC, new windows, etc., etc.  The building is indeed ugly, but it is in good shape and is quite serviceable.
  • ASARCO would be a perfect location for the baseball deal, but it won't be ready until 2014 or 2015.  Too bad.  If things in Mexico ever became palatable again, perhaps we could have a bridge there and a true International Ball Park.
  • Last, but not least, this is simply a Very Baaaad Business deal!!
And, the worst part is that the Mayor and City Council KNOW THIS!!!!

The City has already begun its information campaign and I have already received these links from a couple of the representatives. Go to Click on and read through each attachment. 

El Paso Inc. has a poll and interaction for discussion.

You can also leave your comments below. 

Conservation Easements Are Scary - That's Why They Are the Right Thing To Do

“Motion made by Representative Niland, second by Representative Robinson, and carried to APPROVE, AS REVISED amending the El Paso Water Utilities Public Service Board Westside Master Plan . . . to include but not limited to the following: selection of a preferred development scenario for the area, authorization to process an amendment to ‘Plan El Paso’, and authorization to process an application for rezoning of the property within the [EPWU/PSB] Westside Master Plan area, Conservation easement by third easement [sic, ‘party’], bridges to be use [sic, ‘used’] to cross arroyo’s [sic, ‘arroyos’], more parks or small park, minimum encroachment into arroyos/no pocket parks, approve Scenario 1 and staff recommendations.”

So read a portion of the minutes for the City Council meeting of March 20, 2012 when City Council approved (5-3) Dover Kohl's Plan One, which called fro the preservation in perpetuity of the 837-acre Transmountain Scenic Corridor. The emphasis by italics is mine.

The motion made by Rep. Carl Niland and seconded by Rep. Robinson really instructs City staff to work on a conservation easement. That is not what staff did and not what they will bring to City Council next Tuesday, July 17.  Why not?

A staff recommendation normally holds great weight and power with City Council. Instead of coming back with a conservation easement document, they will come back with a half-baked plan to give the land to the State to be incorporated into the State Park with a reversion clause that, if the State should want to be rid of the land or begin using it for anything but recreation in a natural setting, then the land returns to the City to become a park.

The small group that worked out the proposal to go to City Council wasn't even made-up of City staff. Included on the committee were Pat Adauto, a hired consultant for EPWU, and Risher Gilbert the hired-gun attorney for the EPWU. Until the June vote by the PSB to recommend a conservation easement, nobody expected that board to buck the CEO of the EPWU who has fought open space preservation like an alley cat locked in mortal combat with another feline in the dark of night. Again, instead of working on a conservation easement, this little group worked on a separate plan. One would hope that some on City Council will ask what the heck they were doing.

As reported by Chris Roberts in his El Paso Times story, El Paso City Council's proposal would protect 800 acres near Trans Mountain, the best explanation of why the group didn't really want to consider a conservation easement comes from Pat Adauto: "'These easements are very difficult to remove once they're placed.' Adauto said. 'That's a strength if you're sure you're doing the right thing. It's scary if you're not totally sure.'"

She's absolutely right. Conservation easements are difficult to remove and that's exactly why they are perfect for this situation. The fact that City Council  asked for a conservation easement should mean that staff must treat it as the right thing. 

It's about control and giving up control. By saying this I don't mean to suggest that someone necessarily is power-hungry. It just means that we humans like to keep control. Losing or changing a job, selling a home, retiring, losing a loved one - these are hard because these mean giving up security, routine, control. I never ever got comfortable flying until the day that it hit me that I wasn't in control and might as well enjoy the ride. I've love flying ever since.

Putting the 800 or so acres under a conservation easement then handing it over to the State is scary. Control is given up - which is exactly the right thing to do in this case. The State has taken land before with conservation easements. Privately the Superintendent of the Franklin Mountains State Park, Dr. Cesar Mendez, has said that he prefers that the land come with an easement. 

One more thing to think about: in order for the land to be given to the State, the Texas legislature must agree. They don't even re-convene until next January and there is no guarantee that they will take it. If it goes back to the City, then we are back to square one. Dedicating the land as a park won't cut it because an election later can overturn the dedication or shenanigans over time can change the intent. Witness Blackie Chesher. If the land goes back to the City, then preserving it becomes a matter of keeping trust. The best way to secure that trust with the people now is to put a conservation easement on the land from the very beginning. 

For God's sake. Lose control. Stop fooling around and just make love.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Judge Won't Stop Work on Transmountain Project

U.S. District Court Judge Lee Yeakel yesterday denied Sierra Club's motion for a temporary injunction which would have stopped construction on the Transmountain West project. 

In an email, Sierra attorney David Frederick wrote:

The judge has refused to enter the preliminary injunction we sought.  Given the lapse in time since the short trial (3 months), this is not unexpected.   I have attached the opinion, which I have only read hastily.  And, I am likely tied up the rest of the day on other work.
It is slightly unusual opinion, in that he seems to go out of his way to be deferential to the Club's arguments, while, ultimately, deciding against the Club on all points.  I am surprised at his main finding, that the evidence thus far does not indicate the Club is likely to prevail on the merits of the case when the final trial arrives.  I thought the proof of habitat fragmentation west of the park enabled by Paso del Norte and Plexxar overpasses (and subsequent urbanization to the north) was strong.  His opinion is I think a bit vague on why he found that unconvincing, but I think he thinks it at least likely that the urbanization is coming anyway.  His opinion is careful to note that all the evidence is not "in," yet, that the hearing was preliminary, only, and that he might change his mind by the end.  But, still, he thinks right now that the Club will not prevail on the merits, and I felt that was a showing we were likely to convince him of.  I could have seen losing on any of the other injunction elements, and we did.  The last paragraph of the opinion is unusually supportive of the side against he has just ruled on all elements.  Slightly strange.
He also today denied (separate order) the Defendants' attempts to prevent the Club from initiating discovery.   If we go forward, that will be a help to us.

Here is the court ruling:

PSB Recommends Access and Animal Corridor into State Park

They've got to stop it. The PSB I mean. They are going to ruin my reputation - or theirs. We are agreeing too much. I was delighted when they endorsed a conservation easement. Today they recommended an access to the State Park that makes sense to me. 

Some background: With the widening of Transmountain, the current entrance and exit from the Tom Mays Unit of the Franklin Mountains State Park will become even more dangerous than it is today. Although the TxDOT plan to widen Transmountain does not address this danger, most people are reasonably concerned. Some alternative plans have been proposed.

Dr. Richard Bonart DVM, a member of the PSB recently gave a presentation with his suggestions:
Bonart Plan for Access to Tom Mays

His suggestion puts an access road alongside Transmountain to the north and takes into account planned hike and bike trails. (Slide 4) It also makes mention of existing culverts just to the east of the current entrance that could be retrofitted to become solely an animal corridor with use by hikers and mountain bikers as well. (Slide 5) The model for the corridor would be those used in Oregon (Slide 6). 

The alternative proposed today in a presentation given by Pat Adauto is similar to Dr. Bonart's. It provides an access road off of Paseo del Norte (as does Dr. Bonart's) and enters the park a bit to the north of Bonart's - using an existing trail that is the beginning of the southern route of the current Lower Sunset Trail. That alternative also has the advantage of following a road to be built to a "resort" as approved earlier by City Council. Indeed this route was also mentioned years ago by Dr. Bonart to TxDOT.

Too often some people see those of us in the conservation/environmental community as in lock-step singular agreement on all things. For example, I don't always agree with the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coaltion and vice versa. I don't write for the Open Space Board nor am I affiliated in any fashion with Frontera Land Alliance, a non-political/non-profit land trust organization. I recently encouraged members of a neighborhood association to oppose a recommendation for a zoning change given by OSAB to the City Plan Commission. I was one of only two votes against this egregious recommendation - enough said at least for now. Obviously some in the conservation community take quite an exception to my views about the ballpark (more on that later). And the recent election put many of us in the O'Rourke camp and many in the Reyes camp. We have our differences and we aren't all the same though we share common goals.

One proposal from the conservation community for access to the State Park would build an interchange off of Transmountain about where there is an existing runnaway lane. That interchange would provide an underpass for safe entrance to and exit from the park. It could also be utilized by animals for nocturnal passage. Although this plan would provide safe access and egress for motorized vehicles and human beings, I have two serious reservations about it. First, the interchange would be a mini-spaghetti bowl blocking the view shed of the mountain. Second, I really don't want to mix vehicles with animals even if you expect no cars after 10 p.m. and animals only from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. (Animals can be rather sloppy about their time keeping.) I've seen Mule Deer out during the day - many in those parts.

Dr. Rick Bonart (in red) explains his plan to (counter-clockwise from foreground) Dave Wilson, Borderland Mountain Bike Association, Ed Escudero, Chairman of the PSB, Brent Sanders, BMBA, and Dr. Cesar Mendez, Park Superintendent standing in culvert.

The PSB's Alternative 1 also means that a resort can become a grand entryway into the park - an encouragement to get people outdoors and an opportunity for eco-tourism and eco-tourist dollars for the City as well as places for retreats, strategic planning, museum space. Think of a place like Indian  Lodge in the Davis Mountains State Park. A mini-spaghetti bowl only eats up more natural open space. A simple access road tied into an Indian Lodge-type resort provides an opening into natural open space.

Not only did the PSB recommend Alterantive 1 but they recommended the Bonart animal corridor at the place where the culverts are now.

So stop it, PSB! You're ruining my reputation!

Actually, keep it up!