Friday, August 30, 2013

The Friday Video: Climate Name Change

Here's an idea: name hurricanes after climate change deniers. (I wonder how we could also equally honor those who deny evolution. Hmmm . . . )

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Land-Use Plan for Castner Range Available for Public Comment

Click on images above to enlarge.

Land-Use Plan for Castner Range Available for Public Comment

Contact: JanaƩ Reneaud Field

A draft version of a Castner Range Land-Use Plan has been made available for public comment by the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition and The Frontera Land Alliance, two El Paso-area conservation organizations. Everyone interested in the future of Castner can review the Plan at (link in upper right hand corner of home page).

As you drive up into the mountains on Transmountain Road from Northeast El Paso, you may not realize you are driving through territory that still belongs to Fort Bliss. This 7,081-acre property, known as “Castner Range,” is not open to the public because there may be unexploded ordnance on the land.

Fort Bliss is undergoing a process of determining the best use of this land. For the last several years, members of the boards of The Frontera Land Alliance and the Franklin Mountains Wilderness coalition have been collaborating (as the “4C’s”—the Castner Conservation Conveyance Committee) with Fort Bliss to propose options for Castner Range’s acres. The 4C’s goal is to preserve, in perpetuity, the natural areas, wildlife corridors and natural springs that are present on Castner Range. After considerable study and work, the 4C’s have drafted a Land Use Plan that will be turned over to Fort Bliss to aid the Department of Defense in determining the future use of the Range, as soon as results from the survey are in.

The survey asks this: How would YOU like to see this land used (once it’s declared safe for using)? Do you want the land to be closed to the public so you can enjoy the natural beauty from a distance with no disturbance? Do you want hiking, biking and horse trails on the land? Maybe you prefer limited recreational development, once the land is transferred to the Franklin Mountains State Park? Or would you prefer full-scale development such as home, businesses, factories and office complexes? Perhaps you have another idea, one not considered yet, for the conservation of Castner Range.
All survey responses will be incorporated into the Plan, which will then be revised. “The Plan is open for commentary through September 15, 2013,” says JanaĆ© Reneaud Field, Executive Director of The Frontera Land Alliance and a member of the 4C’s collaboration.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Just Don't Tell Chuy

Click on images to enlarge.

This past Friday Mark Perkins saw a Swallow-tailed Kite around 8:00 a.m. across the street from his house in El Paso's Upper Valley.  Janet Perkins says: "We have been told this is the 2nd confirmed sighting of this species in El Paso County.  It is being seen by others in the Upper Valley on Westside Drive and Gomez Rd. flying with Mississippi Kites.  When flying, it is black and white with a beautiful swallow tail." Pictures are courtesy of Mark and Janet Perkins.

For further reading:

Swallow-tailed Kite

El Paso/Trans-Pecos Audubon Society

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Friday Video: Mountain Biking at Franklin Mountains State Park

Here's a fun video. Mountain bikers have been largely responsible for the trails throughout the Franklins. Many of these trails are now used by hikers and joggers as well and begin in the lower elevations of land that the current petition is calling to preserve.

The video stars the fabulous Adrianna Weickhardt, the Interpretive Ranger at the Park.


Thus Spake Bob Bielek: The Car Is King and Bikes Cause Congestion

 Which traffic situation do you prefer?

The TxDOT Bob Bielek Vision

Velo Paso Bicycle-Pedestrian Coalition

The other night Bob Bielek, the head of El Paso TxDOT, said the car is king and bikes cause congestion. ABC-7 gave Velo Paso Bicycle-Pedestrian Coalition a chance to respond.

Hear the interview.

The real question is: Where did the bike share money go?

Ask Bob Bielek yourself. Email him at or call him at his office (915) 790-4203.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Preserve the Land! New Initiative Petition Begins

Time to save our natural land.

The undersigned ask that the El Paso City Council pass the following ordinance:
The City of El Paso shall preserve, in its natural state and in perpetuity, all of the undeveloped land owned by the City (including that managed by the PSB) north of Transmountain, east of Interstate 10 and south of the New Mexico/El Paso boundary excluding that land described in the Northwest Master Plan, and shall also preserve, in its natural state and in perpetuity, all of the undeveloped land owned by the City (including that managed by the PSB) north of Transmountain, west of Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. and south of the New Mexico/El Paso boundary. The City shall take all steps necessary to preserve all of this land and to prevent it from being developed with either private development or major public roadways.

Conservation organizations and groups announce that they have begun collecting signatures on a new initiative petition. The petition calls for the preservation in its natural state and in perpetuity of all City owned land (even if managed by the PSB) north of Transmountain and east of Interstate 10 and west of Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Organizers say that there are several good reasons for all El Pasoans to sign the petition whether they live near or faraway from the mountains. Preserving all of this land on both sides of the mountain will benefit El Paso in several ways: preservation will help us sustain the scarce resource of water - an effort which includes all El Pasoans not just those living closer to the mountains; continued enjoyment of hiking and biking trails already in existence and utilized by the public; improvement of our quality of life especially as El Paso seeks to reach its goal of decreasing obesity and diabetes; protecting wildlife and making sure that they have adequate habitat and range in order to survive; and, ensuring that millions of dollars annually will come into El Paso through ecotourism as more and more people enjoy mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking and other recreational activities in our mountains and the surrounding region.

Members of the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition, El Paso CAN (Conservation Action Network), El Paso Conservation Leadership Institute,, elpasonaturally seek a minimum of 2,310 signatures of persons residing in El Paso and registered to vote.  Even if someone did not vote in the previous city elections, as long as they are registered and living in the city, they may sign the petition. (Persons not living in the city limits but in the County of El Paso are not eligible.) The El Paso City Charter requires that 5 percent of the total number of voters in the previous general city election (in this case, May 2013) must sign a petition before it can be validated and presented to City Council. Should City Council fail to pass the ordinance, then petitioners may gather the same number of signatures again in order to require the matter to be voted on at the next city election.

Elpasonaturally has added a new page for the 2013 Initiative Petition. The page has the petition, instructions for signing and/or gathering signatures, reasons to sign and maps of the affected areas.

El Paso CAN (Conservation Action Network) is asking for the names and email addresses of all El Pasoans (or people living in the El Paso southwest region) who want to be kept informed about environmental and conservation issues in and around the City of El Paso. Suggestions for ways to help and take action will be given but are suggestions only. Each person can choose his/her level of involvement: send an email, write a letter, sign a petition, join a demonstration, or whatever. To get on the list, just send your name and email address to

Monday, August 19, 2013

What's Really Drying up the River

Fred Pearce's "Cry me a river" was first published by the Guardian on February 26, 2006.  You can read it as published online. The article is an edited abstract from his book, When the Rivers Run Dry

Friday, August 16, 2013

Why Bike Share for El Paso

Click on icon in lower right hand corner to enlarge.

The Friday Video: Going Dry: Drought and Fracking Chokes Texas Towns

Read the story on Grist: A Texan tragedy: Ample oil no water

Same story with picture of a cow


Thinking of the many incarnations of petroleum (fuel, fertilizer for the agri-industry that stocks the shelves of all of our stores, plastics, fabrics for clothing and other things), what can each of us do to reduce the need for more oil?

Should there be restrictions on fracking including outright banning the practice?

Should there be restrictions put on private property for the public good or more land acquired to be public land with restrictions?

Should everyone have water rights?

Should the right of capture be stopped?

If you are a farmer, do you have the right to raise water-hungry crops in areas like West Texas with low rainfall?

Pipeline to Bosque Under Design and Lessons Learned

Click on image to enlarge.

Three bits of good news that should be shouted from atop every peak on the Franklin Mountains: 

First, the El Paso Water Utilities does have direct right-of-way access into the Rio Bosque.

Second, plans to build a direct pipeline from the Bustamante Treatment Plant to the Rio Bosque for the purpose of supplying effluent is being designed.

Third, Water Improvement District Mis-Manager, Chuy Reyes, not only can do nothing about it, he is irrelevant in the process.

Let's take a look.

In the very bottom far left triangle in the map above, the Park and the treatment plant abut each other at the Riverside Drain. Recognizing this fact and having spoken with Mr. Reyes, environmental activist, Judy Ackerman, wrote to the CEO of the EPWU:

"Thank you very much for all the efforts of EPWU to create a direct connection from the Bustamante WWTP to El Paso’s Rio Bosque Wetlands Park that will allow the opportunity for waste water to be utilized at the Park in the future. The Park needs the water.  Several of the Park’s mature trees have died this season due to lack of water.

"By the end of July, El Paso County Water Improvement District # 1, should have received more than 13,333 Acre Feet [the amount actually varies as I understand it based on how much is released from Elephant Butte during any given season - though I could stand to be corrected] of effluent from the Bustamante WWTP  – the amount obligated to them by the Third Party Contract.   Any remaining BWWTP effluent, between now and 15 Feb 2014, is EPWU’s to utilize as you choose.  If you directed that effluent into the Riverside Intercepting Drain, instead of the Riverside Canal, it would be available to the Bosque.  

"Mr Jesus 'Chuy' Reyes is on record saying he will cooperate fully with EPWU to deliver effluent to the Bosque via the Riverside Intercepting Drain if you choose to utilize your effluent that way.   Here is a link to audio clips of my conversation with Mr Reyes on 23 Oct 2012.

"I encourage you to send BWWTP effluent to the Bosque as soon as possible since it will greatly benefit EPWU, the Park, El Pasoans, and visitors from far and wide.  Thank you for considering this option."

In a swift rebuke, Mis-Manager Reyes caustically replied:

"I don't know where you are getting your calculations from, but you have no authority or are you or the Bosque in anyway connected to our agreement with our 2001 contract with EPWU. EP#1 will continue to use the effluent water for irrigation of crops until late SEPTEMBER [emphasis his]."

So, what caused Ackerman to believe that she had heard otherwise from Mr. Reyes?  The interviews on the audio clips that she mentions: 

On record, Mr. Reyes says: "It's their [EPWU's] water. What they do with it is their business." And: "I'm willing to cooperate with them [EPWU] in anyway..." Note that he never disputes that one-third of the effluent belongs to the EPWU even during irrigation season. Note that he agrees that, even if all the water goes into the drain, one-third could be pumped to the Rio Bosque Wetland Park as directed solely by the EPWU even during irrigation season. Note that he suggests that the EPWU build some direct line to the Bosque. (Deal! It's in design.) Note that, when Ms. Ackerman honestly and innocently writes John Balliew with the facts after having spoken to Mr.Reyes, Mr. Reyes lambasts her claim! Note the audio tapes. Note who is honest and note who is obviously dis-honest.

Lessons to learn:

First, Mr. Chuy Reyes is irrelevant to talks about supplying water to the Rio Bosque from the Bustamante plant.

Second, it seems to be the case that for a long time there were some backroom handshakes and winks of eyes between the EPWU and the WID. There is now new management at the EPWU. All deals between the EPWU and the WID should be made public and transparent.

Third, other than buying water from the WID and other contractual agreements, the EPWU should have as little to do with Mr. Reyes and the WID as possible. Winks and handshakes no longer count (and the old ones should be accounted for.)

Fourth and finally, some in El Paso's environmental community should cease acting as if Mr. Reyes matters at all regarding the Rio Bosque.  This means that they can speak out when Mr. Reyes destroys habitat and vegetation during nesting season as he has been doing in the Upper Valley. He's not a friend. He's not useful. He's the Manager of a Water District operated under antiquated laws about water rights and rights of capture that really should be the hot-button issues for conservationists along with protecting habitat and the natural open space of our mountains and Chihuahuan Desert.

El Cucuy is no longer scary, boys and girls.

Bicycle Community Stresses Action Now

What we, Velo Paso: El Paso Bicycle Pedestrian Coalition, are telling people is . . . 

1. Read and respond to the El Paso Times article:

If you have Facebook, please respond to the El Paso Times article. Important points to make:

1. This isn't just about bikes, this is about the health of our community. I want my children to be able to bike safely to school and programs like Bike Share would put MORE riders on the road. 

2. The real question is why is TxDOT taking this away from our city after local agencies and elected officials already agreed to move forward on it? TxDOT is merely the fiduciary agent - the middle man. Bike share meets all qualifications for the funds. 

3. Fort Worth Bike Share was funded by TxDOT. What makes El Paso different from Fort Worth? 

Your own points. This is about solidarity and not ceding any money when it comes to bikes and pedestrian initiatives. This whole process is being obstructed by two individuals who simply don't believe bikes are a viable form of transportation. PROVE THEM WRONG RIGHT NOW. 

2. Write a letter to the editor:


3. Email Rep. Pickett
Email Rep. Joe Pickett and tell him:

I live in El Paso and I want Bike Share. Don't treat El Paso differently from Fort Worth or any other city in Texas. Ask TxDOT to fund our Bike Share program. 

4. Attend our Velo Paso Community Meeting, Saturday, 8/24 10am-12pm at the main branch of the El Paso Public Library, downtown. Food will be provided. 

5. Contact TxDOT and tell them El Paso wants a bike share pogram!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Electric Vehicle Owners: "Electric" up at a City of El Paso station near you

August 15, 2013

Contact: Marissa Monroy, City Development Coordinator
(915) 479-2647 or

El Paso Grows Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Fleet

El Paso, Texas – The City of El Paso is excited to announce the official commissioning of the electric vehicle charging stations, which will now be available for public use. These stations are located in various areas across the city including several Sun Metro terminals and the El Paso International Airport. The City of El Paso, in partnership with the University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso Community College and the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso (HACEP), used a $256,000 state grant from the Texas State Energy Conservation Office’s Transportation Efficiency Program to install 32 electric vehicle charging stations throughout the city. UTEP has also used additional funding to install various other stations throughout the UTEP campus.

Electric vehicle stations for public use can now be found at the following locations (in some cases, there are more than one charging stations at each location):

·         El Paso International Airport, Short-Term Parking, 6701 Convair Road
·         City Municipal Service Center, 7969 San Paulo Drive
·         Sun Metro Westside Terminal, 2nd level, 7535 Remcon Circle
·         Sun Metro Mission Valley Terminal, 9065 Alameda Avenue
·         Sun Metro Glory Road Terminal, 2nd level, 100 E. Glory Road
·         UTEP Schuster Parking Garage, 500 W. Schuster Avenue
·         UTEP Academic Services Building Parking Lot, 501 W. Schuster Avenue
·         UTEP Sun Bowl Parking Facility, 2522 Sun Bowl Drive
·         UTEP Union Building East Parking Lot, 275 W. University Avenue
·         El Paso Community College Valle Verde Campus, Advanced Technology Center, 919 Hunter Drive
·         HACEP – Tio Cooper, 5301 Suncrest Drive
·         HACEP – Paisano Green Community, 4000 E. Paisano Drive
·         HACEP – Eisenhower Community, 5628 Eisenhower Avenue
·         HACEP – Williams Community, 314 Resler Drive
·         HACEP – Central Office Loading Dock, 5300 E. Paisano Drive
·         HACEP – Central Office Guard Shack, 5301 E. Paisano Drive
·         HACEP – Westfall Community, 10700 Vista del Sol Drive

“We realize that the real key to encouraging electric vehicle use in this community is to provide the infrastructure so drivers are not stranded without power,” said Marty Howell, Director of Economic Development and Sustainability for the City of El Paso. “That’s exactly why the City of El Paso, along with its partners, has committed to providing an increasing number of electric vehicle charging stations throughout the city.”

The City of El Paso and the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso will host a news conference on Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at 11:30 a.m. at the Paisano Green Community, located at 4000 E. Paisano Drive., right across from the El Paso Zoo. The public will get the opportunity to learn how electric vehicle charging stations work and how the stations benefit the entire community.

Click here for a map of electric vehicle charging locations.

Attached are images of the electric vehicle charging stations and information about how to sign up for a Blink Network account to access the stations.

Other Resources:

Take Action Now: Support Bike Share

The Velo PasoBicycle-Pedestrian Coalition attended the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority's (CRRMA) monthly meeting to support the city-wide Bike Share program after Bike Texas and the League of American Bicyclists sent out an urgent 24-hour action alert. 

The CRRMA announced that TxDOT would not be issuing the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funding that it controlled.  Funding which the bike share program fully qualifies for. When asked why, it was reported that TxDOT did not believe this was an appropriate use for these funds.  
Raymond Telles, Executive Director of the CRRMA, said that without the $1.6 million from TxDOT, the funding available for the program was now down to just $400,000.  All interested stakeholders not only still support the Bike Share project, but Telles announced that Fort Bliss, the Army's second largest military installation in the country, has also expressed interest in joining the Bike Share program.

So, is Bike Share dead?  At this point, it isn't, but what will happen next is unclear. 

"No final decision has been made yet," said Veronica Beyer, a TxDOT spokeswoman. "TxDOT plans to coordinate conversations with transportation partners to garner more information on how we can dedicate those limited funds to important congestion-mitigation projects around the state."

Community members are disappointed that the funding is being withheld, especially after local agencies and elected officials conducted the required due diligence.  Now it seems that bike share has been thwarted by just one or two individuals who are hiding behind the facade of the state agency.

El Pasoans demand to know why TxDOT refuses to fund El Paso's Bike Share program when they funded Forth Worth's bike share with Transportation Enhancement money.

More importantly, community members want to know why TxDOT is telling local governments, regional agencies and the University of Texas what to do.

If you want to save bike share, tell Rep. Joe Pickett, former chair of the powerful transportation committee, and Ted Houghton, chair of the Texas Transportation Commission, that you live in El Paso and see the valuable health, environmental and quality of life benefits bike share would bring to El Paso. Tell them that we deserve bike share just as much as Fort Worth, Austin, Houston or San Antonio.

Email Ted Houghton or call him at (512) 305-9509.

Email Joe Pickett, visit his district office at 1790 Lee Trevino #307, call him at (915) 590-4349 or fax (915) 590-4726.

Follow the local media coverage as this story continues to evolve.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Danger Will Robinson: Stupid Proposal about PSB before City Council

Some tried before with the Blue Ribbon Council on the PSB's land management.  Here we go again!  From the budget meeting documents comes "Items Requiring Council Direction".  Item 4 reads: "PSB Structure - Review of cost/benefits and pros/cons of dissolving current structure and moving into organization as city department enterprise fund operation . . . "

Click to enlarge and see the stupidity for yourself.

Looks like a big fight coming up.  

I suggest reviewing this video now:

Lurking in District 8 and the City Manager's Office?