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Monday, June 23, 2014

Why Conserve Arroyos or Any Land at All?

The following is an op-ed piece that first appeared in the El Paso Inc. It is by Janae' Reneaud Field, the executive director of the Frontera Land Alliance.

Why Conserve Arroyos or Any Land at All?

Do you sometimes wonder why The Frontera Land Alliance spending so much time restoring Resler Canyon? It’s simple: Resler is a very visible open space—seen by thousands every day—that clearly demonstrates how a natural arroyo functions. Also it allows Frontera to show how an area such as this can be managed at a low cost with a positive impact on the community. What better way to educate the general public, elected officials, and government employees on how to manage open space properties in their natural state?  

Natural areas can create opportunities for our local economy by promoting investment in working ranches and farms as well as land for outdoor recreation. Such investments have a ripple effect. For example, investment in a nature-based park can create more jobs and lead to more visitor spending. With their growing international reputation as tourist destinations for nature and adventure, our mountains can bring more outside dollars to the area. “In 2006, Hueco Tanks brought in $582,207 in county sales [and] $331,774 in county residents’ personal income. In 2007, Hueco Tanks and the Franklin Mountains State Park brought 72,644 visitors to El Paso County.” (Texas State Park, Natural Economic Assets) The Backpacker Magazine states that “Natural open space improves mental and physical health. Researchers hypothesize that exposure to the natural outdoors causes significant, measurable changes to the brain. These changes lead to clearer thinking, greater ability to focus and maximum cognitive ability. In short: enjoying nature makes you smarter. Recent studies have already linked spending time in nature with stress reduction and overall happiness.” Imagine having a natural open space near your office to take a break and walk for a few minutes before getting back to work. How much more productive and friendly we would be! Finally it’s been proven that “Outdoor education provides students with an opportunity to connect with nature, learn hands-on science, achieve personal growth, and develop a commitment to environmental stewardship and community service. We believe outdoor education provides a better future for our students, our communities and our world.” (Outdoor Education Foundation) 

Having natural areas benefits the local economy, creates new business and lowers infrastructure costs long-term. And just by being outside in nature or at a ranch or a farm, you improve your mental and physical health.  

Frontera, the only 501 (C) 3 non-profit local land trust, is working hard to create and maintain a high quality of life for the community through the management of open natural areas that provide wildlife habitat, water recharge and peace of mind.  To learn more contact Frontera Land Alliance at info@FronteraLandAlliance.org or 915-351-8352.

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