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Monday, March 30, 2015

The Friday Video on Monday: We the People Petition

Please do four things: 

Watch the video
Forward this link to your friends and ask them to watch the video.
Sign the petition.
Ask your friends to sign the petition.

This is a beautiful video by Rick LoBello on behalf of the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition. To learn more about the petition and to download a copy to sign and get other signatures (if you can), go to franklinmountains.org




Friday, March 27, 2015

Sierra del Puente Protest Begins

The backlash against plans to develop Sierra del Puente has begun. A number of people from surrounding Mountain Park and other neighborhoods gathered yesterday to view the area behind their homes where a stack and pack development will most assuredly obscure their view of the mountains. 

Some initial organizing began.

There are some lingering questions the biggest of which is why the Open Space Advisory Board never set this land as a priority and pursued buying it? It had been mentioned by OSAB members on several occasions. Why was there no staff follow through? Will the City be interested as they seem to be in land near Mesa Heights?

Stay tuned on this one, folks.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Who's To Blame for Trash Collection Site Next to Keystone?

These water fowl do not know that the City of El Paso has only put the trash collection site next to their habitat on hold . . . for now.

Although officials from Tommy Gonzalez down say that the nasty, dirty, ugly trash collection site next to Keystone (open space, wildlife preserve, archaeological site and botanical gardens) Park is on hold, they always add "for now" or "in the near future" or "for the time being". Rep. Niland claims that nobody in her district (District 1) has complained about the station. Of course, she only listens to a few Country Club Facebook friends as she did with our Christmas Tree in the San Jacinto Park when she wanted to take it down or destroy it by pruning it in a more triangular shape. Ask the people of the Upper Valley Neighborhood Association. Ask the parishioners of St. Jude's what they think about the collection station next to them. They are outraged. It's not just a bunch of tree huggers, animal lovers, heritage hippies who are angry.

Now we learn that the District 8 Rep along with the District 1 Rep want to put the blame on Ellen Smyth, the Director of Environmental Services. The truth is that Ms. Smyth was doing her job - the Reps of District 8 and District 1 were ignoring the situation for four years! Joyce Wilson, the perfecter of closed door deals, took money from the Environmental Services as part of the land swap that procured the City of El Paso the land next to Keystone. Naturally, Ms. Smyth saw this as land for her department's use. Now that there is a big brouhaha, Ms. Niland and Ms. Lily are calling for Smyth's head rather than acknowledging their responsibility. It is akin to a drunk driver who is oblivious to what's happening on the road and, thus, causing an accident and then blaming it on the sober driver. 

The Open Space Advisory Board will discuss and take action on the whole issue of a collection station next to Keystone at their next meeting, April 1st at 3 PM at City Hall #3, 801 N. Texas (red brick building at the corner of Texas and Virginia) in the Thorman Conference Room (downstairs). MAP

There is an online petition as well as a petition circulating through the Upper Valley Neighborhood Association and St. Jude's. 

Such a site does not belong next to an open space with a wetlands and animal habitat, an archaeological site, a neighborhood and a church. How would people feel if it was put next to St. Matthew's or St. Mark's in the Upper Valley or St. Clement's downtown. Hmmm?

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Monday Links: Water, Development, Open Space and Fracking

[Monday is "Links Day" with links gathered over the past week to online "stuff" to read and sites to surf that impact us directly or offer information about our regional issues. Please feel free to send me links to any conservation, environmental, simple living, city planning, energy and water, etc. stories that you have come across online.]

Water issues (always at the top of the list):

Undrinkable: Safe water was within reach, but politics and entrenched interests undercut decades of work Things are bad in Vinton.


World Faces Catastrophic Water Shortage if Changes Are Not Made, UN Warns

Snow Water Equvalent Percentages for the Western States It's not good. Note southwestern Colorado where the Rio Grande begins.

Policy Priorities for Managing Drought A California white paper but worth reading.

Activists Asking City to Preserve Land Near Franklin Mountains It's about water, sprawl and open space. KVIA's Maria Garcia interviews me about the petition. Good transition to our next topic:


Open Space and Development:

Comments on Land Study May Mean New NE El Paso Neighborhoods in the Franklin Mountain Foothills elpasonaturally did a post about this development. You have got to read the comments following the report. People just don't want the mountain destroyed. Sign the petition online and/or get signatures.

Boulder County Colorado Parks and Open Space It's a huge wish list for El Paso whose leaders just don't seem to get it.

Home Center for ReSource Management More good ideas from pacesetter, Boulder County Colorado.

Welcome to Tiny House Family Be sure to read the blog.


Energy and Fracking: 

Fracking Radiation

Fossil Fuels Are Way More Expensive Than You Think

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Friday Video: I Meant To Do My Work Today

It's too beautiful to be inside in front of a computer. Spring springs at 4:45 PM this afternoon. Go out and sing a song, play a pipe, listen to birds, see new life, read a poem. I'm out of here.




Thursday, March 19, 2015

We Must Put an End to the Asphalt-Industrial Machine



I missed something the other day. I was so happy to see that the connectivity project for the Franklin Mountains State Park (the access and animal corridor to Tom Mays) was still a "GO", that I overlooked the rest of the report. The rest can be summarized easily: miles and miles and miles of concrete and asphalt.

Project after project widens freeways and highways and spurs. Project after project eats up more land. There is no mention by the Texas Department of Transportation of mixed used roads. There is no mention of narrowing roads and reducing speed limits to make livable, walkable places, promote communities and neighborhoods and health. 

It's a vicious circle. We create asphalt corridors for traffic. The added highways increase traffic which we must accomodate by widening roads, creating more spurs, laying more asphalt, etc. ad nauseum.

Please read a Better Cities & Towns blog post by Robert Steuteville: They paved paradise, put up a parking lot . . . “Big Asphalt” has compromised our health, safety, and welfare — but we can defeat it if we try. Don't just skim or scan it. Read it. Learn all the ways that asphalt harms us. 

Steuteville tells us that it's time to fight the asphalt-industrial machine and take back our communities and countrysides.

He's right.

EPWU to Import Water from Hudspeth County

Click on image to enlarge.
It's not just drilling for oil that is going on in Hudspeth County. EPWU is drilling for water near McNary to import to El Paso.

This is a good time to read a Richard Parker's op-ed piece in the New York Times: The Southwestern Water Wars: How Drought Is Producing Tensions in Texas.

Torchlight Set to Drill Test Well Near El Paso

In spite of plummeting oil prices, fracking may be coming soon next to El Paso in Hudspeth County. Torchlight Energy Resources is set to drill a test well on March 28th. They must commence drilling as a term of their lease with the University of Texas that owns the land. In time it could mean drilling 2500 fracking wells marring the sensitvie Diablo Plateau. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Party of Oligarchy in Texas Keeps Saying No to Freedom and Free Enterprise

The party of oligarchy in Texas keeps saying "no" to freedom and free enterprise. Of course, I'm speaking about the Republicans. A review of some of the legislation before legislators in Austin will prove the point. Unfortunately, Republicans will continue as the majority party in Texas because people believe the fantasy that they are still the party of free enterprise, local control and small businesses when, in fact, they are the party of big oil since they are bought and paid for by oil and gas money, large corporate empires that seek to protect their energy monopolies and crush the will of citizens to have a clean environment. (Republicans may have been the party of free enterprise and conservation under Teddy Roosevelt but not under the likes of Teddy Cruz.) Energy expert, Ray Rapisand, says it best: "They say that they stand for freedom, yet they restrict the rights of cities and citizens to have a clean environment and safe water."

Begin by reading David Weinberg's legislative update - the good, the bad and the ugly. Check out the links. Weinberg is the Executive Director of the Texas League of Conservation Voters.

Now read through some or all of the following which Robin Roberts, renewable energy activist, calls "the whole madness about reversing gains to bring renewable energy into mainstream energy production":

What is RPS and why is it important to sustainability:
http://www.nrel.gov/tech_deployment/state_local_governments/basics_portfolio_standards.html

Legislation proposed to end  RPS in TX:
http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/84R/billtext/html/SB00931I.htm

Source of this anti-climate change policy:
https://www.masterresource.org/renewable-portfolio-standardrenewable-electricity-standard/alec-repeal-state-energy-mandates/

And for future reference these are organizations that are out to smear climate change efforts (note the Koch fingerprints):

http://www.fightcleanenergysmears.org/behind_the_smears.cfm

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

TxDOT Reports Plans for Tom May Access


TxDOT is presenting to City Council today its Quarterly Update for El Paso. The update includes plans for the Franklin Mountain[s] State Park Connectivity. Although the project will have taken a long time to start (as most governmental projects do), it's inclusion in the report is great news. 

No changes from the original plan are expected.

Good news is always welcome and great!


Friday, March 13, 2015

Will Stack and Pack Development Really Preserve Arroyos?

The image is from El Paso Development News which reports, "The site plan for a new residential development in Northeast El Paso shows streets winding around arroyos and open space. (City of El Paso)
The City Plan Commission (CPC) approved a land study for 175.45 acres above Magnetic and just to the south of Hondo Pass. The planned development is being called Sierra del Puente. This is an area that some on the Open Space Advisory Board had asked on several occasions to be considered for acquisition. 

El Paso Development News has the story.

The land owned by Daniel Knapp and Palo Verde Properties plans to build 319 residential units on 70 acres while preserving 88 acres of arroyos and open space. One land expert commented: "This is a stack and pack in order to squeeze all the units on there – which is what they have to do to get their money out of it.  I sure hope the surrounding neighborhoods object to it.  I hate to see that happen to the mountain."

Maybe but, if they use green infrastructure/low impact development and preserve (not concrete) the arroyos, it may be a worthwhile (albeit expensive) enterprise. I've hiked with Dan Knapp and know that he loves our mountains.

When the CPC reviewed the land study, commissioners asked whether anyone from the public had comments. There were none. One wonders how well the neighborhood was informed about the project.

One also wonders whether years of Charlie Wakeem's mentioning the area at OSAB resulted in any attempts to contact the owners about selling the land. OSAB members often waste their breaths at City Planning.

By the way, El Paso Development News is great. Get on their email list.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Memorandum of Understanding Shortchanges Rio Bosque Wetlands Park

Click image to enlarge.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the El Paso Water Utilities (EPWU) and the El Paso County Water Improvement District #1 (EPWID) shortchanged the amount of water promised to the Rio Bosque Wetlands Park. Because the EPWU built a pipeline over EPWID land (rather than using its own right-of-way), they had to cut a deal with the water district that will deny water to the wetlands. When Johnny Stubbs, the President of the EPWID, told conservationists and Friends of the Rio Bosque that the Board was their best friend, it seems that he may have been exaggerating just a bit. Earlier enthusiasm over the water district's permitting EPWU to build a pipeline over its land, has now been dampened. That permission has come with a cost to the EPWU and most especially to the Rio Bosque Wetlands Park.

Of interest is the fact that the water district's permission for EPWU to build the pipeline was granted on January 28, 2015. The details of the Memorandum dated January 15, 2015 is only now coming to light. 

In a report, the President of the Friends of the Rio Bosque, Richard Teschner, wrote:

The reduced water availability under the MOU means there will still be four months each year (February, March, April and October) when the Park’s wetland cells are dry. Habitat will be lacking in the cells for wintering and migrating water birds during those months, and groundwater recharge will not take place. Due to work on the pipeline, the cells were dry for most of this past fall and winter, and groundwater levels at the Park are currently the lowest they have been in March since groundwater monitoring began in 2001. (The Park’s wells do not contribute to net groundwater recharge. They deplete vicinity groundwater and redistribute it in the Park but bring no new water into the system.) [Emphases mine.]

Dr.Teschner's full report can be seen HERE.

Former PSB member, Dr. Rick Bonart, a candidate for District 1 City Council Representative, was outraged:

"I am absolutely livid about this! 

"Completely not what was suppose to happen. That pipeline should have been built over our [PSB/EPWU] right-of-way. That would have given EPWU/PSB control over 15K acre feet of water. Then the Citizens of El Paso would have had an asset to sell and give to Rio Bosque as well.

"This thing was to be $400k and 6 months to design and build in house. If done properly it would have been profitable in the first 6 months.

"This IMO was an expensive squandered opportunity to benefit the Bosque and the rate payers!"

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Water and land: why care if it will always be there - right?


In Texas, where about 95 percent of the land is privately owned, and 83 percent of that land is rural farms, ranches, forests, plains and deserts, it’s essential that all Texans understand the connection between land and water to ensure the healthy stewardship of both, according to natural resource professional Kathy Wythe (Texas Water Resources Institute, Texas H2O).

Did you know that rain—whether it falls in Colorado, New Mexico or Texas—replenishes our water supplies so we have water that comes out of the tap at home? When land is managed properly, water will flow to rivers or be absorbed into the ground. It is critical to know that good water stewardship is not enough; we must also conserve the lands that help us conserve our water.  

A Texas statewide voter opinion survey conducted by Hill Research in December, 2014, found that 92% of respondents saw parks as especially important in tough economic times and that 88% viewed parks as essential to healthy living and an active lifestyle for Texans. In addition 84% understood the need for protecting natural areas. 

We have even stronger support in west Texas for open space and parks. The survey by Hill Research goes on to state that in West Texas 96% of the people believe that unless we protect Texas’ natural areas we will lose the very things that makes Texas such a special place in which to live. In addition, the survey showed that 94% believe that public parks and natural areas are especially important to families needing an affordable recreational outlet. 

It’s clear that there is support for conservation and preservation of our region’s water, wildlife and open lands. One way to ensure that land is preserved is with a conservation easement.  A conservation easement is a voluntary, legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust such as the Frontera Land Alliance, that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values, while allowing the owner to retain title and continue to manage the land with certain mutually agreed upon limitations.   

The Frontera Land Alliance and the landowner work together to write a conservation easement that reflects both the landowner's desires and ensures the protection of all existing conservation values. A conservation easement restricts development to the degree that is necessary to protect those values be they scenic views, water, wildlife habitat, plants, forests, deserts, etc. Every conservation easement is uniquely tailored to a particular landowner's goals and land. 

Through such preservation you’re impacting more than just you and your family. You are leaving a legacy to for future generations by maintaining an irreplaceable view of a mountain, the preservation of a working pecan groves or cotton fields, by keeping an arroyo open for water to flow naturally, or by assuring that a natural corridor continues to provide a safe pathway for wildlife in an ever-growing urban setting. 

El Paso is a very special place. We’re separated by great distances from other large urban centers in Texas and surrounded by ranches, farms, deserts and a major mountain range. The types of plants and wildlife found in our region are irreplaceable (as are, of course, the people who live there). And it’s also the case that “It’s better outdoors!” to cite the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s motto. So by being outdoors you improve your mental and physical self - whether sitting on a bench or biking on a trail. A conservation easement is a very effective way to protect those special places in our lives and ensure they will be there for those who follow us.

-Janae’ Renaud Field

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Monday Links (and Updates): Water, Green Infrastructure, the Commons and a Laugh

"This is part of a long, wide arroyo running through the new Desert Springs subdivision in far West El Paso. Some areas have concrete, as shown here, but rocks and wire were used to line much of the arroyo to lessen erosion. The aim is for it to return to its natural state with natural plants and soil. Rock walls and iron fences enclose the arroyo. (VICTOR CALZADA — EL PASO TIMES)"

[Monday is "Links Day" with links gathered over the past week to online "stuff" to read and sites to surf that impact us directly or offer information about our regional issues. Please feel free to send me links to any conservation, environmental, simple living, city planning, energy and water, etc. stories that you have come across online.

New on the bottom: Story Updates - updates to stories that we have posted about.]


Water Issues:

Water Loss: An Invisible Global Crisis

West's snowpack improves, still not great

Rio Grande forcast improves, but that's not saying much

Measuring Groundwater in Texas


Green infrastructure:

More Benefits of Green vs. Gray Stormwater Infrastructure


Climate Change:

Climate Change Impacts in the United States: Highlights


The Commons:

The Commons as a Source of Renewal

How Much is the Commons Worth?


Tar Sands:

The Nightmarish Normalcy of Canada's Tar Sands Mines


Story Updates:

$25 million for Stormwater Drainage (You will recall the urgent need by the Mayor and Rep. Niland to take 3 year's worth of open space funds for stormwater improvements. Well . . . seems there was other money all along for the projects thanks to the PSB.)


Arroyo featured in Desert View's biggest El Paso subdivision (Actually, this story should be under the category of "laugh of the month". The picture accompanying the story is above. Do you see a "wide arroyo" OR concrete? Truth is that the developer destroyed the mountain to river arroyo by severely narrowing it and concreting the sides. Rather than building a bridge ("too expensive"), he put in a box culvert. Never mind Mule Deer wanting to get to the river or even hikers wanting to follow the arroyo.)

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Friday Video: The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible

From Sustainable Human. Also on Facebook. Keep watching . . .



A witness observed a man driving golf balls from the backyard of the home displayed above. The golf balls landed, of course, in the Franklin Mountains State Park. Littering of a State Park violates Texas State code and is punishable.

The address of the home is 457 San Clemente Drive. A check with El Paso CAD yielded this information:

Click on image to enlarge.
The property is owned by Robert L. and Joanne Bowling.

State authorities are investigating.

Franklin Mountains State Park his private driving range? Insensitive to the natural open space and its ecosystems? Above the law?

City Strategic Plan Has Nothing to Say about the Environment and Open Space

Our beautiful mountains are being ravaged by quarries like the Cemex operation near McKelligon Canyon.
The City of El Paso's strategic plan has nothing to say about the environment and open space. Although it may be a useful document for staff, it does not address the issues about conservation and preservation of our natural resources. 

At their meeting this past Wednesday members of the Open Space Advisory Board (OSAB) heard a presentation by Nancy Bartlett of the City Manager's office about the strategic plan. Questions were immediately raised.

Board member, Maria Teran, asked if OSAB fitted into one of the strategic plan initiatives. Both Bartlett and a cohort also from the CM's office were hard pressed to find an item that might include open space. To say the least, I haven't heard this much hemming and hawing by city personnel in a long time.

Former OSAB Chairman and current Board member, Charlie Wakeem said it quite plainly after all the hemming and hawing: "Nothing I've heard has tied this plan to the open space plan."

You can read the strategic plan HERE. Ms. Bartlett tried to tie open space with 3.2 of the plan: "Improve the visual impression of the community." OSAB members weren't buying it.

When questioned as to how the general public, boards and commissions had been involved in the formation of the strategic plan, Bartlett claimed that the public had been invited to a City Council hearing. It was pointed out that, if true, no real notice about the hearing was given. A friend commented: "I joined the city mailing list in May 2014, I never received any notice of public meetings on the strategic plan that I recall."

Not being able to detail public participation in the plan, Bartlett then claimed that the SP is a work in progress and her coming to OSAB was a beginning. However, that doesn't explain the fact that a slick brochure with the plan has already been printed. Why go to the expense of designing and printing a brochure if the SP is still a "work in progress"?

What it means that the environment, open space and conservation are not mentioned is easy: the heirarchy of the City doesn't value the environment, open space and conservation. 

They should.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

More on the Keystone-Trash Collection Controversy

Photo from keystoneheritagepark.org

Yesterday at the Open Space Advisory Board meeting, a representative from the City Manager's office said that the Collection Station project was on hold and that it wasn't "happening at this time." That is the same message that other city officials are giving: it's on hold for the foreseeable future . . . but just wait. Although both Charlie Wakeem and myself requested in February that a discussion and action item about the collection station be part of yesterday's agenda, it was deleted from that agenda at the insistence of Rep. Cortney Niland. As we were considering the April agenda, I moved that the item be on our April agenda. That motioned was seconded and the motion passed unanimously. I made it clear that this was a motion approved and not a "request" or a "suggestion" and that I expected it on the April agenda. The matter is not dead and OSAB should weigh in. Creating a park next to Keystone or conserving that land in some other way makes the most sense to me. El Paso adopted smart code a couple of years ago. Since when does one put an industrial park next to a wetlands? The whole matter of incompatible zoning will also be discussed at the next meeting - another motion that was seconded and passed unanimously and that should not be trumped by Chair or Secretary or a Council Representative.

At yesterday's meeting, Marilyn Guida made the following statement suggesting that the matter must be dealt with now:

The City of El Paso Environmental Services Department is proposing to construct a Citizen Collection Station as part of a larger Municipal Service Center at Doniphan and Kappa on the West side.

This facility will be located a stone’s throw south of the wonderful 52 acre natural and cultural resource preserve called Keystone Heritage Park (KHP).  This is city-owned land developed and managed by the Keystone Heritage Park Board. It includes the nine acre Keystone Archaeological Preserve. The preserve protects a State Archaeological Landmark and National Register prehistoric site, the Keystone Dam Archaeological Site.

There are potential, probable (probable meaning more likely than possible) undiscovered prehistoric cultural resources that may be on the city-owned land south of and outside the KHP fence.  

The Keystone Dam Archaeological Site is a nationally significant site. If the area around this site is degraded, it can endanger the status of the site for the National Register. In other words, the Keystone Dam Archaeological Site can be delisted from the National Register.  

This is the oldest site of its size, indicating an organized community, in Middle Archaic times (approx. 4,000 to 1,200 B.C.) north of the Mexican border in the Southwest.

The predominant native Chihuahuan Desert plants in that area are Four Wing Salt Bush and Mesquite, both of which were important food plants for the ancient people as well as having many other ancient uses. The presence of these plants are often reliable indicators of prehistoric cultural resources.

Before they do any land disturbance the City has to comply with state law to determine if any undiscovered prehistoric cultural resources are located there.  There are procedures within the Texas Historical Commission for complying with state law regarding cultural resources and archaeological sites.

Also of importance is the open space potential of that site, to expand upon the existing KHP. Any newly discovered cultural resources could be preserved and monitored within designated open space.

The term cultural resources is preferable to the term “archaeological site.” Archaeology is a methodology for learning about the past. The cultural resources are what connect us to the people of the past and how they lived. It’s about the ancient people, not the archaeologists.  The laws are written using the term cultural resources or specifying that the law is about recovering information about culture. 

With a focus on ancient people, we also need to recognize that we have people living today in El Paso who trace their heritage to the ancient people. Thus we need to bring those descendants into the process of discussing what to do about prehistoric cultural resources. I am speaking of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo people (The Tigua Tribe) and the Piro-Manso-Tigua Tribe of Las Cruces which includes families in El Paso and Juarez.

The 1996 Parks & Open Space plan recommended that all the land east of Doniphan from Sunset Drive to Sunland Park Drive be open space – 105 acres.

In the most recent Open Space Plan, that area shrank to the land north of KHP. Now the land north of KHP is being built up. 

Today, in 2015, the only open space left between KHP and Sunland Park Drive is this city-owed land that Environmental Services is proposing for development.

The City Council should be encouraged to make a final formal determination on use of the site south of KHP.  As long as no final decision is made there is no guarantee of what will happen to that area. 

Leaving that property as it is now invites the potential for illegal dumping, for vehicles driving around off paved roads, for camping by homeless people, for illegal activities, etc. This endangers the cultural and natural resources as well as the safety and security of KHP and the neighboring uses including a church and residential area.

Some final determination must be made as soon as possible.  The City Council should dedicate that land to open space.



Please sign the petition and ask your friends and family to do the same.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Staked!


Environmental Services and Rep. Cortney Niland are saying that the construction of an ugly, noisy trash collection station next to Keystone Heritage Park is dead . . . for now. That's been the ruse all along. 

The "buffer" is just 50 feet between this "concept" and Keystone Heritage Park.

When first brought to public (and the Open Space Advisory Board's) attention, it was just a concept, a thought and nothing more. That was Joyce Wilson's lie. Suddenly it turned into a green-lighted project. Now, because of public outcry, it has been stopped again. Yet the Director of Environmental Services, Ellen Smyth, says: :". . . the reality is that [the collection station] is what the land was purchased for.  So it may come up again in the future." 

Click image to enlarge. Dam in background.
As the stakes in these pictures show, it certainly will. Just wait until the public outcry dies down and nobody is paying attention especially OSAB which may be lured back into complacence by staff and its own chair.

What visitors to Keystone get to see across the street.
Please keep signing the online petition against the collection station and keep spreading the word. If you are on Facebook, please tell your friends. HERE is where you will find the online petition. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Sign the Online We the People Petition

Click image to enlarge.

It's online. Please sign and spread the word to everyone you know. Just go to Preserve Our Franklin Mountains from Further Development.

The Monday Links: Power of Trees, Neighborhoods, Local Food, Cities and States

[Monday is "Links Day" with links gathered over the past week to online "stuff" to read and sites to surf that impact us directly or offer information about our regional issues. Please feel free to send me links to any conservation, environmental, simple living, city planning, energy and water, etc. stories that you have come across online.] 


The Power of Trees:

What's the Best Technology to Fight Climate Chage? Trees May Be the Answer

Want Your City to Thrive? Look to Its Trees


Local and Healthful Food are Winning:

Local Roots vs. Industrial Agriculture

Is the Junk-Food Era Drawing to a Close?

How Should We Eat?


Water Wars:

Hays Water Fight Portends Battles to Come


Fracking:

Fracking case is on the move


Energy Innovation:

Portland is now powered by water pipes and flushing toilets

California communities seize control of their energy futures


The Power of Neighborhoods and Cooperatives:

These Neighbors Got Together to Buy Vacant Buildings. Now They're Renting to Bakers and Brewers


Ban Plastic Botles (Seriously):

San Francisco Becomes the First City to Ban Sale of Plastic Bottles


Web Sites to Visit, Read, Bookmark and Tell Others About:

Watershed Management Group

Another Vampire That Just Won't Die


You know how vampires work. They flee the least hint of sunlight and hide in their sarcophagi until it is pitch black again and their victims will be caught unawares.

Such it is with the collection station next to Keystone Park.

It appears now that the project is dead at least for now. (Read David Crowder's excellent article in this week's El Paso Inc.) With pressure mounting, Rep. Cortney Niland has said "no" to the expansion. She has said that before and then the project mysteriously rises again. It is dark and nobody is looking. Count Dracula rises again from the dead.

According to Ellen Smyth, the Environmental Director, the construction of an expanded collection station next to a precious wetlands, bird habitat and archaeological site is not going to happen for the foreseeable future. But she also tells us that the land was purchased just for such an expansion so it may come up again in the future.

The Open Space Master Plan makes it clear that "Keystone Heritage Park is a key cultural site as well as the remnant of a unique wetlands zone. Preservation of undeveloped lands around the park should be a high priority of the city in the near future." The strategy for preservation is the acquisition of land around the park. ". . . without the acquisition of the remaining 20 acres around the park," states the Master Plan, "the facility will be a mere shadow of what it could have been." (Towards a Bright Future: A Green Infrastructure Plan for El Paso, Texas - the Open Space Master Plan - page 5-32)

What should be done? Land for a collection station away from Keystone should be identified. The current land next to Keystone should be a dedicated park site to complement the wetlands park. Until there is a firm alternative plan, the City will green light the collection station next to Keystone when nobody is looking. We will wake up one day and discover that a bulldozer has begun to scrape and shape the land. We don't want to be caught unawares.

For now, the project is off. But until the land is preserved and another site faraway is chosen for the ugly, noisy collection station, then the bulldozers will come and the City will tell us that there is nothing to see.



Please keep signing the online petition and spread the word.

Let's make sure that this vampire never wakes up again.