Thursday, June 18, 2015

Petition Bolsters El Paso's Strategic Plan

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The recent petition to preserve land on both sides of the Franklin Mountains buttresses two of the City of El Paso's strategic goals. That petition garnered 6,638 signatures. 3,830 of those were hard copies; 2,830 were online. Here's what the petition says:

"WE THE PEOPLE want preserved, in its natural state and in perpetuity, all of the undeveloped land owned by the City of El Paso on the western side of the Franklin Mountains that is north of Transmountain Road, east of the EPNG Pipeline Road and south of the New Mexico/El Paso boundary and on the eastern side of the Franklin Mountains that is north of Transmountain, west of Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. and south of the New Mexico/El Paso boundary."

The very first strategic goal is: "Create an Environment Conducive to Strong Sustainable Economic Development". Under it are "1.1 Stabilize and expand El Paso’s tax base" and "1.2 Enhance visitor revenue opportunities."

Preserving more land on both sides of the Franklins will increase opportunities for hiking, biking, camping and educational outings. All of these will promote ecotourism which will "enhance visitor revenue opportunities" and help to "expand El Paso's tax base". On the other hand, using all of this land for city sprawl will only increase the burden on taxpayers because of additional services (such as police and fire), infrastructure, maintenance and schools will come with an ongoing price tag that continues to increase with inflation.

On the other hand, ecotourism means a huge boom for the local economy. "Nationally, ecotourism encompasses a wide range of outdoor recreation activities with far reaching economic benefits. Outdoor recreation contributes $730 billion annually to the nation’s economy and supports nearly 6.5 million jobs across the United States." This according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. (See The Economic Benefit of Ecotourism.)

Strategic goal 4 is: "Enhance El Paso’s Quality of Life through Recreational, Cultural and Educational Environments". 4.2 of that goal states: "Create innovative recreational, educational and cultural programs."

As already mentioned preserving the land guarantees more recreational and educational opportunities and environments. Along with recreational opportunities, our city's students and visitors will have a rich "laboratory" for learning about plant and animal life, ecology and the environment, and ecosystem services.

Studies show that ecotourism provides more jobs and enhances businesses but it also encourages cultural exchanges that benefit host and visitor alike.

Implementing the petition would be a gigantic step in meeting our city's strategic plan.

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