I have an apology to make to Dan Knapp and his family. I was pretty critical of them in my recent post about their bulldozing above Stoney Hill. I stated that they were "tearing up the ecosystem". The facts are now plain: they were not plowing any new roads but old pre-existing roads. They also did not wander over into State Park boundaries. My understanding is that they want their surveyors to be able to access the area.
I suspect that most El Pasoans do not want to see more development on the mountainsides. I know that Dan has agonized about this. I also know that he and his family have tried to work something out with the City for six years or more now. There comes a point where you have to do something and you have no choice. The land has value and it is taxed.
For some time now Charlie Wakeem, the former chair and long-term member of the Open Space Advisory Board, has asked that this land be looked at. For whatever reasons, it just never seemed to be given consideration. With the recent concerns voiced by many neighbors about the planned Sierra del Puente development, the matter of some Knapp land in the northeast has been in front of OSAB. A large crowd even gathered for one meeting. I had asked that the item about the Knapp land be placed on our June agenda for discussion. It was removed from that month's agenda.
Many City Council members lust for park ponds to be paid for out of OSAB funds thus removing the ability to buy more open space with storm water function on our mountainsides. Park ponds may be political pork for a representative of a particular district, but they are worthless when it comes to preventing destruction by storm water running down our arroyos and they are certainly not preserving our mountainsides.
Our City government is perpetually in the hands of the monied interests - particularly those developers who promote sprawl. Little attention is given to landowners who would like to work with the City to preserve their land and this in spite of the fact that El Paso has a great land conservation organization, the Frontera Land Alliance.
Thus, people such as Dan and his family, are left with little choice.
It's the same old, tiring problem: the people in power just don't value conservation and the environment. They don't get it and their bought and paid for representatives don't (and won't) get it either.
Leadership for real change must begin with We the People. We cannot afford to be complacent and disorganized any longer.
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