Tuesday, October 6, 2015

On the Right Track

The Preservation Committee met again last Thursday morning at the El Paso Water Utilities building. That committee was put together in response to the very popular "We the People" petition calling for more preservation of natural open space on both sides of the Franklin Mountains. The text of the petition reads: 

"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 petition was sponsored by Elpasonaturally, the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coaltion and the El Paso Chapter of the Sierra Club.

I had approached Lupe Cuellar, the Attorney for the PSB/EPWU, about a solution that would help implement the intent of the petition. Remember that it is the PSB that manages undeveloped city owned land that they have not declared inexpedient for their needs. We agreed that land that can be preserved should be preserved and land that can be developed should be developed. Ms.Cuellar suggested a "preservation plan" and I suggested forming a committee. Six of the thirteen people invited to join that committee were named by me: Rick LoBello, Lois Balin, Joseph Nester, Laura Foster, Janae' Reneaud Field and Robert Ardovino. In addition to Lupe Cuellar and myself, we have Mr. Tracy Novak, the Director of Parks and Recreation, Cynthia Osborn, the land attorney for the PSB/EPWU, Carlos Gallinar from Planning and Nicole Ferrini and Lauren Baldwin from the City's Office of Resilency although both were absent for this last meeting.

Mr. Novak guided us through the creation of a purpose statement. There was full participation and ownership and the group is quite grateful to Tracy Novak for his guidance. As a result of this process all agreed that the group should be called the Preservation and Conservation Plan Group. Here is the purpose statement: 

"The purpose of the Preservation and Conservation Plan Group is to develop the criteria to identify which specific City owned lands mentioned in the petition should be preserved, which lands can be developed, and establish conservation standards for the development, to ensure a high quality of life for present and future generations.

  • A plan that can be approved by all stakeholder agencies (PSB, City…
  • Establish the value of preserving land compared to developing (formula)
  • Benefits of having a plan, including economic, quality of life
  • Goal is to have the plan guide future development, including conditions of sale
  • Can be used as a model for future land development for all undeveloped land"

A discussion about the value of keeping land natural because of ecosystem services opened the minds of all at the table.

We are on the right track.

You can still sign the online petition and show your support for preservation. Go HERE to preserve our Franklin Mountains from further development.

1 comment:

  1. Formation of the “Preservation and Conservation Plan Group” is an excellent move forward for El Paso and this group is certainly “on the right track.”

    However, I must vehemently object to “land that can be developed should be developed.” With sufficient engineering, any land can be developed and it will be unless sane voices speak out and protect our natural open space. Remember, “Every conservation victory is temporary.”

    I wish great success to the “Preservation and Conservation Plan Group” and urge you to preserve every inch possible.