Monday, November 30, 2015

TPWD Has No Idea

In my November 13th post, I said that Cemex has much more mountain to destroy at its quarry at McKelligon Canyon.

I wrote: "I asked Dr. Cesar Mendez, the Superintendent of the Franklin Mountains State Park, about the boundaries between the park and CEMEX and whether there had been any encroachment that he was aware of. He replied that he is concerned about 'any potential encroachment, as well as the changes in the landscape. But there is not much we can do if they are working legally and within their boundaries.'  He added that 'for now we are neighbors and respect each other.' He and his team keep their focus on protecting the land within the State Park as well as potential land that they might annex."

Dr. Mendez advised me to contact the open records division of Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD). I sent this request:

"Please provide me with any information describing the boundary between the Franklin Mountain State Park and the Cemex Quarry near McKelligon Canyon in El Paso, Texas. Digital files are preferred."

The response from TPWD Attorney, Laura Russell:

"According to our staff, the best available data currently is the El Paso City / County parcel data maintained by the Paso Del Norte Mapa, a coalition of local agencies.

This parcel data is the foundation of the data TPWD presently uses in our GIS to depict the boundary of Franklin Mountains SP.  Franklin Mountains SP does not have a boundary survey.  It is described in the 1987 deed by Sections included in the park."

I also asked about a boundary survey for Wyler Aerial Tramway State Park. Ms. Russell again responded:

"Mr. Tolbert, Wyler Aerial Tramway is totally contained within the boundaries of Franklin Mountains SP.  It does not share a common boundary with the CEMEX quarry.  Have a good day."

So on Tuesday of last week I emailed Ms. Russell and asked: "How does TPWD know that Cemex has not encroached on its boundaries already?"

No response from her to date. 

It appears that the TPWD has no idea whether Cemex has already encroached on their boundaries. At its last Executive Committee meeting the El Paso Group of the Sierra Club voted to begin a petition calling for such a survey.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

O'Rourke to Lead Campaign for Preservation of Castner Range

Click on image to enlarge.

I just got this from the Director of Frontera Land Alliance, Janae' Reneaud-Field:

Important announcement from Congressman Beto O’Rourke: He will lead the campaign to make Castner Range a National Monument, preserving it forever! 

On Nov. 12 we met with Congressman Beto O’Rourke and five members of his senior staff at the El Paso Community Foundation’s “Foundation Room.” There, Beto announced that he himself will lead the campaign to make Castner Range a National Monument, thus preserving it forever!

And now we’ve got our marching orders: “Work harder than ever to conserve Castner Range!!!” Since Nov. 12 we’ve been collecting letters of support, with the goal to get 1,000 letters by January 6, 2016, 5,000 by April and 10,000 by September. We’re also seeking City of El Paso and El Paso County resolutions. We are setting up a Castner Range National Monument webpage, twitter, and Facebook site. Until the sites are up and running you can learn more about Castner Range by watching a 10-minute summary:

As all of you know, Castner Range occupies 11 square miles on the eastern slopes of El Paso’s Franklin Mountains, just east of the state park. The Range is in nearly pristine condition thanks to the stewardship of the US Army that owns the land, and the unexploded ordnance that possibly lies thereon. But commercial development of Castner has been a constant threat for decades and is still a threat today. 

Anyway, please send us your letter of support to designate Castner Range as a National Monument. Mail or email the letter to Janaé Reneaud Field, Frontera Land Alliance, 3800 N. Mesa St., Suite A2-258. El Paso, TX 79902. E-mail:

If you’d like to help in these efforts or if you want additional information, please call Janaé at 915-351-8352 or send her an e-mail.

One way to sign the letter is to visit Santa at the El Paso Zoo December 12-13. Go see Santa, the Meerkats, the other animals, and stop by the Frontera booth to sign the letter.

Below is the letter. Click on the title above it, then download and print. Please sign, print name, address, etc. underneath your signature. Send to Janae' at the address above and NOT the President.

Former Congressman Silvestre Reyes laid a foundation for the Castner preservation. He arranged for "a $300,000 grant to the Castner Conservation Conveyance Committee, which from early 2010 through September 2015 did a ton of background work (including two book-length publications and a ten-minute video) and truly prepared the way for O’Rourke’s current effort," according to CCCC member, Dr. Richard Teschner.

O'Rourke made the announcement that he would lead the preservation effort this past Saturday, November 21st, at a town hall meeting at Fire Station #5 in South Central El Paso.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Saudis Draining Billions of Gallons of Water from Arizona

Alfalfa Farm under irrigation, San Miquel, California
Picture by Ken Figlloll taken 7-22-12, Flickr creative commons
Nestle and other companies that bottle water continue to drain California of its precious water. (Think about what you are doing when you next buy a case or two of bottled water at the store.) But get this: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are taking billions of gallons of water from Arizona in the form of hay. Because they have drained their own wells, they can no longer raise alfalfa to produce hay to feed their dairy cattle so they bought land in Arizona with good wells. Read or listen to the NPR story, Saudi Hay Farm In Arizona Tests State's Supply Of Groundwater.

As we know in El Paso, alfalfa likes a long growing season that it can get in the desert southwest. Only problem with that is that alfalfa takes lots of water to grow. Long growing season, lots of water, lots of alfalfa, lots of hay. (My English teachers are now spinning in their graves - well, lots of them.)

Besides the fact that the Saudis can now drain our aquifers, it's the reaction by local Arizona farmers according to the NPR report which astounds me: 

"No one we talked to has issue with these corporations coming in and wanting to make money. And the fact that it's going to Saudi Arabia or China, the locals simply didn't care. But what they did care about is that their water tables are falling. So their domestic wells that they use for their homes are increasingly dropping, and at some point, they're going to lose access to water."

See the problem. They don't object to making money. Capitalism, of course, is the true religion. But they are worried about their water. In this case, making money = using up the water supply. 

It's the same here. Every farmer has a right to make money and plant whatever crop will be the most lucrative. So the aquifer is dropping, the water is getting more brackish, and so the PSB/EPWU must go searching for water to import in the not too distant future. (Some private companies are already doing it.) Yet we should never attempt to regulate what is grown and where. Capitalism is the true religion. 

I sure hope that the Saudis don't buy land here. With the private property laws of Texas and the right of capture rule, we won't have to worry about importing water. All of us will just move to the Pacific Northwest. (I love the Seahawks anyway.)

One last thought. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are exporting billions of gallons of water in the form of hay. How many Syrian refugees are they taking? Hmmm?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Rodriguez Says "No" to El Paso Electric

Who will EPEC hurt? Not the rich but young, struggling families such as the Villalreals
The modest central El Paso home of Rick and Donna Villalreal and their little boy was the setting this morning for Senator José Rodriguez's press conference. The Senator was joined by board members of Eco El Paso, students, builders, solar installers and energy experts. All spoke out against the attempt by El Paso Electric Company to destroy the rooftop solar energy industry in El Paso as well as the onerous rate hikes on non-solar users.

Senator José Rodriguez addresses the press

One speaker, Blanca Gadney-Moss, said that she opposed the solar rate hikes because it would hurt her 88-year-old mother. 

Several salient points were made:

Solar is clean energy.
Solar reduces the use of our scarcest resource - water.
The rates will penalize the poorest El Pasoan.
Solar adds not subtracts to the electric grid.
Solar technology is 21st Century technology. El Paso Electric Company is operating on 20th Century technology and business model.
Most powerfully - solar is about jobs and not just for installers but for electricians, plumbers, roofers, construction workers and more.
In fact the solar industry nationwide employs more workers than the oil and gas industries combined.
With El Paso's unemployment rate going up, solar should be encouraged.
Students see the potential for jobs and careers in solar.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Rodriguez Press Conference on Solar This Monday

Senator José Rodríguez, solar advocates 
to have news conference on EPE solar proposal

El Paso -  State Sen. José Rodríguez and advocates for solar – who includes consumers and homeowners, solar companies and employees, and others involved in economic development and renewable energy – will have a news conference to discuss a  proposal by El Paso Electric (EPE) that would create a new fee for customers who have solar panels installed on their homes as well as increase their rates by 24 percent. Rodríguez will be joined by multiple experts, customers, workers, and others with expertise or experience with solar energy at the home of an electric customer who has installed a solar device.

What: News Conference to discuss El Paso Electric's proposal on solar rates

When: 11 a.m. Monday (Nov. 23), 2015

Where: 3208 Tularosa, El Paso TX, 79903

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Friday Video: Derek Spear's "Inspired"

Derek Spear is great! Here's a compilation of some of his drone videos showing just how beautiful our El Paso home is.

Eco El Paso Says "Don't Get Shocked"

Eco El Paso announces “Don’t Get Shocked” Outreach 
Campaign Saying “No!”  to all rate Increases

El Paso, Texas – Eco El Paso and multiple community partners announced the launch of their “Don’t Get Shocked!” outreach campaign.  The outreach will focus on directly contacting 10,000 homeowners in high voter turnout precincts throughout the entire city and providing information about the detrimental effects the proposed rate increase could have on El Paso as well as motivating consumers to directly contact their city representative and express their concern. 

“Eco El Paso is working on behalf of the citizens of El Paso to keep rates reasonable for all rate classes and encouraging economic growth,” stated board president Fred Dalbin.  “The rate case is about keeping all energy generation and conservation technologies, such as solar, accessible for everyone.”

Outreach will initially focus on consumer contact and utilize volunteers to reach homeowners across the city.  In addition to volunteer efforts, Eco El Paso is working to develop and deliver paid outreach in the form of mail and broadcast television over the coming weeks. 

In August 2015 El Paso Electric Company (EPEC) filed Rate Case #44941, which raises electric rates by 16.45%, proposes higher demand rates that will impact the vast majority of El Pasoans and increases rates for rooftop solar owners by over 36%. Eco El Paso has filed as an intervener in this case arguing that the creation of a separate rate for solar owners is discriminatory and regressive and without reasonable justification. Being an intervener requires EEP to engage an attorney in Austin, where the case will be heard and voted on by the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC). We are telling the community and PUC not to let El Paso Electric raise ANY of our electric rates.

Eco El Paso is a non-profit organization that promotes eco‐sensitive and energy efficient community planning, building design, construction and facility maintenance in El Paso’s region to professionals in the design, construction and building maintenance industry. It provides educational training seminars and presentations from experts in the various trades for residential, commercial and institutional projects.  Go to for more information.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Rodriguez Opposed to EPEC's Attempt to Destroy Solar

[Below is a press release from Senator Rodriguez's office issued earlier today. I have been told to expect more details about "a news conference Monday where multiple experts, customers, workers and others with expertise or experience with solar energy will be available to discuss the issue further."]

Sen. Rodríguez: Solar energy benefits El Paso, EPE proposal does not

El Paso - State Sen. José Rodríguez today announced his opposition to a proposal by El Paso Electric (EPE) that would create a new fee for customers who have solar panels installed on their homes as well as increase their rates by 24 percent. He urged the El Paso City Council to reject the proposal. [See attached letter.]

"I have long been an advocate for advancing public policy that incentivizes the growth of renewable sources of energy in Texas, including solar. To that end, I passed legislation in 2011 (S.B. 1910) that established solar net metering in EPE's Texas service area," Rodríguez said. "Consistent with that history, I cannot now remain silent when the utility's current proposal may well undo the deliberate progress El Paso has made in truly realizing its potential as the 'Sun City,' a leader in solar energy for the rest of Texas."

Solar energy is a growing field in El Paso, with nearly 300 customers added since August alone, bringing the number of households with rooftop power generation to nearly 800. Additionally, some builders in the area have begun to add solar panels as standard equipment on new affordable housing. This helps reduce a homeowner's electric bill while also reducing the power load on the grid, which benefits everyone. It also promotes economic development with high-paying jobs.

The Senator outlined his opposition to the proposed increase in a letter to City Council; the Council will review EPE's proposal targeting solar customers in early December. The proposal is part of a rate case in which the company seeks to raise overall residential rates by about 12 percent. It is based on the assertion that customers with rooftop solar energy generation burden the power grid because they require service from EPE during times when the sun is not as strong—in winter, or on cloudy days, for example. However, rooftop solar customers also lessen demand on the grid because they produce energy during the hottest times of year—in the summer, when the sun is shining during periods of peak demand.

"To be clear, I would not oppose charging solar customers in a different manner, provided that manner fairly and accurately accounted for a customer's actual cost to EPE while also taking into account the value these customers add," Rodríguez said. "However, at present, I do not think it's appropriate to apply a steep demand charge, usually reserved for commercial actors, to a neighborhood home. This effectively punishes that customer for choosing to invest in solar." 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Senator Rodriguez to Oppose EPEC Rate Hike Proposal

Word on the street is that State Senator José Rodriguez will hold a press conference this coming Monday, November 23rd. He will be speaking out against the rate hike proposals by El Paso Electric. He has apparently chosen the home of a young Hispanic family as the venue for his conference. The family installed a solar panel and the EPEC hike will hammer them. 

El Paso Electric has been falsely claiming in their advertisements that solar users are taking money from all the rest of us and especially from lower-income rate payers. The truth is that solar customers help all customers in the system and EPEC customers shouldn't have to pay for EPEC's outdated business model that builds and minimally uses power generators but still wants everyone to pay more for these dinosaurs. Senator Rodriguez's choice for a venue will demonstrate that it isn't solar users hurting struggling rate payers. No. It is EPEC that is hurting them.

Eco El Paso, which has intervened in the rate case, makes these points:

  • Solar energy is either immediately used by the homeowner or El Paso Electric immediately sells it to its other ratepayers. 
  • Solar homeowners pay full retail price for the energy received from the grid and pay all fees and taxes just like every other homeowner.  Solar is just an efficient appliance that saves money just like an energy efficient refrigerator or AC unit.
  • Electricity from solar homeowners reduces Transmission & Distribution costs on the Utility.  
  • Solar creates clean solar energy and reduces pollution and fossil fuel dependence.
  • Solar reduces peak demand and is as cost effective as natural gas. 
  • The Sun City has some of the best solar radiation in the country that we can harvest to create jobs and clean energy. 
  • Solar saves ratepayers money! 
  • Solar creates jobs and economic development! 
  • Solar subsidizes the utility!

Visit for more information.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Suggestions for Managing Drought from Israel

Read Seth M. Siegel's Daily Beast story: Israel's Drought Lessons for California. There may be good advice here for us in the El Paso Desert Southwest. Here's a list of his suggestions:

  1. Ban flood irrigation
  2. Provide tax incentives to purchase drip irrigation equipment
  3. Re-use highly treated wastewater
  4. Have desalination plants ready for drought
  5. Use special (non-GMO) seeds that thrives on useless brackish water
  6. Require dual flush toilets everywhere toilets are installed
  7. Add conservation to school curriculum
  8. Centralize control of water
  9. Preserve aquifers
  10. Fix infrastructure

Thanks to the EPWU, we already have desal and we are reusing highly treated wastewater. TecH2O continues to be an outstanding learning center for young and old concerining conservation.

In a sense the State of Texas has centralized (or coordinated) planning (if not control) of water. 

Preserving aquifers (especially cutting down on the loss of water by evaporation) is a matter for the El Paso County Water Improvement District.

Texas A&M Research Center is working on the issue of salinity and plant growth.

All of this sounds good. The question is how much are we doing and how well. Stay tuned.

Siegel is the author of Let There Be Water: Israel's Solution to a Water-Starved World.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Water Levels at Elephant Butte Down to Nine Percent Capacity

Click on image to enlarge.

Read John Fleck's blog post from yesterday: The great emptiness of Elephant Butte Reservoir.

Now read David Crowder's El Paso Inc. story: EPWU wants higher water, stormwater rates: Customers to see 11-percent increases from both.

Any questions?

Chihuahuan Desert and Value of Our BioCrust

Photo from Flickr Creative Commons by Aquistbe of Biocrust at Courthouse Wash, Arches National Park 

[Below is an op-ed piece published in yesterday's El Paso Times written by Janae' Renaud Field, Executive Director of Frontera Land Alliance. Elpasonaturally has discussed the importance and delicacy of biocrusts before when posting about the environmental devastation caused by fracking.]

Biological soil crusts (biocrusts) is one reason The Frontera Land Alliance is building a natural trail at the Wakeem/Teschner Nature Preserve at Resler Canyon. We are working to reduce the footprints in the canyon, keep the impact of people to designated areas for better water conservation and erosion control. 

What is biocrust?  It is a thin veneer of microorganisms that inhabit and bind the soil to a depth of from a few millimeters to a few centimeters from the surface.  Unknown to most people it is often thought to have little value, but that is far from the truth. Biocrusts generally cover all soil spaces not occupied by green plants.  They are key to reducing erosion, increasing water retention, and increasing soil fertility. In most arid regions, these crusts are dominated by cyanobacteria (previously called blue-green algae), which are one of the oldest known life forms.  Drylands are one of the more important ecosystems in the world, comprising fully 40 percent of the Earth’s land surface. 
The biocrust allows more complex organisms like mosses and lichens to grow — and when it’s all assembled, the biocrust then holds the soil in place and prevents dust storms and erosion. 
A desert landscape is highly vulnerable to destruction. And if the biocrust is disturbed enough, then not only are dust storms more likely to blow up the loose sand, but there will be less storing of carbon and the ecosystem may be reduced to what researchers call an early successional state where the site is unstable. Recovery of a disturbed area may take up to 250 years in places of lower rainfall like our desert region, assuming the area is not again disturbed.

The organisms in crusts protect soil from erosion in a variety of ways. Some organisms, such as cyanobacteria and microfungi, protect themselves from sharp sand grains by secreting sticky mucilage around their cells. These microbes move through the soil when moistened, leaving the mucilage behind as a trail. These mucilage trails glue soil particles in place. Mosses and lichens cover and protect the soil surface as they grow in place, but they also have small root-like anchoring structures that penetrate into the soil surface. Soil loss due to rainfall and water movement is increased when cyanobacterial connections are broken. This is particularly problematic when the impact is in a continuous strip, such as a vehicle or bicycle track, because channels for water flow are quickly formed, especially on slopes.

Destruction of biocrusts dramatically alters biogeochemical processes, hydrology, surface energy balance, and vegetation cover.  The USGS states that soil crusts are important in the absorption of rainfall. This function is especially important in arid areas that experience sporadic, heavy rainfall. When it rains, the organisms and their mucilage absorb up to ten times their volume in water and then release the water slowly into the soil once the rain ends. 

To reduce disturbance of the biocrust, stay in areas designated for use such as existing tent pads camping sites whenever possible. Otherwise set up camp in areas where living crusts do not form, such as slickrock, sandy beaches, or under groves of trees. 

At Resler Canyon stay on existing roads and the education trial which will be coming soon.   Through your care and stewardship we can ensure that the Wakeem/Teschner Nature Preserve remains a healthy natural area in which to enjoy and learn about the wonders of nature.

To learn more about Resler Canyon or how you can help contact

Friday, November 13, 2015

Cemex Has Much More Mountain to Destroy

Click on image to enlarge.

This past Monday I posted KTSM's outstanding news story from last Friday about the destruction of the eastern face of the Franklin Mountains by CEMEX. The big question that the story raised was just how much of the mountain can Cemex eat up. What is the limit?

If you look at the 2014 aerial above with the superimposed map, it looks like CEMEX has much more mountain that they can destroy. 

Here's a look at the damage that they have already done:

Click on image to enlarge.

I asked Dr. Cesar Mendez, the Superintendent of the Franklin Mountains State Park, about the boundaries between the park and CEMEX and whether there had been any encroachment that he was aware of. He replied that he is concerned about "any potential encroachment, as well as the changes in the landscape. But there is not much we can do if they are working legally and within their boundaries."  He added that "for now we are neighbors and respect each other." He and his team keep their focus on protecting the land within the State Park as well as potential land that they might annex.

CEMEX pays a royalty to the State of Texas General Land Office because the land that they own is "Mineral classified land" sometimes referred to as Relinquishment Act Land. Although the landowner may do whatever they like with the land, since the State owns the mineral rights, the landowner must pay a royalty to the GLO if they extract minerals such as sand, gravel, rock, oil, gas, etc. All of this is to say that no one should expect the State to buy back the land to give to the State Park. 

Cemex posts this statement about themselves: "CEMEX is a global building materials company that provides high-quality products and reliable service to customers and communities in more than 50 countries throughout the world, and we maintain trade relationships in over 100 nations. We work hard to develop and deliver the best solutions in cement, ready-mix, and we can transform ideas into reality."

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Who To Blame for the Stormwater Fee Going Up

You have probably heard that your stormwater fee will go up 11 percent. If that makes you angry, don't blame the Public Service Board, blame the City Council. 

David K hits the nail on the head. Read Demands made by posturing politicians always cost a lot of money

So, the next time Cortney Niland stomps her feet and raises her voice and sanctimoniously wants you to think she is looking out for you, don't believe it. It's another one of her cya's - something she does better than anyone else.

One more point. Real efforts to keep stormwater where it falls either to water the landscape or eventually recharge the aquifer, is also something that the City Council must do and not the PSB. Only Council can change landscaping, building and grading codes. You can also blame some homeowners. Where swales are required, builders at their cost put them in, only to have the owner cover them up afterwards. Council should create a new class of code violations and give out severe financial penalties.

One final question and this goes under the John Kennedy rubric "Ask not what your country can do for you . . . ". What have you done or are you doing to keep stormwater on your own property or even on what you might just lease or do you always expect government to come to the rescue and, if they don't, blame them?

Should We Worry about PSB Agenda Item 15?

Item 15 on tomorrow's Public Service Board agenda reads:

"Discussion and action on direction received from the El Paso City Council, made on March 18 2014, for the City Manager to coordinate with the Public Service Board to determine the feasibility of selling property in 100 acres parcels or less, for property located in the Northwest Regulating Planned area." 

Anytime anything comes up about the Northwest Master Plan, some in the environmental/conservation voice concerns. They should. The questions are always the same: Will the arroyos be preserved? Will bridges be used and not culverts? Will smart code be followed? All as agreed upon following a successful petition to preserve the land.

City Council asked for a study to determine the cost of the development if divided among smaller developers versus the cost should just one developer do the entire planned area. URS was contracted to do the study.

The URS study found that one developer is the best way to go. City Planning recommends this finding and my sources tell me that the PSB will do so also.

EPWU/PSB General Attorney, Lupe Culler, said that the item will not circumvent the Master Plan.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Must See Video: The Face of the Franklin Mountains

Special Report: The Face of the Franklin Mountains

[If  you receive elpasonaturally by email, you will not be able to see the video. Go to to view it.]

Thank you KTSM-9 El Paso!

Friday, November 6, 2015

WTUFC Contributes Apple Tree to Community Garden

On hand were Jim Tolbert, President of WTUFC, El Paso City Council Representative Emma Acosta, Brent Pearson , Oscar Mestas and members of the Cielo Vista Neighborhood Association

The West Texas Urban Forestry Council (Los Tree Amigos) and the Cielo Vista Neighborhood Association celebrated Texas Arbor Day today by planting a tree in the Community Garden of the Cielo Vista Neighborhood Association. Oscar Mestas, Texas A&M Urban Forester, and Brent Pearson, City of El Paso Arborist, demonstrated the correct way to plant a tree. 

City Arborist, Brent Pearson, finishes planting the apple tree.
On hand to help plant the tree were City Council Representative, Emma Acosta, WTUFC Board President, Jim Tolbert, and WTUFC Treasurer, Joanne Burt.

Jim Tolbert, Brent Pearson, Emma Acosta

Arbor Day was founded in 1872 in  Nebraska. By the 1920s, each state in the United States had passed public laws that stipulated a certain day to be Arbor Day. In Texas, Arbor Day is celebrated every year on the first Friday in November, the best time of year to plant trees in our climate. The customary observance of Arbor Day is to plant a tree. On the first Arbor Day, an estimated one million trees were planted.

Trees produce oxygen and clean the air. A mature leafy tree produces as much oxygen in a season as 10 people inhale in a year. Trees act as a giant filter that cleans the air we breathe. Trees absorb carbon dioxide which promote climate change.

It is the mission of Arbor Day to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees.

The Friday Video: Texas Arbor Day 2015 [The proclamation is well worth listening to.]

For more information:

West Texas Urban Forestry Council (especially tree care page)

EPWU Desert Plant List

City of El Paso Tree Care Manual

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Register by Tomorrow for Discounted Price for Sun Country Landscape Conference

Los Tree Amigos of the West Texas Urban Forestry Council are bringing you 3 great opportunities to learn about trees in your community.

2015 Sun Country Landscape Conference is near.

Thursday November 19,  All of the presentations on Thursday will be in Spanish.

Friday November 20, is the professional day, with presentations geared more for the Arborist, Urban Forester, Landscape Architect, Architect, Engineer, Planner, Landscape contractor and other Natural Resource Professionals.    ISA CEU’s  5 CA, 1 BCMA Sci, 4 BCMA Mgt, 1Utility, 1 Muni, & 1 TW Climber.

Saturday November 21, is the homeowner’s  turn to learn how to keep their homestead green and lush while conserving water and our desert resources.

Please save these dates and please pass this on to anyone whom you think would be interested.

Register at

Click on images below to enlarge.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Improve Connectivity at FMSP Soon To Start

TxDOT calls it simply "Improve Connectivity at FMSP". It's an animal corridor and a separate hike and bike trail. It is the means to connect the south and north sides of Franklin Mountains State Park at Tom Mays Park now cut off by Transmountain Road. 

The project has been a possibility for a long time. The problem has been funding but it looks like the funds are now there.

TxDOT opened bids yesterday and there were six. Three of them came within the acceptable 10% range above estimate. The lowest was 1.07% over estimate. Regional Engineer Bob Bielek reports: "Without doing a complete review for an unbalanced bid, 1.07% over is very close to the estimate.  Absent any abnormalities with the bid I would think that a contract will be awarded to the low bidder at the next Commission meeting.  In fact, the three lowest bids are all within, or close to, the 10% that we typically look for.  That said, given the time to get the contracts signed, etc. and the upcoming holidays, I would expect a construction start shortly after the first of the year."

Former PSB member, avid mountain bike rider and a major driver throughout the years for this project responded: "Very Cool! Woohoo!"

Very cool indeed.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Support Alternative Transportation

Definitely click on image to enlarge

In addition to participating in one of the above sessions, be aware of three amendments to the federal transportation bill which would scuttle funds for walking and biking infrastructure. You can sign an online petition HERE.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Save the Sierras

Here's another Derek Spear video produced yesterday and uploaded to his YouTube page, Adventure Drone. About this video, Derek writes: "Flight over the eastern slopes of the Franklin Mountains. The site is currently being studied for a planned development called Sierra del Puerte. Save Our Sierras was formed as a committee of the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition in an effort to preserve the area in its natural state."

The Knapp family has been trying to sell the property to the City for several years now. My understanding is that they want a very reasonable price. The land including arroyos is beautiful. I have hiked there and I can tell you that there is a spot which always makes me stop and keep silent. It is a place where I have experienced the numinous as Rudolf Otto named it in his book The Idea of the Holymysterium tremendum et fascinans

This land is powerful and beautiful. We have already developed too much of our mountainsides. The family that owns it wants to preserve it also. The City needs to step up and care.