Monday, May 30, 2016

Pipelines and Violence

Burned out building in Guadalupe, Chihuahua. Photo from Marfa Public Radio.

Check out this story from Marfa Public Radio

Thank you, Ray Rapisand for sending the link.

Mule Deer on Stanton

It's always good to see our Mule Deer friends. The picture above was taken by Marshall Carter-Tripp on North Stanton last Wednesday. I'm sure that the deer are seeking water. Wouldn't it be great if the City or the State could install some stock tanks for them and other animals. Such a suggestion was made by Dr. Rick Bonart for the wildlife corridor at Tom Mays. A pump can keep the tank full and the tank should be shallow enough so that smaller animals don't drown.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Good News for Glass Recycling?


Word on the street today is that Cemex has run out of Franklin Red. That means they have gouged out as much of that beautiful rhyolite from the McKelligon Canyon Quarry as they can. That's sad news because it means the beauty of that rock has been forever taken from that large portion of the south end of the Franklin Mountains.

There is yet another tidbit of news coming from the Pendale Citizen Collection Station: Cemex wants to purchase 200 tons of recycled glass! "What for?" I inquired. "Possibly to experiment with" was the answer. Problem is that the Pendale glass crusher has only produced 10 tons of glass mulch so far. 10 tons is good news. Even better news is that El Paso residents are using it. This means El Paso's glass recycling program is working.

It also means that El Paso should think about getting a larger glass crusher. Las Cruces has a $186K crusher purchased from Andela Products

Again, 10 tons is great news. However, I still run into people who aren't even aware that they can recycle glass not to mention use the crushed glass for mulch, landscaping and art. 

Save your glass and take it to the collection station nearest you. Go to the Pendale Station to get your free crushed glass.

For further reading 

City of El Paso Garbage Collection Do's and Don't's 

What to Recycle in El Paso 

Benefits of Glass Recycling

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Wildlife Corridor Progressing

Click image to enlarge. Photo by Rick Bonart

Rick Bonart who took the picture above had this to say about the underpass/wildlife corridor at the Tom Mays Unit of the Franklin Mountains State Park: 

"The wildlife corridor is coming along. Note it's done in 2 sections to allow natural light in the middle, and dirt bottom, and water will drain in a separate section to avoid erosion... ‎in other words best practices design."

Bonart is proposing a small stock tank nearby to support wildlife. "I just want a bunch of birds, deer, javalina rabbits, ferrets, etc.," he said.

Many are recommending that the underpass be named the "Bonart Wildlife Corridor" after Dr. Rick Bonart who has spent years advocating for this structure.

For further reading:

5 Things You Need to Know about Wildlife Corridors

Wildlife Corridor

10 important wildlife corridors

The Spine of the Continent

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Friday Video: Castner Range Video with Mr. Lopez

Mr. Pablo Lopez teaches at hillside Elementary. He was born, raised and still lives in the Segundo Barrio. A graduate of Bowie High School and UTEP, he is the President of the Southside Neighborhood Association.

Please help make Castner Range a National Monument. Visit to find out how.

Remember: if you receive elpasonaturally as an email, you won't see the video. Go to to view.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Alternatives to Releasing Helium Balloons

From the blog, Children of Vietnam.

The topic of releasing helium balloons at funerals (or weddings - how ironic) came up this morning during a meeting of the Executive Committee of the local Sierra Club Group. The Group plans to continue to handout free reusable tote bags as an alternative to throwaway plastic store bags. However, on the topic of balloons, it was decided that there was really no way to change the recent cultural behavior of balloon releases at funerals. 

As you know, as the balloon rises higher and encounters lower pressure from the atomosphere, it expands and eventually bursts. The plastic balloon falls back to the ground where it becomes a hazard to wildlife. The overuse of helium is another issue as well.

I googled alternatives to releasing balloons at funerals and discovered How to Have a Safe Balloon Release or Use a Meaningful Alternative. Check it out. To that list I would add burning incense which is part of the burial ritual of Vietnamese. (See also the blog post, Saying Goodbye.) Burning incense is also the custom in many other religions and cultures and incense is used in the burial rites of liturgical Christian churches.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Palm Oil Derivatives . . .

Click on image to enlarge.

. . . or why shopping is so difficult if you really care about rainforests and orangutans.

As soon as I learned from Rick LoBello at the El Paso Zoo about the destruction caused by palm oil "farming", I began reading labels a bit more carefully whenever I go shopping. I stopped buying products that have palm oil in them. What I have become more aware of is the extent to which palm oil derivatives make their way into hundreds of thousands of products on store shelves.

Just click on and enlarge the chart above. Want a more complete list, go HERE and scroll down.

Palm oil has many applications:

Click on image to enlarge.
So what some may ask. Why should anyone care about rainforests and orangutans?

It's like cigarette smoking. We all know that smoking causes lung cancer and other diseases. Rainforests are the lungs of the earth. Destroy our lungs and it will eventually destroy us even here in the Chihuahuan Desert. Deforestation also destroys the homes of indigenous people (thus putting more stress on urban and national economies) and native species. We depend on rain forests for food and pharmaceuticals.

Our immediate concerns are all good ones: relationships, paying bills, our jobs, etc. What is hard to grasp and appreciate is the interconnectedness of our biosphere. All that lives here and now share evolutionary stories. It's just not human species or the day to day concerns that each one of us has. It's a planet full of shared and dependent existence. 

What to do? Keep reading those labels. AND start thinking about making your own products with a few simple ingredients while eschewing those store bought products with long lists of arcane chemicals. Google "diy natural homemade blank". Fill in the blank: shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, furniture polish, whatever. Check out web sites such as Wellness Mama. Let the makers of products using palm oil and palm oil derivatives know that you will no longer buy their products. 

You want the planet to breathe and be healthy and you want the same for yourself and your family.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Water Saver? Conservation Hero?

This little hour glass really helps you stick to a quick shower.

Have you made some great strides this past year to conserve water? If so, you could be recognized on the field of Southwest University Park during an El Paso Chihuahuas home game in June and you will receive four free tickets for that game. You may even know someone who you would like to see nominated. For an application go to Every Drop Counts and download the application.

Also, if you are doing something to cut your water consumption, take a picture and post it on EPWU's Facebook page. You will have a chance to receive Neon Desert Music Festival tickets. For more information about Water Savers go HERE.

Be sure to read the EPWU press release below.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Breaking News: CEMEX Sells McKelligon Canyon Quarry

This doesn't sound like good news. GCC will just continue to operate the quarry without the baggage that CEMEX had. I doubt that the new owner will sell to the State for preservation as part of the Franklin Mountains State Park. I don't know any more details. For now, go HERE to read the press release from Business Wire.

Excessive Burden on Taxpayers

[Below is another op-ed piece by Charlie Wakeem which appeared in yesterday's El Paso Times. elpasonaturally reprinted the same piece with additions under the title of Political Influence Costs Taxpayers Millions.]

Ray Adauto, who represents the El Paso Association of Builders, wrote a response April 17 to a guest column I had previously submitted to the Times. His response contains so much misinformation that I must respond to it.

Before I do, please remember that I served on the Capital Improvements Advisory Committee with Adauto for five years and we’ve always treated each other cordially and with respect.  Nonetheless, Adauto serves his industry.  I serve no one (except El Paso) when I serve on boards and committees.

I am not now nor have I ever been against development.  Development is vigorous business activity and healthy for any community.  The question is not whether there should be development, but how and where it should take place.
Adauto states that “there are dozens of reasons people live in El Paso.”  He’s right, but one reason should be “quality of place.”

Land development is the industry that is most responsible for our city’s appearance together with good but fair city codes which promote complete neighborhoods, multi-modal transportation and walkability.

Adauto states, “One thing that makes our community special is the ability to find affordable housing…”

Providing affordable housing is important, but it should not place an excessive burden on taxpayers who subsidize it and eventually pay for the infrastructure that the developers leave out.

Adauto states:  “Proponents of impact fees, like Charlie Wakeem, keep espousing the notion that if you raise fees then you can keep growth out.”
That is not true at all!  Impact fees are not designed to punish developers or stifle growth.  They are designed to make sure new growth is financially fair to all stakeholders.  (Why should residents of older neighborhoods subsidize the development of new neighborhoods?)

This concept is set forth in Chapter 395 of the Texas Local Government Code.
Adauto states:  “Surprisingly, it is conveniently never explained that a large portion of the monthly water/sewer rate a new home buyer pays goes toward subsidizing replacement of older, outdated infrastructure.”

He should know better.  Chapter 395 strictly forbids the use of impact fees for replacement of old infrastructure.  The fees can only be used for infrastructure necessary to serve new growth.  All taxpayers and/or ratepayers are obligated to pay for repairing and replacing old infrastructure.

Adauto states:  “That’s why the PSB purchased thousands of acres of desert back then (early 1950’s) to have land to sell to try to keep the cost of water and sewer service down.”

Just the opposite is true.  The Public Service Board purchased the land so that El Paso wouldn’t run out of water (as it almost did in 1952).  The PSB determines whether the land is “inexpedient to the system” and can be sold.

When it established the PSB in 1952, City Council wisely assigned it the responsibility for “management and control” of the city’s water and land resources.  The more we sell the PSB land, the scarcer our water resources become.

The PSB Selection Committee met in late 2014 to recommend—to City Council—someone to fill the “engineer” position on the PSB.  David Nemir was the incumbent and was eligible for another four-year term.

A policy states that land-development engineers don’t qualify to serve on the PSB due to a possible conflict of interest.  One of the applicants was such a person.  I pointed this out.

The committee was told that the applicant had recently sold his firm and retired. If he did so, then why is he still representing land developers at the City?
The committee recommended Nemir by a wide margin. However, Council inexplicably appointed the land-development engineer.

Charlie Wakeem