Friday, August 26, 2016

The Friday Video: Conservation at St. Columban

Elpasonaturally alerted El Paso Water to the conservation going on at the Columban Mission Center in El Paso. This followed two blog posts about their efforts. See them HERE and HERE. It was great to see the video above posted in El Paso Water's news and headlines. Visit El Paso Water on Facebook and the Columban Mission Center.

If you get Elpasonaturally by email, go to to view the video.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Last chance for the wolf in Texas

by Rick LoBello

It's time to stand up against the establishment in Texas and let TPWD know that you care about wolves

It was 46 years ago in December that the last two wild Mexican wolves were killed in the United States.  It happened not in Arizona or New Mexico where government officials can't agree on how to move forward in continuing a twenty year wolf recovery effort, but in Texas, just north of Big Bend National Park. With news of both states wanting to take control of recovery efforts from the federal government, the possibility of new wolf recovery efforts in Texas and other states takes on new meaning.

Our conservation leaders in Texas need to stop ignoring the scientific facts clearly indicating the importance of conserving apex predators like the wolf. Here in the largest international city surrounded by former wolf habitat, the El Paso Sierra Club Group is taking a stand for the wolf by launching a new online campaign urging Texas Parks and Wildlife to develop and execute a scientifically reviewed plan to return the wolf to the wilds of Texas to benefit the ecosystem and ecotourism.  I hope that you will join the effort in any way you can.  For more information on how you can get involved contact me at

I have just posted on YouTube a new video of a wild caught Mexican wolf I filmed in 1978 that few people have seen in its entirety.  The 8mm silent footage may end up going down in history like so many other videos of animals that have gone extinct.  I hope that never happens, but it could.  The film shows one of the last wild Mexican wolves known to science before it went extinct in the wild.  It was captured in 1978 in northern Mexico by the legendary trapper Roy McBride.  Roy and I went to graduate school together at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas and one day when I was working as a park ranger at Big Bend National Park he invited me to come to his ranch to see one of the wolves he caught in Mexico.  Roy was hired by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to capture all the wolves he could before they went extinct in a  last ditch effort to save the species.   Previously I uploaded some of this footage set to music where on YouTube it now has over 63,000 views.   The footage I just uploaded in its entirety intentionally has no narration or music to help dramatize the fact that in Texas our conservation leaders in Austin have been totally silent when it comes to any effort to help return the wolf back to its rightful home in the wilds of West Texas.  The fate of this critically endangered species hangs in the balance and today the only wolves known to Texas survive only in zoos.

In one short century what took nature eons to perfect, came to a crashing end when the last Mexican wolves were killed in Texas.  It took nearly twenty years for the US Fish and Wildlife Service to develop and execute a plan to put captive bred wolves back in the wild in 1998. Unfortunately the current effort continues to struggle because of bureaucratic meddling.   Today, a little over 100 critically endangered wolves survive in parts of northern Mexico and a small area of eastern Arizona and western New Mexico.

We are living at a time when Americans are showing that they are fed up with the establishment, not just in Washington, but also in State Capitals like Austin. Join the new movement to conserve our wildlife heritage, speak up for wolves.
Take action at

Monday, August 15, 2016

Celebration of Our Mountains Kicks Off This Saturday

Click on image to enlarge.

Click on image to enlarge.

The 22nd Annual Celebration of Our Mountains kicks off this Saturday with two great events. Be sure to visit for more information and to find out about any additions to the 2016 COM or updates about events.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Is It Worth It?

Is it worth it?

I was glad when the City of El Paso began a glass recycling pilot project but take a look at these figures:

A total of 218.5 cubic yards of glass have been crushed or 31.14 tons. The cost for processing that glass is $7,478 to date or $1,496 per month.

However, the amount saved by crushing the glass rather than taking it to the landfill has only been $3,496 or $699/month. That comes out to a total loss so far of $3,982 to date or $796 per month. 

In short the City is subsidizing the crushed glass to the tune of almost $800 per month.

On the other hand, people have been using the glass for mulch although that number has dropped to zero over the last month. The only way that the pilot can be successful is for the City to charge a fee for the glass cullet or find a paying customer. Only questions, of course, are whether El Pasoans will pay a fee and whether the fee can be reasonable enough. With sand 10,000 feet deep in some areas of the city, one has to wonder if glass recycling in El Paso is worth it. The City is sure to close the project after the trial year if it continues to lose $9,600 per year.

CEMEX was interested in taking the glass but they wanted more tonnage than the crusher produces. (Crushed glass in cement sparkles and, of course, costs the manufacturer less especially if they are getting the glass for free.) If a smaller cement company would buy the crusher from the City, then the City might be able to supply the recycled glass to them - again for a fee perhaps. 

Friedman, the company that takes El Paso blue bin recyclables, has noticed more glass in those blue bins since the crusher program began. That means that sorting recyclables is more expensive. It seems that El Pasoans know about the glass recycling program; they just don't know that it is a separate recycling process from the blue bin. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Below is the text of my talk yesterday at El Paso Electric's coal free celebration in San Jacinto Plaza Park. It was an honor to have been asked to speak.

Let’s begin with the term “carbon footprint”. Not too simply defined by Wikipedia it is: “The total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).” Simply defined it is what all of us do daily: drive a car, turn on a light, water the yard (it takes energy to pump and clean water) or buy blueberries out of season that have been flown 5,000 miles on a jet from Chile, burning fuel from taxi to takeoff to landing.

So why should we care? Because the entire carbon footprint of the world – the entire human carbon footprint of the world especially in industrialized nations and particularly in the United States is causing climate change with some really radical results. Just in the past years there have been more devastating floods, tornadoes, droughts and wildfires – and not just here in America but on every continent of the world. We watch as polar ice melts, coral reefs die and hurricanes strengthen. And, should you have any doubts, how about a record-breaking 33 days of temperature over 100 degrees in El Paso so far this summer?

Of course, some human activities have a larger carbon footprint than others. It’s a bigger footprint to fly in a commercial aircraft than to drive to the neighborhood store. It’s a much bigger footprint to produce energy using coal than using natural gas. In fact, according to Greenpeace, coal is the single greatest threat to our climate. Mining and burning coal pollutes our air, water and land with mercury, heavy metals and the nitrous oxides which cause smog. And it destroys landscapes and ecosystems. 

A 500 MW coal power plant releases global warming emissions roughly equal to 600,000 cars. Yet, unlike a car, coal power plants are designed to last 40 years or so. The 4-Corners Power Plant from which El Paso Electric is no longer buying power, generates 2,040 MW of electricity in one year.  Each year the 4-Corners Plant belches out 16 million tons of carbon dioxide, the amount released by 2.8 million passenger vehicles. 

Additionally, the 4-corners plant releases 487 pounds of mercury, a powerful neurotoxin, 10,197 pounds of selenium, 10,199 pounds of benzene, a known carcinogen, and more than 9 million pounds of hydrochloric acid.

It’s not just a monstrous carbon footprint, it’s a human health and environmental be-he-moth.

So, when a regional electric utility that supplies 400,000 customers in a 10,000 square mile area cuts its ties with coal, it’s HUGE. As of July 6th El Paso Electric sold its 7% portion of the Four Corners Generating Station. The sale helps our utility lower its carbon footprint and makes our region and planet cleaner and more sustainable places to live. 

Also, in the past two years El Paso Electric has doubled its utility-scale solar power output, making them a leader in solar energy. All of El Paso Electric’s efforts combined help our region to meet its goals of resiliency and environmental friendliness. And they do more. They make our planet cleaner and they take us in the direction of reducing the calamity caused by climate change. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Don't Miss This

Click on image to enlarge.

From Vic Kolenc's El Paso Times story, El Paso Electric celebrates coal-free status, last week: "By dumping coal, the company has eliminated 1 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually from its electric-generation portfolio, Kipp said. Carbon dioxide emissions have been linked to global warming."

In spite of recent battles with EPEC over their solar policy, environmentalists should celebrate and thank El Paso Electric for their divestment of coal as a source of energy. 

Here's a pic of the filthy Four Corners plant which had been supplying EPEC with their coal guzzling, carbon dioxide spewing generators:

From KOB4 News, New Mexico