Friday, December 29, 2017

The Friday Video: Meet Lauren Singer and Her Trash Free Lifestyle

Meet Lauren Singer. Be sure to subscribe to her YouTube page. She has great ideas for reducing trash and living a trash free lifestyle.

(Unfortunately, you will have to go to YouTube to view this video if you receive these posts via your smart phone. Soon, elpasonaturally will be transported to WordPress and won't have this problem. This transfer was in the making before I was elected to City Council and things came to a halt. We will be back on track in 2018.)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Nerd Nights

Photo taken on a Paul Hyder night time field trip for
Celebration of Our Mountains.

I've been critical of Insights mostly because they don't have the sponsorship base yet (which they could do with a good fundraiser for a commission). They also have not solved the problem of an open and vulnerable dino tracks and the need, because of their sponsorship base, to charge $15 per person for a dino tour ($60 for a family of four). 

However, they are now doing something really creative and it is drawing enthusiastic crowds. It's called "Nerd Nights". Check out the link and the fantastic program they are offering. The next event is "Sex, Drugs and Arachnids". If that doesn't catch your attention, nothing will. Check out the link above to learn more about the next Nerd Night on January 3, 2018 at G2's at 7 PM. You can find a map to G2's at this link also. Scroll down and you can book a reservation now.

Insights is not the only organization promoting STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math), beginning Saturday, February 17, 2018 at 9 AM, Celebration of Our Mountains will begin its new program: Celebrate STEAM. For the next 10 or so Saturdays there will be tours and special programs and events. More information is coming soon.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Unscientific, but still concerning

Click on image to enlarge.

I've written several times about the encroachment on state park land by GCC (previously Cemex). HERE is the most recent blog post. After the last post, Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition member, Steve Tures, emailed the map above. He said: "I did a rough and unscientific (read, not official or maybe wrong) attempt to see how close they [the park and quarry] are, and seems like they're really close or maybe over their line." He said that he fudged an overlay on what's publicly available on GM.

Tures seems to confirm what many others have also seen.

Of course, whether the quarry has encroached state land or not, they are quickly destroying this portion of the Franklin Mountains and could mine all the way to the ridge. 

Why does the City of El Paso and others do business with them?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Can El Paso Environmentalists Cooperate?

A bit over a week ago environmentalists from various El Paso groups came together to discuss collaboration. "Together we can do more" seemed to be the theme. The meeting aroused excitement and the group left planning to reconvene in January and, in the meantime, to develop a social media presence - one that can be shared by all the groups represented. 

There were representatives from the Audubon Society, Master Gardeners, Master Naturalists, CDEC, the Sierra Club, Celebration of Our Mountains, Insights, the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition, EPCC and even a representative from the City of El Paso. JanaƩ Reneaud Field, the Director of Frontera Land Alliance, chaired the meeting.

One member suggested that coming together, sharing ideas, and building networks and resources might be the sole purpose along with a shared social media presence.

It's a great idea and a great start; but, will it last?

Judy Ackerman of the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition probably made the most sense when she said that FMWC had always acted as the place for all of El Paso's conservation and environmental groups. It makes the most sense until you realize that FMWC has not been a true coalition. A list of groups included in their dossier seems only to be useful as a tool for political advocacy. FMWC is governed by its own Board rather than a true gathering of the coalition although some members of the board are indeed members of other groups if not their representatives. The chairing of the FMWC does not rotate among the various groups who, at least on paper, make up that Coalition.

Please understand, I think the highest of FMWC and their work. The leaders of FMWC are among the best and greatest El Pasoans. 

It would be simpler if this nascent Collaboration operated not just under the umbrella of FMWC but as the FMWC.

Whatever, I hope EP environmentalists can indeed be collaborative and be valuable resources one to the other.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Plan to Go to Ardovino's Holiday Market Sunday, December 3rd

One of the top holiday "must-do's" is Ardovino's Holiday Market. Because of all of the road work, follow these new directions to get to Ardovino's Desert Crossing:

Take Sunland Park Drive to Mc Nutt. Turn left onto McNutt and then right at the light at Anapra Road. The other option is to take Sunland Park to Futurity. Futurity ends at Racetrack and you will have to take a right. (Racetrack is only closed between Futurity and Doniphan.) MAP

Be sure to visit the ADC website.

Click on image to enlarge.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Survey the Quarry Now!

Recently elpasonaturally posted about the obscene destruction of our mountain by GCC, the new owners of former Cemex properties. GCC doesn't even dynamite just at night or early morning. They are blasting even during the day. They have no shame.

elpasonaturally has also pointed out the failure of the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife and the Franklin Mountains State Park to do a survey. They complain that it costs too much and do not respond to calls asking them to do so.

Now another expert has said that undoubtedly GCC is encroaching on State Park land. Also, according to this expert, surveys are now done by drones for two or three thousand dollars. Hardly a big price tag.

Survey the quarry now. Stop buying from them. Shut them down forever. They are destroying our mountain.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Click on image to enlarge.

Last Wednesday at the City's Open Space Advisory Board meeting, it was announced that the Hunt arroyo at Bear Ridge had finally been purchased using stormwater money. The purchase has been pending for seven years ever since Rick Bonart and Charlie Wakeem met with Justin Chapman of Hunt at the site. The Arroyo is very popular with hikers and mountain bikers and leads directly into the State Park.

According to Bonart, John Balliew, CEO of El Paso Water, says that there are no immediate plans for stormwater improvement at the site. Keeping the land pristine is always good news.

This past September $185K was made available for a trailhead at the Bear Ridge Arroyo. The hope and expectation is that millions will not have been spent on procuring the arroyo and then doing nothing to build an attractive trailhead. Such is the case with the Palisades where a mere $124 was spent on a sign that is now badly deteriorated. A better example of what can and should be done is the Lost Dog Trailhead built with private-public funding for much less than what the City would have spent to create a beautiful entrance to a prominent trail.

The Chair of the Open Space Advisory Board, Sherry Bonart, says: "Let's hope that the city will step up and use 2012 QOL money to build trailheads at both Bear Ridge and Franklin Hills [another Hunt property up for sale].  It's a travesty to purchase these parcels for millions of dollars and not follow through with the necessary improvements to make them fully available for the public to use."

Not to mention, fully attractive to ecotourists.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Quarry

It's like the title of one of those horrendous slasher films: Scream, Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th: The Quarry. Of course I am speaking about the quarry at McKelligon Canyon, the GCC Quarry (formerly a Cemex operation). 

GCC continues to gouge the side of the mountain. Several persons have looked at maps and have suggested to me that the quarry has already intruded onto the State Park. Yet neither Texas Parks and Wildlife Department nor the Franklin Mountains State Park are willing to do a survey. It costs too much. Instead they take the word of the quarry owners.

What can be done to stop this obscene devastation of our mountain? There are many issues involved: mineral rights for the State of Texas, a private company operation, jobs and bidding laws (you can't just ask the City not to buy from the quarry). Perhaps the City can be persuaded to limit their buying from GCC. That may be a good start and would have the added benefit that the City find other means to do landscaping. (I still am incensed that the City's Parks Department paved natural desert paths at the Archaeology Museum with chat quarried and produced at the McKelligon Canyon Quarry.) Perhaps an ordinance banning certain landscaping products? Good luck.

Protests? A PR campaign? What?

I struggle with this. Perhaps some of you have ideas. The GCC Quarry needs to shut down . . . permanently.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Aquifer Recharge Field Trip, Saturday 10/21, 10AM

Celebration of Our Mountains and El Paso Water have scheduled a very valuable field trip this Saturday at 10 AM. Recharging our aquifers is vital for our water supply and for our survival as a city in the Chihuahuan Desert. You will see a critical strategy that El Paso Water uses to recharge the aquifers.

Saturday, October 21, 2017, 10:00 AM
Aquifer Recharge Field Trip

Learn more about El Paso Water’s pioneering efforts to clean wastewater to drinking-water quality standards. EP Water has been using reclaimed water to recharge the Hueco Bolson Aquifer for decades. Hear more about water reclamation from Scott Reinert, El Paso Water’s water resources engineer. Meet at Painted Dunes Golf Club, 12000 McCombs St., inside the restaurant for orientation. Participants will caravan for a short drive to the recharge basins. Expect minimal walking during this 1.5-hour field trip. Bring comfortable shoes, water and a hat.

For more information, contact Scott Reinert, 915-253-2004,

Celebration of Our Mountains on Facebook

El Paso Water on Facebook

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Liz Walsh begins the Kevin Von Finger Speakers Series 10/24/17 at 7PM

Click image to enlarge.

Liz Walsh's talk this coming Thursday inaugurates the 2017-2018 Kevin Von Finger Speakers Series sponsored by the El Paso Group Sierra Club.

The series is named after the late Sierran and ecologist, Kevin von Finger.

October 24, 2017: "What's in a hueco?" - Liz Walsh

November 28, 2017: "Climate change and regional sustainability" - Deanna Pennington

January 23, 2018: "Trash and Recycling 101" - Ellen Smyth

February 27, 2018: "Creating Habitat for Burrowing Owls in El Paso" - Lois Balin
March 27, 2018: "Dude, come on, wolves need a decent life" - Rick LoBello

April 24, 2018: "The role of utilities in renewable energy and sustainability" - El Paso Electric

May 22, 2018: "The ecological and environmental consequences of the 'Wall'" - Paul Hyder

All talks are held on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 7PM at the Centennial Museum at UTEP.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Sustainable, Reliable Water

I and my neighbors have been watching the construction of a "mammoth" water tower in our neighborhood. Those of us who live on the mountain side of Austin High School, now see the tower loom over that school. The cool video above was posted on the El Paso Water Facebook page on October 2nd. It tells how these new towers will make water more sustainable and reliable. (How do the people working inside get out?)

El Paso Water's Communications and Marketing, Christina Montoya, sent these factoids to me:

Additional water tanks in specific areas will allow EPWater to meet water demands when some parts of the system may be down in emergency situations.

o   In 2011, frozen equipment and hundreds of broken water pipes caused water tanks to be emptied faster than they could be filled.
o   These tanks will give us the flexibility to move water where it is needed most.
o   These and other improvements will make EPWater more resilient in a power outage or a weather emergency.

Three new water tank projects will accommodate growth in key areas.

o   Memphis Tank will hold 2.5 million gallons of water in Central El Paso
o   Airport Tank holds 4.4 million gallons in the Lower Valley – completed
o   Ventanas Tank will hold 2 million gallons in the far east - completed

EPWater is highlighting these crucial projects to highlight investments needed in infrastructure

o   Water infrastructure is often out of sight and out of mind so it is hard for customers to appreciate and understand it.
o   Investment in water infrastructure is crucial to maintain essential services and ensure public safety.

o   Projects like this are a big part of our efforts to provide reliable water service.

The graphics below show you just how these new tanks work. Just click on them or the title to enlarge.

Thank you, El Paso Water!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Some FYIs

Hat tip to Judy Ackerman for sending me a link to an El Paso Times story, Bats are the overlooked wonders of our desert. Last June, Celebration of Our Mountains had a special bat watching event. Someone who follows the COM Facebook page just a day ago asked whether there would be another bat event. COM is ready. Hopefully Judy and Urban Biologist, Lois Balin, will repeat the bat watch next summer. 

Check out the concept being used in this store in Cape Town (a bit out of the way). It's a zero waste store called Nude Foods. Might be a good idea to start pushing that idea here. Read 10 Ways to Adopt a Zero Waste Lifestyle

Finally, here is a commercial site selling fermentation kits. I saw it on Facebook and it looks interesting. Bon appetit.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

2 Things to look at today

Painted Lady Butterfly by Liz DeMoultrie

Some of our environmental clubs produce some good newsletters. At the top of my list is The Areole, edited by Ad Konings. It's the newsletter for the El Paso Cactus and Rock Club. The letter is good science, good news and good fun. The photography is beautiful. Read the recent issue HERE. Ask the editor to be put on the mailing list. EPCRC also has a Facebook page.

Next you have got to join, get notified and share the posts at Share El Paso-Plants and Animals. Liz DeMoultrie's photos are priceless. I swiped one for use with this post above. Follow the posted videos to their original sites.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Just the Science Please

This past week a friend of mine who is a Civil Engineer traveled with his wife to Washington D.C. for a climate change conference. He chose to go to this conference to fulfill a City of El Paso requirement for doing new urbanism projects. Fortunately for them, they enjoy visiting D.C. and Alexandria, VA.

The conference was supposed to be focused on climate change and new urbanism. Fine and dandy. The problem was that it became a pretext for pontificating about a number of what can be considered "left-wing" issues: diversity, racial justice, I-Hate-Trump and so forth. Agree or disagree with the political positions the panelists took, they strayed from the purpose of the meeting. There was no presentation of the science of climate change, the data, the measurements, the predictions, etc. Bottom line: it was a farce.

My friend is not anti-environmental. He cares but challenges whether political solutions can ever match market place economics when it comes to addressing environmental problems. 

As an environmentalist (I'm not a scientist - I've just been an activist) I agree that we should stick to the facts, stick to the science. Certainly there are a number of social and political problems that ought to be addressed and there will always be a number of opinions on how we should deal with those problems. However, mixing our political opinions with science is just not scientific. It turns a pursuit for the truth into a tool for demagogues. It becomes opinion and not a theoretical position based on our observations and measurements. 

Environmentalism would be better served by sticking to the science.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Take the Tour

This Saturday (September 30th) beginning at 9PM, you can tour two revolutionary plants here in El Paso. The first is the world's largest inland desalination plant, the Kay Bailey Hutchison Desalination Plant and the Enviro Water Minerals Plant. At KBH, unusable brinish ground water is made drinkable. At the EWM facility, takes the brinish water a step further and removes the minerals that have commercial value. EWM sells the minerals and returns the water to us.

The tour is definitely an event for everyone, especially families. 

For more information, go HERE.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Insights Should Give Dino-Track Land to Experts

Photo from

Once upon a time, Insights Science Museum was fairly successful. Since then, the Insights Museum has been torn down and most of its meager exhibits have gone to storage. In 2003, Stanley Jobe bought land in Sunland Park from American Eagle Brick Company and gave it to Insights because the land is a valuable paleontological asset. In 2002 a young geology student (now Ph.D.), Eric Kappus, discovered dinosaur tracks on it. Unfortunately, in spite of Eric's expertise and his building a hiking trail from one of the dino sites to Ardovino's Desert Crossing, Insights ended their relationship with him.

Insights board members are (we guess) volunteers. I'm sure that they are good and well-intentioned people who care about our community and have served it well. However, they are also amateurs who have little, if any, knowledge about managing land and, in particular, managing land with dinosaur tracks. Dino footprints at one site are slowly eroding because there is no protection from modern day footprints all over the site.

The President of Insights, Ellen Esposito, told me that they have had no success finding benefactors to help them provide free tours, for instance, with Celebration of Our Mountains. Apparently they have also reached out to 13 companies including Western Refinery. They have not had any success with sponsorships. 

Esposito told me that "liability insurance, expense of tour guides and taxes must be covered by program fees." Insights recently advertised through the Trans-Pecos Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists for people willing to be trained to be docents. Of course, there would be no expense for tour guides if they are volunteers. 

An owner of commercial property in Sunland Park pays significantly less tax on his 24 acres than on his house in El Paso. The approximately 200 acres on which there are dino tracks is not commercial nor is it any longer a quarry operation.
What exactly is Insights' business plan and their goals for this very valuable paleontolgocal treasure? If they truly cared about the preservation of this site, why not turn it over to the Bureau of Land Management and let the Las Cruces office of the BLM manage it? The BLM people are experts. 

In fact, turning over the land to New Mexico to make it part of a 500-mile Rio Grande trail has been proposed by Esposito and renowned UTEP geology professor, Phil Goodell. "The State Parks Division of New Mexico’s Energy, Minerals and Natural Resource Department will facilitate discussions about the dinosaur tracks property," David Crowder of the El Paso Inc. recently reported.

Today one even wonders what the purpose of Insights is any longer. The City of El Paso will soon have a Children's Museum. Insights, more so then than now, will be a relic of the past. An indication that that is true is the fact that they cannot find any serious donors. 

It is time to admit what many have already realized: Insights has no business managing the Dino Tracks. They should turn it over to the BLM or another NM State agency that knows how to manage land and parks.

(I have reached out to Ellen Esposito for comment but have not heard back yet.)

Friday, September 15, 2017

Bike Plan? What Bike Plan?

According to a City of El Paso insider, there seems to be no intention of implementing the Bike Plan. Waivers submitted by contractors are 100% approved so that they do not have to add bike lanes in their developments. 

Also, numerous people who ride bikes have expressed their frustration to me as they feel the bike plan is basically gathering the same dust as Plan El Paso going the way of the Tree City USA designation and the Resiliant City contract. Pretty much any plan that the City has ever put together, received awards and recognitions for has then been stuck on a shelf.

There are several speculations as to why plans are in essence and fact scuttled: 

  • City plans only seem to get used when it's to the City's benefit, or when someone reminds the City about the plan.
  • City staff does not need public meddling in issues where they "know best". Boards and commissions, like the plans, are just window dressing.
  • City staff is lazy.

I have not been able to get hold of Alfredo Austin, the person in charge of implementing the Bike Plan.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Stop Sucking!

Read, bookmark, share:

Seattle to Ban Plastic Straws, Utensils at Restaurants Next Year

Be sure to watch the video.

Bobcats and Poppies

These pictures of bobcats at TecH20 show us just why it is so important to preserve our natural environment whether we build or not. They show just why organizations such as the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition, El Paso Group Sierra Club, the Frontera Land Alliance, the Friends of the Rio Bosque and many other groups work hard to preserve our mountains and deserts and wetlands.

The pictures were taken at TecH20 by staff members after someone spotted the cats. Josh Moniz of EPWU posted the pictures on the Celebration of Our Mountains Facebook page.

And while we are at it, take a look at these pictures of the poppies of Castner Range in 1995:

There is plenty to celebrate about our mountains.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Inc. Gives Kudos to Celebration of Our Mountains

Hikers enjoy the Hitt Canyon Loop Hike led by the Dean of El Paso Hiking, Carol Brown. Photo by Shu Y. Mayr

Fellow creature on the Hitt Canyon Loop Hike. Photo by Shu Y. Mayr

The El Paso Inc. recognized Celebration of Our Mountains in their most recent edition. Cindy Graff Cohen wrote a wonderful article about this yearly program of events: Play in the Franklins.

It is good to get the recognition. I have been the Director of COM since 2009.

On the Hitt Canyon Loop Hike. Photo by Shu Y. Mayr

On the Hitt Canyon Loop Hike. Photo by Shu Y. Mayr

This year's program is already off to a great start. Just this weekend, folks enjoyed the Hitt Canyon Loop Hike, biking to Scenic Drive with a blessing of the bicycles and a field trip to Percha and Caballo Dams to see the migratory birds. 

Last week's Beginners Hike ensemble. Photo by Carol Brown

Coming up tomorrow will be another Beginners Hike led by environmentalist, Judy Ackerman.

Dr. Paul Hyder talking about "The What, Why, Where and Who of Deserts" Photo by Shu Y. Mayr

On Saturday there is a Northern Pass Hike, a field trip to the Prehistoric Trackways in the Robledos and a repeat of the always popular "Who's Running Around the Desert at Night" led by biologist and ecologist, Dr.  Paul Hyder.

On Sunday, the UTEP Geology Club will lead a hike to the El Paso Tin Mines, the only tin mines ever operated in the United States.

Check out all of the upcoming Celebration of Our Mountains events at

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Want to see a Yellow-rumped warbler?

Trumpeter Swan. Photo by Arvo Poolar

Yellow-rumped Warbler. Photo by Laure W. Neish

This time of year, Percha and Caballo Dams have many migratory birds. You might see a Trumpeter Swan or a Yellow-Rumped Warbler. Join the El Paso Audubon Society for a great field trip to the dams this Saturday. 

You might also see American white pelicans,sandhill cranes, both great blue and little blue herons, golden eagles, bald eagles, northern goshawks, scaled quail, song sparrows, red- winged blackbirds, great-tailed grackles, western meadowlarks, western bluebirds, willow flycatchers, dark-eyed juncos, and yellow-breasted chats.

This is a Celebration of Our Mountains field trip.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Hurricane Harvey: Helping Victims and Learning a Lesson

President and First Lady in Corpus Christi today with members of the disaster team.
Doug Mills/New York Times photo

We have all viewed scenes of the terrible human suffering and destructiveness of Hurricane Harvey. It is already the worst rain storm in U.S. history. The storm is moving slowly and there is now the prediction that it is spinning around and will make landfall again.

Many of us are looking for ways to help. Here are a few:

Episcopal Relief and Development: I'm recommending this organization not only because I am an Episcopalian, but because of its low administrative costs. For every $100 given to Red Cross, it costs $30 to raise it. In contrast for every $100 raised by ERD, only $12 goes to raise it. More of your money is going to assist people. Donate HERE.

If you have space in your home where evacuees may stay for awhile, Airbnb helps you to offer that assistance. Click HERE.

Also check out

Harvey also offers a lesson: much of the flooding has been caused by sprawl - impermeable asphalt and concrete have helped to exacerbate greatly the tragedy. Porous asphalt offers a solution. The National Asphalt Pavement Association states: 

"Special features such as the underlying stone bed are more expensive than conventional construction, but these costs are more than offset by the elimination of many elements of standard storm-water management systems. On those jobs where unit costs have been compared, a porous asphalt pavement is generally the less-expensive option. The cost advantage is even more dramatic when the value of land that might have been used for a detention basin or other storm-water management features is considered."

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Albertsons Just Lost My Business

Sprouts . . . 

Whole Foods. . . 

but not Albertsons

Albertson's is no longer giving a credit when you bring your reusable bags to put your groceries and other items in. Just the other day they gave a customer a five cent credit per bag but no longer. I don't need a credit to recycle. However, I'd rather patronize a place that shows that it values recycling by giving the credit. I called Sprouts and they give a five cent credit. Whole Foods gives a ten cent credit. Want to know where I will be shopping from now on? Not Albertson's.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


This is really more about the built environment. However, since we have been discussing drainage, here goes:

Apparently some of the apartments at the Roderick Artspace Lofts have two bathroom drains - one in the shower and one on the bathroom floor. Reportedly there has been overflow on the bathroom floor drains. Supposedly, this is because those drains were never hooked up to the sewer. The overflow is hurting Fab Lab.

Artspace Lofts is the home of local artists.

Not in the plans? Oversight during construction? 

Where were the City of El Paso engineers and inspectors?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Scenic Drive Closures

Click image to enlarge.

Scenic Sunday will continue this week and for the weeks to come in spite of construction that will shut down the Richmond and Louisville entrances from Alabama. Here's what the press release from El Paso Water says:

"Starting Monday, August 14, El Paso Water will close Scenic Drive from Wheeling Avenue to Alabama to all traffic for several weeks to complete the next phase of the Kentucky Dam stormwater improvement project.

"Additionally, small portions of neighboring streets will be restricted to local traffic during construction:

  • Streets between Scenic Drive and Alabama
  • Streets between Wheeling Avenue and Altura Avenue

"Drivers will still be able to enter and exit Scenic Drive by detouring around the closure on Alabama Street and turning west onto Wheeling Avenue."

Spread the word.

"The $3.9 million project will help reduce flooding in Central El Paso. The project will increase the capacity of nearby ponds and add piping that keeps water off the streets by directing stormwater into the dam. Additionally, the project will improve service in the area by replacing water and wastewater lines."

Monday, August 14, 2017

Economies of Scale

Kauai Solar Farm. Photo from Tesla.

What would be cheaper in El Paso: to go off the electric grid or to have some solar and also depend upon the grid or to be a part of a community solar grid? I still haven't seen any hard and fast figures for each of these options. 

Check out this case study: Welcome to Paradise: Batteries Now Included. It begins by telling the story of Luke Evslin of Kauai, Hawaii, who, because of his desire to be as carbon-free as possible, went off the grid. What did he discover:

"Relying on personal power. . .is no way to power a community, let alone an island.

This became obvious to Evslin midway through his yurt experiment: Inefficiency is the ultimate downfall of any individual effort to address climate change."

“'Either you’re wasting electricity in a closed system, because it’s sunny and your batteries are full, or you don’t have enough power and you gotta run your generator,'” Evslin says. “'That’s not a bug in my system. That’s a feature of any off-grid system.'”

Kauai is quite a story. Mayor Bernard Cervalho led the charge for clean energy in keeping with the Paris Accords. The success on Kauai is notable and Evslin is a benefactor.

Bottom line:

"The economies of scale are such that Kauai’s utility cooperative can install a solar-and-storage unit for about half what it would cost a family to install the same amount on a house. Even when it comes to the island’s fossil fuel–generated power, the utility can produce more from a gallon of gasoline than someone with a $100 generator in their basement."

Read Welcome to Paradise

Friday, August 11, 2017

What a Disaster!

For a number of years now, many of us have been oohing and ahhing about Montecillo, El Paso's stellar example of smart growth. Although it may have some restaurants and stores integrated into its layout, it is turning out to be one huge environmental disaster. In this case "new urbanism", if it can be called that, has sadly neglected green infrastructure/low impact development. It is just the same sad old destruction of the desert by plowing up hills and dumping dirt into arroyos. It. along with the Top Golf development threatens surrounding eco-systems. For example, someone got a close-up look of Cement Lake the other day. From the description, it should probably be renamed "silt lake". 

EPT is responsible for both the Montecillo development and the Top Golf development. The City is responsible for permitting them to do what they are doing and these permits go back a number of years now.

Behind the Draft House

Return to the Alamo Draft House. Note how the drainage plans are not working. Keep this in mind. There is another huge problem with the development of the land that now contains the movie theater and soon will see other businesses. Was the destruction of a hillside and arroyo the result of a need to do flood control for Montecillo all along? Rather than having "smart" growth, we have a cancer that is eating up the environment.

Detention Pond behind Alamo Draft House
Arroyo adjacent to Fire Station #31. Note infrastruture debris

Once again, look at the "drainage" control at the Draft House. The gunnite and other strategies have not held back the erosion and the spilling of silt onto the parking lot. This same strategy using gunnite was apparently used at an arroyo adjacent to Fire Station #31 on Mesa Park Drive. With just a bit of rainfall recently (not a horrendous storm such as the one in 2006) the entire infrastructure was washed out. 


Now take a look at the stepped development of Montecillo. Note the same use of fabric and gunnite and note the silt already seeping through the "barrier". 

Click image to enlarge.

More especially, look how the hills are plowed up and see the arroyos being filled in. Forget having any really natural features. This smart growth is concrete and asphalt and apartment-looking buildings.

What happens when you cover-up arroyos? Does the water in a storm obey the new path of tiny culverts? No, the water follows the historic flood plain. Like Superman it does leaps and bounds and hydraulic jumps over the insufficient culverts, taking out backyards, washing boulders, rocks and debris down hill.

Is there a drainage or development plan that the City of El Paso doesn't approve?

Ever heard of swales?

What a disaster!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Study: Production of Enough Plastic to Cover Aregentina Causes Havoc

[If you can't see the video, 
please go to]

Thank you Marshall Carter-Tripp for a Voice of America story, Study: Production of Enough Plastic to Cover Aregentina Causes Havoc. It says:

July 19, 2017
TORONTO — More than nine billion tons of plastic has been produced since 1950 with most of it discarded in landfills or the environment, hurting ecosystems and human health, according to the first major global analysis of mass-produced plastics.

Nearly 80 percent of this plastic ended up in landfills or the environment and production in increasing quickly, researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, said in the study published on Wednesday.

Less than 10 percent was recycled and about 12 percent was incinerated.

"If you spread all of this plastic equally, ankle-deep, it would cover an area the size of Argentina," Roland Geyer, a professor of industrial ecology and the study's lead author, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "It is an enormous amount of material that does not biodegrade ... I am very worried."

Burning plastics contributes to climate change and adversely impacts human health, while build-ups of the material can hurt the broader environment, Geyer said.

Packaging is the largest market for plastic and the petroleum-based product accelerated a global shift from reusable to single-use containers, researchers said.

As a result, the share of plastics in city dumps in high and middle income countries rose to more than 10 percent by 2005 from less than 1 percent in 1960.

Unlike other materials, plastic can stay in the environment for thousands of years, Geyer said.

There are more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the world's oceans, according to a 2014 study published in a Public Library of Science journal.
This build-up harms marine life and ecosystems on sea and land, Geyer said.

If current trends continue more than 13 billion tons of plastic waste will end up in the environment or landfills by 2050, researchers said.

Some resources:

10 Tips for Living with Less Plastic

100 Steps to a Plastic-Free Life

Two Years of Living Plastic Free: How I Did It and What I've Learned

Monday, August 7, 2017

Monday Odds and Ends

Big thanks to El Paso Inc. reporter, Dave Crowder, for doing a story after reading an Elpasonaturally post. His Inc. story is: Is Topgolf construction threatening an I-10 embankment?

On Facebook find and join: Share El Paso - Plants and Animals. Great posts by William Hoover and images by Liz DeMoultrie and others. This tells us what we are trying to save here in the El Paso Southwest.

Download this free booklet online: CASTNER RANGE BOOKLET: SUMMARY AND UP TO DATE STATUS ON EFFORTS. JanaĆ© Reneaud Field, Frontera Land Alliance Director, says:

"[It] tells you the story of El Paso’s Castner Range, the 7,081-acre closed firing range that still belongs to Fort Bliss. All of you have played a part on Castner Range in recent years, so you know the campaign we have waged to keep it conserved for all time. The booklet tells the history of the Range from pre-historic days through its years as an active artillery site (1926-1966), then into the early 1970s when parts of the Range were transferred to the City of El Paso for development, and onward to our recent, vigorous and increasingly-successful campaign on behalf of Castner’s conservation. The booklet makes it clear that El Pasoans stand united in their desire to conserve Castner Range, whether as a separate National Monument or as a part of the Franklin Mountains State Park."

Mahatma Gandhi said: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” We can do all that we can to oppose Trump's environmental policies. What we immediately and most certainly have control over is our lifestyles. Read two stories posted in GristJust trading beef for beans could get the United States near its CO2 goal and Now you can plant a tree to offset Trump’s climate policies. Be sure to check out Grow the Forest.

Definitely of interest: How Green Energy Will Help Slow Nuclear Proliferation.
It's from Defense One.

Have a great week.