Lost Dog – City Council Tuesday

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by Don Baumgardt

There is work to still be done to save the Lost Dog Trail area!  On Tuesday, February 5th, El Paso City Council will take the next step in letting the voters decide.  We need supporters to come to that city council meeting at 9am to make sure things move forward.  Our goal is to see that city council puts this item on the ballot for the May election.  Please come out to let the mayor, council, city manager and staff know that we’re still active and organized.

The meeting starts at 9am.  We’re going to try to get this moved toward the beginning of the agenda so we hope to be out by the middle of the morning.

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Sharon Miles-Bonart, Ph.D. says:

The agenda item is 24.1.
The meeting begins at 9 a.m., On February 5th City Council chambers.
They will discuss whether or not to put saving Lost Dog (our resolution generated by petition) on the May ballot.

Link to agenda:  Agenda Item for February 5

It appears as though Council will be discussing a bunch of different options for us, as the posting includes the following: resolution / ordinance / lease to do what / authorize the City Manager to do what.

It is important that we have lots of our supporters attend this meeting.
Sign up to speak: 

SUBJECT:
APPROVE a resolution/ ordinance/ lease to do what?   OR AUTHORIZE the City Manager to do what?

Be descriptive of what we want Council to approve. Include $ amount if applicable.
A Resolution ordering a Special Election in the City of El Paso for the submission of a measure to be held on May 4, 2019; making provisions for the conduct of the election; and authorizing a contract with the El Paso County to furnish election services and equipment.

SECTION 3 – BALLOT LANGUAGE
The Proposition on the May special election ballot will permit the qualified voters of the City of El Paso to vote for or against the adoption of the above-quoted ordinance, which will be stated on the ballot substantially as follows:

City of El Paso Proposition A
Shall an ordinance be approved to preserve, for all time, the l,l07 acres owned by the City of El Paso and referred to as “Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone Number Twelve” and to prohibit, for all time, any private development and any major public roadways on said I,I07 acres?
YES ()
NO()

Trans Mountain Clean Recap

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by Erica Rocha

Thank you to all who participated in the El Paso Transmountain Cleanup Event this past Saturday.  The community’s response was remarkable!

There were 135 volunteers that signed in, plus a bus full of students from America’s High School that were not on the main Highway, but did clean a hiking trail and 6 Constables and deputies keeping us safe.  Not to mention the dozens if not hundreds of commuters who drove over the mountain and were faced with a sea of orange vests.  Without a doubt the sight left them curious.  Some cyclist and hikers that ran into some of the groups stopped to ask what was going on.  When informed that there was a huge community cleanup they put in their part and brought trash over to the volunteers.

Volunteers went to great lengths to show up or drop off participants despite the frigid temperature.  One volunteer rode his bike up the 5 mile ascent to be able to join the cause.  Others organized entire groups of children and youth with parental consent, rides, pick-ups and drop-offs to ensure their participation.

The energy was palpable.  Good cheer and incredible willingness to help in any area where there was need was seen throughout the entire event.  There were volunteers who used their own vehicles to bring trash bags back to the meeting site and others that made round after round in their pickup trucks collecting heavier, bagful of trash as well as other large debris.  When trash bags ran out, volunteers didn’t stop, they waited until more were brought and continued to pick up trash.

In all, the 10 miles stretch between I-10 and US 54 was covered, over 100 bags of trash collected, including larger rubble such as 2 orange construction barrels, car bumpers, sofas cushions, ladders, tires, and other very strange garbage was picked up.

Albertson’s on Redd, Wal-Mart at West Town and Sam’s on Mesa provided a generous amount of snacks and drinks; TxDot provided vests, trash bags and picked up the pile of trash collected and disposed of it.  Also, Franklin State Park granted us permission to host this cleanup.

Through it all, the true heroes of the event were every individual, every couple, and every group small or large who made this event possible; and most importantly delivered greater results than I could have ever imagined.

I hope that the impact of this event reaches beyond those who took part in the cleanup.  I hope that there is an infectious spirit of pride spread among your friends and family.  Although it is a shame that we have to pick up other’s trash, it is truly inspiring to see so many good willed people of all ages come together to leave nature and our city a cleaner and better place.

Below is a small list of groups we were able to confirm participated in one form or another:

Ft. Bliss Soldiers, West Texas Young Marines, Girl Scouts Troop 53020, El Paso Eastside Rotary Club, El Paso Executive Women Lion’s Club, America’s High School, Creosote, Sierra Club, Frontera Land Alliance, Franklin Mountain Wilderness Coalition, Celebration of Our Mountains, Constables, Sergeants and Deputies of Precincts 2, 3 and 7, Franklin Mountain Life, Meet Up EP Hikers,  and Border Patrol Explorers.

 

THE WALL…once more, with feeling!

by Laurence Gibson, Executive Committee Chair

Check out these El Paso Sierra Club Group Loryx newsletter headlines from the past:

April 2008
BorderFence Opposed
In dramatic fashion the El Paso City Council refused to have anything to do with federal plans to build new spans of 18-foot high fencing along the border through El Paso.

May 2008
Fence Threatens Rio Bosque
Homeland Security is waiving environmental regulations to hurriedly build over 600 miles of fence in 2008.

Why is it that one of the safest cities in the USA should have to put up with this kind of interference from the feds? It isn’t as though our local lawmakers have not spoken out and protested long and hard.

I do find it interesting that 10 years ago it was a fence and now it’s a wall. Perhaps it really is just a “man thing.”This is one of those times when local control would be a really good thing. Anyway, my buddy who owns a welding supply is licking his chops at making another fortune selling machines and helmets and, and so on. I keep telling folks we already have our wall.

The Border Network for Human Rights, BNHR, founded in 1998, is one of the leading human rights advocacy and immigration reform organizations located at the U.S./Mexico Border. BNHR has over 7,000 members in West Texas and Southern New Mexico.
On Saturday, January 26 at noon, BNHR and border families held a massive mobilization protesting the border wall and advocating for a Humane Immigration Reform.

The mobilization will started at San Jacinto Plaza, stopping at the Santa Fe International Port of Entry to denounce Trump’s Zero Tolerance policy and ending in Chihuahuita with a rally and demonstration near the site of ongoing border wall construction.

In Chihuahuita, marchers denounced construction of Trump’s Border Wall and militarization of our region, calling instead for a humane and inclusive immigration reform that protects and integrates Dreamers, TPS beneficiaries, domestic violence victims, and the millions of undocumented Americans who live and work in these United States.

Trans Mountain clean up planned for January 19

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Save the date and sign up today

by Erica Rocha and Yadira Arellano

With the support of Adopt-A-Highway we are organizing a community cleanup of the highway that crosses our Franklin Mountains.  Our purpose for organizing this event has many aspects.  We want to bring neighboring Adopt-A-Highway holders together as well as extend the invitation to those who live around the area, use its designated trails to bike, hike or walk, and others who care about our beautiful landmark. The mountains are home to countless wildlife, vegetation and provide us with an admirable landscape.  Many times we forget how vulnerable nature is, therefore we want to use this event to reminded us all of how important it is to care for our mountains.  We want to raise awareness and give the community an opportunity to give back.

So far we have gotten the following groups to join us in our efforts:

East El Paso Rotary Club
Border Patrol Explorers (Hondo Pass)
Creosote
Claudia Delgado
Friends & Family

The event will take place on January 19, 2019 from 8:00 am – 12:00 pm.  We cordially invite the public, clubs and any organization to join us in our efforts and give back.

Everyone will meet at the top of Smuggler’s Pass on the Trans Mountain Road (Loop 375) at the Ron Coleman Trailhead.   We will provide trash bags.  Please wear gloves if you have them.

Please sign up by sending an email or text to Erica Rocha at erocha.er77@gmail.com or (915) 873-4393.

Making a difference in El Paso

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Proposed El Paso Sierra Club Group Conservation Fund

By Rick LoBello

Earlier this year I proposed to our Executive Committee that our group engage more members and increase our conservation impact by establishing an El Paso Sierra Club Group Conservation Fund.   Here in El Paso and around the world the number one challenges we face in confronting the enormous threats to our ecosystem can be summed up in just a few words – finding money to support conservation and motivating people to take action.   All one has to do in El Paso is look out a car window to see the ongoing rapid destruction of our natural environment.  It is obvious that the old saying is as true today as it was when someone first coined the phrase – “he who has the gold makes the rules.”

We need to come together and gather up our resources as a local Sierra Club group to do a lot more to increase our collective conservation impact.  With over 300 local members we can collaboratively support a wide range of conservation challenges including wildlife habitat conservation, sustainable development and environmental education.   Will you join us and lend a hand with the talents you already have?   We need people from all walks of life to help us formulate a plan of action in making such a fund a reality.   Please contact me by text or email to learn more.    I would like to host an organizational meeting in early January.    Rick LoBello, Vice Chair, 915-474-1456 (text only) or ricklobello@gmail.com.

VOTE! VOTO! VIVIR!

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by Laurence Gibson

We, as a world, are at all kinds of turning points these days. Scientists actually made the national news this weekend saying that it is now almost too late to save Planet Earth. Nationally, we have really important mid-term elections coming up, elections that will determine what happens to our “republic…if you can keep it” in the words of Ben Franklin.

Locally, we also have very important choices: Four districts of City Council are on the ballot. Check the candidates’ web-pages to see their platforms. Visit the League of Women Voters site, VOTE 411. Watch the KCOS debates and the various candidate forums.

City Council’s recent creation of Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones (TIRZ) is something new on the development front. Our view is that the TIRZ is a clever device to get citizens to pay developers to build houses on their own open spaces…which won’t be so open anymore, and wouldn’t otherwise be profitable for development, sort of a “pay for your own sprawl” scheme. City Council has now approved four of these, something voters may wish to consider. Also, the Bonarts (549-5585 and 549-8483) have a “Kill the TIRZ” petition that they must submit soon. The hotly contested Lost Dog Trail/TIRZ12 petition was recently accepted by council, and then put on hold for two years. This highly successful petition to put TIRZ12 on the ballot was not approved in time for this November’s election. Watch for it on the next ballot, in May.

Folks have been confused about Council’s needing multiple petitions for the same issue. (“I signed once, why do I have to sign again?”) Well, it seems that City Council can “deny” a petition to put an issue on the election ballot. If that happens, a second successful petition is required to overcome that opposition and force it to happen.
And, by the way, if you receive an absentee ballot, be sure to find the City Council races on the last page and be aware that a straight-ticket vote is not a City Council vote. If you should toss out your absentee ballot, (there are reports out there of unsolicited absentee ballots) you cannot vote at the polls November 6.

Sierra Smart Goals Update

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The El Paso Sierra Club Group Executive Committee met this morning and reviewed the status of our five most important Smart Goals.   For questions about these goals contact anyone on our committee.  Volunteers to help with these goals are always needed.

SMART Goal #1 Blue Bin Contamination:
Laurence Gibson reported that the City is ramping up efforts to address contamination in the blue bins.  An article on his efforts will appear in the next Sierran.  Next Step – talk to staff at Senator Rodriquez’s office.

SMART Goal #2 Return of the Wolf to Texas Educational Initiative:
Rick LoBello reported that over 10,000 letters and nearly 5000 signatures on petitions were sent to Carter Smith on August 19, 2018 requesting TPWD support.  The cover letter was signed by Laurence Gibson as Chairman of the Executive Committee, El Paso Group of the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club. Laurence has not received a response to this letter and the 6 boxes of letters that were sent to his office.  Members are encouraged to reach out to Carter Smith at Carter.Smith@tpwd.texas.gov and express their support for our effort. Next Step – create a Take Action Tool Kit on our website.

SMART Goal #3 Outdoor Leadership Training. Next Step – in the process of getting members qualified.

SMART Goal #4 El Paso Group t-shirts:   Next Step – still working on a plan.

SMART Goal #5 Sierra Student Coalition at Americas High School:
Neysa Hardin reported a cost to Sierra Club El Paso Group of approximately $400 to sponsor the students to attend the Wolf Reading Camp at the Zoo.     On September 22 the group picked up trash on the southern end of the Ron Coleman Trail.  Next Step – we are planning a trip to a local national park.

 

Join the pack

by Rick LoBello
Vice Chair, Executive Committee

Last month the El Paso Sierra Club Group sent Carter Smith, Executive Director of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 6 boxes containing 10,372 letters plus a list of 4,628 names of people asking Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in Austin, Texas to support a plan to return wolves to the wilds of Texas.   We are still waiting for a reply.

Most of our members know about our new movement to return the gray wolf to wilderness areas and protected areas of West Texas.  In our letter to Smith El Paso Sierra Club Group Chair Laurence Gibson, a former UTEP music professor and the former El Paso Symphony Orchestra’s longtime concertmaster, stated “We believe that it is critical to the future of our ecosystem and the citizens of our state to preserve and protect all parts of the ecosystem.” Gibson went on to urge Smith and Texas Parks and Wildlife to launch an effort to bring back the wolf to the wilds of Texas and to develop and implement a scientifically reviewed plan of action. Earlier this summer the Texas Parks and ‘Wildlife Foundation launched a We Will Not Be Tamed campaign. Bringing the wolf back to Texas will clearly demonstrate TPWD’s commitment to this important conservation initiative encouraging all Texans to get involved in conserving the wild things and wild places of our state. Ecological and economic benefits of this proposal are as follows:

1. The return of wolves to the Texas wild will help to maintain the current growth of our state’s dynamic travel and tourism industry, and its important contributions to the state economy. Texas is a premier destination for domestic and international travelers, where travel totaled an estimated $70.5 billion in 2014 and supported 630,000 jobs across the state. Reintroduction of Mexican wolves to Texas provides an opportunity for the state to promote ecotourism while also educating visitors on the importance of environmental conservation.

2. Wolves provided important ecological services in helping to control prey species as well as ensuring biodiversity within Texas and the surrounding region.

3. Reintroduction of Mexican wolves to Texas provides an opportunity for the state to promote ecotourism while also educating visitors on the importance of environmental conservation.

4. Wolves need wilderness areas to survive and making sure we have wolves in Texas will help to ensure that we have wilderness. The wilderness that remains in Texas is part of our “great Texas backyard.” Wilderness is a haven from the pressures of our fast-paced society. It provides us with places where we can seek relief from the noise, haste and crowds that too often confine us. It is a place for us to enjoy with friends and families – strengthening our relationships and building lasting memories.

5. Wolves will help to maintain the ecological integrity of one of the greatest gifts Texas has given the nation – Big Bend National Park. Unlike other large national parks that were established from lands already owned by the federal government, Big Bend was privately owned by 100s of land owners before it became a national park. Texans came together during the 1930s and 40s and raised the money to buy the land that was then deeded to the federal government to become the State’s first national park and one of the crown jewels of the National Park Service.

6. The preservation of our natural heritage in Texas is a sacred trust mandated by federal and state law. Texans from all walks of life support efforts to conserve our natural heritage, including endangered species that historically lived in the state.

7. Restoring wolves to Texas will help to bring back the balance of the ecosystem.

8. By chasing and hunting their prey wolves help to re-vegetate habitats impacted by herbivores. These restored plant habitats will benefit other species like birds.

9. There is growing evidence that some predators, such as wolves, may benefit public health by killing sick wildlife that spread infectious diseases from wild animals to humans and domestic livestock.

10. As dominant predators, wolves will help to keep other predators in check like coyotes, foxes and mountain lions.

 

Over 15,000 support Sierra Club campaign to return the wolf to Texas

El Paso Sierra Club Photo by Rick LoBello

A new movement to return the gray wolf to wilderness areas and protected areas of West Texas has been launched by the El Paso Sierra Club Group.  Last week the group sent 6 boxes containing 10,372 letters plus a list of 4,628 names of people asking Carter Smith, Executive Director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in Austin, Texas to support a plan to return wolves to the wilds of Texas.

El Paso Sierra Club Group Chair Laurence Gibson, a former UTEP music professor and the former El Paso Symphony Orchestra’s longtime concertmaster, in a letter to Smith stated “We believe that it is critical to the future of our ecosystem and the citizens of our state to preserve and protect all parts of the ecosystem.”

Gibson went on to urge Smith and Texas Parks and Wildlife to launch an effort to bring back the wolf to the wilds of Texas and to develop and implement a scientifically reviewed plan of action.

Earlier this summer the Texas Parks and ‘Wildlife Foundation launched a We Will Not Be Tamed campaign.  Bringing the wolf back to Texas will clearly demonstrate TPWD’s commitment to this important conservation initiative encouraging all Texans to get involved in conserving the wild things and wild places of our state.

Ecological and economic benefits of this proposal are as follows:

  1. The return of wolves to the Texas wild will help to maintain the current growth of our state’s dynamic travel and tourism industry, and its important contributions to the state economy. Texas is a premier destination for domestic and international travelers, where travel totaled an estimated $70.5 billion in 2014 and supported 630,000 jobs across the state. Reintroduction of Mexican wolves to Texas provides an opportunity for the state to promote ecotourism while also educating visitors on the importance of environmental conservation.
  2. Wolves provided important ecological services in helping to control prey species as well as ensuring biodiversity within Texas and the surrounding region.
  3. Reintroduction of Mexican wolves to Texas provides an opportunity for the state to promote ecotourism while also educating visitors on the importance of environmental conservation.
  4. Wolves need wilderness areas to survive and making sure we have wolves in Texas will help to ensure that we have wilderness. The wilderness that remains in Texas is part of our “great Texas backyard.”  Wilderness is a haven from the pressures of our fast-paced society. It provides us with places where we can seek relief from the noise, haste and crowds that too often confine us. It is a place for us to enjoy with friends and families – strengthening our relationships and building lasting memories.
  5. Wolves will help to maintain the ecological integrity of one of the greatest gifts Texas has given the nation – Big Bend National Park. Unlike other large national parks that were established from lands already owned by the federal government, Big Bend was privately owned by 100s of land owners before it became a national park.  Texans came together during the 1930s and 40s and raised the money to buy the land that was then deeded to the federal government to become the State’s first national park and one of the crown jewels of the National Park Service.
  6. The preservation of our natural heritage in Texas is a sacred trust mandated by federal and state law. Texans from all walks of life support efforts to conserve our natural heritage, including endangered species that historically lived in the state.
  7. Restoring wolves to Texas will help to bring back the balance of the ecosystem.
  8. By chasing and hunting their prey wolves help to re-vegetate habitats impacted by herbivores. These restored plant habitats will benefit other species like birds.
  9. There is growing evidence that some predators, such as wolves, may benefit public health by killing sick wildlife that spread infectious diseases from wild animals to humans and domestic livestock.
  10. As dominant predators, wolves will help to keep other predators in check like coyotes, foxes and mountain lions.