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.

 

 

 

Join the Texas Wolf Pack

PHOTO OP – SATURDAY MORNING, AUGUST 11

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Did you know that over the past year the El Paso Sierra Club group has gathered over 15,000 signatures on letters and petitions to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department asking the agency to support a plan to return the wolf to Texas?   You and your family and friends can support our efforts and help send a message to TPWD by joining us for a group photo along with the boxes of letters we have been collecting on Saturday morning, August 11, 2018.  We will meet at the Ron Coleman Trailhead at Smugglers Pass on the Trans Mountain Road (Loop 375).   Please let us know if you can be there by texting 915-474-1456 or sending an email to ricklobello@gmail.com.

Prior to the extinction of Canis lupus baileyi in the wild, the last confirmed sightings of Mexican wolves in the United States were in 1970 when two wolves were trapped and killed in West Texas.  One wolf was documented on the Cathedral Mountain Ranch approximately 17 miles south of Alpine, Texas and 64 miles north of Big Bend National Park.  A second wolf was trapped and killed on the Joe Neal Ranch about 10 miles southwest of Sanderson, Texas about 60 miles northeast of the park.

CathedralMT
View of Cathedral Mountain south of Alpine, Texas on Texas Highway 118.

Returning the wolf to the wilds of Texas: Ecological and Economic Benefits

Wolf advocates in Texas urge the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to develop and implement a scientifically reviewed plan to return the Mexican wolf to the wilds of Texas as part of the overall recovery and re-population effort of this critically endangered species.

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.

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

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

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

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. As dominant predators wolves will help to keep other predators in checklike coyotes, foxes and mountain lions.

Join the Texas Wolf Pack

Photo op – Saturday morning, August 11

SONY DSC

Did you know that over the past year the El Paso Sierra Club group has gathered over 15,000 signatures on letters and petitions to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department asking the agency to support a plan to return the wolf to Texas?   You and your family and friends can support our efforts and help send a message to TPWD by joining us for a group photo along with the boxes of letters we have been collecting on Saturday morning, August 11, 2018.  We will meet at the Ron Coleman Trailhead at Smugglers Pass on the Trans Mountain Road (Loop 375).   Please let us know if you can be there by texting 915-474-1456 or sending an email to ricklobello@gmail.com.

Prior to the extinction of Canis lupus baileyi in the wild, the last confirmed sightings of Mexican wolves in the United States were in 1970 when two wolves were trapped and killed in West Texas.  One wolf was documented on the Cathedral Mountain Ranch approximately 17 miles south of Alpine, Texas and 64 miles north of Big Bend National Park.  A second wolf was trapped and killed on the Joe Neal Ranch about 10 miles southwest of Sanderson, Texas about 60 miles northeast of the park.

CathedralMT
View of Cathedral Mountain south of Alpine, Texas on Texas Highway 118.

Returning the wolf to the wilds of Texas: Ecological and Economic Benefits

Wolf advocates in Texas urge the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to develop and implement a scientifically reviewed plan to return the Mexican wolf to the wilds of Texas as part of the overall recovery and re-population effort of this critically endangered species.

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.

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

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

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

7. 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.

8. 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.

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

 

 

 

 

Public Service Board Land Sales

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by Laurence Gibson

On the heels of the city’s recent $3.5 million open space purchase of 366 acres in Northeast El Paso, the old conversation about selling PSB land has been reignited in the form of a new report from El Paso Water’s Public Servce Board Preservation and Conservation Planning Committee. This is a comprehensive 66 page document which may be seen online at Preservation Committee Report.

Your El Paso Group has been active in the PSB land sale story for almost 20 years now. See these headlines from previous Loraxes:

April ‘01: Resist the Proposed PSB Land Sale
May ‘01: PSB Land Sale Update There’s Still Hope
June ‘05: Open Space Tempts El Paso Developers

Those were Mayor Raymond Caballero days when we counted on his mayoral presence at PSB to temper the developers’ requests to sell chunks of our open space under the “good ‘ol boy” system. The land sales guy at PSB was on a first name basis with El Paso developers who were able to say “I want you to sell me this (or that) parcel”of open space.

If you are new to El Paso you may not realize that our water utility purchased thousands of acres around El Paso in the 1900’s. This was to protect our aquifer from being paved over. Even back then there was a realization that we needed to have that land for recharging the aquifer!

With the adoption of our prizewinning Northwest and Northeast Master Plans we breathed a sigh of relief, naively thinking our open space was safe. Now, we seem to have forgotten the wisdom of our elders in setting aside all that land for water.
The consensus from environmentalists at the March 21st PSB meeting is that the committee report contradicts itself by recommending the open space be protected, THEN saying to develop half of it! That would be 3,500 of the approximately 7,000 acres we own around our mountains. The PSB has not yet taken action on that recommendation.

 

Photo Credit – Franklin Mountains, courtesy Ken Steiner