Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring has Sprung in the Franklin Mountains State Park

by Adriana Weickhardt



The signs of spring are popping up all over the mountain from hints of purple Lyreleaf Twist flowers
and yellow Desert Evening Primrose, to colorful butterflies fluttering over the hills and slithering
lizards darting across the trails.  It’s a beautiful transition period to another season in our
Chihuahuan Desert!

The park is also experiencing transitions as we prepare to welcome back one of our own from his
absence while attending police academy.  Jonathan Murphy will be back on the mountain soon and
will soon be protecting and serving the park and visitors, but also be integrated into leading
additional park programs.  And as we eagerly welcome one ranger back, we are also preparing to say
goodbye to another; Richie Sanchez has infused this park with positive energy and given it a tune up
with the monthly mountain bike rides that he’s led over the past year.  We are overjoyed, though, for this new chapter in Ranger Richie’s life as he will soon embark on the journey of marriage and school.  Congratulations to both Jonathan and Richie on your
accomplishments!

Another transition that comes with the spring season is the more frequent migrations of your rangers down from the mountains and into the city.  The park presence will begin being noticed more and more throughout the community during spring and into summer as schools continue to invite your rangers out to career fairs, science project contests and science fairs, and summer camps.  We also will be participating in many of the Earth Day festivities throughout El Paso during the month of April.

The park programs are also preparing to transition to our warm weather and summer fun activities like mine tours, astronomy
programs and mysteries of the night hikes.  Our annual “National Kids to Parks” event is also around the bend on May 17, 2014 – mark your calendars, you don’t want to miss it!

For all of our guided park programs, one must have a reservation to participate.  Make your reservations by calling:  (915) 566-6441.  You can also share your photographs and keep up with the daily activity at our park by visiting the Franklin Mountains State Park facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/FranklinMountainsSP?ref=hl.

If you are interested in being added to the email list to receive the monthly park event flyers, please contact:  Adrianna.weickhardt@tpwd.texas.gov

Resler Canyon Needs Your Help

by JanaƩ Renaud Field



The Frontera Land Alliance needs wattles and seeds to prevent erosion on the site of recent
improvements to stormwater infrastructure in the Wakeem/Teschner Nature Preserve at Resler Canyon in El Paso.

Wattles are straw-filled, biodegradable net tubes staked out across areas subject to erosion. You
see them next to highways. They’ll be used in the Canyon to slow down rain runoff and let water slowly soak into the soil. The wetter the soil, the better the chance that seeds can germinate and
hold the soil in place. And when plants take hold and grow, the leaves reduce the impact of
raindrops, further cutting back on erosion. The wattles come in 100 foot lengths; we need over
5,000 feet to adequately protect the site. We’ll be gathering surplus seeds from Canyon shrubs,
but we must also buy about 80 pounds of fast-growing, native grass seed to quickly generate
ground cover. The cost of the erosion control and reseeding is $25,000.

You can help by sponsoring a wattle or a 10-pound bag of seed. Each wattle length costs $100. The seed is $200 per bag. Even smaller contributions will help. Your sponsorship is tax deductible.
Your name will appear on a marker to celebrate your contribution.

For more info about contributing to this important conservation project contact JanaƩ Renaud Field, Frontera's Executive Director, at (915) 351-8352 or janae@FronteraLandAlliance.org.

Pay Attention to Impact Fees

by Jim Tolbert

Impact fees are designed to reduce ugly urban sprawl and help preserve open space.  Although
El Paso Water Utilities requested a significant increase in impact fees, City Council decided to
delay and debate the issue for a year.  Impact fees cover the cost of necessary new water and sewer
infrastructure.  Either developers and builders pay the costs associated with their growth, or the
current and future rate payers will pay increased fees.

To stay informed on this issue follow Jim Tolbert’s blog: www.elpasonaturally.blogspot.com.

Support your Local Sierra Club

Your local El Paso Group of the Sierra Club asks for a moment of your time to hear a new message, a message of renewal and redirection.


Only a year ago we were asking for help to reduce out huge legal fee debt for fighting TxDot’s “overblown” plan for Transmountain Road. Before that it was a plea for help to fight the reopening of ASARCO. While you responded generously with donations ranging from $10 to $5000, the average was about $20, not enough to make a dent in our $50,000 legal bill. It was ultimately the generosity of Lowerre, Frederick et al, who stopped sending us bills, that is allowing us to move forward with our renewal.
Now, with your votes, we have a new Executive Committee team and a new sense of direction. The defensive battles, which fatigued us and sapped our treasury, have given way to a determination to work on offense, developing inspirational new initiatives.

A few of these ideas are: National Monument status for Otero Mesa (which includes Alamo Mountain), returning the Mexican Wolf to its former territory in Big Bend, more renewable energy for El Paso, rainwater harvesting for El Paso homes, and a glass recycling program for our city.

We realize that many of us Sierrans work locally in single-issue groups on specific areas of our environment. Thank you for your support of those worthy causes. But won’t you help us do some things in the name of the Sierra Club? SC is challenged to “cover the waterfront” of environmental causes. With your contributions and participation we can do almost anything.

But your yearly $39 membership fee is not enough to help us brave those new environmental frontiers! We need your ideas. We need your contributions. If you can’t give time, why not give money, directly to the El Paso Group, for use in El Paso?

Please be generous. This is our only local funding appeal for 2014. Let’s think in three or four digits! Perhaps we can raise that $20 average?

Thank you,

Laurence Gibson, Chair
El Paso Group
Rio Grande Chapter
Sierra Club
915 309-5419

The eighth annual 2014 Franklin Mountains Poppies Fest on Castner Range

Saturday, March 29, 2014 from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm at the El Paso Museum of Archaeology at 4301 Transmountain Road.



The Poppies Fest Committee welcomes everyone to this free family fun day which features a
program of nature walks, educational exhibits and demonstrations by local environmental
organizations and wildlife displays include a live socialized wolf from the Wild Spirit Wolf
Sanctuary and Houdini the Harris Hawk from the El Paso Zoo at 11:00 am. A children’s activity center will offer a variety of arts and crafts led by local community members including Girl Scouts. Local performing groups will provide music and dance. Local vendors will be offering original and hand-made merchandise for sale. Lunch and snacks can be purchased from food vendors on-site.

Free parking will be off-site with handicapped accessible shuttle bus service provided from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, funded by the City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department.

The Poppies Fest celebrates the marvelous open space in Northeast El Paso where the 15 acre grounds of the El Paso Museum of Archaeology are surrounded by the 7,000+ acre Castner Range, a former artillery range known for its unique cultural, geologic and biologic features. If the rain and weather cooperate, it is most known for its beautiful and vast display of Mexican Gold Poppies in the spring.

Information: Marilyn Guida, 915-755-4332, guidamr@elpasotexas.go

Monday, January 13, 2014

Happy New Year from the Franklin Mountains State Park

All of us here at Franklin Mountains State Park wish everyone a Happy New Year and look forward to seeing many of you out in the park and on the trails throughout the year.  We had a great start with about 70 people and 20 dogs enjoying a beautiful New Year’s Day for our “First Day Hike” up to Mundys Gap.  Our first Women’s Hike of 2014 also saw a record setting 35 ladies on January 5th as we set out on the Maze Trail!  We have many more hikes and programs coming to you over the course of the year; below, take a peek at the upcoming events through the end of March:

Mon., January 20:  11:00 a.m. MLK Day Volunteer Celebration – Potluck & Service Project
Saturday., February 1 :  “12 Hours of Old El Paso” - Mountain Bike Race
Sun., February 2:  7:00 a.m. – Peak Fitness Hike – Ron Coleman Trail (carpooling necessary)
Sun., February 9:  9:00 a.m. – Sweetheart Hike – Aztec Caves
Sat., February 22:  9:00 a.m. – Womens Only hike – Lower Sunset
Sat., March 1 : 7:30 a.m. “Green Tea at the Peak” – N. Franklin Peak
Sun., March 2:  9:00 a.m. “Bark in the Park” hike
Sat., March 15:  9:00 a.m.  St. Patty’s Beginner’s MTB ride
Sun., March 16:  8:00 a.m.  Jack Rabbit Foot Race
Thurs., March 20:  10:00 a.m. “Spring Fever Hike” - West Cottonwood Springs

Must have reservation to participate. For more information:  (915) 566-6441
or visit:  http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/franklin-mountains/park_events

WHAT TO BRING:

For Hikes:  Water, snacks, sturdy hiking shoes/boots, hiking stick, camera, and binoculars!
For Bike rides:  Functional mountain bike, cycling helmet, drinking water and eye protection (sunglasses). We highly recommend that each participant also bring flat repair materials (extra inner tube, plastic tire levers, handheld bicycle pump, etc.), snacks, cycling gloves, cycling shorts, sunscreen, and a backpack or hydration pack (i.e. Camelbak).

If you are interested in being added to the email list to receive the monthly park event flyers, please contact:  Adrianna.weickhardt@tpwd.texas.gov

The Franklin Mountains / Big Bend Connection

by Rick LoBello

Many of you are aware of the change.org petition I created in December to gather support for
convincing the National Park Service to stop plans to build a new Fossil Bone Exhibit in a largely
undeveloped area of the park.  I want to thank all of you for your help and if you have not signed
yet I have an Take Action Page set up at www.iloveparks.com.   Please check it out.  I also want to thank the El Paso Times and KFOX for running stories on this effort.  

I have never written about any connection between the Franklin Mountains and Big Bend and
now is as good a time as any. We are connected to the Big Bend region by many mountain ranges where animals such as mountain lions in the Franklins could very well be connected genetically to lions living in Big bend mountain ranges.  The same can be said about genetic connections to lions living in mountain ranges to the north, west, and south.  Other wide ranging animals such as raptors like the Golden Eagle could also have genetic conditions.  The Franklin Mountain desert ecology has many obvious plant connections as well. When we encourage our friends to visit Big Bend and get involved with conservation issues in the area, we are also encouraging people in El Paso to become active as conservation advocates. Therefore there is a Franklin Mountains Big Bend Connection.



We should be more involved with this area and encourage Big Bend conservation advocates to
support Franklin Mountain conservation efforts too.

Organizations like the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute (www.cdri.org) have encouraged
scientists and conservationists to work together in this region for years and the Department of the
Interior is working on implementing a new Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative in the
southwest that includes not only our area and the Bend Bend, but the entire desert region (http://www.usbr.gov/dlcc/).

2014 will be another challenging year for the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition.  I wish
everyone involved in FMWC all the best and would be happy to work with anyone who wants to
help improve the FMWC facebook presence and the website at www.franklinmountains.org.