Monday, July 21, 2014

Promote your Organization

The El Paso Chapter of the Native Plant Society of New Mexico is hosting the New Mexico State Meeting August 1 and 2 at Canutillo High School.

We would like to offer you an opportunity to promote your organization at our conference.
We would like to offer sister not for profit organizations a table and two chairs for sharing information about your organization. If you do not sell anything, there will be no charge for participating. If you sell anything, you will be charged $25.00 for your space.

Table attendants who register for the meeting will be able to attend conference sessions and enjoy meal and snack activities. Table attendants who do not register will not be able to attend sessions or participate in food functions.

Program information and registration materials are available at Click on Events for details.

For additional information, contact Jim Hastings at,, 915-240-7414 or Kathy Barton at, 915-592-1705.

The healing power of our mountains and what they mean to our veterans

by Rick LoBello

Soon after Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument was created by President Obama's use of the Antiquities Act, a blog post by Garett Reppenhagen, Rocky Mountain West
Coordinator of the Vet Voice Foundation reminded me of some comments I heard in Las Cruces.  Earlier this year Secretary of the Interior Salley Jewell came to meet with local folks and
stakeholders about the proposed national monument.  Many who spoke out at the public meeting were Veterans, and they reminded all of us of the healing power of mountains for soldiers
returning from the battlefield and all the stresses of adjusting back to civilian life. It was very
clear to me then and today that often times we do not think about how the mountains we want
to protect are perfect locales for fighting pain and mental stresses, not just for everyday folks,
but also for our Veterans.  Reppenhagen reminds all of us of this when he wrote “Veterans across America thank New Mexico Senators Udall and Heinrich for introducing legislation to help
call attention to this wondrous land, and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell for taking the time to
visit the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region and listening to the input of Las Cruces area

When I was growing up many of my uncles and my grandfather were Veterans of World Wars I, II and the Korean War.  When they returned home nearly all of them spent their weekends
roaming the mountains of Western New York State on camping trips and during the hunting and fishing seasons.   As I look back on that time I realize how important these mountains were to my family as they dealt with the everyday stresses of not only adjusting to civilian life, but also to
life in general.

Mountains have always been a source of healing in my own life and in to the lives of so many of
my friends.  Here in El Paso we must not forget that we have thousands of Veterans who have
recently returned from the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq.   They too need the healing
power of these mountains, not just in the Organs, but in the Franklin Mountains as well. 

When we talk to our friends and relatives and elected officials we should bring this point up to
them and remind them that working to protect our natural heritage is not only important to our
ecosystem, but also to the mental well-being of those who have fought for their country and
helped to protect our freedoms.  And let us not forget those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, they
have families here who need our mountains too.

Join the effort to preserve land around our mountains

Join the effort to preserve land and water, make living in El Paso more affordable and create more space for wildlife habitats and corridors and outdoors recreation.  The Franklin Mountains Conservation Petition Calls for Saving Land on both sides of the mountain. Anyone who is a registered voter residing in the City of El Paso can sign it. Be sure to put your complete birth date and fill in all spaces. You do not need to fill in the VUID (voter registration number). 

You can now go to any of these eight retail locations and find a copy of the petition to sign:

  • Chuck’s Bicycle Repair, 700 East Yandell Drive;
  • The Bicycle Company,3800 North Mesa Street;
  • Crazy Cat Cyclery University, 2625 North Mesa Street;
  • Crazy Cat Cyclery, 6625 Montana Avenue;
  • Crazy Cat Cyclery Redd Rock, 5650 N Desert Blvd # B;
  • Casa de Yoga, 2419 Stanton;
  • Reliance Outdoor Supply, 1060 Doniphan Park Circle;
  • Joe Vinny Bronsons Bohemian CafĂ©, 824 N. Piedras. 

We need at least 2,310 signatures, so every voice counts. We need your support for the future of our mountains!

The petition can also be found online here:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer Safety in the Franklin Mountains

by Adriana Weickhardt

The first week of June saw record breaking highs, reaching a peak at 109 degrees!  With temperatures soaring early in the season, it’s critical that people take all necessary precautions to keep themselves safe and healthy. 

The basic preparations that all hikers, bikers and nature enthusiasts should make are as follows:  Stay hydrated, wear proper eye and outwear protection, wear sunscreen, stay on trails, carry a flashlight, let others know what your plans are and make sure to check weather forecasts before your outings to avoid potential flash flooding. 

Before you take off on your adventures, make sure that you first let someone know where you are going and when you intend to return.  You’ve probably heard and read about Aron Ralston (or watched the movie about him – “127 Hours”) – his critical mistake was not telling anyone where he was going.  Have your plan of action, know which trails you’re taking, and make sure you stay on them; following the trails not only helps protect our fragile desert environment, but also helps keep you “found”.  And finally, amongst your other survival items you pack, a flashlight is essential – or could be.  You may have full intentions of arriving to your vehicle or home before dark, but intentions often times are thwarted by curiosity and intrigue to explore other trails and areas or by accidents.  It’s better to have your light source and not need it than the opposite.  

Monsoon season is just around the corner, typically beginning at the end of June and lasting through August.

"There are two easy ways to die in the desert: thirst and drowning"
                                      - Craig Childs, from the cover of The Secret Knowledge of Water

Your number one and most important item in your backpack is water.  Plan on taking “more than enough” water with you; there are no natural water sources found in the Franklin Mountains.  When you’ve consumed half of your supply, it’s time to turn back and make sure to keep extra water in your vehicle.  Don’t try to ration your water; water will only do you good if you drink it!

Though it seems counter intuitive, wearing long sleeves and long pants made of breathable material will keep you cooler and provide extra protection from the sun.  Some outdoor specific clothing is made with material that offers UV protection; however, it’s always wise to apply sunscreen no matter your clothing choice.
Often times, outdoor recreationalists don’t consider the chances of drowning as they’re playing in the desert during the summer – it seems like an oxymoron.  But flash flooding and drowning are real dangers in our desert southwest environment, especially during the summer and fall.  Sudden isolated thunderstorms can bring heavy rains that run off mountains into canyons and arroyos and can create walls of rushing water that bring with them debris, boulders, and mud.  It’s crucial to check the local forecast before heading out on your outdoor adventures!  If heavy rains do occur and the potential for flash flooding exists, head for high ground and wait for the skies to clear.  If you’re in a vehicle, don’t attempt to drive through flooded areas.
The park experiences its peak for mountain rescues during the summer season.  Most often the reason for the rescue is due to a lack of preparation on the part of the visitor – not enough water, inexperience with the terrain, and lack of consideration for the heat and weather. 

You can enjoy the mountains year round with modifications to behavior and preparedness for the changing seasons.  Early morning and evening times are optimum for a fully enjoyable summer outdoor experience.

Join us throughout the summer for our programs at the park:

Sat., July 5:  5:00 a.m. Peak Fitness Challenge – Ron Coleman Trail
Sat., July 12:  8:00 a.m. Nature Walk Trail Hike
Sun., July 13:  7:00 a.m. Intermediate Mountain Bike Ride
Sat., July 19:  7:00 a.m. Beginner’s Mountain Bike Ride
Sun., July 20:  9:00 a.m. West Cottonwood Springs Mine Tour
Sat., July 26:  8:00 a.m. Nature Walk Trail Hike

Sat., August 2:  7:00 a.m. - “Bark in the Park” hike
Sun., August 3:  9:00 a.m. West Cottonwood Springs Mine Tour
Fri., August 8:  8:00 a.m.  Nature Walk Trail Hike
Sat., August 9:  7:00 a.m. Beginner’s Mountain Bike Ride
Sat., August 16:  7:00 a.m. Women’s Beginner’s Hike
Sun., August 17: 7:00 a.m. Intermediate Mountain Bike Ride
Sat., August 23:  TBD Chihuahuan Desert Chili Challenge (Chili Cook Off)

“Celebration of Our Mountains”
(September through November)

Sept. 7 – 8:00 a.m. Nature Walk Trail
Sept 7 - 8:00 a.m. Women’s MTB Ride
Sat., September 13 & 14:  9:30 a.m. Texas Outdoor Family Campout
Sat., September 20:  9:00 a.m. 10th Annual Chihuahuan Desert Fiesta
Sun., September 21:  9:00 a.m. West Cottonwood Springs Mine Tour
Sun., September 21:  7:00 a.m. Intermediate Mountain Bike Ride

Oct. 4 - 8:00 a.m. Women’s MTB Ride (Beginner’s)
Oct. 5 – 7:00 a.m. Beginner’s Bike Ride
Oct. 11 and 12 – TBD Franklin Mountains State Park Volunteer Orientation – Campout
Oct. 25 - 8:00 a.m. Women’s MTB Workshop (Beginner’s)
Oct. 26 – 7:00 a.m. Intermediate Bike Ride
Oct. 31 – TBD Halloween Mine Tour

Nov 1. –  TBDHappy Tails n’ Happy Trails (Dog adoption fair and fun activities to do with your pooch)
Nov. 2 - 9:00 a.m. Women’s MTB Ride (Beginner’s)
Nov. 8 –  9:00 a.m. Beginner’s Bike Ride
Nov. 15 – 7:00 a.m. Peak Fitness Challenge Hike – North Franklin Peak
Nov. 16 – 9:00 a.m. Intermediate Bike Ride
Nov. 16 – 9:00 a.m. Nature Walk Trail
Nov. 22 – 9:00 a.m. Women’s Beginner’s Hike – Lower Sunset Trail
Nov. 27 – 9:00 a.m. Turkey Trail Trilogy (3 hikes, back to back)

Call (915) 566-6441 for more information and to make your reservations.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Palisades Trailhead - Findings from the 2nd Public Charrette

On February 18th, the Planning Division and Parks & Recreation Department held a second community meeting and design charrette to gain additional community feedback regarding public preferences for the design of a proposed trailhead that will serve the Palisades Park. The primary purposes of the meeting included:

  1. Sharing the results of the first public design charrette with the community held in late November;
  2. Presenting and obtaining public feedback on five new scenarios designed after the first community meeting; and
  3. Gauging public preference on the design and direction of public art to be incorporated into the site.

Over 50 meeting attendees participated in three exercises designed to fulfill these purposes and refine and provide greater detail on the information obtained at the first meeting. Findings from the second charrette reinforce many of the minimalist themes communicated during the first. Overall, those scenarios with the smallest footprint received the greatest amount of positive feedback, while amenities such as a cross-walk linking the Palisades Park trailhead to the Billy Rogers Arroyo Park, the provision of a slip-lane along Robinson and a gathering space at the trailhead’s entrance were viewed favorably. Adequate parking balanced by minimal intrusion into the park continued to be a concern with many participants observing that well-hidden on-site parking was a strength of many of the plans.

To view the full report and to learn more about this important issue visit:

Immerse Yourself in the Franklin Mountains: Become a volunteer.

The community activities, campouts and school field trips have been keeping your park rangers and volunteers busy both in the Franklin Mountains State Park and throughout the city this Spring.  It’s a great time of year to get involved with community programs through volunteerism and be a shining El Paso star.  You can find numerous ways to participate.

One way is by signing up as a volunteer with the Franklin Mountains State Park.  For example, some of our veteran and brand new volunteers have partnered with the rangers in conducting outreach programs, manning booths at events and providing programs for elementary students visiting the park.

These are just a few of the ways you can have an impact in your community through park volunteerism; search for opportunities at any of the three Texas State Parks in El Paso by visiting the following website:

Our 2014 FMSP Volunteer Orientation will be in July – Saturday, July 12th through Sunday, July 13th.  This will be the first FMSP volunteer orientation to offer a campout component, which is sure to be a lot of fun.  The Saturday morning portion of the orientation will be indoors; you’ll meet some of our staff, receive presentations on the history of the park, volunteer opportunities, and techniques and tips for effective interpretation.  Saturday afternoon will see the group at the Tom Mays Unit where we’ll take a hike to some of our popular areas in the park; we’ll then set up our tents, dine and relax to close the evening.  Sunday morning will start with a Dutch oven 101 course to prepare our breakfast, wilderness first aid presentations, demos on a couple of our popular school field trip programs, and a hike and service project.

Whether you are already a park volunteer or are just looking into the possibilities, make your plans to join us and send an email to: for more information.

New Petition Calls for Saving Land on Both Sides of the Mountain

by Jim Tolbert

Now ready for distribution and signatures is a new 2014 Initiative Petition. It reads:

     The undersigned ask that the El Paso City Council pass the following ordinance:

     The City of El Paso shall preserve, in its natural state and in perpetuity, all of the undeveloped   
     land owned by the City of El Paso (including that controlled and managed by the PSB) on the 
     western side of the Franklin Mountains that is north of Transmountain, east of the EPNG 
     Pipeline Road and south of the New Mexico/El Paso boundary; and shall also preserve, in its  
     natural state and in perpetuity, all of the undeveloped land owned by the City of El Paso 
     (including that controlled and managed by the PSB) on the eastern side of the Franklin 
     Mountains that is north of Transmountain, west of Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. and south of 
     the New Mexico/El Paso boundary. The City shall take all steps necessary to preserve all of this 
     land and to prevent it from being developed with either private development or major public 

Based on the total number of voters in the last city election (May 2013), a minimum of 2,310
signatures are required for the petition to be validated and taken up by City Council. Any person who is a registered voter in the City (not just the County) of El Paso may sign the petition. If City Council fails to pass the initiative as an ordinance, citizens may circulate and sign the same
petition and, if validated, that petition must be put on the ballot of the next city election for
approval by the voters of the City of El Paso, Texas.

Petitioners believe that preserving the land will alleviate the heavy tax burden placed on all
El Pasoans  because of sprawl.  Rather than paying for itself, unchecked sprawl increases city and school district expenses. Preserving land will also help El Paso conserve its most precious
resource: water. Preserving land will require El Paso to use smarter ways to develop - ways that will decrease our travel and energy expenses and improve our health and our neighborhoods.

The petition is available online at

If you would like to help El Paso become a healthier, happier place to live by gathering signatures, please contact Jim Tolbert at or 915-525-7364.