Thursday, May 24, 2012
Next Meeting: WEDNESDAY, May 30, 2012
MEETING LOCATION: Our meeting will be held at The Garden Center, Memorial Park, 3105 Grant St. from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
CASTNER RANGE, by Scott Cutler
As you are all probably aware by now, a press conference was held on Saturday, May 12, to announce that language in the 2012 Defense Authorization Bill supporting the transfer of Castner Range to the State Park had passed out of the House Armed Services sub-committee. While many may have seen this event as an attempt at political one-ups-manship, from the standpoint of preserving Castner Range it is a huge step forward. While the language in the bill could have been stronger, the bill clearly contained language that supported and advanced what FMWC has worked towards for decades.
As the President of the Coalition, I was asked to say a few words during the ceremony. Cognizant of the fact that as a non-profit 501C3 we cannot endorse any candidate, I focused my statements on the importance of this issue and the hopes of all supporters of Castner Range that the bill will pass with the conveyance language still in place. Below is a copy of what I read at the event.
The Coalition will continue to support any appropriate measures that move us towards our goal of protecting Castner Range forever. This will be done in a non-partisan way. Your continued support of our efforts will show all officials that there is broad-based community support to keep Castner Range the magnificent natural jewel we all treasure.
For over 30 years since the Franklin Mountains State Park came into being the citizens of El Paso have hoped for the day when the original vision of the Park would be fulfilled with the inclusion of Castner Range.
That is now one giant step closer to becoming a reality as the House Armed Services Sub-committee has approved the 2013 Defense Authorization Bill which includes language paving the way for Castner Range to be conveyed to Texas Parks and Wildlife's Franklin Mountains State Park.
There have been many Federal, State, County and City officials who have stood up and supported the effort to preserve Castner Range in its natural state and we are thankful to them all.
Fort Bliss is to be commended for their tireless efforts to protect the public from UXOs through their stewardship of the Range resulting in as pristine a natural area as one could hope for in a major metropolitan area.
And certainly the voice of the citizens of El Paso has been heard loud and clear through petition drives, public forums and attendance at the annual Franklin Mountains Poppies Preservation Festivals that they want Castner Range protected and added to the State Park.
So, it will be with great anticipation and hope that El Pasoans will watch the 2013 Defense Authorization Bill wend its way through Congress to final approval with the Castner Range conveyance language remaining intact.
The final language of the Castner Range provisions (section 2844) in the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act are on pages 803-806 of the bill as passed by the Armed Services Committee. You can read it all HERE
TRANSMOUNTAIN SCENIC CORRIDOR
From Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter El Paso Group
For over a year now most of your Executive Committee’s energy has gone into fighting Texas Department of Transportation’s overblown plan for Transmountain Road.
We regard the planned expansion as the linchpin that will release a flood of development on the western slopes of our beloved Franklin Mountains, labeling El Paso forever as a second-rate city that values the short-term gains of sprawl over respect for our natural heritage. We have a vision for El Paso that would put us in a class with Tucson or Boulder, or even Austin!
First, we hired Texas’ foremost environmental law firm, Lowerre, Frederick, Perales, Allmon and Rockwell, for an unsuccessful protest of the TxDot plan where we asked for a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) instead of their “quick and dirty” Environmental Analysis. This is the same firm that brought our ASARCO suit to a successful end. We do not often seek legal help. Then, we filed suit against TxDot and the Federal Highway Administration in hopes of forcing that EIS. In the meantime, the contractor has begun work down by I-10. Please stay tuned for future updates.
CALLING ALL VOLUNTEERS! by Richard Teschner and Scott Cutler
It’s that time of the year again! The FMWC (and the Frontera Land Alliance) Ardovino’s Desert Crossing Farmers’ Market display tables and the need for volunteers!
Did you volunteer last year? If so, a trillion dollars’ worth of thanks to all of you and yours. Now can we count on you again? As for those who were dangerously derelict in their FMWC/Frontera Duties, can we count on you THIS time around? Richard Teschner has e-mailed the sign-in sheet to all the folks who were on our last year’s list. Have you received it? If so, PLEASE SIGN UP! Have you not received it (because, perhaps, your name was not on it)? If that is the case, then just e-mail Richard— email@example.com —and he’ll zap it on off to you.
Following is the Farmers’ Market instruction sheet that Scott Cutler, Judy Ackerman and Richard wrote up. It tells you all you need to know.
Those who are new to the ADCFM game have asked: What exactly do we do out there? Here is a little list of instructions that may answer most of your questions.
1. Arrive at the ADCFM no later than 6:45 a.m. on the Saturday in question. The booths are located in ADC’s south parking lot, between the restaurant area and the railroad tracks. Many booths are already up and running at that hour. If possible, park alongside the shrubs and bushes on the EAST side of the south parking lot, which is considerably closer to the FMWC/Frontera tables than is the north parking lot. This makes a difference when transporting the FMWC/Frontera materials from your car to the tables.
2. The FMWC/Frontera tables occupy a very visible location at the very northern end of the ADCFM area. The tables are just to the right as you enter that area. Our tables are just to the east of Richard Silva’s massage chair. (Most of you already know Richard.)
3. The materials in your possession will be: (a) two large folding triptychs bearing photos and text that explains what the FMWC and the Frontera Land Alliance are all about; (b) the Frontera banner (in a long triangular cardboard container) and the FMWC banner; (c) a box full of Albertsons Community Cards; (d) a box full of Frontera brochures; (e) a green canvas shopping bag containing (i) a plastic pitcher where shoppers can leave small change or dollar bills as donations to the FMWC, to Frontera, or to both, (ii) the sign-up sheets for both the FMWC and Frontera, (iii) bungee cords, (iv) FMWC petitions and the like. Scott Cutler (President, FMWC; 581.6071; 112 Colina Alta, 79912 ScottMCutler@sbcglobal.net ) has kindly volunteered to store these materials in between Saturdays. Pick them up at his home, or make your own arrangements with the previous Saturday’s volunteer to pick them up from him or her.
4. Attach the banners to the posts alongside the two tables. Rubberized metallic cords plus bungee cords enable you to do so.
5. Set up the two triptychs, the FMWC materials, the Frontera brochures, the Albertsons Community Cards, the plastic pitcher, the sign-up sheets, the petitions, etc., on the two tables.
6. Sit in one of the two chairs and wait for the first groups of customers to show up. And show up they will, typically by 7 a.m. You may want to stand in FRONT of the tables, enticing folks to drop by, talk, and read the materials. Or you may want to spend some of the time sitting and the rest of the time standing. Drinks and food can be purchased at the trailer that’s located at the western end of the ADCFM parking lot. Restrooms are located inside Sunset Hall (where the Taste of Frontera is held) and also inside the restaurant proper.
7. By 11:45 a.m. the crowds begin to thin out. Most people actually go to the ADCFM to buy produce, which gets very picked over by 11 a.m. Around 11:45 you can begin to think in terms of packing up and later shutting down. Be sure you pack up everything that you brought and then carry it back to your car. (“Leave nothing behind, save footprints [and dollars].”)
Hope to see you at the Farmers’ Market!!!
Vista Del Aguila National Wildlife Refuge Proposed for El Paso, Hudspeth and Culberson Counties
Effort to create the first National Wildlife Refuge in West Texas will help meet the growing demand for access to lands to experience nature. The Southwest Region of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW) is proposing a new National Wildlife Refuge in the Trans-Pecos region of far west Texas near Sierra Blanca and Van Horn, Texas. Support for the effort is growing where members of local and regional conservation organizations including the El Paso Chapter of the Sierra Club are getting behind the proposal. Individuals and organizations are encouraged to offer their support by contacting Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, Southwest Regional Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service by email at RDTuggle@fws.gov. The proposed National Wildlife Refuge would be a USFW contribution to a multi-agency/multi-landowner conservation partnership in the Trans Pecos and would support coordinated efforts of resource management activities through strategic landscape- level conservation planning within the northern Chihuahuan Desert ecoregion. In 2010 the USFW signed on to a Memorandum of Understanding supporting a new Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative and President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative. The MOU between the USFW, U.S. National Park Service (NPS), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is collaborative effort benefiting research and management activities of the natural and cultural resources in the Rio Grande Basin and Chihuahuan Desert of the Trans-Pecos region.
The establishment of a refuge in the Eagle Mountains of the Trans-Pecos is a proactive conservation endeavor aimed at strategically preserving a representative example of the Chihuahuan Desert ecoregion currently underrepresented within the National Wildlife Refuge System. The entire Chihuahuan Desert ecoregion consists of approximately 148 million acres. The U.S. portion consists of approximately 38.5 million acres within the states of Texas (23.6 million acres) and New Mexico (14.9 million). Currently, less than I percent (or approximately 281,000 acres) of Chihuahuan Desert habitat is protected within the National Wildlife Refuge System, solely on refuges in New Mexico. To learn more about how you can get involved in the effort contact Rick LoBello at firstname.lastname@example.org
During the 1970s, the Service attempted to establish a refuge in the Trans-Pecos, but was unsuccessful. Since the creation of Big Bend National Park in 1944, unified landowners have opposed and prevented the establishment of additional federal lands within this region. The majority of the Trans-Pecos remains in private ownership in the form of relatively large ranches. However, the profile of the typical landowner in Texas is changing. The large ranch tradition is giving way to subdivided properties allowing more landowners to own smaller parcels. Increased development and population growth in the Trans-Pecos, especially near urban areas, is reducing large-scale areas of biologically sustainable habitats and creating additional habitat fragmentation. The City of EI Paso, the nation’s largest border city, is experiencing continued development and population growth. In addition, the Fort Bliss Army Air Base located in EI Paso, will experience an increase of about 20,000 soldiers along with their families in 2011 due to base realignments. Across the border from EI Paso along the Rio Grande, is Juarez, Mexico, a city of approximately 1.5 million people. It too, continues to experience unusually rapid growth in population.
Given the growth and population trend in the bi-national metropolitan cities of EI Paso-Juarez and the surrounding communities of west Texas, pressure continues to be placed on the Chihuahuan Desert ecosystem and its limited resources. In a state where 80 percent of the population lives in urban areas, there is a growing demand for access to lands to experience nature. In addition, there is a need to provide more opportunities for outdoor recreation near major population centers and adequate conservation of the state's natural regions and cultural heritage.
The establishment of the first Refuge within the vast expanse of the Trans-Pecos would serve the following purposes: I ) reduce ongoing habitat fragmentation by protecting a large expanse of the Chihuahuan Desert not currently represented in the Trans-Pecos within the National Wildlife Refuge System; 2) provide an area within proximity to a metropolitan center for the public to engage in positive outdoor experiences and; 3) in collaboration with other stakeholders, provide a link to existing conservation areas to preserve the biological diversity within the Chihuahuan Desert. Conservation and heritage education, particularly for the next generation, is vital to the future.
Establishing a refuge within the core of the northern Chihuahuan Desert would not only protect one of the natural treasures of Texas, but preserve the cultural heritage of the region.
Source – from Preliminary Project Proposal: Vista Del Aguila National Wildife Refuge, El Paso, Hudspeth and Culberson Counties, Texas. US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Refuge System, Southwest Region, April, 2011
MARK YOUR CALENDARS!
El Paso Museum of Archaeology
June 2012 Programs
June 12 to 15 for children 7 to 9 years
June 26 to 29 for children 10 to 12 years
$55 museum members; $70.00 non-members
Call 915-755-4332 for information and registration form
Rainwater Harvesting: Weathering the Drought
A Master Gardeners Class, Free and Open to the Public
Sat. June 9, 10:00 am: Virginia Morris, a Master Gardener, shows you how to have water through the drought with rainwater harvesting in this PowerPoint illustrated talk. You’ll learn how to capture, store and use harvested rainwater which can result in a lower water bill.
Transmountain Road Clean Up with Master Gardeners and Naturalists Sat. June 9, 7:55 to 9:30 am, Open to the Public Call 915-525-7723 for directions and information
Sun and Rain: Rock Art Images of New Mexico and Sweden Sat. June 9, 2:00 pm, Free Admission: Margaret Berrier presents a myriad of photos to compare the landscape and rock art images of New Mexico and Sweden and the methods and challenges of recording them using in this PowerPoint illustrated talk.
Exploring the Music of the Americas, A Family Workshop by the musical group Ceiba,Sat., June 16, 2:00 to 4:00 pm, Free Admission: Ceiba invites families with children age six years and up are to participate in a creative, interactive exploration of live music and art inspired by ancient and modern Latin America from México to the Andes led by the El Paso musical group Ceiba.
El Paso Archaeological Society Program
Sun. June 17, 2:00 pm, Free Admission
El Paso Museum of Archaeology, 4301 Transmountain Road, El Paso Texas 79924; 915-755-4332; www.elpasotexas.gov/arch_mus
Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition BOARD
President: Scott Cutler
Vice President: Jane Fowler
Secretary: Judy Ackerman
Treasurer: Pat White
At Large Members: Raul Amaya and Nick Havlik
LONE STAR LEGACY
You can make a lasting contribution to the future of Franklin Mountains State Park with your tax-deductible donation to the Lone Star Legacy Endowment Fund. Checks, payable to “Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation”, can be sent to: Lone Star Legacy Endowment Fund, c/o Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, P.O. Box 191207, Dallas, TX, 75219. Mark your donation to the endowment fund for Franklin Mountains State Park.