FRANKLIN MOUNTAINS NOTES
Newsletter of the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition
Next Meeting: September 21, 2005
The next meeting of the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition is Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. It takes place in Room 411 Burgess Hall on the UTEP campus. Burgess Hall is at the intersection of Sun Bowl Drive and University Ave. on the west side of the campus. Please be prompt. The building entrance locks automatically in the evenings. If you arrive late and no one is at the door, call 861-4361 and someone will come to let you in. For more information contact Scott Cutler (581-6071). WELCOME TO GUEST SPEAKER: CITY PLANNER CHUCK KOOSHIAN
CHIHUAHUAN DESERT FIESTA
Be sure to visit Franklin Mountains State Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, for the first-ever Chihuahuan Desert Fiesta. Sponsored by the Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition and Texas Parks and Wildlife, the fiesta will be a Lone Star Legacy event, which means entrance fees to the Park will be waived that day. The focus of the Fiesta will be on learning about the remarkable natural resources of our Northern Chihuahuan Desert. Exhibits, talks, tours and entertainment are all on the schedule. The event will be in the Tom Mays Unit of the Park (off Trans-Mountain Road, west side of Franklins) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Stop by the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition’s exhibit when you come!
STANTON STREET EXTENSION TRIMMED
On the west side of El Paso, there are two streets named Stanton Street separated by approximately 1.5 miles of un-roaded, upper-elevation lands. For years, City of El Paso transportation plans included a proposed connection between the two, the Stanton Street Extension. The only feasible way to build this road requires placing part of it within Franklin Mountains State Park, a move that would be damaging to the Park and incompatible with the Park’s management plan. At its August 9th meeting, the City Council voted unanimously to delete the southern part of the proposed extension -- the part that would pass through the Park -- from the City’s 2025 Proposed Thoroughfare System. Still on the books, the northern part of the extension, which would extend Stanton south from near Festival to the proposed Arterial 1. Arterial 1 includes a proposed tunnel through the Franklin Mountains.
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.
Coalition Officers ---- 2005
Secretary: Nora Butler 915-755-0671
Treasurer: Scott Cutler 915-581-6071
Newsletter: Kathy McConaghie 915-227-5330
CITY ARROYO INVENTORY:
WORK IN PROGRESS
Growing public interest in preserving El Paso’s arroyos has convinced city leaders to begin studying how natural arroyos can be preserved as part of a citywide open space plan.
As a first step, the city’s Department of Planning, Research and Development is developing an inventory of Franklin Mountain arroyos to help evaluate them for potential preservation. Staff members and volunteers are collecting information on the physical, biological and economic characteristics of hundreds of intermittent stream beds and the arroyos or canyons they have formed. City Planner Chuck Kooshian has been working on the project for several months and has a lot of information to share with the public. He will make a presentation to the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition at the upcoming meeting of September 21st.
Computer-generated 3-D topographic maps, satellite imagery of vegetation cover, land ownership maps and on-the-ground photographs are some of the tools being used in compiling the inventory. Once all the data is gathered, it will be used to generate a set of criteria to determine which arroyos will be preserved. These criteria in turn will guide the creation of an overall open space plan, a process which should be open to public input.
Arroyos are a valuable part of the natural habitat of the Franklin Mountains. The water, shade and protection they offer make them the preferred home of many animal species and plant communities. Although urban development occasionally spares arroyos, the recent trend has been simply to fill them in. Current regulations permit filling if pipes or channels are built to accommodate the storm water runoff, as is often the case.
COME AND LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS IMPORTANT ISSUE ON 9/21
PARK FUNDING WOES CONTINUE
The big news on the state-parks front in recent weeks was the decision by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at its August 25 meeting to reject a proposal to sell some 46,000 acres in Big Bend Ranch State Park to a Houston businessman. Commissioner Robert Brown of El Paso made the motion to reject the sale. Good news, but as long as Texas state parks remain woefully underfunded, we can expect more proposals to downsize the state park system to surface. At the same meeting, the Commission approved conveying the 217-acre Bright Leaf State Natural Area in Austin to either the Austin Community Foundation, the Nature Conservancy or another appropriate entity.
The Legislative Budget Board (LBB), a permanent joint committee of the Texas Legislature, meets several times each year to consider possible adjustments to the state budget. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has submitted a supplemental budget request to the LBB for $2 million/year for each of the next 2 years. If the request is not granted, the TPWD has advised the LBB it will lay off 80 employees, including 40 from the Parks Division. There are reports that 4 - 9 state parks would have to be closed to public access due to lack of staff to operate them. The LBB is scheduled to act on this request soon.
Members of the LBB include Lt. Governor David Dewhurst; State Representatives Tom Craddick , Jim Pitts, Vilma Luna, James Keffer and Fred Hill; and State Senators Steve Ogden, Robert Duncan, John Whitmire, and Judith Zaffirini - PLEASE CONSIDER CONTACTING THE MEMBERS PRIOR TO SEPTEMBER 20 CONCERNING THIS VITAL FUNDING - go to Texas Legislature Online at http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/ for each LBB member’s contact information and home page e-mail links.
The Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition
Borderland Mountain Bike Association - - Chihuahuan Desert Wildlife Rescue - - El Paso Archeological Society - - El Paso Cactus and Rock Club - - El Paso Native Plant Society - - El Paso Regional Group of the Sierra Club - - El Paso/Trans-Pecos Audubon Society - - El Paso Wilderness Preservation Committee - - El Paso Women’s Political Caucus - - Friends of the Franklins - - League of Women Voters of El Paso - - Mesilla Valley Audubon Society - - Mountain Park Community Association - - Photography Enthusiasts of El Paso - - Southern New Mexico Group of the Sierra Club
VISIT OUR WEBSITE AT http://iloveparks.com/fmwc/issues.htm