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Home | Tag Archives: Franklin Mountains

Tag Archives: Franklin Mountains

El Paso Preservation and Conservation Committee Seeking Comments on Planning Document

The Preservation and Conservation Plan Committee is asking residents to chime in on a report dealing with the plan for preservation of parts of the Franklin Mountains in and around the city.

In response to a “We the People” petition that gathered 6,252 signatures supporting the preservation of public lands in northwestern and northeastern portions of the Franklin Mountains, a Preservation and Conservation Plan Committee was established by the Public Service Board (PSB) in late 2015.

Via a news release officials shared that the purpose of the committee was to “establish conservation standards for development and for preservation of PSB managed lands adjacent the mountains and Franklin Mountains State Park.”

The committee was made up of a “diverse mix of community members and backgrounds, all with the goal of ensuring a high quality of life for present and future generations.”  A report was completed and presented to the PSB earlier this year and is now ready for public review.

Officials with the committee say it contains scientific data to assist in decision making about the existing resources managed by El Paso Water Utilities (EPWU) and in our region by the City of El Paso as well as organizations, government agencies, individuals, developers and business owners.

The proposed map included in the report (page 3 and included below) identifies lands to be preserved with no disturbances, specific areas to have very limited disturbance, master planned land in the past, and where conservation development may take place.

Conservation development is working with the land keeping the terrain, trails water flow, and wildlife corridors in mind.

To read the report in full and provide comments via a survey, residents can visit the website.  The committee will receive public comments via a survey link until November 30, 2018. Replies may also be mailed to:

The Frontera Land Alliance

3800 N. Mesa St., A2-258,

El Paso, Texas 79902.

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Frontera, Community Foundation Enter Partnership in Fund for Conservation

Thursday morning, the Frontera Land Alliance (Frontera) announced the establishment of the Frontera Land Alliance Endowment Fund at the El Paso Community Foundation.

The newly-established Fund will help Frontera support a growing number of projects and programs that maximize its impact on the conservation of El Paso’s water, land and wildlife.

Via a news release, officials with Frontera stated, “With sustained financial support, Frontera can do an even better job of making sure our region’s future generations have pristine open space to treasure and enjoy forever…Frontera believes that everyone should have the ability to live in a healthy community and enjoy a connection with nature.”

Founded in 2004, when community members realized there was an urgent need to preserve some of the important remaining natural and working lands in El Paso and southern New Mexico, Frontera has developed the knowledge and expertise to provide guidance to land owners wanting to maintain the character of their land.

“When land trusts include more people, more lives are improved and, in turn, broader support for conservation is generated. The U.S. population is expected to grow by 100 million people over the next 50 years. This means an ever-increasing pressure to develop more land. Our population is also becoming more diverse which means diverse constituents must be served to stay relevant. In addition to demographic changes, many Americans of all backgrounds are growing up without a strong connection to nature, and that can negatively impact action towards preservation and conservation,” Frontera officials added.

The El Paso Community Foundation was established in 1977 to foster philanthropy and provide a long term endowment to address the unique opportunities and challenges of the El Paso, southern New Mexico and Ciudad Juárez region.

Additionally, the foundation provides a wide-range of philanthropic services in the region as a grant maker, convener and leadership organization to the community. Since its founding, the Foundation has granted just under $190 million to the community.

Frontera is the only nationally-accredited 501(c)3 land trust in the El Paso area.

City to Preserve 366 Acres Near Castner Range

During Tuesday’s meeting, El Paso City Council voted to spend $3.5 million to acquire 366 acres of open space in Northeast El Paso near Castner Range.

Council’s vote represents the largest open space land acquisition by the City of El Paso.

“Preserving open space at the foothills of our majestic Franklin Mountains is an important investment in our future. It allows our beautiful desert environment to remain in its natural state for scenic and recreational purposes, and helps to balance land preservation and development,” Mayor Dee Margo said.

The City negotiated a total acquisition price of $3.5 million for approximate 280 acres and the donation of approximately 72 acres valued at $1.3 million. The remaining approximate 14 acres are to be dedicated to the City through a plat.

Funding for the land acquisition is a combination of monies approved by voters in 2012 for the preservation and stewardship of El Paso’s natural areas for the public and wildlife, and Public Service Board Dual Purpose Fund.

“Our aggressive pursuit of conservation opportunities is another example of the progress we have made in executing initiatives our voters have said are important to them,” City Manager Tommy Gonzalez said. “Since the election, we have negotiated the largest open space land acquisition in the City’s history, completed more than 60 bond projects and are getting dozens more projects shovel ready.”

Schedule for ‘Celebration of our Mountains’ Released

El Pasoan’s love their mountains and this year’s Celebration of our Mountains schedule promises to bring outdoor lovers together from across the community.

Outdoor events like this are very important to the city’s quality of life by offering numerous opportunities for people to immerse themselves in nature.  Getting outside in the natural world offers many understated health benefits for adults and children alike including improving one’s physicalmental, and for some – even spiritual – well being.

Many people are amazed to discover that the desert and mountains are full of wildlife and plant species that often go unseen or out of sight and mind as people zoom through the desert on the highway system.

Natural connection opportunities over the next few months include mountain biking, astronomy talks, and history tours including a trip to an old mining ghost town.  And for those who are looking for a new way to loosen up and relax in a 100% natural setting, there is an event called Yoga on the Rocks

Celebration of our Mountains this year is featuring El Paso Water Utilities and El Paso Electric science and technology field trips.

Most events are held at Franklin Mountains State Park, Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site, Guadalupe Mountains National Park or Leasburg State Park in southern New Mexico.

Check out the event’s website at celebmtns.org for this year’s extensive schedule of hikes, bird walks and field trips to learn about and connect with the biodiversity of the Chihuahuan Desert right here in El Paso’s big backyard.

Local Volcanic Crater is Test Bed for Future Space Exploration

Residents in West Texas and Southern New Mexico may not be aware of a massive volcanic crater in the area, but Kilbourne Hole is no secret to geologists and NASA researchers from around the nation. The National Natural Landmark is about 30 miles west of the Franklin Mountains and is known as a maar volcano.

“About 24,000 years ago, there was lava, magma that came up from deep within the Earth, and it hit shallow groundwater in the aquifer that was here,” explained Jose Hurtado, Ph.D., professor of geological sciences. “It was a lot wetter back then. That water turned to steam and that steam built up immense pressure, and that pressure was released in a massive explosion that produced Kilbourne Hole. The explosion also threw out pulverized material exposed in layers.”

Mother Nature’s unique imprint in the middle of the desert is what draws Hurtado and other researchers to the massive pit for exploration and research. The location has many rare minerals remaining, including olivine glass granules.

While he usually takes his students on the venture, Hurtado recently guided a group of NASA scientists and engineers, as well as a group of journalists, on a weeklong expedition.

The group is part of the RIS4E program – Remote, In Situ, and Synchrotron Studies for Science and Exploration (RIS4E) – and was in the area to explore different techniques for merging science and space exploration.

“This team brings together a diverse group of scientists and engineers to explore how portable instruments could be used by astronauts in the future,” said Jacob Bleacher, research scientist with the NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center. “The end goal is for us to find the problems with using the instruments here, in an environment where we can come back and test them again. We would like to make sure that the problems don’t come up on Mars or the moon when the astronauts are there.”

The fieldwork had been conducted on the big island of Hawaii, but for the next couple of years, it will be at Kilbourne Hole and nearby small shield volcano Aden Crater.

“This location is a very important place,” Bleacher said. “Analogs, or sites that are similar to what we expect to see on other planets, are a very fundamental part of these test runs for humans going somewhere else in the solar system. UTEP is ideally located near the Potrillo volcanic field, which is where Kilbourne Hole is located. This volcanic field as a whole is ideal to look at because most of the other places we are looking at exploring, like the moon and Mars, they’re very volcanic dominated … So understanding processes that can be studied firsthand here is very important to us.”

NASA Astronaut Barry “Butch” E. Wilmore, a U.S. Navy captain, knows firsthand how important research and testing are to space missions.

“You have to have procedures in place, systems in place, equipment in place ready to go do those things,” Wilmore said. “You can’t just fire that up at the last minute. Even during Apollo it was decades prior that they were doing preparations for what eventually took place on the moon in the late ‘60s, early ‘70s, and that’s exactly what we are doing now: getting prepared for what could happen decades from now.”

To date, Wilmore has logged 178 days in space and has completed four space walks. He completed his first flight as pilot on STS-129, the final space shuttle crew rotation flight to or from the space station; served as flight engineer aboard the International Space Station for Expedition 41 and then as commander of Expedition 42. He was on the ground for the research at Kilbourne Hole.

“I think the first time I saw it, I thought about landing and we picked a good spot, just from the visual of it,” Wilmore recalled about his first impression of the crater. “There are so many different layers. It’s very interesting to see places like this and then come in here and assess how it all got here.”

According to the Bureau of Land Management, Kilbourne Hole measures 1.7 miles long by well over a mile across, and is hundreds of feet deep. Wilmore and the team used various parts of the crater for testing and simulations. The astronaut said it is important to have a diverse group that includes students.

“You don’t have a small group of people do great things, it takes a nation,” he said. “Having these students and some journalists out here – it’s a training ground for them to do what they are passionate about. The thought of space travel has inspired us for generations and it does these young folks as well.”

Six of Hurtado’s students assisted with the NASA project. They helped guide members and observed and aided the geology expert with his assignment of flying a drone to collect data.

“I think this is a great opportunity for students to get involved in research like this, make connections and overall get inspired to be part of future exploration,” Hurtado said.

It was the fourth visit to Kilbourne Hole for UTEP doctoral candidate in forensic geology Valeria Martinez, but her first time working alongside NASA scientists and an astronaut.

“To see the similarities [with Mars and the moon], it’s what makes every scientist excited,” she said. “It’s not just a hole, it’s a crater and you can see the science behind it.”

While there is no question the quest was exciting, Martinez said fieldwork is critical for students.

“You can read about it, you can know it theoretically, but you have to be hands-on and see it for yourself,” she said. “You need the field geology in order for students to understand what they’re seeing, what they’re reading, so they can connect the dots.”

Professor Timothy Glotch, Ph.D., of Stony Brook University leads the RIS4E team with the assistance of Darby Dyer, Ph.D., from Mount Holyoke College. Multiple project collaborators involved come from across the nation with diverse backgrounds and strengths. The program is one of nine nodes of NASA’s Solar System Exploration and Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI). Read more about SSERVI online.

Author: Lauren Macias-Cervantes – UTEP Communications

JROTC Cadets Demonstrate Orienteering Skills

Franklin Mountains State Park is the go-to destination for El Pasoans wanting to explore the 27,000 acres of land and over 100 miles of trails.

Last weekend, 154 EPISD Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) cadets put their navigational skills to the test at one of the park’s canyons as part of the District’s Fall JROTC Orienteering Meet.

news2_2594_m“The meet is an important training event because it allows Army, Air Force and Marine cadets the opportunity to practice what they have learned in the classroom,” said Victor Diaz, EPISD Director of Army Instruction/JROTC Facilitator.

Instructors show cadets how to identify terrain features, such as hills, draws and ridges, on a map and how to locate them on the actual terrain.

The cadets then use a map and compass to navigate specified points on the novice and advanced courses through the mountain terrain over the span of a few hours, with the opportunity to earn awards as a team or individually.

The awards are as follows:

 

Team Awards
1st Place – Burges HS
2nd Place – Irvin HS
3rd Place – Austin HS

Individual Awards

Advanced Category
Male
1st Place – Sergio Baez (Jefferson)
2nd Place Saul Gutierrez (Irvin)
3rd Place – Hiovan Moreno (Andress)

Female
1st Place – Natalie Jimenez (Burges)
2nd Place – Ivette Alcantar (Burges)
3rd Place – Leonor Jimenez (Burges)

Novice Category
Male
1st Place- Jared Espino (Coronado)
2nd Place- Carlos Loeza (Chapin)
3rd Place – Isaac Kanter (Austin)

Female
1st Place – Yvette Rodriguez (Coronado)
2nd Place – Shaliah Doakes (Burges)
3rd Place – Taylor Wood (Austin)

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