Easy ways you can help parks and related conservation efforts
El Paso Conservation Efforts
1. Franklin and Organ Mountains Conservation Cooperative. A newly formed Franklin/Organ Mountains Conservation Cooperative will champion community efforts to develop a landscape conservation plan that helps identify lands for population growth and development while protecting components of the landscape that contribute to healthy ecosystem functions. Rick LoBello, Education Curator, City of El Paso Zoo, states: “A trans-boundary process involving all stakeholders, both public and private, to promote wildlife and habitat conservation is important to protecting the Franklin Mountains region including adjoining mountain ranges. This effort to conserve the biodiversity and participatory sustainable management of natural resources will help to ensure the desert ecosystem.”Like the New Conservation Cooperative Page NOW. Download and read the Franklin Organ Mountains Conservation Cooperative White Paper.
2. Help save desert lands surrounding Franklin Mountains State Park. 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 roadways.”Help collect signatures on the petition or go and sign it at one of the listed petition locations.
3. EL PASO ZOO and Tesso Nilo National Park Sumatra, Indonesia. The palm oil industry is out of control in Southeast Asia and numerous national parks and endangered wildlife are suffuring greatly. Download the free El Paso Zoo Palm Oil Guide and Scanner and learn more about how you can help protect elephants at Tesso Nilo National Park plus Sumatran tigers and other endangered species on the island.Download the free app now!
4. Help save the Castner Range area of the Franklin Mountains in Northeast El Paso. The Frontera Land Alliance, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition have teamed up using grant funds to produce a new video by Jackson Pope to assist in conserving Castner Range. All involved hope to preserve the natural areas, wildlife corridors and natural springs that occur on Castner Range, Fort Bliss. The Castner Range Conservation Report is available! This 104-page study was prepared for the Castner Conservation Conveyance Committee ("4-C's") by SONRI Inc., of Boerne, TX and CALIBRE Systems, Inc. of Alexandria, VA with funding from a $300,000 grant obtained with the assistance of El Paso's Congressman Silvestre Reyes and administered through the Department of Defense's Office of Economic Adjustment.”Learn more and Take Action.
El Paso conservation groups launch new campaign to save desert wildlife habitat - Conservation groups in El Paso say that preserving wildlife habitat on both sides of the Franklin Mountains will benefit El Paso in several ways: preservation will help us sustain the scarce resource of water - an effort which includes all El Pasoans not just those living closer to the mountains; continued enjoyment of hiking and biking trails already in existence and utilized by the public; improvement of our quality of life especially as El Paso seeks to reach its goal of decreasing obesity and diabetes; protecting wildlife and making sure that they have adequate habitat and range in order to survive; and, ensuring that millions of dollars annually will come into El Paso through ecotourism as more and more people enjoy mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking and other recreational activities in our mountains and the surrounding region. More
Regional Conservation Efforts
1. Friends of the Proposed Big Bend - Rio Bravo International Park In 2010, President Obama and President Calderón announced that both the U.S. and Mexico would work jointly in leading the development of an Action Plan for the Big Bend/Rio Bravo Protected Area. We need our representatives in Congress and the Senate to pass legislation in concert with the government of Mexico creating the international park for the purpose of and the need to promote the long-term protection of the region's fascinating flora and fauna.
The establishment of the international park would not require new international bridges and crossings or that new lands be acquired. Current land-management practices in both countries would not have to change.
The giant park would help both countries better address key issues such as protection water and air quality, control of invasive species, and management of wildland fire.
The park would become a permanent monument and symbol of peace between the U.S. and Mexico, one that will celebrate the friendship between the two countries and be a meeting ground where the people of both countries and citizens from all parts of the world could come together to learn about each other's culture while coming to better understand the natural world that they all share.”Sign up for email news updates.
You or your business can join ILoveParks.com as a partner in helping to promote these and other conservation education efforts by making a donation of any size.
Join Friends of Big Bend Rio Bravo International Park Take Action Network
ILoveParks.com has launched a new educational and political initiative to help establish the proposed Big Bend Rio Bravo International Park. To sign up simply
subscribe to our email list to learn more about how you and your friends can help with this important international conservation effort.
(December 28, 2014) On May 23, 2014, National Park Service Intermountain Regional Director Sue E. Masica approved a Big Bend National Park finding on how building a new Fossil Discovery Exhibit in the Tornillo Flat area of the park would have no significant impact. Not so fast say wilderness and national park advocates who spoke out against the project on a
change.org petition. Many comments on the proposal came in from El Paso, the largest city near the park, and other Texas cities and areas of the country including California, New Mexico, Wisconsin and Oklahoma. Marshall Carter-Tripp, past Director of UTEP's Centennial Museum in El Paso said “A smart-phone trail could be constructed for very little, and would have only a tiny portion of the impact that this huge display will have. No one is impressed by fake fossils anymore! We go to Big Bend to get away from our over-built world. Please leave Big Bend as it is.”
Diane Devine, wife of former Park Ranger Bob Devine and a former teacher at San Vicente School at Panther Junction Park Headquarters, stated that “BBNP already has visitor centers capable of housing displays; current staffing patterns will be stressed to cover additional exhibits, but lack of staffing could create safety issues. Have use statistics justified a need for a new exhibit?”
Mark Kirtley who worked as a volunteer at Persimmon Gap Visitor Center for many years summed up much of the opposition to the exhibit when he said “I've listened to thousands of visitors talk about why they love Big Bend. They often speak of a peace engendered by the wide-open spaces, a quality that the Park Service normally fiercely protects and a quality that buildings impact. Driving the gravel Old Ore Road or even the paved park road from Persimmon Gap to Panther Junction can feel like paradise, but a large exhibit at Fossil Bone, even a lovely one, would somewhat spoil the experience. Doesn't the Organic Act mandate that we preserve the scenery? And cannot education at a national park occur without compromising its beauty? Visitors do like wayside exhibits, but my impression is that they prefer the intimate and personal feel of the small ones, like the one at Anna Hanford’s grave.”
Many people who have fought against development project proposals in the park in the past believe that the park's staff was only able to gain support for the project by focusing solely on financial support from the friends group. Unlike environmental groups that are willing to be critical of park management actions, historically most National Park Friends Groups and Cooperating Associations support nearly everything that parks want them to. I saw this first hand when I worked for two of them over a 14 year period. During this time I also networked with others in similar positions across the country and served for a brief period as a member of the Friends of Big Bend National Park board of directors.
You would think that park staff would demonstrate a greater passion for conserving the park by focusing more on protecting park resources and working on plans to reintroduce extirpated species like the gray wolf and desert bighorn. I understand that there are also problems with exotic species like European wild boars and exotic plants species. Recently I learned that Mexico is moving forward with a plan to build a new road south of the park near the three newly protected areas that are adjacent to the park. How will these roads impact the wilderness quality that has been protected by the park since 1944? Why not re-direct funds planned for Fossil Bone to higher priority issues that directly impact the park’s ecosystem?
During my last year working in Big Bend National Park the Houston Chronicle on January 19, 1992 published an article entitled “Big Bend: At the Brink.” I am saddened to say that the park is still at the brink and echo the words of former Big Bend National Park Superintendent Robert Arnberger who was quoted in the article stating that the park's “remoteness does not entirely shield it from society's ills.”
Over the past 40 years I have supported and teamed up with members of the Sierra Club, Rotary International and other groups across the country in supporting conservation efforts at the park. One person who I have great respect for is Roland Wauer, Chief Naturalist at the park for many years, former Chief Scientist of the NPS and a hero of the current NPS Director, Jonathan Jarvis. Most people know Wauer as a prolific writer who has helped people better understand and connect with the natural resources the NPS is mandated to protect. But Wauer has also been known to be a passionate advocate for conservation and has spoken out publically on what he sees as threats to the parks. The 1992 Houston Chronicle summed up the problems in the park by saying “even a spot as big, rugged and remote as Big Bend National Park is subject to the ecological stresses and strains of modern development.” Wauer was quoted as saying “damned with the resource” Park Service managers must cater “to the whims of concessioners and public officials and are thinking more about visitation than natural and cultural resources.”
Big Bend's current Wildlife Biologist Raymond Skiles was also quoted by the Houston Chronicle when he stated that the “future of the park is far from secure. How secure is the park today when we see park managers devote resources towards projects like at Fossil Bone? Does the NPS at Big Bend really have the resources to waste on projects that do little to help protect the resource? Does the park's education program measure its success by how many exhibits it can build out in the middle of wild open spaces?
There was very little effort by the park to alert the public to the proposal and to seek input from wilderness advocate groups like the Sierra Cub. Big Bend Sierra Club member Roger Siglin, a former Big Bend National Park ranger who retired from an illustrious career with the NPS which included assignments as Chief Ranger at Yellowstone National Park and Superintendent of Gates of the Arctic, lives nearby in Alpine, Texas. In response to the proposal Siglin said that the “building design and size is totally inappropriate for the current location and would be out of place anywhere else in Big Bend NP. My experiences in Big Bend go back to 1966 when I was a ranger there. The existing exhibit is a disgrace and should be removed. I was therefore pleased when I heard the park was planning a new one. But the proposed structure to house exhibits is ugly beyond anything I might have imagined. I have frequently hiked in the hills across Tornillo Creek and this structure will impact the wilderness experience because it will be highly visible for hiking off of the Old Ore Road.”
When I visited the park in October I decided to make a YouTube video of the area where the exhibit will be located to help people better understand the project and what the NPS has planned. Unfortunately the park did a very poor job in spreading the word about the new exhibit when an Environmental Assessment process was announced. What was shown and described in the EA documents did little to help the general public truly understand the big picture of the project. This approach to getting public input on project proposals is not an uncommon practice and it is not surprising to see how a project like the one planned for this wild area of the park could make it this far.
I contacted the park's geologist Don Corrick asking for more information on the status of the project. After hearing back from him I remain convinced that if Big Bend National Park moves forward in building a new Fossil Bone exhibit it will result in a negative impact on the park. According the Corrick the project will have a potential footprint of 4000 square feet. An area that large is big enough fit 21 cash register lines and several departments in a super discount store or build a colossus sized state of the art fast food restaurant. If built as planned the project will prove one thing, the depth of the National Park Service's commitment to its mission is both alarming and disturbing.
Corrick stated that “the project will be fully funded by donations gathered by the Friends of Big Bend National Park, and that the project will not proceed until the fundraising is complete, so a timeline is not available.” What this means is pretty simple - if fundraising is completed, destruction of the area will soon follow, UNLESS we the people can stop it.