by Janae’ Reneaud Field
Recently Frontera Land Alliance has seen growing support for conservation throughout our region from folks who are taking a stand to protect working farms, ranches and natural open space. Caring for our land is not new. It really revved up in the late 1970s with the successful community-based movement to make the Franklin Mountains a state park. Imagine El Paso today if that effort had failed? If all or even much of the Franklins had been developed where would be our wildlife, our trails, our breathtaking views and our water recharge?
So many other successes come to mind. Early in 2005, one El Pasoan had just received a substantial inheritance from his deceased parents. He independently decided he wanted to use the money to “Save the Canyon”—an unconventional choice without a doubt, but one that would profoundly affect El Paso’s preservation efforts. From this single act of generosity we’ve long enjoyed the 91-acre Resler Canyon Nature Preserve. There quickly followed Thunder Canyon, Frontera’s first Conservation Easement negotiated with the City of El Paso. The Thunder Canyon neighbors didn’t want this deep and beautiful recharge zone to be filled with houses and streets, so they worked with the City to make the canyon a Public Improvement District whereby the City bought the land while the neighbors taxed themselves for the next 15 years to repay the City. Meanwhile up in Las Cruces the Organ Mountains and nearby land were declared a national monument. And just last year, the 350 acres known as the Knapp Lands adjoining the state park reaped the rewards of the “Save Our Sierras” campaign and were bought by the City. Then in May 2019, 89% of El Pasoans, from all parts of the city, voted that the West Side’s “Lost Dog” land be “preserved in its natural state, for all time.”
Frontera wants to know what YOU are thinking. “What do you want to see happen—on the land-conservation front—in your community and in the region?” is a question we are asking you. As you know, our mission is the conservation of water, wildlife and open natural areas as well as farms and ranches. We’re talking one-on-one with landowners (including our City government) and we include them in our education program. (There’s a great demand for that program, which shows that there is quite a need.) In addition we are often asked for volunteer projects by groups and businesses, which once again tells the Frontera Board of Directors that El Pasoans really desire organized opportunities for volunteering here. But this isn’t all that we do! In Doña Ana and Otero counties we’re contacting landowners and talking with them about easements. In sum, we’ve simply never been busier! So, when you see us at a booth an event or even while reading this blog, please let us know what’s important to you, your neighborhood, your community and your region. We really want to hear from you at janae@FronteraLandAlliance.org