900,000 reasons why we need to protect the lower elevations of the Franklins


Red-spotted Toad by Rick LoBello

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The vast majority of people living in El Paso can easily see that every minute of every day more and more of our natural landscape it going under the blade of the bulldozer to make way for new roads, build more Walmart’s and more.   I am all in favor of progress, but is this the kind of progress El Paso needs to have a sustainable future?   Why can’t we build away from lands that have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years and build upward like we see happening downtown and in places like the Venue at Montecillo on Mesa?    We are running out of water too so what’s going on here?

Did you know that some of the oldest organisms in the world live in the lower elevations of the Franklin Mountains?   One creosote bush in the Mojave Desert was found growing in a single clonal colony up to 67 feet in diameter and was estimated to be 11,700 years old.  Who is to say some creosote bush rings right here in El Paso may be older.  We may never know since no one will have a chance to find out as every square inch of desert is destroyed and covered with concrete.

Here is what is going on, special interest groups with lots of cash are making lots of money destroying El Paso’s natural heritage.  We are talking about the southernmost region of the Rocky Mountains in the United States of America – they’re called the Franklin Mountains.  These mountains cannot survive ecologically with only high elevations intact.   The lower elevations are important too and it is in these lower elevations that many wildlife species spend their entire lives in or travel through to get from one part of the mountain range to the next.  Some species survive only in the lower elevations.   How many jackrabbits for example do you find climbing a cliff face?   Who eats the jackrabbit?   The Golden Eagle does.   Golden Eagles have long been admired by people around the world and are one of best known birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere.  They live in the Franklins and beyond and hunt in the lower elevations for rabbits and other small prey species.

Everyone in this city now and in the future needs to be connected to the natural world, for their physical and psychological well-being.   The estimated population of El Paso, County is now nearly 900,000.   The Franklin Mountains are home to thousands of species of animals and plants.    Looking for some good reasons to protect our natural environment?   If you count every person and add up every plant and animal species there may now be over 900,000.

Now that you have read this what are you going to do about it?     Need some ideas?   Contact organizations like the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition and Frontera Land Alliance for some guidance.   Both are very active in trying to find solutions to ending the war against the natural environment in El Paso.  You can also form your own group and make your own noise.  Don’t just sit there and watch it happen.

Look into the face of a child if you need some motivation and ask yourself, is it worth it for their sake?

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2 thoughts on “900,000 reasons why we need to protect the lower elevations of the Franklins

  1. Nice essay, Rick! Max

    Max Grossman, Ph.D. Vice-Chair, El Paso County Historical Commission Date: Thu, 5 May 2016


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