Thunder Canyon Conservation Easement
May 8th, 2007, marked a key step in the progress of El Paso’s local land trust: completion of The Frontera Land Alliance’s first conservation easement transaction. To make the story even more interesting, this easement covers a parcel of land owned by the City of El Paso that was purchased through a Public Improvement District (PID)—a very unusual and creative multi-party approach to natural resource preservation.
Thunder Canyon is a 26-acre natural arroyo on the western slopes of the Franklin Mountains formerly owned by a private development company. For two years neighbors of the canyon worked with the City to create a PID and purchase the property from the developer. Essentially, the 93 homeowners surrounding Thunder Canyon agreed to tax themselves to pay off the purchase price; the land now belongs to the citizens of El Paso for all of us to enjoy forever. A conservation easement was established to preserve the canyon’s scenic vistas and native wildlife habitat in perpetuity.
By accepting this easement, The Frontera Land Alliance took on the responsibility to monitor and defend the conservation values of Thunder Canyon. It’s not something to be undertaken lightly, but we were able to do so at no expense to the taxpayers or the members of the PID thanks to very generous donations from El Paso Electric Company and Texas Gas Service. We’d like to express our deep appreciation to both companies for underwriting this project and giving us the means to move forward with it.
We also wish to offer special thanks to then-City Representative Ann Morgan Lilly for facilitating the process and giving our board yet another opportunity to fulfill Frontera’s public benefit mission.
The real heroes of this story are the 93 household members of the Thunder Canyon PID whose outstanding generosity and public-spiritedness is truly inspiring. Congratulations to all who worked so hard to bring this effort to such a delightful conclusion!