Wakeem / Teschner Nature Preserve at Resler Canyon
Resler Canyon was The Frontera Land Alliance’s first land preservation project. Its story is one of inspiring generosity and community cooperation.
Development in Arroyos Arroyos are distinctive natural features in El Paso, channels carved into the slopes of the Franklin Mountains by the flowing water of countless years. Many wind like ribbons through established neighborhoods, offering havens of peace and beauty in the urban setting, and providing important wildlife corridors that connect the mountains with the Rio Grande. As arroyos approach the river valley, they widen out and become less steep.
In the past, El Paso’s development occurred mainly on tablelands (mesas). Residents of established neighborhoods often assumed the arroyos would remain in their natural state forever, but recent rapid growth placed acute pressure on privately owned arroyos. Resler Canyon was one of the first to be slated for development.
When plans were put forward to construct approximately 140 single-family homes in the 91-acre canyon, the City of El Paso became caught up in a struggle between the adjacent neighborhood association (led by preservationist Charlie Wakeem) and the developer, Hunt Building Company. Efforts to reach a satisfying compromise ground to an impasse and protracted litigation seemed imminent.
A Confidential Benefactor Meanwhile, in January 2005, Dr. Richard V. Teschner, a professor of linguistics at the University of Texas at El Paso and a resident of the Coronado Townhouses near Resler Canyon, began working behind the scenes to purchase the arroyo. Dr. Teschner had recently received a substantial inheritance from his deceased parents. He independently decided he wanted to use his newfound wealth to “Save the Canyon”—an unconventional choice without a doubt, and one that would have profound influence on the progress of El Paso’s preservation efforts, and The Frontera Land Alliance in particular.
Dr. Teschner made known his plans to members of Frontera’s board in the spring of 2005. The land trust evaluated the site and determined that Resler Canyon would be a good fit for achieving the organization’s mission. Dr. Teschner involved Frontera in later stages of negotiations, and ultimately donated $1.87 million to Frontera for the land trust to purchase the property directly. The City of El Paso played a pivotal role in the deal by earmarking $347,500 for much-needed repairs to drainage structures feeding into the canyon. On December 23rd, 2005, the final transaction was completed and Frontera became the owner of 91 acres now known as the Charlie Wakeem/Richard Teschner Nature Preserve of Resler Canyon, or theWakeem/Teschner Nature Preserve for short.
Community Inspiration It took the determination, cooperation and good will of many parties: Hunt Building Company, Dr. Teschner, City of El Paso staff and elected officials, neighborhood leaders, and Frontera’s board all worked hard to bring about this happy conclusion. The culmination of a year of intense negotiations was a manifold accomplishment: preserving an arroyo of key significance to El Paso, maintaining the character of several well-established neighborhoods, and demonstrating that preserving unique natural features is a valuable and achievable goal. Based on the success of Resler Canyon, the City of El Paso went on to initiate a public planning process for city-wide open space preservation.
The Nature Preserve Resler Canyon is now managed by the land trust as a nature preserve. It is open to the public for walking, meditation, wildlife observation, and similar low-impact activities. In accordance with Dr. Teschner’s wishes, there are no plans to construct visitor facilities or additional trails. Frontera holds biannual community clean-up days in the spring and fall, and works to re-vegetate areas of the canyon impacted by erosion, illegal dumping and drainage repair work.
Water flow from Resler Canyon directly feeds the Keystone Wetland, a city-owned, privately-managed natural area and site of the archeological remains of a 4000-year-old Native American village. The mile-long length of Resler arroyo soils and plants provide vital filtering that enhances the water quality for this rare desert wetland.
Below is a (very incomplete) list of plants and animals that make their home at the Wakeem/Teschner Nature Preserve. If you identify a new species on a visit to the canyon, please drop us a line and we’ll add it to the list.
Birds: Golden Eagle, Turkey Vulture, Gambel’s Quail, Mourning Dove, White-winged Dove, Greater Roadrunner, Great Horned Owl, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Western Kingbird, Verdin, Cactus Wren, Northern Mockingbird, Curve-billed Thrasher, Great-tailed Grackle, House Finch
Other Animals: Black-tailed Jackrabbit, Desert Cottontail, Coyote, Mule Deer, Texas Horned Lizard, Collared Lizard, Checkered Whiptail
Native Plants: Littleleaf sumac (Rhus microphylla), Silverleaf bahia (Bahia absinthifolia), Desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata), Desert willow (Chilopsis linearis), Mountain peppergrass (Lepidium montanum), BSi-colored mustard (Nerisyrenia camporum), Spectaclepod (Dimorphocarpa wislizenii), Prickly pear cactus (Opuntia spp.), Barrel cactus (Ferocactus wislizenii), Viscid acacia (Acacia neovernicosa), Honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), Ocotillo, (Fouquieria splendens), Scorpionweed (Phacelia spp.), Ratany (Krameria spp.), Stinging cevallia (Cevallia sinuata), Blazingstar (Mentzelia multiflora), Sacred datura (Datura wrightii), Creosote bush (Larrea tridentata), Lechuguilla (Agave lechuguilla), Soaptree yucca (Yucca elata), Torrey yucca (Yucca torreyi), Mormon tea (Ephedra spp.), Fluff grass (Dasyochloa pulchella)
Exotic Plants: Tumbleweed (Salsola tragus), Mexican palo verde (Parkinsonia aculeata), Yellow bird of paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii), Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila), Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus)