Frontera Land Alliance

Frontera May 2021 Update

Stay informed about Frontera’s latest projects.

Photo by Richard Love.

The Frontera Land Alliance

City of El Paso approves Knapp Land and Lost Dog Conservation Easements with The Frontera Land Alliance on May 11, 2021! 

These conservation-easement agreements protect two large properties adjoining the Franklin Mountains State Park (FMSP): the more than a thousand-acre “Lost Dog” on the Northwest side and the 353-acre “Knapp Land” in the Northeast. 

Conservation easements are crafted with willing landowners to permanently limit or prevent certain uses on the land while allowing other uses to take place. By applying a conservation easement to these properties, Frontera ensures the terms of the agreements are followed and the conservation values are protected.

Knapp Land and Lost Dog are arid lands that typically have sparse vegetation and are associated with intense rainstorms that generate substantive rainfall impacts and locally high rates of overland flow runoff. These lands are now ensured to remain open natural areas in perpetuity that when the flooding comes the lands will have the ability to absorb the waters. 

The Knapp Land is located in the Trans-Pecos region of West Texas in the northern portion of the Chihuahuan Desert. The 353 acres are fully a part of the Franklin Mountains, a tilted fault-block mountain range composed of mainly sedimentary rock with some igneous intrusions.  

The flora and fauna on the Knapp Land you can find sotol, prickly pear, and lechuguilla to tarantula, millipedes, rock squirrels to mule deer. There are many birds sighted on the Knapp Land. These include Gambel’s Quail, Scaled Quail, to the Greater Roadrunner. 

These lands are key to ensuring that land alongside the FMSP remains open to allow for natural runoff during periods of heavy or “monsoon” rainfall, which in El Paso typically occurs from July through September. Having these natural open space allows greater time and space for rainwater to be absorbed and spread out, reducing the chance of flooding downstream.

Lost Dog

Lost Dog is a different type of area. The fact that these are foothills adjacent to the FMSP greatly impacts the diversity of plant and animal species present, and the foothills themselves provide spectacular views of the geologic features of the Franklin Mountains. Lost Dog possesses a combination of diverse plant and animal habitats, complex geology, spectacular scenery and a suite of cultural features.

The arroyos on Lost Dog provide corridors for wildlife and for water flow during rains. With the preservation of Lost Dog, the vegetation will remain undisturbed and will assist in reducing erosion and flooding. Flora and fauna will have a source of food and water along with places in which to live undisturbed. Once preserved, the view-sheds will remain a wonderful asset to the residents of the City of El Paso and surrounding areas, as well as a great attraction to out-of-town visitors. 

Finally, Frontera wants to say how pleased we are to have played such a major role in the creation of these historic conservation easements. We look forward to working with the City and El Paso Water to ensure the conservation values for which these lands are being protected and maintained in perpetuity. And as community members, all of us have a stake in making sure these lands remain “forever places” that we and future generations will always be able to enjoy. 

Castner Range National Monument

The more than decade-long campaign to make Castner Range a national monument is back again in full force. Once again, Frontera’s goal is to show how strongly El Paso supports protecting Castner Range as a national monument, either by presidential proclamation or by congressional legislation. To do this we need to engage in meaningful and purposeful action that reminds the folks in Washington DC that we want permanent protection for Castner Range.  Recently the El Paso Times published an op-ed written by Frontera education and volunteer manager Maryflor Garcia. You can read it at: El Paso Times Castner Range And you yourself can sign on-line in support of a Castner Range national monument. Please go to: 

El Paso Times Castner Range

On another note, the Frontera Land and Water Committee toured our Resler Canyon Nature Preserve to investigate the trails that people had created on their own this past year. The committee reviewed negative impact and are now working hard to find a solution that preserves the natural habitat but allows for a safe and low impact trail of disturbed area by the users. In addition, Frontera is updating its “rules” sign and adding a education trail map. We look forward to sharing both of these with you.

Frontera Board of Directors

We have reviewed and updated our 2018 strategic plan. We’re working toward renewal of national accreditation in 2022 which includes a review and update of all Frontera policies and procedures. Finally, the Frontera Board of Directors co-hosted a celebration for the completion of the conservation easements on both the Knapp Land and Lost Dog.

Education and Volunteer Program

May has been a very busy month! We began with hikes for the El Paso City Nature Challenge 2021. El Pasoans made over 1,000 observations on iNaturalist for the challenge!

 On the 8th we partnered with the folks at the Paso del Norte trail and we hosted a fun family bike ride through the Playa Drain trail. We saw and learned about burrowing owl habitats and green-infrastructure water-harvesting installations around the trail. 

We also hosted a bilingual hike led by Nuria Andreu at our Resler Canyon Nature Preserve. On the same day our volunteer program was featured on Fort Bliss’s Volunteer Corps Facebook Live.

 On Endangered Species Day we celebrated with the folks at the Wyler Aerial Tramway State Park!  Maryflor and park ranger Diana Moy gave a virtual presentation on how species become listed. They cited many local examples, and let the public know what it can do to help.

We had a successful clean up at Resler Canyon on the 22nd. Volunteers from El Paso Electric came out to help and pick up trash that had been accumulating from the winds in the arroyo.

At the end of the month, the El Paso Big Brothers Big Sisters group had a chance to explore Knapp Land and learned how it came to be protected.

And finally, over Memorial weekend Dr. Richard Langford, UTEP geology professor, guided us through the Palisades Canyon Loop trail on the southwest end of the FMSP.  From him we learned so very much about the geology of our beloved Franklin Mountains!

If you shop with Amazon, don’t forget to use AmazonSmile so that each time you shop you can help Frontera conserve water, wildlife and working lands as well as natural open areas. It is a very simple program to participate in, and it will not cost you a dime. Amazon will donate part of their profit on that purchase to Frontera. 

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