Frontera Land Alliance

Frontera November 2020 Update


Stay informed about Frontera’s latest projects.

Photo by Richard Love.

The Frontera Land Alliance
NOVEMBER 2020 UPDATE

Conservation Easements

People often ask why does it take so long to create a conservation easement? It is just a simple document, right?
 
Developing a conservation easement is a complicated process that builds on legal precedent. We have to be sure that the agreement states exactly how the parties involved want the land protected and used because amending it is extremely difficult. 
 
One of the first steps is meeting with the landowners. We ask questions to get to know the land, and the family. We want to learn what is prompting them to preserve their property. We ask questions to make sure there is a clear understanding of what they—the owners—want and do not want for the land. Depending on the situation, it can take months to work through the terms of the agreement. Ultimately, the landowners’ wishes become the foundation of the conservation easement agreement and all related documents. 
 
From there, Frontera makes sure that the land fits our mission and that the land is safe to accept (with no legal or environmental impediments). Frontera determines if we have the capacity to hold an easement on the land or to purchase it as a fee simple property. Frontera reviews the land deed for any limitations or uses that already “run with the land” (i.e., that apply to the land regardless of who controls it). We then review the land’s title, and review it once again to ensure that no changes have occurred during the negotiations. Next, we study the survey and the “metes and bounds” document to verify that nothing is going to hinder the implementation of the agreement or access to the land. Frontera investigates the mineral rights that may run with the land or be severed from it. We look at the history and use of the land by hiring a company to develop an Environmental Phase One report. This allows us to assess whether or not there are conditions that may represent problems we will have to deal with if we commit to holding the easement. 
 
Throughout all these steps there is constant dialog between the landowner, and Frontera’s staff and Lands Committee along with updates provided to Frontera’s Board of Directors. And all of this is confidential, since a conservation easement agreement is a very private matter for most landowners, and Frontera respects their wishes for privacy.
 
At this point we start working with the landowner to prepare a land management plan. This plan lays out how the land will be managed so that all conservation values will be honored going forward. While all of the foregoing is being completed, Frontera walks the land many times to document its current condition, which includes the state of its fauna and flora, any structures, utilities, erosion, etc. This information provides baseline data which we can use to determine how the land is changing, either by natural forces or manmade causes. To ensure that everything is properly documented, we take lots of photos. Once all of this has been completed, the landowners and Frontera run one more “documents check” and then sign what needs to be signed. The final step entails filing all pertinent documents at the county courthouse because the easement provisions follow the land and future owners of the property need to be aware of them.
 
As you can see, all of this takes up a great deal of time. But the final product guarantees that the land and its conservation values are preserved in perpetuity. No exceptions!

Photo by Richard Love.

Charlie Wakeem Steps Down as Frontera’s Treasurer

Well-known Charlie Wakeem has recently stepped down as Treasurer of the Frontera Land Alliance. El Pasoans may recognize Charlie as the first surname of the “Wakeem/Teschner Nature Preserve at Resler Canyon.” What may not be remembered is why his name comes first. So here’s some Frontera history:
 
Charlie and his family had long been living in a beautiful home directly overlooking the 91-acre Resler Canyon property. Charlie, the son of Lebanese immigrants, was co-owner/co-manager of a local furniture store. He also devoted himself from the 1980s onward to Rotary. (He later served on four City boards and committees including OSAB [‘Open Space Advisory Board’ and as its chair], the Subdivision Ordinance Rewrite Committee, the Plan El Paso/Comprehensive Plan Committee and the Capital Improvements Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations to City Council regarding impact fees on infrastructure in new growth.) Life moved nicely along. So early in August of 2003 it came as a shock to Charlie and the rest of his neighbors on both rims of the Canyon that the property was owned by a developer who had just announced plans to build 196 single-family houses there. The neighbors naively assumed that this canyon would always be kept in its natural state. Solely because a change in the zoning of some of the Canyon land was needed before development could take place, the neighbors had to be informed, and the developer’s plans required approval by El Paso’s City Plan Commission and then its City Council before the permit to build could be granted. And so the campaign to conserve the Canyon started. As president of the Coronado Neighborhood Association, Charlie was at the forefront of the community effort to save the canyon and played a critical role in its ultimate preservation. For his tireless work, he is memorialized in the preserve’s name.

Learn More

Education and Outreach Program Update and More

This month Frontera took advantage of the national environmental holidays. We hosted a cleanup at the Wakeem/Teschner Nature Preserve at Resler Canyon in honor of National Recycling Day. Our volunteers gathered more than two shopping carts full of trash. They picked up plastic bags, water bottles, candy wrappers, and even ran across two shopping carts and a shredder!
 
For National Hiking Day, Frontera hosted a live virtual hike at Knapp Land (located in Northeast El Paso. Our guide was the well-known environmentalist Judy Ackerman who long has served as Secretary of the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition and who was active in its “Save Our Sierras” (S.O.S.) committee which gathered over a thousand signatures on the petition that ultimately prompted the City of El Paso to buy the land with voter-approved “Open Space” funds. Our viewers were able to learn about the importance of land conservation, native plant life, and the fossils that are found on the Knapp Land.
 
On Black Friday (Nov. 27), Frontera had planned on joining the national #OPTOUTSIDE event, but due to the well-publicized surge in Covid cases we have decided to postpone all these hikes. Hope you were still able to get outside and enjoy the beautiful day!

Photo by Richard Love.

Upcoming December 2020 Events

  • Thunder Canyon in El Paso: In honor of International Mountain Day, Frontera board member Marcia Turner will be telling you all about Thunder Canyon, a City-owned preserve for which Frontera holds the conservation easement. She and her husband Dave (also on Frontera’s board) led the drive to conserve this canyon in 2006. On December 11th, at 1:30 p.m. we will be posting a video on our Facebook and Instagram, in which Marcia will explain how this West El Paso community came together to protect a part of the Franklin Mountains.

    Date: Friday December 11th, International Mountain Day
    Time: 1:30 p.m. Posted on Facebook and Instagram

  • Happy Holidays with Birds!
    On Winter Solstice December 21st, Frontera will be celebrating with birds! Watch our education coordinator, Maryflor, make bird feeders with pine cones. We’ll be posting the video at 10 a.m. on our Facebook and Instagram sites. This is an easy and fun activity for the whole family. You will also learn what kind of birds are likely to visit your backyard bird feeder.

    Date: Monday December 21st Winter Solstice
    Time: 10 a.m. Posted on Facebook Instagram

  • I <3 EP Challenge
    Frontera has partnered with Race El Paso, and we’ve made our Wakeem/Teschner Nature Preserve a part of the I <3 EP Challenge, which runs from December 1st through the 15th, 2020. To participate in the challenge, you must visit at least 9 of the places on their list, take pictures, and submit each location you’ve visited via RunSignUp. Once you visit at least 9 local businesses, landmarks, buildings, or art, you’ll get a limited-edition poster by a local artist! To register and learn more, visit the Race El Paso Website:

    Dates: December 1-15, 2020

Learn More

Photo by Richard Love.

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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