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STAKEHOLDERS TO HOST CEREMONY TRANSFERRING PSB LAND TO TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE
April 15, 2009

"The Franklin Mountain State Park is a community jewel. Protecting the foothills and the poppies has been a top goal of our office for many years."

Written by Senator Eliot Shapleigh, www.shapleigh.org

EL PASO - On Friday, April 17, 2009 at 11 a.m., at Chuck Heinrich Park in Northeast El Paso stakeholders will host a land transfer ceremony at which more than 1,600 acres of El Paso Water Utilities Public Service Board (PSB) land will be signed over to Texas Parks and Wildlife for expansion of the Franklin Mountains State Park.

The Franklin Mountain State Park was created by the Texas State Legislature in 1979. Today, the park is the nation's largest urban park. It covers 24,247 acres, all within the city limits.

Last legislative session, with support from Senator Shapleigh, the state legislature approved the acquisition of two parcels of PSB land in Northeast El Paso by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. To transfer 1,659 acres of that land, the state only paid $161,301, a fraction of the land's appraised worth.

The park expansion will add additional amenities to smart-growth communities planned for East and West El Paso. Plans are also being considered to construct parking areas, and trails for hikers and bicyclists. The park, home to many Chihuahuan Desert animals, with 24,000 acres of hiking trails, mountain vistas, fauna and flora, including the amazing California poppies, is already a popular visitor's destination.

"The Franklin Mountain State Park is a community jewel. Protecting the foothills and the poppies has been a top goal of our office for many years," Senator Shapleigh said.

Senator Shapleigh has been a vocal proponent of establishing a visitors’ center for the park. Senator Shapleigh's office has worked extensively with J. Robert Brown, former commissioner for Texas Parks and Wildlife to expand the commission's activities in El Paso. This land transfer is a crucial first step in a series of goals mapped out in those meetings. Development of park land is central to increasing quality of life in El Paso.

Participating in the transfer ceremony will be City Representative Susie Byrd; Ed Archuleta, president and CEO of El Paso Water Utilities; and Scott Bruff, deputy executive director of operations for Texas Parks and Wildlife.

What: Land transfer ceremony at which more than 1,600 acres of El Paso Water Utilities Public Service Board land will be signed over to Texas Parks and Wildlife

When: Friday, April 17, 2009 at 11 a.m.

Where: Chuck Heinrich Park, 11055 Loma Del Norte Dr., in Northeast El Paso (Map)

 

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