EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The City of El Paso is one step closer to honoring the will of the voters who chose to save the land around the controversial “Lost Dog” trail in Northwest El Paso forever.
Last Tuesday, City Council voted to officially dissolve “Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone No. 12”, otherwise known as TIRZ 12.
This move essentially eliminates the possibility of development within the thousand acres of land in Northwest El Paso, which is what preservationists are calling for.
“Without these trails, I can’t really train. So if I go to Carlsbad or Cloudcroft, that’s 2 or 3 hours of my day. Whereas I can come here and go all the way up to Moody Gap from this point,” El Pasoan William Wilson said.
Hikers like Wilson want to see the land around “Lost Dog” trail completely untouched especially in the years to come, “It should be protected forever more. If the public actually voted 90% in favor of this park, I think this park can actually be an asset to El Paso. It can also bring in tourists to do the trails and what not.”
The city has been looking at options when it comes to a conservation easement, which would secure further protection of the land.
As of now, council directed city staff to do more research.
“Making sure that we looked at other cities in Texas. Looking at how a conservation easement functions. There’s an upcoming meeting that city staff is going to be having with a conservation expert, an attorney. So we just want to make sure that they knew this was something that they needed to go to,” District 1 City Rep. Peter Svarzbein said.
City staff will also look into setting up a RFP (Request for Proposal) to bring in a third party to be a conservation easement holder.
“That’s where the City or a private owner would go and negotiate, look at uses that would be allowed, and then you work with a third party to make sure that’s honored on a yearly basis,” Svarzbein explained.
In the meantime, those in favor of preserving the land forever such as Wilson, encourage others to explore what it has to offer, “Physically it can help anybody out here. They just have to take the time and opportunity for their self investment to come out here and see what the park can offer them.”
Council will circle back and discuss its options on December 10th.