More than 300 acres of natural land in Northeast El Paso could soon be conserved forever.
The City of El Paso completely owns the Knapp land in the Northeast in order to preserve it as natural land, but now it’s looking at one more layer to secure it from being potentially disrupted.
“Why is a conservation easement important? A.) It future proofs that land regardless of who the Mayor, city council, city manager might be in 20+ plus years from now,“ City Rep Peter Svarzbein said, “With the conservation easement in place, that land will always be preserved in perpetuity, as natural open space.“
In May of 2018, the City and El Paso Water purchased to preserve over 300 acres of land, known as the Knapp land. That cost a total of $3.5 million coming from open space funds out of the 2012 quality of life bond.
Now, the City is looking at options for a conservation easement opted by the Frontera Land Alliance. That means locking development rights and limiting use of property.
“It also creates a space where any maintenance costs would not be born by the taxpayers, but by the frontera land alliance or the non-profit in charge of the conservation easement,“ Svarzbein said.
“We would go out and make sure that the terms of the conservation easement are being followed. That nobody is encroaching, that there’s no trespassing with buildings, structures, new driveways. We just make sure that the terms are enforced that the land owner, which is the city of the El Paso in the case, have established,“ Janae Reneaud Field, Executive Director of Frontera Land Alliance explained.
However, the City can choose how to manage the land once the easement is officially approved.
“If there’s anything in addition to it such as trail maintenance, or education hikes, that would be worked out with the city in a different agreement,“ Reneaud added.
City staff is expected to inspect the land in case there’s any necessary studies that need to be done, which would come with a cost.
Those costs would be brought back to council.