El Paso Outside: A Promise for Future Generations
All across the country people are working together to improve their quality of life by creating more parks, protecting wildlife habitats, building more bike and walking paths and growing native plant landscapes. Maintaining and improving our quality of life is an important priority of the City of El Paso and the goal of making El Paso the most livable city in the United States.
Protecting our environment is essential to our quality of life
Community efforts to conserve natural open space and connect these spaces with wildlife corridors help protect native wildlife and all the ecosystem services associated with their habitats. Ecosystem services are the many benefits provided by nature which contribute to human well-being. These benefits can range from tangible products such as food and fresh water to cultural services such as recreation and aesthetics.
Step One – starting at home in your backyard
El Paso Outside encourages residents to landscape with native plants and create backyard habitats that will attract birds, butterflies and other wildlife. These mini habitats when connected with other natural areas in the neighborhood can make a real impact in helping wildlife such as birds needing trees to build their nests and butterflies needing nectar from flowers. Backyard habitats landscaped with native plants from our local Chihuahuan Desert also help the community conserve drinking water. Examples of drought tolerant plants include desert willow, yellow bells, acacia, evergreen sumac, and wooly butterfly bush.
Save electricity during the summer – create cool walkways
The more native trees we have growing in our neighborhoods the more shade we have for walkways and that helps cool our homes. You will see a savings on your electric bills by partially shading your homes with small desert trees like mesquite, desert willow and acacias.
So how do you get started?The following links provided by various government agencies and non-profit groups offer all kinds of tips on what plants to purchase and how to get started. You can even work towards certifying your backyard habitat with Texas Parks and Wildlife or the National Wildlife Federation.
Important planning steps to take before you begin include:
- Analyze your yard. The key to planting a native landscape with drought tolerant plants it so understand which plants can grow there easily with minimum effort.
- Select plants for different zones in your yard including oasis areas that receive runoff from rain and shade, transition areas between oasis area and arid areas, and arid areas the farthest from your home where there is little moisture and lots of sun.
- Select plants appropriate for your yard. Study the information in websites below and look for plants that grown naturally in your area.
- Group water needy plants near a structure where they will benefit from the shade and runoff from the rain.
- Choose an appropriate mulch to help reduce erosion and retain moisture in your soil.
Recommended Native Trees for El Paso County
Recommended Southwestern Native Plants
What to plant at different times of the year
El Paso Rock and Cactus Club
El Paso Native Plant Society
Texas Master Gardeners Association
Native Plant Ethics
Texas Wildscape Certification
Create a Certified Chihuahuan Desert Habitat
Get outside with your family and friends
Many people who create desert landscapes at home become more interested in connecting with nature, something important we all need for our physical and psychological well being. There are many great places in El Paso and the surrounding area you can visit to take a short walk or hike into the desert.
Many of these areas also offer camping and education programs for the entire family.
When you get outside and take your children with you, everyone in your family benefits from not only increased physical activity, but also by taking steps to avoid the negative effects of nature deficit disorder. This term describes how children are alienated from nature and experience behavioral problems during their vulnerable developing years. It is attributable to children spending more of their time indoors in front of computer monitors and TV screens, rather than outdoors exploring. Adults are also influenced by the effects of natural deficit disorder and one of the best ways to help your children is to join them in outdoor activities and set the example.
Desert Nature Links
Get Connected to our Chihuahuan Desert
Links to some of the recommended places you can visit to connect with natural landscapes and organizations that offer more information and special programs on the desert are as follows:
Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition
El Paso Zoo
Chamizal National Memorial
El Paso Museum of Archaeology
Franklin Mountains State Park
Hueco Tanks State Historic Site
UTEP Centennial Museum
Wyler Aerial Tramway
El Paso City Parks
The El Paso City Park System has approximately 175 Park sites (2,372 acres) with 962 acres in turf. Our open spaces enrich the lives of all who visit. Our parks offer you plenty of opportunities to enjoy your leisure time in a well maintained setting.
Texas Outdoor Recreation Areas
Big Bend National Park
Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute
Fort Davis National Historic Site
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Texas Parks and Wildlife
Texas State Parks
Local Conservation and Nature Study Organizations
Chihuahuan Desert Wildlife Rescue El Paso Archaeological Society
El Paso/Trans-Pecos Audubon Society
El Paso Water Utilities
El Paso Rock and Cactus Club
El Paso Electric
El Paso Native Plant Society
El Paso Regional Group of the Sierra Club
Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition
Friends of Rio Bosque
Frontera Land Alliance
Keystone Heritage Park
Texans for State Parks
Texas Recreation and Park Society