To: Paul M. Shinkawa
General Director, Legal Services Department
Texas Parks and Wildlife
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
From: Stephen T. Crye
The El Paso Climbers Club
4613 Gabriel Dr.
El Paso , TX 79924
Re: Hueco Tanks
The EPCC met last night and came up with a consensus of what we think the TPWD should do to control the vandalism at the Tanks. We feel that our plan will allow unrestricted access to legitimate user groups, while controlling the problems of vandalism,litter, and overuse of park resources.
The EPCC recognizes that there are many legitimate user groups besides climbers, including but not limited to bird watchers, hikers, picnickers, historians, geologists, and archaeologists. We have come up with a plan that will let serious users in, while discouraging vandals. The EPCC wants to emphasize it's commitment to insuring access to all honest users, not just climbers!
It is important to understand the patterns of use that the vandals exhibit, in order to control them. They tend to be young, lazy, poor, and bored. They are looking for a cheap place to hang out and get drunk and do drugs (including sniffing the spray paint that they apply to the rocks). To discourage them from using the Tanks for their party spot, the EPCC recommends:
* Restricting vehicular access inside the park boundary. By requiring all non-handicapped users to park away from the rocks and walk in, we will cut down on gangs that don't want to work very hard to get to a party spot. Another benefit of this plan is the TPWD will be able to search carry-in items thoroughly for alcohol and spray paint- it's much easier to do a personal search (similar to those conducted at rock concerts) than a search of a car or van. The Access fund has indicated that it will be able to help the TPWD with the costs of building the parking lot and an entrance inspection shack. We also feel that the picnic tables should be relocated to be near this new parking lot. This would allow two levels of access to the park: day-users who only want to picnic would be allowed to use the picnic area only; people who want to walk into the park would be subject to the new stricter access regulations and fees.
* Require all users to obtain a Texas Conservation Passport, currently $25.00 per year, as well as pay a specific-use fee designated for the type of use they register for, i.e. birding, rock art observation, etc. The increased fees will compensate for revenue loss due to lower numbers of users. The EPCC thinks that overall revenues at the park under this plan will remain about the same. For users that are out-of state travelers, the EPCC would like to see a reduced fee to be fair to those who will not use the park for more than 3 or 4 days per year - they would be required to prove that they have come from a long way off to use the park.
* Require that all users watch an orientation video each time they apply for a conservation pass/specific user pass. If the video is long enough, this will discourage casual users who don't really have a love for Hueco Tanks. The EPCC is prepared to assist the TPWD with the production of this video. Until the video is produced, the orientation can be presented as a lecture to groups of prospective users.
The members of the EPCC voted unanimously in favor of these recommendations.
We also realize that climbers have some impact on the environment, and we are working on an orientation flyer that will be passed out to all climbers at the Tanks, in an effort to reduce trampling of vegetation at the base of popular climbs. The EPCC feels that littering is not a problem with climbers compared to other user groups like picnickers - we estimate that the total mass of litter left by a few inconsiderate climbers is less than 1% of the mass of litter left by all other users of the park. Our estimate is based on first hand experience from several clean-up days we sponsored at the park.
Copy: Andy Sanson
Superintendent, Hueco Tanks State Park