El Paso, TX

Conservation groups, Escobar, call for President Biden’s first National Monument to Be Castner Range in El Paso.

Euri Giles | Clareifi

(El Paso, TX).

Efforts to protect Castner Range in El Paso, TX have been going on for many years. The push to designate the area as a National Monument is gaining attention thanks to efforts of conservation groups like castnerrange.org and political leaders like El Paso Representative and Congresswoman Veronica Escobar.

Desert Mountains at Sunrise. El Paso, Texas, Castner Range.Photo by BrianWancho / shutterstock.com

Shortly after being elected, President Biden announced the first-ever national goal to conserve at least 30 percent of America's lands and waters by 2030. Conservation groups in and around El Paso are working to get Castner Range designated as a National Monument.

Castner Range is, "home to 7081 acres of West Texas beauty and has historical significance that dates back thousands of years. According to castnerrange.org, "it tells the story of how our region became the world's largest binational community".

The range boasts stunning views of the Franklin Mountains, the Rio Grande Valley and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

The area has been used by humans for thousands of years. The first people to live in the region were the hunter-gatherers of the Archaic period (8000-2000 BCE). They were followed by the Mogollon Culture (200 CE-1450 CE) and then the Mescalero Apache (1600s-1800s).

The range, named after Gen. Joseph Castner. It was last used by the United States Army as an active training ground from the late 1920s to mid-1960s. Today there are warning signs posted on the military owned lands boundaries warning the public about unexploded ordnance. El Paso has since grown in most directions around the range.

El Paso, Texas - 24 February 2019: Warning sign stating this was once a artillery firing range and entry is prohibited.Photo by Grossinger / shutterstock.com

Since the 1970s, when the army considered Castner Range “excess land,” there has been an ongoing battle to keep the area from being developed.

Since then, the range has been left undeveloped, and its surrounding areas have been used for recreation by the local community. But it has also become a dumping ground for trash and a target for vandals. These activities have led to calls for better protection of the area.

In 2017, Congresswoman Escobar introduced legislation that would designate Castner Range as a National Monument. The bill is still pending, but it has bipartisan support and the backing of several environmental groups.

If successful, this designation would provide much needed resources for protection and management of the range. It would also help raise awareness of its importance to the region's history and ecology.

The permanent protection from future development is the mission of castnerrange.org, stating that these protections will, "illustrate a significant step to expand conservation education to marginalized communities who disproportionately bear the brunt of climate impacts and traditionally have less access to nature. The area has been preserved in its pristine natural state due to the long-standing stewardship of Fort Bliss and a Castner Range National Monument (CRNM) designation would forever protect the land’s cultural, historical, scientific and environmental attributes.

Further conservation of Castner Range will preserve the fragile lands now surrounded by development".

As a native El Pasoan, seeing the annual poppies in bloom along the range are memories that will last a lifetime. Being able to walk, hike, and explore in the nearby museum of archeology wilderness park has been made into a family tradition like many other local families, and visitors to the area.

The designation of Castner Range as a National Conservation Area will help ensure that this unique area is protected for future generations to enjoy.

What do you think, El Paso?

Do you support the efforts to ask President Biden to designate Castner Range as a National Monument?

Let us hear your comments and feedback below.

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Euri Giles covers lifestyle content, politics, and news near you in Texas.

El Paso, TX

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