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Thursday , August 16 2018
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Home | Tag Archives: Castner Range National Monument Act

Tag Archives: Castner Range National Monument Act

National Defense Authorization Act of 2018: “No Building Allowed on Castner Range”

On Tuesday, the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was signed by the U.S House of Representatives. Locally, this means that El Paso’s Castner Range will remain entirely free of development and other commercial enterprise to the benefit of our community, borderland region and future generations.

Via a news release, officials with The Frontera Land Alliance, the El Paso area’s only 501(c)3 land-trust organization , said that “U.S. Congressman Beto O’Rourke and his staff were largely responsible for this victory.”

In the same release, Janaé Reneaud Field, Executive Director, said she was pleased to learn that Sec. 2846 will protect and conserve “the ecological, scenic, wildlife, recreational, cultural, historical, natural, educational, and scientific resources” of the Range.

“Castner covers 25% of the Franklin Mountains, including much of their highest peak, and the protection afforded by Sec. 2846 goes a very long way towards conserving the Range for all time,” she added.

“Our Frontera community has long been working to protect Castner Range, one of El Paso’s beautiful backdrops. We thank the commitment of Congressman O’Rourke and his team for pursing our vision of a landscape that is accessible and is also an education resource for our regional youth,” said Scott Cutler, President of The Frontera Land Alliance (Frontera) and also the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition (FMWC).

“El Pasoans know and love Castner Range for its annual display of golden poppies. Together with Castner Range Coalition, which includes Frontera, FMWC and El Paso Community Foundation—have long been working to protect the Range as natural open space. El Paso has campaigned to conserve the Range since 1971, and now with the leadership of Congressman O’Rourke we are one step closer to realizing our community’s vision of a perpetually-preserved Castner Range National Monument,” said native El Pasoan Angel Peña, Rio Bravo Regional Director of the Conservation Lands Foundation, a national group that has also been active in the Castner Range campaign.

Dozens of natural and cultural studies have led to the well-documented identification of a variety of plants, animals and archaeological sites that make the range’s 7,081 open-space acres more than worthy of protection as a National Monument.

Researchers have identified more than forty archaeological and historical sites on the Range including extensive collections of petroglyphs, remnants of failed tin-mining operations, and small stone structures and pottery.

By January 2017 more than 35,200 individuals from El Paso and surrounding areas had written letters asking then-President Barack Obama to designate El Paso’s Castner Range as America’s next National Monument.

Congressman O’Rourke introduces National Monument Act to protect Castner Range

In a Wedensday afternoon Facebook post, El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke announced that he filed a bill to protect a wide swath of land in the city’s Northeast area, once used as a target range by the U.S. Army.

O’Rourke said, “Castner Range is the crown jewel of West Texas. It deserves to be protected and preserved in its natural state. Today I introduced the Castner Range National Monument Act. This bill would protect Castner Range in perpetuity by making it a national monument.”

Photo: UTEP
Photo: UTEP

The range, some 7,000-plus acres is surrounded by the Franklin Mountains State Park. According to the Department of Defense’s website, in 1926 the government first purchased 3,500, followed by almost 5,000 acres more in 1939. Once the range was opened, the Army set up several firing ranges for mortars, artillery, rockets and grenades fired by rifles.

By the mid-70’s, the Army began selling portions of the range to the City of El Paso, while sweeping the thousands of acres for unexploded ordnance.  Signs still warn the public about the potential for some unexploded devices in the area, now within walking distance of homes and businesses.

In his Facebook statement, O’Rourke goes on to state that, “The bill is the result of a community effort led by the frontera land alliance, the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition and other environmental community leaders who have been working to protect Castner Range since the 1970’s.”

On their respective websites, both the Frontera Land Alliance and the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition (FMWC) laud the introduction of the bill.

A statement on FMWC states,  “Thank you Congressman Beto O’Rourke for introducing the Castner Range National Monument Act today! Everyone in our City and the country appreciates your help in protecting our natural world for future generations to enjoy.”

The video above was produced by the Frontera Land Alliance and local historian Jackson Polk in 2014.

Photo by fronteralandalliance.org
Photo by fronteralandalliance.org
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