On Saturday, March 26th, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland visited Castner Range in El Paso, Texas to meet with local community leaders and learn about their efforts to permanently protect Castner Range.
On March 26, 2022 the city of El Paso signed a proclamation, led by representatives Joe Molinar and Alexsandra Annello reaffirming the council’s support for making Castner Range a National Monument and welcoming Secretary Haaland to El Paso.
Earlier this year, Rep. Veronica Escobar and members of the Castner Range Coalition, a coalition of local groups working to get President Biden to designate Castner Range as a national monument, invited Secretary Haaland to Castner Range so that the the Secretary could see for herself the important cultural, historical, and environmental treasures the the majestic Texas landscape holds.
Haaland’s trip coincides with the Springtime poppy bloom, and a series of community events celebrating the occasion.
Advocates and community leaders issued the following statements celebrating Sec. Haaland’s visit to Castner Range:
“Castner Range is one of El Paso’s most precious resources and natural refuges and we are thankful Secretary Haaland Came to experience the land and see the importance of protecting Castner Range for herself. In the Paso del Norte Region, we’ve been working over 50 years to safeguard the cultural, ecological and recreational resources of Castner Range. The call to action today is clear: President Biden must permanently protect Castner Range as a national monument.”
–Janaé Renaud Field, Executive Director of The Frontera Land Alliance
“Castner Range has been a hub for indigenous and Latino communities for many years – this land sustained our people and it is only right that we continue to fight to protect it. I want to personally thank Secretary Haaland for coming to visit Castner Range – and Congresswoman Escobar for her leadership in making it happen – her visit is perhaps the largest step forward in our fight and brings us that much closer to making Castner Range a national monument, protecting it for generations to come.”
–Ángel Peña, Executive Director of Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project
“The Franklin Mountains and Castner Range welcomed me when I arrived in El Paso. I’ve spent the past 26 years serving my nation and my community, and like so many other veterans, finding refuge and restoration in the public lands of our nation. Growing up in a military family, Secretary Haaland understands this. It was a pleasure to share with her our call for Castner Range National Monument, a move that will safeguard this cultural, historical, and environmental wonderland once and for all.”
–Judy Ackerman, U.S. Army Veteran and Secretary of the Franklin Mountain Wilderness Coalition
“The effort to protect Castner Range has always been about the El Paso community. People in El Paso love and cherish this land – we celebrate its Mexican gold poppies every spring and appreciate the lessons the history of this land can teach us.”
–Eric Pearson, President/CEO of the El Paso Community Foundation
“In scripture, God calls us to be stewards of the land and to care for it. Protecting Castner Range is not just a goal, but a part of fulfilling this responsibility. On top of that, nature heals us and it replenishes our souls – Castner Range is no exception. We must protect Castner Range and we hope Secretary Haaland can carry our message back to President Biden.”
–Pastor Moses Borjas, Lead Pastor at Living Covenant Congregation, member Por La Creación
“Protecting Castner Range is one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that we have been tasked with. Making Castner Range a national monument is about future generations of El Pasoans and who will get to enjoy this land and reap the benefits of its assured vitality for years to come. We thank Secretary Haaland for being here to learn from El Pasoans and ask her to work with President Biden to make Castner Range a national monument as quickly as possible.”
–Joe Molinar, Representative of El Paso District 4
Rafael Gomez from the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo also shared this statement with the Castner Range Coalition:
“We thank you Secretary Haaland for coming to El Paso to meet with our community and hope you were inspired by the amazing beauty that is Castner Range and will take our message home with you to President Joe Biden: protect Caster Range. The people of Ysleta del Sur, the Paso del Norte region and our future generations need your help.”
-Rafael Gomez, Tribal Councilman of the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo
Ahead of Sec. Haaland’s visit, the Castner Range Coalition commissioned two full page ads in the El Paso Times, billboard advertisements, and launched a digital ad campaign welcoming Sec. Haaland to the region.