A view of Castner Range. Image by Corin Ramos.
Wildlife enthusiasts, historians, environmentalists, and Texans were pleased to learn that Castner Range in El Paso is now federally protected land. President Joe Biden recently announced in a televised interview that the area would be designated a National Monument.
In his speech, President Biden thanked Rep. Veronica Escobar (D) of El Paso for her leadership in the efforts to recognize and protect the land. In addition, he spoke of the tribal nations native to the land and the armed forces who trained in the area.
According to Sebastián Ribas-Normand, the director of the El Paso Museum of Archeology, many of the tribes who lived among the land and surrounding areas are still in the area. The Mescalero Apache, Tortugas Pueblo, and Ysleta del Sur Pueblo are among the indigenous people who have remained in the area.
The president also spoke of the natural beauty of the Castner Range, especially in the early spring when Mexican Gold Poppy flowers bloom over the land, "transforming desert plains and hills into a sea of vibrant yellow and oranges framed in the rugged mountains and the blue sky." Mexican Golden Poppies have begun to bloom at the base of the range.
The designation comes at a time when locals can enjoy the natural beauty and poppy blooms during the city’s annual Poppies Fest. The festival is a month-long celebration put on by the El Paso Museum of Archeology. The museum is located outside of Castner Range and has a view of the poppy-covered incline.
Castner Range is about 15 miles from downtown El Paso, making the destination an easy trip for Borderland locals. The area has a hiking trail with local flora and wildlife.
The United States boasts over 120 national monuments as of Aug 2021. Unlike National Parks, National Monuments need only a presidential proclamation to be designated protected under the name. Castner Range is now part of three National Monuments in Texas. The other two monuments are Alibates Flint in the Texas Panhandle and Waco Mammoth in Waco.
According to a press release by the office of Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, she is "thrilled by the designation." In the press release, the Under Secretary of the Army Gabe Camarillo said, “the U.S. Army stands ready to execute a complete cleanup, manage remaining munitions and make Castner Range safe for public access.”
Edited by Niko Balkaran
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