UPDATE: On March 21, 2023, President Biden designated Castner Range as a national monument, protecting 6,672 acres of high-desert mountains.
On March 26, Secretary of Interior Deb Halaand visited the Castner Range near El Paso, Texas at the invitation of local groups who have been building support for permanent protections for the area. President Biden should establish Castner Range as a national monument.
Photo: Mark Clune
The Castner Range is a 7,081 acre former Army artillery facility east of El Paso in the Franklin Mountains and is adjacent to Franklin Mountains State Park. Also close by is Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, on the other side of the Texas-New Mexico border. Both the state park and the monument protect plants and wildlife of the Chihuahuan Desert. Adding Castner Range as an additional protected area would create a wildlife corridor for mule deer, mountain lion, javelina, and other wildlife species.
Organ Mountains Desert Peaks, Photo: Bureau of Land Management
The range features a wonderfully diverse Chihuahuan Desert ecosystem with dry arroyos, natural springs, and diverse wildlife including 62 bird species such as eagles and hawks and mammals such as mountain lions, foxes and rabbits and threatened species, including the western burrowing owl. Historian Douglas Brinkley recently noted that protecting this “gorgeous swath of the Franklin Mountains would constitute a huge conservation achievement.”
Cleaning up undetonated ordnances and opening up the Castner Range for recreational opportunities like hiking, camping and biking is good for El Paso and good for Texas. Texans need more nature and this area is a great example of land we can both enjoy and share with wildlife.
Director, Public Lands Campaign, Environment America
Ellen runs campaigns to protect America's beautiful places, from local beachfronts to remote mountain peaks. Prior to her current role, Ellen worked as the organizing director for Environment America’s Climate Defenders campaign. Ellen lives in Denver, where she likes to hike in Colorado's mountains.
Executive Director, Environment Texas
As the executive director of Environment Texas, Luke is a leading voice in the state for clean air, clean water, clean energy and open space. Luke has led successful campaigns to win permanent protection for the Christmas Mountains of Big Bend; to compel Exxon, Shell and Chevron Phillips to cut air pollution at three Texas refineries and chemical plants; and to boost funding for water conservation, renewable energy and state parks. The San Antonio Current has called Luke "long one of the most energetic and dedicated defenders of environmental issues in the state." He has been named one of the "Top Lobbyists for Causes" by Capitol Inside, received the President's Award from the Texas Recreation and Parks Society for his work to protect Texas parks, and was chosen for the inaugural class of "Next Generation Fellows" by the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at UT Austin. Luke, his wife, son and daughters are working to visit every state park in Texas.