News Coverage

18 January 2022

EL PASO TIMES: Castner Range deserves protection as a national monument: Pastor Moses Borjas



Category: News Coverage

I grew up on the Westside of El Paso. My dad loved to go to the El Paso Museum of Archaeology, right next to Castner Range in Northeast El Paso, then take us on the area trail. We would always stop when we drove across town, walking the trail, envisioning the stories of early settlers, and enjoying the different seasons. In Spring, the poppy flowers were a blanket of yellow and orange. As an adult, I realized how unique Castner Range is–the wildlife, rocks, mountains, trees, and other plants you can't see in other parts of the nation.

I asked my dad why he loved the archeological museum so much. For him, it was its rich history. He grew up in Mexico, and the museum reminded him of customs from his childhood. For example, the museum has ropes made from yucca plants by Native American tribes who call this land home. My dad also used to make rope from those same plants. My memories, my dad's memories, and the memories of Castner Range's original inhabitants all make this place special.

As a pastor at Living Covenant Church, I always remind our team–not only do we have to serve our generation, but we have to prepare the next generation to protect God's creation. It is very important for us to leave a legacy and serve generations to come by modeling the change we want to see for our children and grandchildren. Modeling speaks louder than words–I can't just preach if no one has seen me take action. Generations to come will follow our lead on how we care for and appreciate Castner Range, and we can model the change we want to see by making this treasured place a National Monument.

Protecting Castner Range via the Antiquities Act, which was signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 to grant the executive office the authority to establish national monuments, is only the first step. The second step is to get more people involved with Castner Range. If you compare Castner Range to the Franklin Mountains on the other side of El Paso, it, unfortunately, doesn't have nearly the same accessibility to the public. We need to create more trails and public information, to give access to green space and outdoor recreation to the northeastern side of El Paso.

Access to our local mountain range is critical for our society's mental health. Personally, whenever I want to focus or meditate, I find space in the mountains. Even Jesus had to go away and refocus at times–and we see the results of Him going to the mountain to pray and coming back to His disciples. Technology can keep us inside, but we need to go outdoors to refresh our minds. At every age, we go through personal and emotional afflictions, and going out and seeing nature helps so much. We should designate Castner Range as a National Monument and help make it part of our daily routine in this part of El Paso for exercise and mental health, as I was able to while growing up. By encouraging our leaders to help my children grow up in a healthy environment, I am helping make this world better.

God gave us free will. When God created the Garden of Eden, he gave Adam both a place to live and the responsibility to take care of the creatures in it. If we don't take care of our land and be good stewards, the climate crisis will only get worse. If Castner Range is protected as a National Monument, it can be a part of the national effort called America the Beautiful, which will conserve 30 percent of the nation's lands, waters, and ocean.

One small step, like protecting Castner Range, can cause a big impact. It's like a mustard seed that looks so small but can grow into a big tree where birds nest and lay their eggs and families come to enjoy the shade. I believe that Castner Range is that little seed that we need to fight for and protect here in El Paso. I am calling on President Biden to designate it as a National Monument under the Antiquities Act because of its history, beauty, and potential to bring nature's benefits to all of El Paso's inhabitants. God gave us free will, and the land needs us to take care of it, till it, and be a voice for it.

Moses Borjas has served the El Paso community for 21 years as a Senior Pastor of Living Covenant Church. He also served as a Pastor in Juarez Mexico for 11 years.

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