news releases

25 March 2022

Hispanic Access Applauds DOI Secretary Visit to Castner Range



Category: News Releases

Today, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland visited Caster Range and met with Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX 16th District) during the peak of poppy season to discuss permanent protections for Castner Range in El Paso, TX. In early 2021, Rep. Escobar introduced the Castner Range National Monument Act (H.R.2752) to designate Castner Range as a national monument, while local and national support continues to call for this designation.

“Sec. Haaland’s historic visit to Castner Range is a great first step towards protecting this marvelous place as a national monument,” said Maite Arce, President and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation. “Castner Range not only holds a rich historical and ecological background, but protecting this area would provide a place where its nearby community – 82.9 percent majority Hispanic or Latino–can go to recreate, venture and explore.”

Every 30 seconds, the U.S. paves over a football field’s worth of nature for things like urban development and oil and gas drilling. This destruction of our natural lands is happening primarily in places with a high proportion of Latino communities, like El Paso. Because of the local communities lack of access to nature’s benefits they are disproportionately suffering from higher rates of asthma, obesity and other chronic diseases.

“Protecting Castner Range would give our Latino communities more access for recreation outdoors, it would help restore our mental health, and to simply enjoy the fresh air and mountain views,” said Shanna Edberg, Director of Conservation Program of Hispanic Access Foundation. “We urge President Biden to take action and designate the Castner Range as a national monument through the Antiquities Act.”

Located right outside of El Paso, Texas, the Castner Range provides an essential watershed and has historically been a waypoint for communities seeking rest from the harsh desert environment. It was also used from 1920 to 1966 as an artillery training facility and remains owned by the Department of Defense as part of Fort Bliss, which is part of the world’s largest Army installation. Efforts to preserve Castner Range began in the 1970s, and the campaign to designate it as a National Monument began about 10 years ago.

Castner Range was recently identified as a Latino Heritage site that currently lacked official recognition in the 2021 Place Story Culture Report. The report highlights the range’s variety of historical and natural sites important to history, like being the ancestral home to the Comanche and Apache people, who have left evidence of their existence in the cracks and crevices on the range.

To learn more about Castner Range, visit https://castnerrangenationalmonument.org/ and visit https://bit.ly/PlaceStoryCultureReport to learn more about architectural, cultural and historical Latino sites around the nation in need of protection.

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Hispanic Access Foundation connects Latinos and others with partners and opportunities to improve lives and create an equitable society.

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