“Designating Castner Range as a national monument is a historic move for El Paso’s local Latino Community and an important step toward closing the Nature Gap,” 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 will provide a place for its nearby community – 82.9 percent majority Hispanic or Latino–to go recreate, venture and explore. In addition to providing outdoor recreation, having nearby access to the outdoors will help restore the community’s mental health by simply enjoying the fresh air and mountain views.”
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. Their lack of access to nature’s benefits means they are disproportionately suffering from higher rates of asthma, obesity and other chronic diseases. Expanding areas of access to nature throughout the United States would help close the Nature Gap and ensure communities of color aren’t at the forefront of the climate crisis.
“This is great news to all El Pasoans and especially those who have for many years advocated to see Castner Range become a National Monument,” said Moses Borjas, member of Hispanic Access' Por La Creación Faith-Based Alliance and local pastor in El Paso. “The challenges that our city has faced such as —poverty, pollution, inequality, climate change—are the results of broken relationships. The designation of Castner Range as a national monument adds to the healing process that our city needs in these times. Protecting Castner Range is not only protecting our mountains and wildlife but it’s protecting our history, heritage and our legacy.”
Located right outside of El Paso, Texas, Castner Range provides an essential watershed and has historically been a waypoint for communities seeking rest from the harsh desert environment. Its historic roots date back to 1920 to 1966, where it was used as an artillery training facility. It 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. While the protection of Castner Range has been both a local and national effort, it has been led by local groups like Frontera Land Alliance, Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project, El Paso Community Foundation, among others.
To learn more about Castner Range, visit https://castnerrangenationalmonument.org/.