Washington, D.C. – Ahead of the 116th anniversary of the Antiquities Act, 92 coalition partners, including LCV, are calling on President Biden to use the powers granted under the Act to designate Castner Range a national monument in a letter sent to the President earlier today. Building on the leadership of Congresswoman Escobar and the El Paso community which has worked for half a century to protect the environmental and cultural resources that date back 10,000 years, the Biden-Harris administration has already made an admirable commitment towards conservation through the president’s America the Beautiful Initiative, which aims to equitably preserve 30 percent of America’s land and waters by 2030. Now, this coalition of 92 organizations and the millions of supporters they represent urge the Biden-Harris administration to make good on that promise.
“Ultimately this land belongs to our children and future generations. Designating Castner Range as a national monument would not only permanently protect the area from future development but will illustrate a significant step to expand conservation education to marginalized communities who disproportionately bear the brunt of climate impacts and historically have less access to nature,” wrote the coalition partners.
Read the full letter here.
The pride of El Paso, Texas, Castner Range is a picturesque landscape, home to sacred Indigenous sites, rich in rare plants and endangered wildlife, and when conditions are right, dotted with thousands of vibrant Mexican poppies. Protecting Castner Range would serve to correct environmental injustice in the largest binational community in the nation and create a safe area for recreation for El Paso. Currently, the community faces an inequitable access to the outdoors, as most nearby parks charge an admission fee. The letter calls on the administration to set forth a plan to safely turn this former military installation into an area for recreation, solace, comfort, and equitable access to the outdoors as well as to work with local communities and native tribes as an integral component of ongoing management.
Designating Castner Range a national monument is also an opportunity for the Biden administration to make strides on their climate goals, as conservation is the most cost-effective strategy for mitigating climate change. Already surrounded on three sides by development, implementing these protections will ensure that the fragile lands of Castner Range will be preserved for the Indigenous peoples, veterans, and binational community of El Paso that hold significant historical and cultural ties to the area.