A national monument (NM) is a federal-government management designation used to conserve, protect, restore, and manage federal public lands for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations. Lands within a NM feature exceptional scientific, cultural, ecological, historical, and recreational values.
A national monument can be established by either the president or Congress and can be managed by one of the following agencies: the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This designation only applies to lands managed by the federal government and does not apply to private, state, county, city, or other local lands. It also does not affect rights held by water agencies, tribes, sanitation districts and land-management agencies.
Since 1906, both Republican and Democratic presidents have used their authority to designate more than 100 national monuments including many of our nation’s most beloved public lands.
What are the benefits of a national monument designation for Castner Range and the El Paso region? A NM designation will keep Castner Range the way it is for the enjoyment of current and future generations. It will ensure that the public can continue to enjoy these lands forever, and it will help the El Paso region maintain and build a strong, diverse economy by protecting important open space and creating new opportunities for economic development through tourism and recreation.
Establishing a Castner Range NM will create a management plan that will address many local priorities, including:
Simply designating a national monument does not automatically create user fees, regardless of how the NM is designated. Land managers make this determination while developing the resource management plan for an NM.
Designation of a national monument will not create a cap on the number of visitors allowed in the area.
Congressman Beto O’Rourke’s Act (HR 4268) includes a formal process for public input. In the case of a presidential designation, the community would be invited to participate in a formal public-input process to help develop a plan for the monument.
In December 16, 2015, Rep. O’Rourke introduced legislation (HR 4268) for a Castner Range NM in the House of Representatives. The Castner NM could be designated through the legislation in Congress, but if our legislators fail to act, President Obama could use his authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act to create the designation.
Nothing. This is because a NM designation applies only to federal lands, and does not apply to state or private land. A federal NM designation imposes absolutely no additional regulations on state or private land. And what is more, private property owners are guaranteed access to their land.
No. It is important to mention that all of the Castner Range lands to be designated are already federal lands and have been federal lands since 1939. The Castner Range NM will not create another layer of government, and it will not create a single new acre of federal lands.
No. The Castner Range NM designation will not affect any existing use or allocation of water or water rights. The designation will not create an express or implied federally-reserved water right. There will be no effect on any existing or future use of water.
No. There is no authority to acquire land through eminent domain within an NM designation. The federal government may acquire lands only through exchange or purchase from willing sellers.
Yes. As on all other federal lands, public safety is the top priority of land managers, who may take whatever actions are necessary to fight fire in the Castner Range NM. In fact, other federal agencies—including Customs and Border Protection—will not be restricted from entering Castner Range because of its NM designation.
At this time, people are not allowed on Castner Range due to UXOs, but we hope that will change in the coming years. We feel that a monument designation is the best path forward in ensuring that this national treasure is protected forever. It reflects our history and our future.
Castner Range is home to 7,081 acres of West Texas beauty and has historical significance that dates back thousands of years. It tells the story of how our region became the world’s largest binational community. A designation today represents President Biden’s commitment to building a public lands system that is reflective of all Americans.