About Castner Ranger
The Franklin Mountains Range contains six peaks; its highest—North Franklin—rises 7,192 feet above sea level. The Franklins begin just east of downtown El Paso and just north of Interstate 10. Nearly 75% of the mountains, which run 17 miles north to the New Mexico state line, are conserved within the 40-sq.-mile Franklin Mountains State Park, created from mostly private property by the Texas Legislature in 1979 after 16 months of El Paso City Council negotiations. (The FMSP is America’s only state park surrounded by a municipality.) The remaining 25% of the Franklins are within the 7,081-acre/11-square-mile Castner Range, whose long western boundary is the State Park’s eastern boundary for several miles. The Range is a non-contiguous part of Fort Bliss, which with the Army’s adjacent White Sands Missile Range constitutes—at more than 4,900 square miles—the largest military base in the United States. El Paso lies at the far western end of Texas and borders Ciudad Juárez, Mexico on the south and the state of New Mexico on the west and north. Located entirely within the 140,000-square-mile Chihuahuan Desert, El Paso’s climate is dry (annual rainfall 8”) with mild winters, windy springs, hot summers and temperate autumns. The Franklin Mountains rise from the desert and the views from—and of—them are spectacular, especially on the broad alluvial plain at the eastern end of the Range and just beyond, the middle- and working-class “Northeast” neighborhoods.
At the present time, people are not allowed on Castner Range due to the presence of MECs (‘munitions and explosives of concern’) and UXOs (‘unexploded ordnance’), 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.
In El Paso there has long been a community effort to make Castner Range a National Monument. The Frontera Land Alliance, the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition and the El Paso Community Foundation are leading this effort. We also are asking President Biden to declare Castner Range as a national monument through the 1906 Antiquities Act. Efforts are under way collecting local support from individuals, groups, business, veteran groups, to show a diverse community support and desire to conserve this land in perpetuity. Castner Range has significant ancient rock imagery sites, ancient cultural deposits, and historic military sites that are located on the 7,081-acre property. We now have an opportunity to protect these sites through creation of a new national monument. The goal is to establish Castner Range as a national monument so that it will be protected in perpetuity. Castner Range has exceptional scientific, cultural, ecological, geological, waterways and historical values. To learn more see the following report: Castner Range National Monument.
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.
- Mountain biking
- Recreational driving/riding on designated routes
- Camping and backpacking
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.
About National Monuments
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.
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.
Nothing. This is because a NM designation applies only to federal lands, and does not apply to state, county, municipal or private land. A federal NM designation imposes absolutely no additional regulations on such 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—Fort Bliss, Department of the Army—and have been so since 1926 or 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 expressed 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.
Permanent protection of Castner Range will improve economic opportunities for our local economy, bring much local and national pride to an area that has endured hardship in recent years, increase coordination between federal agencies, safeguard the area’s natural beauty, sensitive areas, wildlife and rare plants, and ensure the continued use and enjoyment of these lands for future generations.
The community has been working to preserve the Castner Range since 1971. We have kept on working to achieve this goal and to do that we have to show once again that the people want the land preserved. This means we need your voice one more time by signing the letter to show support.
Each letter is your voice being shared loud and clear with the National Administration that you want Castner Range to become a national Monument to ensure permanent protection of the land.
Yes, with the community leading the way and showing the nation how important this is to El Paso and our region, this is achievable.
Sign a letter. Tell all your friends!