President Obama was just 11 years old when I was first elected to the Texas legislature in the fall of 1972. Now, 44 years later, our 44th President has the ability to do something that I have been trying to do ever since – preserving a sliver of America’s great west.
As I turn 75 this November, I know that this commander-in-chief can bring closure to a task my hometown of El Paso, Texas, has been working on for decades. That is why I am asking our President, in the final days of his administration, to use his executive authority to designate Castner Range a National Monument.
Castner Range, a former U.S. Army artillery range, is an American treasure of 7,000 acres located within an urban setting and includes the open Chihuahua desert, dry arroyos, natural springs and a mountainous terrain. It has been that way since 1966, when El Paso’s growing population prompted the army to stop using what is now a WWII and cold war relic. Back then, Mr. Obama was 5 and entering grade school; I was 25 having finished my legal studies in Austin and my military active duty commitment.
After returning to El Paso, I began my mission of protecting El Paso’s beautiful mountainous skyline. My greatest success came in 1979, when as a State Representative I helped create the Franklin Mountain State Park, the largest urban park in the nation. Back then builders were going full-speed ahead to develop this region; we stopped development on the mountain. Yet, we couldn’t preserve Castner Range.