By Rick LoBello, El Paso Group
A growing number of people in El Paso are supporting a new conservation movement to protect the Castner Range area of the Franklin Mountains in northeast El Paso as a national monument.
The Castner Range is home to more than 650 species of Chihuahuan Desert plants, 33 species of reptiles, over 100 species of birds and nearly 30 species of mammals. There are also hundreds – if not thousands – of species of invertebrates and microorganisms yet to be discovered. Supporting local conservation efforts is a high priority, and many people in El Paso are involved with groups like the Sierra Club, Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition and the Audubon Society.
Last year, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke proposed legislation in concert with a letter campaign asking President Obama to use his authority under the Antiquities Act to protect the Castner Range landscape in western Texas as a national monument. The national monument would honor the cultural, historical, scientific and environmental connections to the region. More than 16,000 people have signed letters to the president (sign the e-letter at castner4ever.com).
Support for the monument is coming from across the community and is growing by the day. In January, El Paso’s City Council unanimously approved a resolution urging that Castner Range be dedicated as a national monument. Schoolchildren are also getting involved, and more than 1,000 people attending the Poppies Fest in April signed letters to the president.
Why should the United States designate a Castner Range National Monument in El Paso? The answer is pretty simple. A national monument will help protect this large area of the Franklin Mountains and the wildlife that lives there for the enjoyment of current and future generations. It will ensure that the public can enjoy these lands forever, and it will help the El Paso region maintain and build a strong, diverse economy by protecting important open space that create new opportunities for economic development through tourism and recreation.
Photo by Mark Clune