Congresswoman Escobar Announces Designation of Castner Range as a National Monument
Washington, D.C., March 21, 2023
Tags: Environment and Energy
Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) proudly announced that the Castner Range – the crown jewel of West Texas – will be designated as a national monument by President Biden. The designation was granted through the President’s use of the Antiquities Act.
“I’m absolutely thrilled about the designation,” said Congresswoman Veronica Escobar.“Today’s historic announcement has been decades in the making. Generations of activists have dedicated countless hours and resources toward achieving this once seemingly impossible goal. It brings me such joy to know that El Pasoans will soon be able to enjoy the beauty of this majestic, expansive landmark for years to come.”
“As the Under Secretary of the Army and a proud El Pasoan, I am thrilled to take part in today’s special announcement,” said Under Secretary of the Army Gabe Camarillo. “Castner Range has been an indelible part of U.S. Army history, but now it’s time to write a new chapter about the future of this natural treasure. Moving forward, the U.S. Army stands ready to execute a complete clean up, manage remaining munitions and make Castner Range safe for public access.”
The announcement to designate Castner Range as a national monument comes after over 50 years of advocacy from the community. Castner Range consists of over 7,000 acres of land that was formerly used by Fort Bliss Army Base as an artillery and munitions range. The Army ceased operations on Castner Range in 1966 and declared the land excess in 1971, at which community support for conserving the range as open space began to build.
Congresswoman Escobar has been a fierce and tireless advocate for this designation. During her first term, she introduced the Castner Range National Monument Act, a bill to conserve and protect Castner. During a Natural Resources Committee Hearing in May 2021, Congresswoman Escobar testified about the importance of supporting her legislation and what it would mean to El Pasoans. In addition to pursuing this designation through legislative means, Congresswoman Escobar invited several key Biden Administration officials in El Paso to expedite the protection of Castner Range. In March 2022, she hosted Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland for a tour of Castner Range. Most recently, she welcomed the Undersecretary of the Army and native El Pasoan Gabe Camarillo back home in August 2022 to continue discussions about the designation. This visit was a follow-up to a meeting in June 2022 coordinated by Congresswoman Escobar in which several El Paso stakeholders joined her for a meeting at the Pentagon with Undersecretary Camarillo and the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Additionally, Congresswoman Escobar also wrote to President Biden twice over the past year, urging him to designate Castner through the Antiquities Act.
More about President Biden’s announcement can be found here.