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Congresswoman Escobar Sends Letter Urging President Biden to Designate Castner Range a National Monument Through the Antiquities Act

Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) sent a letter to President Biden urging him to designate Castner Range, El Paso’s crown jewel, as a national monument to meet the goals of his America the Beautiful initiative.

Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) sent a letter to President Biden urging him to designate Castner Range, El Paso’s crown jewel, as a national monument to meet the goals of his America the Beautiful initiative. 

The letter, which was sent following a visit from Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland to El Paso, requests President Biden to use the Antiquities Act to protect Castner Range.

“For the past fifty years, El Pasoans have come together to support the protection of Castner Range. At the same time, the Army’s ownership and stewardship of the land has protected the area from development and degradation,” wrote Congresswoman Escobar. “In a similar model to a number of other military installations that have become premier places of outdoor recreation, we hope that Castner Range can be protected as a national monument for the enjoyment of all.” 

Congresswoman Escobar continued, “The community which I represent in El Paso is a minority community that has often been overlooked in environmental matters. Communities like mine have often borne the brunt of irresponsible environmental policies while being excluded from enjoying the benefits of open spaces and public lands. 

“Your Administration’s America the Beautiful initiative is intended to address the three interlocking crises of nature loss, climate change, and inequitable access to the outdoors. Protecting Castner Range is a unique opportunity to make progress in addressing all three of these crises.”

Congresswoman Escobar concluded the letter by inviting President Biden to Castner Range.

“Thank you to Representative Escobar for her leadership in this historic effort to protect Castner Range in El Paso, a true national treasure,” said LCV Senior Government Affairs Advocate Ben Alexandro. “Permanently protecting Castner Range as a national monument would safeguard and expand outdoor access for the surrounding communities, protect the area’s countless cultural and historic resources for future generations, and provide the opportunity for everyone to enjoy the great outdoors. With less than eight years to fulfill the promise to protect 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030, we echo the call for the Biden-Harris administration to use their power under the Antiquities Act and move quickly to designate Castner Range a national monument.”

"We’re thrilled Congresswoman Escobar sent this letter. Based on conversations we’ve had, it’s clear she understands the connection that veterans and military families have to our public lands" said Vet Voice Foundation CEO Janessa Goldbeck. " It’s encouraging to see such a diverse group of public lands advocates, including local El Paso-based military veterans, come together and work to protect former military training sites like Castner Range. We look forward to continuing to work with the Biden administration and Congresswoman Escobar to see Castner Range designated as America’s next national monument – ensuring it’s safeguarded and permanently protected for generations to come."

“Representative Escobar has been invaluable to the process of earning protection for Castner Range,” said Janaé Reneaud Field, executive director of The Frontera Land Alliance and leader of the Castner Range Coalition. “She has been and continues to be a consistent, dedicated advocate for conservation in the El Paso community and we are very grateful for her help.”

“We thank Representative Escobar for being our champion, working to empower the latino community ensuring we see ourselves represented in key conservation decisions, and to renew hope in protecting El Paso's most iconic and intact Chihuahuan Desert landscape for the local community” said Ángel Peña, the Executive Director of the Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project.

“President Biden and his Administration have made commitments to increase protections for our lands and waters and also to listen to local communities and act on their wishes”, said Dan Hartinger, The Wilderness Society’s Director of Government Relations. “We join Congresswoman Escobar and many community leaders in calling on President Biden to designate Castner Range National Monument using his Antiquities Act authority to meet the community’s vision for expanding access to nature and permanently protecting Castner Range. In the days that followed the Interior Secretary’s visit to the area we heard from thousands and thousands of people across the nation who believe that now is the time for the President to take action.”

"Castner Range not only holds a rich historical and ecological background, but protecting this area would provide a place where its nearby community – 82.9 percent Hispanic or Latino–can go to recreate, venture and explore," said Shanna Edberg, Director of Conservation Programs for Hispanic Access Foundation. "We thank Representative Escobar for her leadership in protecting Castner Range and we join her and community leaders to urge President Biden to take action and designate the Castner Range as a national monument through the Antiquities Act."

The full letter can be read here.  

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