This past state legislative session was by no means easy. However, the El Paso delegation was able to pass one resolution with relative ease.
The House and Senate unanimously passed Senate Resolution 506 and House Resolution 306, which promote continual conservation of the 7,000-acre Castner Range in Northeast El Paso.
On Tuesday, state Sen. José Rodríguez and state Rep. Marisa Marquez presented the resolution to members of the Castner Conservation Conveyance Committee at the El Paso Museum of Archaeology.
“I’m very proud of this resolution,” Rodríguez said.
The mountains’ unique landscape offers El Pasoans a close-up look at nature, and Rodríguez believes it should stay that way, he said.
“Every opportunity I get, I head to the mountains,” he said. “The habitat is very good for the soul, in my opinion.”
Marquez said her father introduced her and her siblings to the Franklin Mountains’ trails.
“My dad is a nature lover, and he raised us to be nature lovers, too,” she said.
Every member of the El Paso delegation participated in promoting the resolution. Also present were representatives from U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes’ and state Rep. Dee Margo’s offices.
“You should be very proud of your delegation,” Marquez told the Castner supporters.
Marquez and Rodríguez said copies of the resolution have been sent to local officials, Fort Bliss’ leadership and the White House.
“It does not put environmentalists against developers,” Marquez said. “It just shows that the state supports the preservation of Castner Range.”Marquez said the mountains are an important part of El Paso’s history and should be kept the way they are for future generations.
“These mountains are what separates us from the rest of Texas,” Marquez said. “It starts with dialogue, and it is important that we continue to keep up these plans to conserve our mountains.”
Judy Ackerman, secretary of the Franklin Mountain Wilderness Coalition, introduced Rodríguez and Marquez and thanked them on behalf of the coalition.
“These 11 square miles are the crown jewel of the Franklin Mountains,” she said.
Castner Range was once a firing range used by Fort Bliss until the late 1970s.
Since then, a section east of U.S. Highway 54 has been developed into what is now the El Paso Community College Transmountain Campus, Cohen Stadium and various businesses, including Walmart.
The western part of Castner Range has remained undeveloped due to unexploded ordnance, or ammunition, that remains in the desert.
On the federal level, Reyes has helped secure $300,000 to fund a legal transfer of Castner Range to a conservation effort once the ordnance is cleared.
Aaron Bracamontes may be reached at email@example.com; 546-6156.
Castner conservation backed