It’s been called “the crown jewel of West Texas” and “the heart of the Franklin Mountains.” Castner Range is 7,000 acres of cliffs, canyons and open desert – in the center of El Paso.
The range is famous for its Mexican poppies. When conditions are right, the radiant blooms create a spring display like nothing else in Texas.
El Pasoans have been pushing for preservation of this undeveloped land for decades. Now, conservationists hope President Obama will answer their long effort – and proclaim Castner Range a national monument.
The Franklin Mountains rise above El Paso in cliffs of red and orange. In 1979, the state acquired much of the range. At 24,000 acres, Franklin Mountains State Park is the nation’s largest urban park.
On the mountains’ east side, Castner was planned for inclusion in the park. But from the 1920s to the 60s, the Army had used the land as a firing range. The presence of unexploded ordnance complicated the transfer.
Developments were proposed for the land – a “technology park,” a community college campus. Local groups, including the Frontera Land Alliance, joined to advocate for the open space.