Martins: Castner Range, Texas’ newest American chapter
Castner Range in Northeast El Paso is an environmental treasure of great natural beauty, not only for our city but for the greater Southwest as well. In order to protect this unique property from encroaching development and maintain its pristine state, we call upon President Barack Obama to designate the area as the Castner Range National Monument, thus conserving it forever.
The Range’s 7,081 acres are home to diverse wildlife, three distinct ecosystems, a wide array of vegetation and significant water resources, all conveniently located next to the El Paso-Juárez Borderplex of more than 2 million residents. We must not permit such incredible natural beauty to be destroyed by strip malls, fast-food restaurants and the like.
Sometimes referred to as “the crown jewel of West Texas,” the range is an archaeologically rich land of considerable historical importance. It features countless artifacts, ruins of various types of dwellings, and other evidence of the indigenous peoples who once inhabited or passed through this area.
Fragments of their life that are found on the range date back at least 10,000 years, a remarkable heritage that should not be paved over with asphalt and concrete.
Yet another set of clues to the range’s history are rock pictographs, which show the beginning of cultural interaction between peoples, a theme now reflected every day in our binational border setting.
Other important archaeological artifacts that have been found on the range are bedrock mortars for milling or grinding plant foods, reflecting changing settlement patterns among the ancient peoples of the area.
This history of the first residents of our ever-growing region must not be destroyed by commercial development, especially when there’s so much open flat land surrounding our city.
History at Castner Range did not end a thousand years ago. The range has been very much a part of our modern history as well.
Beginning in 1926, the once-open ranchland was attached to Fort Bliss, our well-known U.S. Army installation which itself dates back to 1848. The range served as an important training ground for soldiers during World War II and as a military firing range into 1966.