In the Northeast region of El Paso, Texas there lies more than 7,000 acres of land next to the Franklin Mountains that may be most known for the yellow Mexican poppies that blanket the foothills come springtime.
Now, the golden field of Castner Range may also be known as a national monument thanks to efforts by a coalition of El Pasoans pushing to preserve it for future generations.
The Frontera Land Alliance and the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition teamed up to promote protecting the land from housing and commercial development.
In December 2015, El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke introduced legislation (HR 4268) to establish Castner Range as a national monument. Now, a public push is gaining momentum to urge President Obama to protect the area by using the Antiquities Act to designate it as a national monument. A petition for the Castner Range initiative now has more than 25,000 signatures.
Janae Reneaud Field, executive director of the Frontera Land Alliance, said preservation efforts for the Franklins and surrounding land date back to the late 1970s. The Texas Parks and Wildlife website recounts how concerned citizens formed the Franklin Mountain Wilderness Coalition in response to developers who “began carving roads into the almost pristine mountains.” Their efforts to protect the mountains and provide public access eventually led to the creation of Franklin Mountain State Park by the Texas Legislature in the 1980s. It is the largest urban park in the United States, covering about 40 square miles.