President Joe Biden established Tuesday a new national monument in Texas at a location that was once an Army range. The new Castner Range National Monument is located in El Paso, Texas at Fort Bliss.
“This action will protect the cultural, scientific and historic objects found within the monument’s boundaries, honor our veterans, service members, and Tribal Nations, and expand access to outdoor recreation on our public lands,” a White House fact sheet stated.
Castner Range served as a training and testing site for the U.S. Army during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The Army ceased training at the site and closed Castner Range in 1966.
Once the area is sufficiently remediated to be safe for public access, Castner Range will offer unique opportunities for the El Paso community to experience, explore, and learn from nature.
“President Biden is committed to expanding access to nature for underserved communities that have historically had less access to our public lands, like those bordering Castner Range,” according to the fact sheet. “Protecting Castner Range connects the area with the Franklin Mountains State Park, creating continuous habitat for wildlife and improved public access for outdoor recreation.”
Castner Range also hosts significant cultural sites documenting the history of Tribal Nations, including the Apache and Pueblo peoples and the Comanche Nation, Hopi Tribe, and Kiowa Indian Tribe of Oklahoma.
Before the U.S. Army used the lands, Castner Range was home to the Apache and Pueblo peoples and the Comanche Nation, the Hopi Tribe, and Kiowa Indian Tribe of Oklahoma.
The Castner Range area contains more than 40 known archeological sites including living structures, hearths, remnants of pottery and other tools, as well as a myriad of petroglyphs and images on the rock faces that make up the canyons and mountains of Castner Range.
Castner Range National Monument consists of 6,672 acres of high-desert mountains and will become the first national monument directly managed by the U.S. military since national battlefields were transferred to the National Park Service in the 1930, the fact sheet noted.
In the next couple months, the Army will begin a land management planning process and will take public input from the community and tribes.