Thursday, April 3, 2014

Castner Range Is Being Destroyed Not Preserved

This past Saturday, the Frontera Land Alliance unveiled a new video produced by Jackson Polk entitled "Conserving Castner". Elpasonaturally posted it this last Monday. It has been a dream of many El Pasoans, the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition and Frontera to conserve this land now owned by Ft. Bliss by making it a part of the Franklin Mountains State Park. Since it was used for artillery practice, the Army has been reluctant to turn it over until unexploded munitions have been accounted for and destroyed. One would think that the range remains in pristine condition since it is off limits. Trespassing will result in a heavy fine . . . if you are caught that is.

Think again about that pristine state. The truth is that people do explore Castner particularly the higher elevations. There are places of great beauty - that is, there were places of great beauty. Castner is not protected. The United States Army cares nothing about natural beauty (including huge sections of the Hueco Bolson that they now trample and destroy playing war games). The longer Castner remains without real conservation, the more of it gets destroyed. 

Although members of the FMWC and others have tried to get Castner transferred to park land for decades now, the issue remains unresolved and seemingly no closer to resolution. All the while, gangs despoil the natural beauty with graffiti and camp sites. Litter and paint are left behind. There is little outcry from the media probably because there has been little publicity about the matter. The Range is off-limits, remember.

It is high time that people see the destruction of pristine canyons and arroyos in their Franklin Mountains. It is time that the U.S. Army deed land to the State Park if only the higher elevations in the beginning. If the Army cares, they should send up battalions to wipe-off the graffiti from the rocks of the Franklin Mountains. After all, they have been stewards of this land for a very long time and their legacy is nothing more than unexploded ordnance and ugly graffiti.

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