Tuesday, January 27, 2015

El Paso Sierra Club Hosts Public Event at Chamizal for Conserving Casner Range

Click on image to enlarge.

Did you know that, if it wasn’t for a group of El Paso citizens back in 1978 coming together to support protecting the Franklin Mountains, we might not have the Franklin Mountains State Park today?  If you have ever traveled across Trans Mountain Road you know that in the northeast there is a large area of the Franklin’s administered by Fort Bliss.  This area used to be an artillery range and over the past ten years a new movement has developed to protect what is called the Castner Range as an addition to the State Park. 

Click on image to enlarge.

A growing number of people across the city are showing their support for this effort and a number of organizations are hosting a free public presentation on conservation efforts to protect the Castner Range at Chamizal National Memorial next to Bowie High School on Wednesday night, January 28 at 7pm. (MAP

After introductions by El Paso Zoo Education Curator, Rick LoBello, El Paso's renowned documentary producer, Jackson Polk,  will show his film about Castner Range. Then Judy Ackerman of the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition will speak and give a presentation about conserving Castner Range. She will take questions at the end of her presentation.

Learn more about the program HERE.

elpasonaturally urges you to attend and bring family and friends.


  1. I truly hope this can be done, but I am doubtful. After all the western portion of the park is, in my humble opinion, lost as development will fully engulf the whole are within 5 years. It is truly sad that El Pasoans could show so little interest in protecting their mountains, placing shopping and access to McDonalds of higher importance. Once I finished my graduate degree in central TX I fully planned on returning home to El Paso, but each time I go home to visit the direction the city has taken and the urban sprawl that El Paso's leaders have progressed makes me sick to my stomach, making my return very doubtful.
    I constanlty avoided going thru loop 375, because I did not want to see what was done to my beloved desert, but when I finally did it was very sad and I almost wept at seeing what has happened to the entire area. new neighborhoods springing up only a mile or so from the park, a giant freeway closing the entrance to Franklin State Park, a new giant medical complex right on Transmountain Rd. I am all for a new hospital, but not on Transmountain Rd. More and more development will happen. Neighborhoods are almost at the base of the picnic/scenic area of South Franklin Mountain. In my opinion the entire mountain range is under siege and the park itself in a few short years will no longer be worth visiting, because who wants to see the roofs of homes or traffic as part of the outdoors experience.

    El Paso leaders or its residents just don't see the tragedy happening right before their eyes or they do and just don't care. A perfect example is the Tramway. A wonderful idea that is a tourist magnet. But, it being right next to a giant quarry ruins the entire experience and destroys the point that El Paso was trying to make by resurrecting the Tramway in the first place and that is El Paso is a unique city, wild and mountainous, respectful of nature and appreciative of our natural geology. But, again instead tourists who go to the tramway are shocked by the giant eyesore of a quarry which destroys the whole purpose of the tramway. Not only that, McKelligon Canyon is also a victim of this rock quarry.

    As if El Pasoans are not satisfied enough with destroying the Franklin Mountains they seem fully set on tearing down the Hueco Mountains as well.

    El Paso had the opportunity to be a unique city and setting an example. It could of been an opponent of urban sprawl and protected the cities natural beauty. It could of built smart, set a new pathway for cities of the 21st century. El Paso could of became a tourist city by promoting its natural beauty and becoming a green city. But the city chose the corrupt way, the way which required little vision and no wisdom. Only short term financial and political gain.

    It does not surprise me of El Pasoans apathy regarding this topic. I would always speak to fellow El Pasoans about the mountains and tell them just how lucky we are to have such beauty in our city. I would tell them El Paso is the only city in the Untied States that has a mountain range right in the middle of it and I thought that has always been awesome! However, most of the time I would just get a glazed over look as if my fellow El Pasoans had no idea what I was talking about. They just did not care or think much about it.

    While our fellow neighbor Las Cruces protects its mountains and has gone so far as to get the Organ Mountains designated as a National Monument. El Pasoans only care is to get from the Northeast to the West side 15 minutes faster so the can stop at the new McDonalds to eat and shop at the new Wal Mart, both of which are being built right next to the former great Franklin Mountains State Park.

    1. Thank you Joseph. Maybe it is some comfort to think that there will not be enough water for all this development and someday soon, sooner than we think, El Paso will have to shrink or go dry.

  2. Joseph, thank you for your passion. Please return to El Paso and run for City council!

  3. Thanks for both of your comments. I am sure you know that El Paso leaders were an important part in getting the Guadalupe Mountains designated as a national park ( great idea, which could of been done with our mountains too)? Yes, indeed, leaders from El Paso's past actually believed in nature tourism and they thought a national park would not only bring tourism to El Paso, but seeing the astonishing beauty of the Guadalupe Mountains they thought it was just the right thing to do. That being to protect our nations natural beauty and landscapes for future generations of Americans to enjoy.

    Now, compare those leaders to our current crop of El Paso leaders. The city council of today does not seem to care much about the natural beauty of El Paso's geography. El Paso city council seems to only cares about making their developer donors happy. El Paso city council and the county commissioners have always( to a large extent) been captured by developers, but they used to know when to draw a line and when to fight for what is right not only for the cities residents, but for that which can't speak for itself, that includes wildlife and the mountains.

    I recall not too long ago the city successfully took on Asarco and won the biggest environmental case TX had ever seen. It makes a person wonder what happened in the few short years from when El Paso defeated Asarco to where we are now with the City Council's give away to TXdot and the rich developers.

    It does not take a soothsayer to see what is planned for the land along Transmountain . Developers want to envelope the park and use it as their own. They will develop new gated communities that have easy access to all the amenities the park and the mountains have to offer. It is a great selling point I might add. Developers want to develop private communities much like the upper west side. Very much like the gated communities that ruined the base of the mountains on the west side. They might even get there own private entrance to the park.

    This is why conservationists need a more aggressive approach in protecting our mountains before it is too late. We need to be to play hardball, until we do, we will always be on the loosing end because we cannot match the forces of $$$.

    For example, I always thought an artists rendition of what El Paso will look like in 10-15yrs if this urban sprawl continues, destruction of the Franklins continues and if the city council continues to be beholden to developers like Hunt. I would love to see a giant billboard of an artist's rendition of El Paso destroyed by uncontrolled and unchecked development. Something like this might just get the peoples attention.

    I know I am just a person who one day decided to comment because I was just so tired of seeing the destruction around the city, but I want to be a part of what you, Judy and Helen, are a part of. I want to get involved and I don't want to sit on the sidelines anymore. So, what can I do and where can I start?

  4. Joseph, email me. Thanks again for your comment.