A historic and ecologically rich swath of land in El Paso was designated as a national monument by President Joe Biden on Tuesday.
The announcement making Castner Range, an almost 7,000-acre landscape along the Rio Grande, was lauded by residents and groups who have been advocating for its preservation over a half-century.
After 52 years, and so many letters of support, a lot of work has been put into all this - from community members to staff volunteers, according to Moses Borjas, a local pastor, told NBC News.
The Castner Range has been found to be the ancestral lands of several indigenous groups, including the Apache Nation and the Comanche Nation. The land is still sacred to Native and Indigenous communities, according to preservationists. It is home to dozens of archaeological sites, as well as a wildlife habitat.
Castner Range, located on Fort Bliss, was a training and testing site for the Army for decades until it closed in 1966. The area still has unexploded munitions. The Army will control the Castner Range.
The White House said that Castner Range will provide unique opportunities for the El Paso community to explore, explore and learn from nature once the area is sufficiently remediated to be safe for public access.
In an area where more than 8 in 10 people are Latino, groups have touted the importance of the landscape as a recreational space and a mental health resource. The area has a lot of communities that don't have economic resources.
In a statement by Mark Maga, CEO of Green Latinos, the company said that they were eager to make this dangerous and inaccessible landscape a safe and accessible region for the first time in many generations.
The report found that designating the land as a national monument would help protect essential outdoor space and close the nature gap.
The challenges that our city has faced - such as poverty, pollution, inequality, climate change, and more - are the result of broken relationships, said Maite Arce, president and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation. Protecting Castner Range is not only protecting our mountains and wildlife, but it is also protecting our heritage, heritage and legacy. Preservation efforts began in the 1970s and calls to have the landscape designated as a landmark began about a decade ago. The Castner Range National Monument Act was first introduced in 2021 by Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas.
Borjas said that the designation meant that your voice has been heard for Latino communities.