EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Secretary Deb Haaland of the U.S. Department of the Interior was in El Paso Saturday to visit Castner Ranger and meet with and hear from local leaders and grassroots organizations who are working towards preserving and protecting the land.

While meeting in a round table discussion, Secretary Haaland also highlighted the department’s commitment to improving access to nature and engaging new audiences, outdoor recreation, and conservation, particularly in communities of color and other underserved communities that historically haven’t had equitable access to nature.

The Castner Range Coalition is calling on President Biden to designate the land as a national monument and to make it part of his America the Beautiful initiative.

Also present with Secretary Haaland was Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16). For those fighting to preserve this land, they call it a monumental moment for protecting Castner Range.

I could feel the rich history and culture that surrounds this community. It was wonderful to be there. The department aims to ensure that every community has a meaningful chance to build a mutually beneficial relationship with the surrounding wildlife and its habitats. We know that nature offers some of the most cost effective ways to the climate crisis. We also need to do more to stem the steep loss of nature and wildlife that we’re witnessing.

Secretary Deb Haaland, U.S. Department of Interior

The City of El Paso signed a proclamation, led by representatives Joe Molinar and Alexsandra Annello reaffirming the council’s support for making Castner Range a National Monument and welcoming Secretary Haaland to El Paso.

This morning we went on a hike so that the secretary could see for herself the beauty of our mountain, she could see for herself the vast expanse that Castner Range represents, so that she could see for herself how close development is to Castner Range and just how much of a threat that can be to preserving open space.

Congresswoman Veronica Escobar

Earlier this year, Rep. Veronica Escobar and members of the Castner Range Coalition, a coalition of local groups working to get President Biden to designate Castner Range as a national monument, invited Secretary Haaland to Castner Range so that the the Secretary could see for herself the important cultural, historical, and environmental treasures the the majestic Texas landscape holds.

Secretary Deb Haaland made history when she became the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary. She is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and a 35th generation New Mexican. 

In April 2021, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar and El Paso environmental leaders reintroduced the Castner Range National Monument Act, which, if passed, will designate Castner Range as a national monument.

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