Date: Saturday, March 26, 2022
EL PASO — Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland visited El Paso, Texas, today with Congresswoman Veronica Escobar to meet with local officials and community members and to learn about their vision for increasing access to, and conservation of, outdoor spaces. During the visit, Secretary Haaland highlighted the Biden-Harris administration’s America the Beautiful initiative and ongoing efforts to support locally led efforts to conserve, connect, and restore lands and waters to strengthen local economies and support communities’ health and well-being.
The pair spent the morning with members of the El Paso community to hear about their vision for providing access to the Castner Range, approximately 7,000 acres that are managed by the Army as a non-contiguous area for the Fort Bliss Military Range in El Paso. The Army is currently conducting a feasibility study regarding remediation of the former live-fire range, pursuant to its responsibilities under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Congresswoman Escobar has also introduced legislation that would designate Castner Range as a National Monument to conserve and protect the ecological, cultural, historical, and natural integrity of the land for present and future generations.
The group hiked on neighboring lands, where they had the opportunity to see the local flora and fauna of the Chihuahuan Desert. During a community roundtable, Secretary Haaland heard from local leaders about their efforts to permanently protect this area; to honor the area’s significant cultural, historic and natural values; to improve equitable access to nature; and to strengthen the local outdoor recreation economy.
Secretary Haaland also met with the Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo Tribal Council to underscore the Department’s commitment to fulfilling federal trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribal Nations and bolstering the government-to-government relationship. The visit highlighted the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s $13 billion investment in Indian Country, which will help strengthen Tribal economies, bolster community resilience, replace aging infrastructure, expand access to clean drinking water, and ensure that everyone has access to high-speed broadband.